How often do you give thought to when the things you care deeply about arrived in your life?
That was an amazingly clunky sentence, but I swear there was something in it. Firstly, I want to state that I rarely do. I find this odd because firstly, I’m an obsessive navel gazer. just look at how many times I’ve written “I” in this paragraph alone. Secondly, it’s a bigger part of what makes you tick than you’d expect. Think about all the music that defined your teen years. What if you heard different bands instead? Think about the many character defining stories that shaped what excites you in life. Would you still be the same you if not for them? Who would you be? What part of those texts primed you to receive the world with your own earned worldview?
I’m a clusterfuck of a basketcase, likely because I was raised as a cartoon. This has nothing to do with casting aspersions on my upbringing, and everything to do with my childhood desire to replicate behaviours I respected most. Ergo, I became a cartoon. Larger than life reactions, odd responses and strange comic timing. A colossal portion of my personality is based on how I perceive humour. This all started with cartoons. Whether they were the endless Loony Toones reruns on Cartoon Network all day, or the Saturday Morning cartoons from Captain N: The Game Master to Bucky O’ Hare. I am my own special weirdo and that’s double-plus okay. It’s thanks mostly to the many, many cartoons I consumed during my years of major cognitive development.
I mention this because today, at the age of 31, I discovered a band that would likely have defined my late 20s had I known they existed. Okay, saying I discovered them today is mildly disingenuous. I’d half-heard of them before, but I didn’t really know them, y’know?
Discovering them went a little like this: I started listening to the latest Good One podcast with Rachel Bloom (of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame). It centred around a Space Jam chorus line parody she wrote years back that helped lead towards the style of musical comedy she’d grow to inhabit. The podcast started with the sketch itself. Seven minutes into the podcast (before the joke itself had even finished) I remembered that some band once wrote a nine minute song recounting the plot of the movie Space Jam. So of course I abandoned ship and checked out the song (for far from the first time). Having listened to the song many times over the course of as many blue moons, I started wondering who this band was that had the hubris to commit such an audacious track to tape. I did a quick google and discovered that not only had they recorded the song, but they created an entire Space Jam EP on a dumb lark.
It turns out, Come On and Jam is actually fucking great. Sledding with Tigers are a musically talented San Diego folk punk band. The tracks are catchy and funny as hell. They manage to build premises based on silly plot points and expand them out into decent little jams (that’re at times oddly emotionally poignant). I listened, then immediately re-listened. The songwriting was on point and gave a hint to potential depth beyond 90s live action animation hybrid parody pop songs. If there is such a thing. Curious, I checked out some more of their stuff.
Once again, it turned out that they really were just an excellent band. Kind of like a softer Car Seat Headrest cum (in the Latin sense, pervert) Bright Eyes. Their songs spanned emotional insecurity, friendships and relationships, fear of opening up and pop cultural ephemera. Their discography is sweet, pleasantly twee and EXACTLY THE KIND OF MUSIC I WOULD’VE THRASED AT AGE 25+. 25 was the age where I finally began moving beyond my more edgelord-y proclivites and embracing a softer outlook. I got more in touch with my emotional IQ and sought out opportunities to connect more closely to others. I immediately went back to their Bandcamp and bought their entire discography for under 20. The songs are that good. I’ve been listening to three of their albums on repeat and I’m actively excited to download the rest when I get home. I think of who I am and the path it took me to get here. I wonder what that path might’ve looked like had this band been on my iPod. I am, once again navel gazing, proving maybe nothing would have changed at all.
But, I dunno, could they have?