Something for Me

***

***

As is often the case, the obvious choice was clear. It was safe. Reliable. Less likely we’d botch a Saturday.

Ocean Beach has a direct line to the Pacific. Highly exposed to South Swells, it picks up the smallest traces of energy. And with its impressive sandbars (two), it amplifies that oceanic power, sometimes opening up passageways for surfers to slip through to some other-worldly place.

OB was the call. It had to be.

At least that’s what the app said. Like most things these days, Surfline’s forecasting tools use data to predict the future. An equation is created, fine-tuned, greased and oiled, until a desired success rate is achieved. The hypothesis matches the outcome. A science teacher shakes with satisfaction.

Screw romantic waxing, adventure ain’t the same! Increased accessibility means more people. More people mean more crowds. And more crowds mean statistically there’s a higher chance of surfing next to an asshole.

So, we went against reason and drove to China Beach, a small sliver of sand East of the Golden Gate Bridge, known more for the elderly Eastern European swimmers that inhabit its frigid waters, than for its surf.

Quietly we slipped into neoprene suits and paddled a hundred feet down the coast. Just out of sight, past black swatches of seaweed, recoiling, swirling, Medusa-like, long and monstrous, was a tiny wave.

It’s a weird wave – the takeoff spot fingertips from the point. You paddle towards barnacles and seaweed, harnessing the tidal energy just before it breaks, swerving left to avoid boils in the water.

At first I was afraid. It didn’t make sense. I was used to the one-dimensional approach of Ocean Beach. I pictured rocks raking out the bottom of my surfboard. But after a few lefts, I began to ease into the routine, moving closer and closer to the point, where the wave first started to break.

Not once did I think about Ocean Beach, which was probably firing amid hoots and hollers from a jacked-up lineup. I’d discovered something far more interesting. Something that was tangibly my own.

Gayngs – The Gaudy Side of Town (Live)

Last to the concert gets a bad seat. How come, in this age of overshare and well-populated search engines, do I still get to good bits of news late? Then again, I could of sworn I was listening to 10cc. Maybe it’s the ghost in the machine? Whatever it is, Gayngs, which indeed sounds ethereal, ghost-like at times, was worth ‘discovering’.

Gayngs is one out Justin Vernon’s many bands. The term side-project may not do the man justice, for, unlike his friend and collaborator Kanye West, Vernon has scuttled his main project and looks to venture into new musical acts so long as they feel right.

As such, best known from his high-pitched goodness as Bon Iver, Vernon left that identity in 2012, telling as much to Rolling Stone:

I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There’s so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I’ll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that.

Previous and concurrent acts Vernon has been associated with include, in no particular order: Shouting Matches, Volcano Choir, Bon Iver, Eau Claire Jazz Memorial Ensemble, DeYarmond Edison & Mount Vernon. Robert Durst didn’t even have that many alibis.

Now, Gayngs which some may describe as a mega group, seems more like a collaborative act to me if we focus on Vernon’s role in the music. Vernon, who appears fond of 80s sounds — see “Beth/Rest” and The Outfield cover Bon Iver played of  “Your Love” — hits the soft noise and electronic poings! and reverberating croonings of that decade to great effect in as a Gayngs member.

Some of their songs could have been the backdrop to a scene of Twin Peaks.

Others, update a vintage sound with modern preferences for noise, solos and rap-singing.

Then there’s “The Gaudy Side of Town,” which is a combo velvety-trancey-smokey record that does justice to the classic front man-backup singer dynamic, Vernon filling the rafters with his high-frequency wails. It’s a great listen, but, what’s next?

Friday’s Song: Vancouver Sleep Clinic & GXNXVS – Hold On We’re Going Home (Drake Cover)

Oh my bosh…

While this is exactly what a collaboration between Bon Iver and Drake would sound like, this track is not from the studios of the Wisconsin native and Toronto legend. Instead, this surprisingly delicate but rhythmic jem is from two Australian producers: Vancouver Sleep Clinic and GXNXVS. Together, they’ve produced an exceptional cover of a quality song. Harnessing the original’s ’80s flow with a resonant down under rhythm. It’s a song that hooks you, and, I suspect, gets caught in your head on this ebullient final Friday of May.

Cheers!