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When it comes to music, I can be a bit nostalgic at times, and with the ease of finding most music online at iTunes, I can immediately think of a song from my past that has gotten stuck in my head, search, find it, and then be listening to it within minutes.   Coming from someone who used to drive HOURS just to go to record stores, I can say without question having the ability to not even have to leave my bed to find a particular song, or browse through new music this is one piece of technology I couldn’t do without.

Last night I was scanning iTunes searching for music to buy with some Christmas gift cards, and one of my old favorite bands suddenly popped into my head.  I wondered if iTunes would have any albums by a bad called, Breathless.   Paco will know immediately of whom I speak, and the other Amigos may have a recollection of them, but probably have given them NO thought for over a decade (or longer)

Just typing the word ‘Breathless’ into iTunes will yield a staggering number of “other” music, most of which is rooted in some kind of easy-listening/R&B genre.   My search wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to buy any music from the band I was looking for, it was more of a, “Let’s see if iTunes has THIS!” scenario.  I was bored of searching for music, and just settled into reminiscing.

My search yielded the predictable R&B songs and some others as well that had the word breathless in title…but there amongst those sweaty R&B jams were the albums by that old band.   I chuckled to myself seeing these old albums I used to own only on TAPE or VINYL.   But then to my surprise there amongst these older albums was one I did not recognize.  I clicked on the small square photo of the album to bring up the track listing and my jaw dropped.  It was released on November 26th, 2012.

My first thought was, “This is NOT the same band. It has to be some other band.  There is NO way this band is STILL making music.”

I listened to the snippets from some of the tracks, and low and behold.  Same Band.  The got me to thinking.  I really feel that for everyone there is a band that probably has MORE random memories associated with it than any other.  I would say on behalf of Paco and myself, Breathless without a DOUBT is the band I associate with the most random musical memories of any band I’ve ever enjoyed, or probably ever will.   Take a walk with me over the random history of Breathless.

My first exposure to the band was actually in high school (we’re talking like 1988) through a CD on 4AD records by a band called ‘This Mortal Coil’ The band was kind of a potpourri of musicians and singers from a variety of bands on their label.  One particular song, The Jeweler, was one of the better tracks on the album and had some male vocals by a guy named Dominic Appleton, whom Paco and I had trouble finding on any other record.  After some pre-internet research, we eventually discovered he sang in a band called Breathless.  We set out to find as much music by them as we could.  Let me tell you. It was TOUGH.  I recall finding one of their albums at ‘The Underground’ and if I recall I had to special order it, and it wasn’t cheap.  The album was Chasing Promises, and was released in the late 1980’s

I had that album, I think I copied it on tape for Paco to have as well, and we listened to it A LOT.  Musically I think you could describe it as very angsty-sad-melancholy-cinematic-alternative-guitar-driven Rock.   It was definitely not upbeat ‘feel-good’ music that you would bump at a lake party.  I usually listened to it when I was bummed out, and if I wasn’t bummed out the tunes could easily bum me out.   This wasn’t necessarily a bad kind of bummed, just an introspective and “let me just think about my woes” kind of soundtrack.   In High School this was a good, “why don’t I have a girlfriend?” soundtrack…

Paco and I bumped that first album we had forever thinking there was no possible way we would ever get any of the other 2 albums that they had released, EVEN EARLIER IN THE 1980’S!  They were on small labels, and only available in the UK by our best guess…and also out of print.

Then one day in the early 1990s Paco and I were in the Mt. Shasta Mall in the record store, who’s name escapes me at the moment…and we were looking through a section of clearance records…by this point records were becoming obsolete in nearly every chain music store.  If you DID find vinyl, it was usually hip hop remixes, or copies of some newer, more popular band.   I’m not sure WHY we decided to search the record discount bin that day…but we did.   Inside that record bin was Breathless’ second album for .88 cents.  Not just one copy either, but like four.  This was something we had looked long and hard to find, and turned up NOTHING.  We might have seen it for sale for $30 in some obscure music catalog, we had tried various music stores throughout California to find it as well, and NOTHING….and here, in Northern California, where I PROMISE you we were the only Breathless fans on the planet, lying in a discount bin, in a chain music store were multiple copies.

