“Casting Curses” by Fairweather

119. Song No. 1,677: “Casting Curses,” Fairweather
If They Move…Kill Them, 2001

I had such a brief but intense love for Fairweather in high school. It was an ardor essentially contained to their debut album, but it was more than enough to flash-freeze the entirety of If They Move…Kill Them (ITMKT herein) within a hyper-specific timeframe. “Casting Curses,” like so many early-alphabet songs from bands I haven’t listened to in ages that have been/will be stand-ins of happenstance dislodging dusty memories that apparently can only be pried out with a little musical assistance, was one mightily visceral throwback.

There are a number of late-high school albums that sound like winter: The Anniversary’s Designing a Nervous Breakdown, Death Cab for Cutie’s The Photo Album, Further Seems Forever’s The Moon is Down, Eels’ Electro-Shock Blues, to name just a few. And while a lot of albums sound like a certain season for any number of arbitrary, acutely personal associations, right on down to just being what a certain time of the year sounds like to me, ITMKT simply sounds like winter because that’s when I played it the most.

Insufferable family vacations were one of the most idiosyncratic hallmarks of my childhood; winter vacation heralded annual northern treks born in a desperate attempt to add snowy validity to the facade of a happy, idyllic Christmas, bookended by profanity-fraught, hours-long drives. Headphones were a blessing from beginning to end.

Regardless, I have loved long car rides for as long as I can remember (something about the lack of both expectations and eyes on me, paired with an environment where it’s finally okay to stare out the window for hours, I’d guess), and seven hours of watching the scenery change and the edges of the windows grow frostier while I daydreamed was about as close to harmonious time spent in too-close and inescapable quarters with my parents as I could hope for; a lovingly selected soundtrack for the ride made it even better.

On one of those high school-era, late-December trips to Vermont or New York coincided with the throes of my ITMKT adoration, and it’s left me permanently associating this album with winter. Hearing “Casting Curses” for the first time in years rocked me back to bundling deeper into whatever blanket I had room for after packing half the CDs I owned to survive a weeklong trip, watching the traffic-clogged turnpike and interstate slowly yield to less-traveled and more thickly wooded roads, the flat land inclining upward to meet the mountains, the greyness of a winter-sparse terrain first sparkling with frost then getting lost under a thickening blanket of snow.

I mean, I hate our lousy Midatlantic winters, but watching it descend the way it’s supposed to as New England inches closer (and from the cozy vantage point of a heated car and blanket-cocoon) is the closest I ever came to understanding people who claim the shittiest season as their favorite, and a little dash of magic from an album I love certainly helped. That wintersong vibe of “Casting Curses” and its littermates still enduring solidly two decades later is a nice reminder that there’s always something good waiting to be teased out from even the least enjoyable of experiences.

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