It's been a good long while since we've heard from Masters of the Hemisphere, almost an entire decade. Well, not a "good" while, because it would have been nice if they had been cranking out a thoughtfully winsome, sweet-as-punch indie pop/rock album every couple of years instead of lying dormant. Instead of lamenting their absence, let's celebrate their return on October 4th because that's when their new album Maybe These Are the Breaks is being released by the fine folks at Magic Marker. In the spirit of triumphant comebacks, we asked the band to send us a list of their favorites.
Before we hand it over to the band's Jeff Griggs, here's a track from the new album:
In the Volcano by Masters of the Hemisphere
Baby, comeback! When I was first tasked with the assignment to write about my favorite comebacks, my mind immediately went to sports and military victories. The problem with both of those kinds of comebacks is that there is always a loser. I wanted to think outside of the comeback box and profile some of the great, all-time comebacks in which there were no losers, only winners. Here goes:
5. Coca-Cola Classic. Arguably the most refreshing comeback ever. For those of you who are not familiar with the phoenix-like rise of Coca-Cola Classic, know that in 1985 some idiots at Coke thought it would be a great idea to alter the century-old formula of Coca-Cola, changing it to a strychnine/battery acid-based solution of pure demon poison bottled under the name New Coke. Americans, especially those living in the Southeastern United States, shat bricks. After much intense remonstration, Coca-Cola Classic was unleashed on a thirsty public just 78 days after New Coke came on the market. It was the longest 78 days in American history.
4. What’s Happening Now!! The early 1980s was a dark, dark period for American television audiences. Throughout the late 1970s, folks had fallen in love with the foolish antics of Raj, Dwayne, Rerun, Dee, and Shirley from the hit sitcom What’s Happening!! But on April 28th, 1979, the show’s last episode aired leaving so many questions unanswered. Would Raj and Dee ever patch things up with their father? Would the Doobie Brothers ever forgive Rerun for sneaking a tape recorder into their show? What is Charles Widmore’s history with the island? Thankfully, after an excruciating wait, What’s Happening Now!! debuted in 1985, and all of the tough questions were answered. FYI, Raj turned out to be a writer, Rerun a used car salesman, Shirley bought Rob’s Place and changed the name to Rob’s, Dee went off to college, and Dwayne was a computer programmer (WTF, right?).
3. J. B. The Polish Sausage Man’s Comeback Sauce. Okay, this isn’t a proper comeback, but whenever I hear the word comeback I think of J. B. and his Comeback Sauce. Anyone who did any hanging around in Athens in the late '90s and early 2000s would instantly recognize J. B. and his polish sausage cart as a semi-permanent fixture parked right outside the entrance to the fabulous 40 Watt Club. J. B. made his living by burning up these sausages on his grill and selling them at exorbitant prices to super-drunk white kids. After way too many Pabst Blue Ribbons, those sausages always seemed like a good idea. Now, if you were gonna do it, you had to do it right and get that sucker covered in the bizarrely tangy homemade condiment known as Comeback Sauce. To my knowledge, nobody has ever figured out why J. B. called this stuff Comeback Sauce, but I guess it’s supposed to make you come back for more. For the record, though, I personally think it’s a bad idea to use the word “come” as a descriptor for any type of foodstuffs.
2. Dinosaur Jr. This one’s pretty simple. With a rash of '90s indie staples getting back together in the past ten years, Dinosaur Jr.’s reuniting had me the most excited. I was lucky enough to see these dudes rock it at one of their first reunited shows in Covington, KYy in July of 2005, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Total face-melting stuff. Some friends of mine were working on the band’s crew at the time so I got to go backstage after the show. I found J. Mascis’ crazy ass and just gushed to him how incredible I thought the performance had been. As long as I live, I’ll never forget what he said to me: “………………………………………………………………………………..thanks.”
1. Yacht Rock. Not the internet video phenomenon, the music genre. Now, it should be noted that I don’t think any of us in the Masters ever got off the boat. We’ve been on a steady diet of Hall & Oates, Toto, Boz Scaggs, Al Stewart, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan and even Chuck Mangione since we were in diapers. We’re just super happy that recently a whole new generation of fans has been introduced to the mellow cheesy sweetness of AM Gold. Remember, you don’t need kilos of blow and a boat, just some white wine and a pair of boat shoes will do. Just keep your shirt tucked and keep it smooth, ya’ll.