Say Sue Me
Where We Were Together
It’s a story older than rock and roll. Childhood friends bond over music and form a band. In this case, the friends happened to live in South Korea. The original trio, Jae Young (bass), Kim Byungkyu (guitar) and Kang Semin (drums) were high school friends who recruited Sumi Choi to be their singer when they met her in a teashop because they liked her speaking voice. They made a good choice because not only does she have a great voice, but she’s a good writer too.
Where We Were Together is the bands second album. The title is a reference both to their hometown and to their original line up. Kang Semin was in an accident that left him in a semi-comatose state. The band is moving forward with a new drummer while they wait for their friend to make a full recovery. Half the songs were recorded before Semin’s accident and four of the remaining songs are about him in some way including “Funny and Cute” and “About the Courage to Become Somebody’s Past”.
The tunes on Where We Were Together range from poppy tunes like “I Just Wanna Dance”, which mashes up bits of Ventures, Ramones and the Bangles for a delightful ode to having fun. “Old Town” expresses the feelings of many a recent college graduate who stays in town. It’s about feeling abandoned as all the people you know move away. The town remains the same, but it’s completely different as a new crop of students replaces everyone you knew.
In some ways, Say Sue Me remind me the most of Yo La Tengo. On the song, “Here”, they master the quiet textures and harmonies that characterize so much of YLT’s later work. “About the Courage To Become Somebody’s Past” is a beautiful, haunting instrumental built atop a wash of gritty feedback guitar. I love the contrast of the pretty and the grating noise. The contrast may be the best way to express their feelings for their absent friend.