The Joup Friday Album: sElf – Breakfast with Girls

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This week’s entry as Joup’s Friday Album – a weekly column where we try to give our readers a nice musical pick-me-up to help transition out of the work week and into the hard-won freedoms of the weekend – was down to two albums until just a few moments ago. These are two albums that I have known for years and once again recently had in heavy rotation. I have a long and deep history with both of these pieces of music and, perhaps not surprisingly both were recorded and came out around the same time.

Needless to say it was not an easy choice for me to make.

Self’s Breakfast with Girls hit the shelves a little more than halfway through the year 1999, during the month of July. Alternately my runner-up, Soul Coughing’s El Oso, came out in September, 1998. Now, regardless of El Oso not making it into this post, it is a record that I unabashedly love and recommend. El Oso showcases a band going out at the top of their game; refining their sound and bridging the gap between the ever-mutating style of four somewhat disparate musicians meeting in the middle (musically if not personally) and the Drum n Bass scene of the time that they so clearly loved and were influenced by.

Now, maybe on the micro, day-to-day level September 1998 and July 1999 are not really ‘around the same time‘. Then again, maybe they are. Either way you choose to look at it a lot can change in ten months. Especially in music. Especially in the late 90’s, when popular music was convulsing with some serious identity issues. Rock was becoming rap, rap was becoming hip hop – more a lifestyle than an art form* – and music in general was on the verge of chaos as the record-store paradigm suffered the first heavily destructive blows that would eventually bring it to its knees, courtesy thankyouverymuch of amazon and the MP3. But you know what? One thing both El Oso and Breakfast with Girls have in common is they are both strong, confident masterpieces created by artists that had absolutely no question about who they were or what they did.

Self’s Breakfast with Girls is, in my opinion, their best album. Not to say that Self (alternately spelled sElf) ever made a bad record, because they most certainly did not, but Breakfast with Girls is a triumphant example of what a great indie artist can do when someone with some money – in this case the still wet-behind-the-ears Dreamworks Records – puts them in the studio and really lets them go for it. Matt Mahaffey – the mastermind behind Self – outdid himself on this record, and his obviously intimidating skills with pretty much every instrument involved in its recording is raised to new heights by a very confident approach to less-than-conventional, pop songwriting. Mahaffey’s prowess in the studio always struck me later as having very deliberately led up to this record, and within its thirteen tracks his masterful ability to seamlessly fuse just about every genre and style known to man is further strengthened by a fantastic roster of production credits.

Although Breakfast with Girls was released just five months before the ‘new millennium’, for me the album has grown over time to perfectly encapsulate the aesthetic and overall tone and approach of music made in the decade of the nineteen-nineties, perhaps second only to The Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head as the flagship record of that decade that was so revolutionary for the music industry and music in general.

As usual, this column is not in any way an attempt to sidestep patronage of the artist or record, nor is it meant to encourage anyone to steal this record – PLEASE, if you dig this music support the artist. If you live in Southern California like I do you can even go see Self live – first show in LA for some time – on August 1st at the El Rey Theatre!

Tag Tommy!



Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

2 Responses to The Joup Friday Album: sElf – Breakfast with Girls
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    YES! Gizmodery was actually the only one of the ‘original’ albums I didn’t know until recently. It’s fantastic! The Doobie Bros. cover puts an eternal smile on my face every time I hear it, no matter how many times in a row I rock it. (how many people use ‘rock’ to refer to a song that originally had Mike McDonald singing it?)
    Are you aware of all the self-released stuff on their website? I was reminded of this recently but every time I try to download the stuff it doesn’t work. Perplexing…
    I’m seeing them in August, 20th anniversary of Half-Baked Serenade, which has apparently been re-mastered and released on Vinyl via the always awesome Fat Possum!

  2. Tommy Reply

    Three things: 1) Excellent choice. I love Self. 2) Have you ever listened to their 2000 album Gizmodgery recorded entirely with children’s toys? 3) Are you man enough to take the blame for this?

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