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Wire from the Bunker: Peter Case

My contempt for radio – particularly the local variety – has been well-documented in these pages. But at the risk of belaboring the point, let me say: fuck you very much. It wasn’t always like this. 1986: I’m driving my folks’ American Eagle station wagon down the Pike in Rockville, Maryland, possibly on my way to chess club practice, most definitely not en route to rendezvous a non-existent crush, when a song came on the radio that compelled me to pull over and listen. The 80s were a tough time for those of us utterly perplexed by the popularity of such bands as U2 and REM: soul-free drivel with god-awful front men. Don’t get me the wrong. The 90s and the rise of phony indie rock were possibly worse and, in this century, the album itself has tragically been put to rest. But what I heard that day in 1986 sounded completely new but completely old as well. A way forward with a steady look to the past. I patiently waited for my favorite DJ, Weasel, on WHFS 99.1 FM out of Annapolis, to pronounce the credits in his endearingly rodent-like voice. The song that had so gripped me was, he said, “Echo Wars” from Peter Case’s eponymous debut on Geffen Records. I turned the wagon around, cruised over to Waxie Maxie’s and picked up the record (that’s what they were called back then without the now preposterous “vinyl” modifier). I’ve been stalking Peter Case ever since.

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