Looking back, 2009 seems like kind of a chaotic year. And it was—I got married, which makes it, in the end, one of the best years of my life. But it also saw some pretty crappy things happen, including the loss of loved ones. In a lot of ways, my twenties were really about just getting through as many difficult experiences and life lessons as possible, so as to have it all out of the way before turning 30 so I can finally get on with moving on to better things.
But in November of 2009, things turned around, at least for a little while. I took a sacred oath to bogart the woman I love forever, and then we flew to Europe and had fun for nine days. (I guess seven, since two of those were really spent on a plane.) And when I travel—with the exception of more remote places like islands in the Caribbean, where record stores are fairly rare—I like to pick up a listenable souvenir from that country. A lot of the time, I prefer to choose an artist from that country or city. I did that in Scotland a few years later, and I did it in Paris a few years before (though not on vinyl, unfortunately). I also bought some vinyl in Barcelona, but I didn’t actually buy anything from a Spanish artist. I’ll be honest, here: I don’t know that many Spanish artists, and in our explorations we didn’t really come across many independent record shops anyway. But whether it’s at FNAC or a mom-and-pop shop, vinyl bought in Barcelona is still a pretty cool souvenir, if you ask me.
In the weeks beforehand, I was mostly listening to Baroness’ Blue Record (my previous entry in Auto Order, if you recall), as its mixture of big anthems and heavy guitars was the cathartic jolt of energy needed after a mostly stressful year. But I was on my honeymoon, after all, and it seemed only appropriate to pick up something a bit more intimate, romantic, and dark in an alluring way (if you know my wife you know she digs dark music). The xx had just released their debut, and I wasn’t quite sure if I loved it, but I kept coming back to it, and after spotting it—with a damn cool-looking die-cut cover—I couldn’t resist picking it up. It was pretty expensive as I recall; in fact, the price tag is still on it—18.95 Euros, which had a much higher exchange rate in 2009 (right now the Euro is still valued higher, but much closer to parity with the dollar. Why am I explaining this? I don’t know, it’s boring, I’ll stop.)
Anyhow, the more I listened to XX, the more I loved it, and by simply being a reminder of a perfect week, it’s become special to me. Whenever I put it on, I’ll think about getting lost in Barcelona, trying to find an amazing restaurant, or being up at 3 a.m. watching a campy German cop show about a K-9 unit, or having champagne cocktails in Cannes. I enjoy the music, certainly, but the memories attached to it are even better.
Sound Quality: Great