It’s hard to think of today. Even more difficult to think about it ten times. My copy of The Andersen Tapes’ “As I Write ‘Today’ Ten Times” has the word written ‘today’ written and numbered 10 times by Amanda. It feels more like yesterday than today. The memory of a perfect gig fumbles in my head, but happily the album lives up to day.
My review is as biased as it can be. I adore Amanda and I believe everything she has made so far, from the Free Loan Investments, to the Busy Band and now The Andersen Tapes is just gold. Solid gold. Back in the day, when Roger Gunnarsson pointed me to the Andersen Tapes myspace, where two songs greeted me with shyness, I knew there was something special here. With skepticism I wrote Amanda as it seemed as no one was logging in to her myspace. Happily she answered and we ended up releasing a small 3″ CD with three tracks: “Smartypants”, “The Problem is the Solution” and “Turn to Speak”. The little CD sold out fast.
We teamed once again including the song “Cross Country” on compilation CD called “Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated?”. This CD was released along the Bottle Rocket zine. What is funny and quite a coincidence is that on the cover of this CD you can spot Jörgen Svensson, head of Fraction Discs, who would release The Andersen Tapes album a year or so after.
I consider myself very fortunate. If my memory doesn’t play any games, The Andersen Tapes have played a grand total of 3 gigs. From those 3, I’ve attended to 2. First one in Stockholm, back in October 2009. Where a cold Swedish night became warm and bright when Amanda played perhaps 8 songs accompanied by her bluegrass and fellow medicine student friends The Mississippi Preachers. An intimate gig were she dazzled the small crowd that made the right decision to be at Debaser Slussen that night. She was even able to make everyone so happy after just mere hours ago Sweden had lost against Denmark in the World Cup qualifiers. Not many can pull that off! Quite a charmer!
I’m just re-reading a short and sweet interview we did just after that gig. I grin with happiness. I ask her if she knew she was the best dancer in Stockholm. She said that it was perhaps she was the only one dancing to what I was djing. There’s also the question about doing a 7″ of The Andersen Tapes some day. She agrees. I hope it happens. I could make 10 7″s out of each song of the album though, and would make a lot of sense. The interview was published on the last fanzine, the black fanzine. We also talk about the then upcoming album, she tells me:
“I think it might be 10-12 songs. We’ll see what songs go together and do some selecting. I’m so excited! I love Fraction Discs. The album has a working name on my computer: “A house in new ordeals” – but I don’t think it will be the name on the record because I don’t think what it means! People can expect me singing and playing instruments badly, (I love DIY). Some fast popsongs, and some ballads. A mix of old songs that’s been collecting dust and some very new ones. So it shows a history and my songwriting of five-six years.”
So she settled with 10 songs, mostly ballads, and a different name for the album. And believe me, it’s not badly played at all. It sounds great as it is. It is in any case something to champion, that she recorded all these songs by herself in Hallandsgatan.
I’ve been listening to the album quite a lot after coming back from London Popfest. The Andersen Tapes played their last gig there, on a Friday, in Brixton’s Windmill. This time it was an all-star band. The sound of the band was fuller and richer. The two guitars gave the songs another dimension with Isak giving some fantastic jangle. On top of that, they got Jesper, of the best drummers in indiepop history. The vocals harmonies between Amanda and Christin were heaven sent. And Renée picking up the bass for the first time and proving she could handle it with no problems. Amazing! I had already a taster, I didn’t miss the sound testing, but as soon as the first words came out from “Clap, Clap, Clap”, and the gentle guitar playing of Ms. Aldervall, the time stopped for me. On the course of the 9 songs they played it was hard to even feel my heartbeat. Was I alive? It was the best gig by far during the festival. The best band. They took the stage, the venue, they made it theirs. It was just perfect. Magical even. You know, I still get flashbacks in dreams of that gig. It was hauntingly good!
The last song of that gig was a true footstomper. On my setlist it says just “Baby”. It’s not on the album, but I hear it’s from a secret new project. We’ll have to wait and see. But it already promises so much knowing who is involved in it. But I can’t say more!
Writing this today, suddenly it feels like today when it was a cold night in Stockholm back in 2009 when I felt a bit lost taking the tunnelbana for the first time and when arriving to Slussen station getting directions from Amanda to the venue under the bridge. A huge buffet in there were everything seemed vegetarian. When she tells me the best of Stockholm is just walking around and crossing it’s bridges. Getting my Free Loan Investments 7″ signed. It feels like today when I saw Amanda across the street in Tottenham Road Court and looking for that elusive vegetarian Chinese buffet that Christin loves. Laughing about that we thought each other were vegetarians, when of course we aren’t. It all feels like today. Today like today ten times. And on the background “All You Need to Know” is playing here at home, far away from Sweden, from England. And I capture the words from the songs, bit by bit, and I wish on a shooting star all these things were happening again. Wishing for it all to repeat.
Tenderly the songs flow, one after the other. I’m reminded not of Talulah Gosh or Heavenly as some people would, but of the mighty PO! An underrated band that penned some of the most beautiful and haunting albums during the heyday of indiepop. Ruth Miller was ahead of her time maybe, and maybe Amanda is too. Or maybe it’s not about time. It’s about sensibilities. Or brains. It would be a crime to dismiss and underrate this work of love. I find silly to make year-end lists but I could do an exemption just to champion this record one more time.
The wrapper of the mint filled Aero lies on the floor and the bottle of Stella is half full. Everything is closed and it’s pitch black. Today for the tenth time. And “Riksgränsen” spins on the deck. It’s hard to imagine a popkid doing crazy winter sports in this ski-resort. For some reason it feels very natural to imagine Amanda doing that. Same as going “Cross-Country”. If there’s anyone full of life, that’ her. And the album gallops like that, like if there’s no time to lose. Perhaps that’s why she acknowledges that maybe later in life “You’re so Lonely When You’re Old”, that this is the time to make things happen. I can’t agree with that more. This is the time. It’s all about today. Opportunities come and go. Even music comes and goes. Though I can say that this record is timeless without the risk of being wrong. There’s always an exception to the rule.
I’ve been obsessed with the past and have been fixated with patience for the past years for different reasons. Perhaps the best advice is that of the “Problem is the solution”. I’m sure that when this unfinished business I have is done, finished and kaput, things will start to shape up. Listening to this record is like having a friend speak me, it’s a good company in these humid and sunny Miami evenings. Just open your heart and give it to the honest words of The Andersen Tapes. It’s a modern indiepop classic. Warm, moody and heartfelt. Thanks for the inspiration.