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Cordalene, a fan’s notes

By Kim Gutjahr

First off, let me put out this disclaimer: I am not a professional music critic. I wouldn’t even dare to call myself an amateur. I couldn’t tell you whether a song or group “sounds like” one thing or another. I don’t have that ability, or even the requisite recollective powers, to be able to accomplish that. Don’t believe me? Introduce yourself sometime and then watch as, mere minutes later, I struggle in vain to remember your name…

But I digress. My plan right now is to talk about Cordalene. And to perhaps shed some light on how I came to know and love them. It is simply thus: Cordalene makes me happy. It is one of those *things* in this world that makes life really good. For me, going to see a Cordalene show is akin to a sunny day after a week of rainy gloom… or really, really good blueberry pie (I’m a big fan of pie, too). A combination of great music, incredible lyrics and some really adorable guys leaping all over the stage – how could that *not* be great?

Some History, Perhaps?

I first saw Cordalene in May 2002 at The Khyber in Old City, Philadelphia. The group had just recorded a demo (later to become the Red EP) the month before, and had a completely different line-up from just a year before. Mike Kiley and jOe Boyle had joined the group a couple months before, completely changing the band’s sound. The Khyber show was to be their fifth show together. Of course, I knew nothing of this. This “new” line-up was my first introduction to Cordalene.

Honestly, I hadn’t expected much – an old friend (“Hi Liz!”) had invited me to check out her friend’s band. You know how that goes… how friends are usually obligated to attend and applaud loudly, even if the band sucks. I was prepared for the worse. If nothing else, I rationed, I would get to hang out with Liz and still have a good time. I needed a night out, anyway.

A WOW Moment

But then Cordalene took the stage, and actually impressed me. It was a *wow* moment I think I will always remember. I can still remember standing there, mesmerized, when I heard “Not So Pretty” for the first time (though not knowing that was the title). I was incredibly struck by the chorus: “No one here is tied down; No one here's alone…” The song was poetic, and the singer’s delivery made it even more beautiful. It was the first Cordalene song to touch my heart. There was something special about these guys.

The band had just returned from playing the Knitting Factory in NYC and, between songs, Mike was telling the audience about how *really* happy they were to be back home in Philly (apparently, the NYC show hadn’t gone very well…). The banter between Mike and Jim was incredibly cute and funny – I enjoyed myself.

I remember hearing “Headlong” for the first time, and thinking it was the best song ever! And I vaguely remember “Isn’t The Sun” – but it wasn’t until I’d listened to the Red EP that I truly began to appreciate it. At the end of the set, Mike leapt off the stage and engaged Nichole in a very long and passionate kiss (which I remember distinctly since I’d been standing right next to her, and was suddenly in a quandary as to how I might flee the immediate area with eyes discretely averted…).

The set was over, it seemed, much too fast.

Hooked, like dope… (only better)

After the show I bought a Red EP and two t-shirts (a regular blue and one of those red-spaghetti strap grrrl shirts, which I now wear as pajamas). The Red EP was actually a home-burned CD, with “Cordalene loves you” written on it in black sharpie (I would buy myself one of the first real/printed releases a few months later). Jim threw in a “Stumble and Fall” EP (previous line-up, but more on that some other time). He seemed totally amazed that I’d bought so much merch, which was kind of cute. And, like the spaz I can sometimes be, I kept thanking Liz for inviting me along. Too many times, I’m sure. But it had been such a great night, I could hardly care.

And that, my friends, was the beginning.

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