I grew up in Georgia. Not redneck South, but suburban South, where brand-new pickup trucks sparkle from weekend wash-n-waxes outside the QuickTrip. Even though I was born in the Midwest, to Scandinavian immigrant parents, with deep family roots in New Jersey, I took to the South like a young babe to sweet tea.
I've waxed rhapsodic about my complicated, yet strong love for Southern culture, food and pace of life online, on air, just about anywhere. But I didn't understand pickup trucks until I spent a lot of time in the bed of my friend Laura's used Toyota ("Zorak") driving around Athens late at night, blissful from a concert or Waffle House, or both. Wind in hair — down to my butt back then, oh my — Weezer on the stereo and friends gripping onto the rails, shooting the shit into the sky.
This is how I learned to love the utility and poetry of the pickup truck. Yeah, you were always the first call when a friend needed to move a ratty couch that's been passed down who knows how many houses, but there's a confidence that comes with jutting your arm out an open window of a pickup barely good enough to be designated "farm use only." The sun beams a little hotter, the air catches the corners of the cabin like a self-contained vortex, the radio crackles warmer, the body moves like a rickety wooden rollercoaster.
For years, I rarely saw a pickup in D.C. But once we moved to the outskirts of the city, we met more working-class folks in construction and retired dudes under the hood of trucks in constant need of repair. I've made friends or casual acquaintances with them because they remind me of home and, well, I still want my own truck someday.
Then late 2020, a Chevrolet 1500 — likely from the '80s, but I'm really not an expert, like, at all — parked at the church across the street from our house. (We live on an unzoned street, so we’ve had all manner of long-term guests, once including a giant church bus that’d hum all night.) This monster truck woke something primal in me, like a Stooges riff caked in mud. Every morning, I see the sun rise across its Frankenstein frame, wondering at its hulking presence in our neighborhood and the Black dude who revs it up every now and again to keep it alive.
If it wasn't a pandemic, I'd leave a note on the windshield, telling him how much I admire this dumb monstrosity — said with utmost sincerity and respect — and would love a ride someday. Maybe I will anyway, for hope of big wheels laying waste to greener pastures.
You want more music after I already done gave y'all 40 album recs for Bandcamp Friday? Fine. 39 tracks. Strut's got an expanded reissue of Lanquidity, my favorite Sun Ra record, with alternate versions and whatnot. Lisel breaks apart her voice, pixel by pixel. Soul Glo is the punkest band alive. Zao's "Croatoan" channels the underrated Funeral of God / Fear is What Keeps Us Here era. FACS digs into a Nite Flights groove. Rosali hooks up with folks from the Dance Nance Group for a loping rocker at the weeping willow. Sarah Louise asks, "Sylvan Esso, but what if I made it pretty weird and shred some sweet guitar psych on top?" Every Duke Deuce song begins with a WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUCK and I appreciate that. Deekapz got pink sweatbandz on. I don't know what kind of music Prolaps makes, but I feel like I just ate an entire bag of sugar and made friends with ants. Ditto for Frozen Crown, but this is definitely Italian power metal of the highest calibre. The Breeders takes on an old His Name Is Alive song for a new series of 4AD bands covering each other. Mdou Moctar's desert blues gets a garland of flowers. Blood Lemon sorta sounds like the doom-metal side project I've always wanted from Low. Sax 'n' organ drone via Lea Bertucci. Big Brave's naked doom. Belgium's It It Anita makes noise rock for demolished arenas. Chicago's Mother Nature got charisma and bars for days. Supermilk is Jake from Doe (RIP) with a major thing for chunky pop riffs. Ratboys finally made a dang country song. Body Void probably hates everyone. Throwbacks to MX80, Amy Grant (Heart Motion is 30 years old!), Propagandi ("Amy Grant mosh crew"), King Geedorah.
*Viking’s Choice is back on Apple Music, but only one person has access to NPR Music’s official account, so it may take a day to update.