August 13, 2009
13 Other Dimensions
1998 | My Own Planet
When I first came to New York in 2002, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I looked at music listings in the back of the Village Voice: The Giraffes were alive and well, and playing shows all over the city! I couldn’t believe my luck – a Seattle-based band that never tours, and whose activity hinges solely on the whim of Giraffes (and Presidents of the United States of America) leader Chris Ballew, playing regularly in New York?! You have to understand: I was fresh out of college, obsessed with miniscule little home-recorded records by Jeffrey Lewis (my introduction to anti-folk), Gentle Waves (Belle and Sebastian offshoot that makes Belle and Sebastian sound gargantuan by comparison) and Mark Growden (whose Downstairs Karaoke belongs on every comprehensive list of home recorded gems). New York was another world apart from Kalamazoo, MI. To be in my new home, seemingly able to celebrate these underappreciated saints whenever the desire hit me, free of the scorn of the metal kids in my old hometown? I felt like I had arrived.
Somehow, I managed to avoid the discomfort of going to one of these Giraffes shows, expecting Ballew and whoever was in tow. I’d eventually figured out what everyone else knew: that there’s a Brooklyn-based Giraffes, whose star has eclipsed that of Ballew’s side project. I’ve heard they’re awesome, loud, rowdy and abrasive, but have never been to one of their shows. So their story ends here.
13 Other Dimensions is, to the best of my knowledge, the first post-Presidents of the United States of America (who disbanded in 1998, only to reconvene about as often as the Summer Olympics since) solo project. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the packaging: the liner notes and artwork credit several stuffed animals (Giraffe, Munkey Sr., etc.) with songwriting and performance. The CD even comes with a moderately-convincing story that this is a lost bedroom pop album, made by a bunch of sentient stuffed animals in the early 70s! In fact, the only thread connecting Ballew to 13 Other Dimensions is the publishing company to which the songs are credited: “Raw Poo Music” protects both PUSA and the Giraffes.
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