A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1999
This was Sub Pop’s first rap record: an unloved stepchild from 1999: mostly erased from their catalog and forgotten. It was released during those experimental years post-Grunge when no one quite knew what to do next.
“Library Nation” is a pretty curious record. The title track is guitar noise, screaming, and spoken word poetry about library patronage. On “My Dream Girl Puts On Her Shoes,” rapper Tobias Flowers delivers a more expected hip-hop vibe, rapping longingly about a long-distance relationship, and you really do feel what he’s feeling.
Flowers had previously been in group Def 2 The Flesh, but that’s hardly the Tamborines only Seattle rap cred: They talk about Mix-A-Lot albums. SpecsWizard leaves a message on their answering machine. Rapper Asun (Suntonio Bandanaz) leaves another “from the thriving metropolis of Shoreline.” (Also be prepared for an indulgent amount of white guy slacker Beck “Loser” poetry from Flowers’ fellow Tambourine, indie rocker Andy Poehlman.)
“We’re not good musicians,” Poehlman told The Seattle Times in an interview. “We’re just two guys,” he says, “with ideas on how to make records.”
And yet, it’s a bizarre record that wiggles its way into your psyche, recalling the feeling of being at a bar, having a drink with a friend. In the background, a brilliantly terrible or terribly brilliant DJ is playing a stack of random trippy 45s on top of each other.
We keep returning to this record again because of its willingness to push in ways you least expect. On “Saturn,” the group stiffly will themselves into a good mood, a “Fuck It” song for days of gritting your teeth hoping to feel happy. Good or bad, this record takes you someplace new.