About a year before I started University, I had a sort of musical obsession — I wanted to hear as many bands on the Touch & Go/Quarterstick roster as I could. Lucky for me, this wasn’t too difficult; one of the record stores I went to each week had a distribution deal with Touch & Go, which kept the store packed with cheap, interesting records to choose from. This was probably how I found a pair of Bedhead LPs in the store, several years after even the reissues had gone out of print. One day I bought both records with no expectations beyond some vague notion of this thing called “slowcore.” Listening to What Fun Life Was later that evening, I was floored. This unassuming and totally plain-looking record contained some of the most beautiful guitar music I’d ever heard.
However, the sequential pairing of “Bedside Table” and “The Unpredictable Landlord” made me suspicious of the whole “slowcore” thing. I remember thinking that, between “slowcore” and the band’s name, Bedhead might sound dreary, but these two tracks proved the opposite — the latter is a relatively upbeat, possibly even lively (albeit in a restrained sort of manner) track, and the former is a mixtape staple. Common to both is the guitar interplay of the brothers Matt and Bubba Kadane: whether hypnotically intertwined or melodically distinct, their shared guitar progressions always move forward instinctively. On “Bedside Table,” the song gradually progresses from a comfortable meander into a raucous outburst that crests with a cathartic moment of sustained feedback between both guitars; the progression is straightforward (quiet to loud), but the variation around it is refined and vaguely triumphant — in short, it’s easy to feel good about.
Bedhead could hardly be considered extroverted, but songs like “Bedside Table” displayed a refined and sharply focused style that was ever so slightly livelier than their name would suggest. Furthermore, the band’s understated nature makes much of their discography difficult to absorb quickly, which is why I find them worth listening to every year. But “Bedside Table” — that song instantly became a favorite, and it did so in such an unassuming manner. It’s easy to sometimes miss this kind of comforting subtlety.