Day Eighty: The Front Bottoms and Sledding Into Abstraction

by Tom Noonan

There was a hill, growing up, that my I used to go sledding on all the time with my family.  Whenever there was enough snow, we’d wait until it was dark out, when all the other kids had to go home, and we’d ask our dad take us over to the elementary school that the hill supported.  We had this old toboggan we’d always bring that sat three people semi-comfortably and could pick up a frightening amount of speed if you got scared by those kinds of things.  I don’t think any of us did.

The hill itself had two humps on it.  The first one gave you speed.  It was right at the top, and it would shoot you out in a way that once you were going, you had no way to stop.  There was no failsafe, no emergency exit.  No matter what, you were going to end up at the bottom of the hill.

The second hump was different, it had some kind of power, something that we couldn’t really understand at that point in our lives.  The second hump got you off the ground, lifted you up and smashed every rule that was around you.  You were the air, the clouds, you were your sister and your brother, your father, you were anything and everything but yourself.  When you hit that bump, you existed in some nebulous place beyond complete lucidity.

I’ve written at length already about The Front Bottoms, a band that is the indefinable accumulation of all the music you should be listening to, but I’ve never been quite able to put my finger on what exactly it is about them that is so magnetizing.  Recently the band released the first single from their upcoming album.  The song is called “Twin Size Mattress”, and it contains all the elements of a great Front Bottoms song.  The song also exists, as all Front Bottoms songs do, in those hard to touch places, the moments after you hit the second bump on that hill and the imprecise and ephemeral emotions that consume them.  This is what is so magnetizing about them: their ability to distill those types of moments and places that are otherwise lost to abstractions.  With all that said, there hasn’t been a more beautiful song put to record this year:

This is for the lions living in the wiry broke down frames of my friends bodies/When the flood water comes, it ain’t gonna be clear/It’s gonna look like mud/But I will help you swim/I will help you swim/I’m gonna help you swim