Dots and Loops

Band: Stereolab
Album: Dots and Loops
Best song: “Miss Modular” is a great song.
Worst song: “Refractions in a Plastic Tube” meanders and kind of stinks.

I don’t know why Dots and Loops means anything to me. Last week, I listened to it for the first time in five years and thought something I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about a record: Why did I like this?

Don’t get me wrong, Dots and Loops is anything but a bad record. It’s pretty good, actually. But, the love for this album I had was as large as the sun. I listened to it all the time and tried to convince everyone I knew that it was brilliant. In my defense, the best song on the record is sung in French. Also: I was 16.

I’ve most assuredly talked about my prime teenage years and the sponge-like qualities I possessed en re: music. While at WNTH in high school, that sponginess mostly applied to anything associated with “post-rock” (whatever that is) in that period of time. This mostly involved buying any and all records I could find from the imprints distributed by Touch and Go records (Quarterstick, Merge, Thrill Jockey, Atavistic, Drag City, etc.), but also involved pre-Internet (or early Internet) searches. I looked into the Allmusic guide a lot. This was spurred by the fat that Tortoise had become my favorite band and all I wanted to do was find out as much as I could about this band and its tentacles.

Two records stand out now, largely for contrast’s purposes: Dots and Loops and Since. Both have Tortoise’s John McEntire as a guest on the record, but one is a folk album and the other whatever the hell you’d call Stereolab (French lounge music?). I listened to both so much in late high school that I don’t even remember what else I listened to at the time (edit: probably prog rock. I got into prog rock in late high school, too). For what it’s worth, Stereolab even did a split seven-inch with Tortoise later that decade. It was a seven-inch

This period in my life certainly created lasting bonds. Many of my favorite bands are from that time period and I will forever listen to June of 44, Smog, Tara Jane O’Neil, Tortoise and The Sea and Cake (and Calexico and a million others). When I hear Isotope 217, Storm&Stress, the Shipping News, DK3, GvsB, and Melt Banana, I’ll smile and recount the days when I listened to such stuff. When someone references Die Kreuzen and The Lee Harvey Oswald Band, I’ll laugh and think how silly I was as a teenager to like music that was… not my style.

I’ll say this, though: I’ll always love “Miss Modular.” What a brilliant fucking song.

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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