"Futuretown" / Jon Lindsay
Every so often, some enterprising PR person plucks my little site out of the blogosphere and contacts me to suggest I listen to his or her client. (The music equivalent of what we book publishers used to call over-the-transom manuscripts.) If the request is made very very politely, I might give the music a spin. Usually it's dreadful crap that I delete from my iTunes as fast as I can. But I keep telling myself to keep an open mind -- it could always be another Edward O'Connell.
I'll admit, I let Jon Lindsay's debut album, Escape from Plaza-Midwood, loiter in the middle of my music library for a couple of months. I kept meaning to listen, but you know, Graham Parker and Doug Sahm and Huey Lewis kept getting in the way. I have my priorities.
And the first few snippets I played sounded -- well, bright and slick, with teen heartthrob-style vocals. If I had listened more closely, of course, I'd have known enough to snap up tickets for when he rolled through NYC earlier this month. I have nobody to blame but myself. My bad.
But better late than whatever. Herewith, let me introduce you to the new face of indie pop: Jon Lindsay, a 29-year-old preacher's son (make a note -- it'll be on the quiz) out of Portland, Oregon, by way of North Carolina. Before going solo he attracted some buzz in various indie bands like The Young Sons and The Catch Fire; he also worked as the keyboardist for Benji Hughes. Of course, if you've never heard of any of those artists (I hadn't), this will mean nothing to you. So let's can the press release and get down to the music, which is all you'll really need to know.
There are many very good songs on this album (check out "My Blue Angels" or "These Are the End Times" to get an idea of his stylistic range, and the agile intelligence of his lyrics). But I had to pick "Futuretown" because -- well, because I can't get it out of my head. And that's the whole point of this blog.
I'd like to believe that Lindsay wrote this song to advise his girlfriend -- or, hell, his entire generation -- to slow down and smell the roses. "Slow down on your way to Futuretown" -- why be in such a hurry to move forward with your life? But the more I listen to this guy's stuff, the more I've learned to be on the lookout for a snarky subtext. This "Futuretown" they're heading forward to isn't one-size-fits-all, it's a whole town, with good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods. She's probably already got hers mapped out, and it looks like she's leaving him by the side of the road. With a concussion.
From there on, the scenario gets steadily more surreal, almost Naked Lunch-y, with "driveby laser beams," a microchip implanted in his arm, a job "slinging oxygen and Hoverboards" (the sci-fi equivalent of working in a gas station?), even a new girlfriend who's "half a robot, half a cop." That bright, glidey pop sound morphs into something more brittle, full of twiddly keyboards and relentless slap drums; the chirpy tempo begins to feel like a moving sidewalk you can't jump off of. Welcome to the future.
Well you know me; satirical and snarky's the way I like my music. Despite that earnest sweet voice, this guy's about as cuddly as Morrissey, with neurosis to spare. (Motion City Soundtrack, move over.) Studded with knowing pop culture references -- Cormac McCarthy, Eddie Haskell, Don Draper, Kato Kaelin (I told you there'd be a quiz!) -- it's clearly power pop for the cognoscenti.
Sorry I took so long, Jon. But don't worry, you've earned yourself a place in the rotation.