. . .
After the Miss Alans wrote and recorded the batch of songs that eventually became Ledger, the final album of their initial run, Scott Oliver had a bunch of song ideas that he didn’t think were quite right for The Miss Alans, being a bit too simple. Meanwhile, Manny Diez also had some ideas that were maybe too avant-garde for the Miss Alans. So, like chocolate and peanut butter, they decided to combine, Manny and Scott working together just to get their ideas out of their heads.
And because they didn’t expect to release any of it, there weren’t any rules at all: the songs became what they were organically, just Scott and Manny interacting on guitars, with Scott adding vocals. Only later did they invite Ron Woods — up to that point a drummer — to overdub basslines and recruited the mysterious Alisa to play the drum parts. (I’ve heard more than one story about Alisa, but out of respect for their privacy, I won’t repeat any of those stories.)
The whole thing combined to become Super 5 Thor, a name that came from a campaign poster for somebody named Thor who was running for District 5 Supervisor, and in early 1996, their first album, Ford, was released on Echostatic/Space Baby. And while I missed the forward momentum of the Miss Alans rhythm section, there were some really gorgeous songs on Ford, like “Breath,” which kinda reminded me of something from Big Star’s Third, with billowing guitars everywhere.
Why did you lead me on
Why did you forget me
Why did you tell me over
Don’t forget to breathe
Don’t forget to breathe
Singing in a quiet high voice, Scott is talking about the early days of his recovery, where not only did he stay up all hours of the night because he didn’t want to go to sleep, but when he did, he’d wake himself up worrying about whether or not he was forgetting the breathe.
And so why is the song called “Breath,” and not “Breathe,” which is obviously what he’s singing? Just a plain old-fashion typo, like when someone typed “between the horns of the day” instead of “between the hours of the day” for the lyrics R.E.M.’s “I Believe” and Michael Stipe liked it so much he decided to keep it.
Also adding to the mood, Manny Diez’s guitar, which alternates a simple, repeating hook which sounds like it might have been run through a Leslie speaker, but not necessarily. Unless, of course, it’s an organ. Either way, it eventually takes over the song like a tornado that starts on the horizon and eventually goes right through your neighborhood.
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