At times, the quest to maintain sanity can be a real test in a city of eight million. New York is amazing on so many levels, but when the city is fully submerged in summer and your morning commute is spent wedged in a subway car, helpless to stop the sweat bead casually making its way down your body, it can get a little heavy. At this point, most people get out of the city for a while, and I flew back to the sunny, snow-topped peaks of Vancouver.
Almost a month later, my family was coming off a week in the Chilcotin Mountain wilderness, an annual trip to a cabin without power, road access, or cell service (does it get more Canadian than that?). I was up front with my Dad who was at the wheel, and my sisters were at various levels of passed out in the back. We still had a couple hours drive to Whistler, and it was that transient slice of night where darkness has set in but the sky is still glowing blue with the last remains of the sun.
I was resident road trip DJ which is always a delicate role with my Dad in the car ever since the first time I took control of the car stereo while we were driving around looking for things to do in Nashville years ago – the man must be the moodiest and most unpredictable music listener there ever was. Even if you put on his favorite song (Queen’s “I Want to Break Free”), he’s just as likely to turn it down to an unperceivable volume as he is to crank it up on repeat; other times he’ll go completely rogue and play the sports station inexplicably loud (this is the kiss of death). In short, his music eccentricities mean I can never quite relax into whatever’s playing because I’m constantly anticipating him killing the volume right at the crux of a great song. In any case, tonight we were cruising through the Duffey Lake Valley with the windows rolled down and the music at a respectable volume; nature must have sedated him. I was scrolling through my phone for the next song, and when I found “Underwater” I think a chill ran through me.
Listen: “Underwater” – Porches
The first time I encountered Porches was at one of my very first shows after moving to New York. I can’t remember who played earlier that night, but after the show ended I wound up sharing a smoke with TV Girl’s Brad Petering who was there for the late night set that Porches was headlining. He described them along the lines of “a resident New York favorite with a babe of a lead singer” which was enough for me to stick around.
“Underwater” was the first song Porches played that night and it’s the one that always brings me back to my first few surreal months in New York. Hearing it ever since is a visual and emotional flashback to that enchanting (albeit unsteady) feeling of being new in a place and piecing together where you fit into it.
Aaron Maine’s lyrics are a dreamy retrospective themselves; from the onset of the synth to his haunting vocals, the song is both intense and grounding, a perfect track for late night drives. I was flying back to New York in less than 24 hours and, after a week of dislocation from the world, had a momentary feeling of excitement and apprehension to be leaving again. I’ve probably listened to that song a hundred times since that first night at Baby’s, but for some reason it never sounded quite as good as that night in the car this summer.
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