Monday, June 28, 2010

Phantom Planet is Missing

I've been gone for so long. I have so much to tell you. Book reviews and album reviews and why Brian Fallon is a god.

But first, Phantom Planet. Also known as the snake of my musical life coming around and eating its tail 12 years later.

I first discovered Phantom Planet is 2008 (or so I thought!) I bought tickets for that year's Honda Civic Tour and they were one of the opening slots. Thinking back, they may have been the opening slot, right after Dan Does Decaydance. Which is really sad now.

This was back before I was going to concerts all the time, back when I still spent the week before the concert planning out what I was going to wear, back when it was very important what shoes I wore and if there was extra money in my back pocket, and back when I still bought a t-shirt at every show. This means that I spent the week or so before the show listening to music by all of the bands so that I would be well informed.

It was just over 2 years ago but it feels like forever.

Anyways, I liked Raise the Dead and thought they were pretty cool live. But the last song they played was "California." Everyone has heard this song. Everyone. It was on some MTV show for a while (The OC? Laguna Beach?) and it was all over the radio. I swear you know this song. "California here we come, right back where we started from." Before they played the song, Alex Greenwald made an announcement.

"So people have been coming up to us after the show and telling us what a great cover of 'that California song' we've been playing. It's not a cover. This is our song."

This is a song that everyone knew, but everyone thought this little opener couldn't have been the ones to do it. Who were they, Phantom Planet? It was one of the saddest things I've heard at a concert. But I bought Raise the Dead and liked it when shuffle exhumed it from my stacks of music and never thought anything else of it. When I bought it the guy at the counter told me to check out Jason Schwartzmen's project Coconut Records because it featured Kirsten Dunst and I never thought anything else of it.

But I got a bunch of gift cards for Christmas and those are obviously all spent on CDs. Newbury comics had copies of Phantom Planet is Missing and The Guest for about $3 each, so I threw them onto the stack. They sat unopened on my "to listen" pile for an entire semester, constantly shuffled down as I bought new things. The cellophane didn't come off until right before my vacation as supplementary travel music.

Shuffle pulled up some songs during the trip, but it wasn't until the plane ride home that I listened to them fully. And I'm pretty sure these CDs were the soundtrack to the mid 90s, but they weren't even out then! The first was released in 1998, and I was beyond confused. I knew so many of these songs, but never knew they belonged to Phantom Planet. They weren't some little opener, they had been a huge band. But one song in particular stuck out to me.

"So I Fall Again." This song was killing me. It made me feel like I was 8 or 9 years old. This song was intimately linked with my childhood and I could not figure it out. I thought maybe it had been a huge radio hit (maybe it had?) but I didn't listen to pop radio when I was that young. I was all country all the time. I played this song over and over trying to figure it out. Then it hit me like a bright purple soundtrack.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch. There was a soundtrack put out in 1998 for the TV show that I watched every Friday night and I had it. Now, the first CDs I remember owning were N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys as my brother gave them to me the Christmas I got my CD player, which must have been 1998 judging by the release dates of those songs. But this CD came out in '98 as well and I found it on Amazon and it had "So I Fall Again" on it.

I don't know when I got this CD. I don't know who gave it to me or where it came from or where it is now, but I played that thing over and over and over again. I loved that CD. I wish I knew where it was. The track list is crazy, from Melissa Joan Hart to Sugar Ray to Ben Folds Five and Robyn and The Cardigans. At the age of 9, which I must have been when I got that CD, I had no idea who any of those people were. But I loved that CD to death, and I loved "So I Fall Again."

Who knew that ten years later I'd see that same band live, and that 12 years later I'd fall in love with them again?

Phantom Planet played their last show in the fall of 2008. At least I got to see them once before it was over, even if I had no idea what was happening.

I might just buy myself a new copy of that CD. I'm listening to the track snippets on Amazon and I'm having all these flashbacks to loving this stuff. It's crazy but awesome. Look at little nine year old me and my love of Ben Folds Five. And how many times did I play "Blah Blah Blah" by the Cardigans? Sure Britney Spears was on there, as were the Backstreet Boys, but I still think I must find and own this CD today.

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