We spend a lot of time analysing and speculating on just why people love the music they love. Is it the people we surround ourselves with? The place we grow up in? The music our parents like? Plenty of actual proper, not just guessing, research has gone into it, and has largely concluded – err we don’t really know.
One factor that obviously greatly affects the music you love though is incredibly simple; the year that you were born! Born in the 1930’s and you’re considerably more likely to look back on Chuck Berry and his fellow rock’n’rollers with fondness than someone born in 2003; equally we doubt many people born in the 1950’s are getting blown away by the latest record on the grime scene. Of course it’s not quite as simple as you’re going to love the records in the charts when you were in your formative years, a quick look at the charts of our thirteenth birthday would suggest the likes of All Saints, Boyzone and (eurgh) Kula Shaker should have more impact on us than is instantly apparent.
Ultimately your taste is not defined by your age or any one factor; the records your parents play when your mind is being shaped, the records that shift you to those early gigs and sticky floored night clubs, and your desire (or not) to seek out new music will all shape that record collection that so perfectly represents you – but perhaps like us you’ll never quite get over the fact Geri Halliwell was number one on your sixteenth birthday singing a song about men falling out of the sky; some records just never leave you, no matter how much you want them to.
Bearcats are the garage two piece of drummer Lexi McCoy and bassist Lisa Harrison. The band formed in 2014, and as well as becoming fixtures on the California live scene, have recently come to work with Durham’s finest new tape label, Frux Tapes, home to the likes of Tough Tits and Pale Kids. Earlier this year Frux Tapes put out Bearcats sublime debut EP, Candy, and breaking the don’t release anything in December rule, they’re also set, next week, to release the follow-up, Break Up Stories.
Break Up Stories is an instantaneously wonderful EP; three perfect pop songs, given a fantastic lo-fi makeover. Opening track New Friends is catchy a Phil Spectorish number, only the wall of sound is replaced with a fuzzy bass pedal and some fabulously primal drum clatter. Turn Me Around is Warpaint’s harmonies stripped of any studio-trickery, while closing track, Mickey and Mallory sounds like a distinctly harmony-drenched, West Coast take on The Clash. Neil Sedaka may have said that breaking up is hard to do, but Bearcats sure make it sound good.
Today ahead of that release the Arroyo Grande-duo have put together a brilliant mix, based around the years of their respective births. As Lisa puts it, “we have a bit of an age difference between us”, so Lisa transports us to 1994 when Lexi was born, and Lexi takes us back some seventeen years further to 1977 to discover the tunes of Lisa’s birth year. Two sparkling years for musical releases, both of which directly or otherwise shaped the era-spanning sound of Bearcats.
1. Pavement – Unfair
Lisa: Pavement are so Nor Cal. This is my favorite track from Crooked Rain, it’s all about the cultural divide between northern and southern California. It’s full of references to places I’ve grown up in and the sound of the guitar intro never ceases to excite me, there is so much great energy throughout.
2. Pulp – Babies
Lisa: Pulp is in my top 5 best bands, I love the sentimental tone of this song and sweeping instrumentation takes your mind off the fact of the tawdry subject matter. Jarvis’s writing is genius and his stage presence is like no other, sadly I never got the chance to see them live.
3. Guided By Voices – I Am a Scientist
Lisa: It’s tough to pick a single song from Bee Thousand, the analog sound is something that so many bands are trying to achieve today. The soft sadness of Bob’s voice is beautiful. I dare you to see them live and not cry.
4. Dinosaur Jr. – Feel The Pain
Lisa: Jay Mascis the my favorite guitar player ever. I can get lost forever in his solos, there is an ease and grace in this tune that is juxtaposed with wild distortion that I just can’t help but fall in love with, Lexi once had a dream that we met him, I’m still holding out for that one.
5. Ramones – Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Lexi: 1977 was an amazing year for music and it was so difficult to pick just four songs! Rocket to Russia was the first album I ever got on vinyl (I think I was like 13), and I didn’t have a record player so I would take it to my grandma’s house to listen to it on her record player. This song has just always been a favorite of mine by them. Also, I was in middle school I really wished my name was Sheena (maybe I still do??)
6. David Bowie – Be My Wife
Lexi: This album is amazing but I chose this song because I can’t listen to it without dancing. I love the piano opening and the whole feel of the song. Also look up the cover of the single!! It’s gorgeous. R.I.P.
7. Iggy Pop – Baby
Lexi: I regrettably had never listened to this album until this year and I love every song on it. For some reason this song stands out to me, with its haunting vocals and distortion and the way he sings “Baby, you’re so young” just feels so heartfelt to me.
8. Elvis Costello – Alison
Lexi: When I told my mom I was making a playlist from the year ’77 she got really excited and started singing this song, and then I remembered she told me our band should cover it a few months ago! I don’t know if that will ever happen (sorry mom) but this song is just lovely.