It’s Valentine’s Day and you’re all by your lonesome. What’s your plan? You’re going to cuddle up in your sweatpants with a pint of ice cream and re-watch Bridget Jones’s Diary? Scooch over, I’m taking the wheel.
Here’s what going to happen. Get yourself a dozen red roses, you deserve them. Pick up a bottle of red wine (or two, no one’s judging). Set a dangerously large number of candles. Pull out your turntable, cassette deck or laptop — I’ve got three albums for you.
This Valentine’s Day, we’re not listening to any ballads or emo laments. No Dion, no Groban, no Bareilles. If you’re going to cry tonight, you might as well ruin some beautiful mascara while wearing a silk kimono in a lavishly made bed. Tonight, we’re dancing like we’re resigned to dying alone. Tonight, we’re indulging in the silly, sultry magnificence that is lo-fi doo-wop and garage rock.
First off, the album that sets the standard against which all others will be judged: Hunx & His Punx’s 2011 Too Young To Be In Love. Hunx (aka hairdresser-cum-fashion designer-cum-singer Seth Bogart) croons with a nasal whininess that screams, “I don’t care what you think, I’m the cutest boy in the whole neighborhood.”
Hunx & His Punx deliver nostalgic odes to young love and falling for bad boys. My recommended pairings for Too Young To Be In Love are a checkerboard shirt under a vintage leather jacket and a pompadour that took you an embarrassingly long time to perfect.
Too Young To Be In Love clocks in at just over a half-hour long and you still have wine to drink. It’s time to head over to Bandcamp and put on Jungle Green Presents: Twelve-and-a-Half Minutes of the Most Beautiful Love Songs Ever Written.
(Full disclosure: Jungle Green is one of my friend Andrew Smith’s many musical projects.)
Twelve-and-a-Half Minutes sounds like the product of the Muppets getting their hands on an eight-track and recording a doo-wop album in one over-caffeinated take. (Oh, and The Books’ Paul de Jong contributed to its mixing.)
The album ranges from romps with extended xylophone solos (“I’ll Change My Style”) to heart-throbbing slow jams (“The One I Love”). Green’s liner notes tell it all: “I wrote these songs while eating pints of Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream and crying.”
Green’s Bandcamp page is filled with side projects and collaborations, each more delightful and bizarre than the last. If you’re digging his work, also check out the faux-retro Radio 401K’s “Summer of Pleasure” — Top Hits of July, 1959, his and Matty McCall’s country project The Knights of Joliet and C’est Nous, recorded under the name François.
Last up are Canadian Garage Rockers The King Khan & BBQ Show. Former Spaceshits members BBQ (aka Mark Sultan) and Blacksnake (aka King Khan) are aficionados of booty shorts, leather harnesses and infectious melodies. Their whole discography is terrific, but I recommend 2009’s Invisible Girl for its Valentine’s Day-ready hits “I’ll Be Loving You,” “Spin The Bottle” and “Lonely Boy.” Their songs are profane, gross and, more than anything else, incredibly fun. Invisible Girl is best enjoyed with an utter lack of irony and self-consciousness, as well as the shiniest article of clothing in your entire wardrobe.
But now you’ve made it through all three albums, and you’re not ready to call it a night. If you’re feeling like not only is love fake but, actually, everything is fake, turn on the surreal Adam Green’s Aladdin. (It’s now free on YouTube and Vimeo.)
Green — formerly part of anti-folk duo the Moldy Peaches — dishes out an oddball story full of dense characters, papier-mâché props and questionable storylines. The cast reads like the ideal guest list for your bohemian anti-Valentine’s Day salon, featuring Bip Ling, Macaulay Culkin, Alia Shawkat, Devendra Banhart and Har Mar Superstar, just to name a few. You’ll leave the movie feeling like nothing is real, the world is doomed and you’re ready to party until the end.
Despite the Valentine’s Day theme, these recommendations are not only for the lovelorn, the heartsick and the misanthropic. They’re also for those who just don’t care about love, for those who don’t need someone in their life right now. They’re for those who just want to dance and make impulsive decisions and listen to some damn good music. They’re for rock & roll lovers, shower singers and thrift shop frequenters. They’re for those looking for an odd and unplanned night.
You have your playlist, now go do something with it. Buy a tub of Manic Panic and dye your hair electric lizard green. Send some ill-advised tweets about your loneliness off into the void. Pierce your friend’s ear, or your own. Blare Scissor Sisters and start planning a kiki. This night is yours, make it count.
Shay Collins is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Morning Bowl of Surreal will appear alternate Mondays this semester. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org