We each bought one, and then went to Paco’s house to put them on the record player and put them on cassette.   We easily chalked it up to the most random, yet wonderful musical find ever. We now had TWO albums…and listened to them quite often.

While I was in College in Sacramento in the early 90s they released a 4th album, which was hard to find, and I spent $25 to special order it.  It was great as well.  One noticeable theme however was that the band was continuing to make the same kind of music…which isn’t always a bad thing.   You’d hope at some point the songs would stop being about heartbreak, and disappointment, but not everyone lives a happy existence, and Dominic Appleton and his band were certainly content to keep on putting out 5-8 minute long guitar driven dirges…and I was content to keep on listening to them.

Now we flash forward a lot of years…a decade.  I had bought no more of their albums, as far as Paco or I knew they had released four albums, three of which we’d heard, and one REALLY old one that nobody could find and was out of print (called The Glass Bead Game, if you care)

One day while sitting at my desk at work, it was in late 2003.  Out of the blue I decided to do an internet search for Breathless…I may have listened to them in the car during that morning…I don’t recall WHY I decided to search them that day, but I was fully expecting to not find anything.  To my surprise I found that not only did they STILL EXIST but they were touring.  NOT ONLY WERE THEY TOURING, they were coming to Sacramento the next week to the Capitol Garage, which is a very tiny coffee shop.  WTF?!?!?!

I immediately fired off an email to Paco, to which he replied in a very predictable manor.

“Are you SURE this is the SAME band?”

A very good question, this band had been popular with us in the 1990s…it was 13 years later from our first exposure to them, they weren’t ever mainstream, and one could go as far as to say, you could probably count the number of people on both hands that had actually heard of them in the state of California…seeing them come to Sacramento was definitely hard to fathom.

All research indicated it WAS the same band, so of course, Paco and I decided to go. 

They were not headlining, but opening for a slightly more well-known instrumental band called Scenic who was on the same label as them.  This was obviously a record label decision, and while it didn’t make a lot of sense to us, we weren’t going to question it, we used to joke that there was NO way we’d ever get to see them live…and now it was happening in the strangest of ways.

The day of the concert arrived, Paco, my wife, and I drove down to see the show.  My wife didn’t feel well so she spent the majority of it in the car sleeping.  Paco and I went in to see the show, and not long after entering spotted the singer of the band…just looking at him nothing said “rock star” or even “musician” He was dressed with dark jeans, and a tucked in button up shirt. He looked more like someone sent to work on the network at an office building than someone about to play music.

Paco and I chatted briefly with him…I’m not certain of what we really said.  There was definitely some conversation of how shocked we were they were playing in Sacramento, and how we’d purchased a lot of their albums…we may even have gone as far as to say, “I think we’re the only people here to see you.” 

That comment sounds bad, and for a musician to hear, it’s probably disheartening.   However, it HAD to be true.  Nobody knew who these guys were, at least in the United States. 

The concert was underwhelming, what we thought would be a 4 piece band was two people, one with a guitar, and the dude singing and playing keyboards.  They played all new songs we’d never heard before, and while they weren’t terrible…they still sounded JUST like the other stuff only the words were changed.  I think Paco and I were most irritated by the fact we WERE the only two people there to see them, and I would be a lot of money we were the only people in that room other than them who knew any of their songs…the least they could do was play a few for us.

After the show we discovered that they were selling copies of their newer albums….besides thinking “they are STILL making music?”  I recall thinking it was sad they were selling their own merch.  Paco and I each bought a copy of an album we didn’t own.

I listened to that CD a few times, but it was mostly like they were STILL making the same album over and over again, only with new words, and different length songs. 

Flash back to now, when I saw they had a new album out…I was shocked.  They are STILL making new music after almost 25 years? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I put them up there with the Stones and Aerosmith, bands don’t last for that long with the same line-up…let alone bands that 14 people on the earth actually listen to.   To give you an idea…NONE of their albums on iTunes had ANY reviews, NOR did they have ANY ratings.  Nobody is buying their music.

My thoughts moved from sheer astonishment to sadness.   When we saw them live in 2003, the singer looked to be in his late 40s, perhaps early 50s…which isn’t a shock considering they were making music in 1985…

What is he almost 60-something now?  Still making the same melancholy album over and over again hoping someone will FINALLY see the genius, or ‘Get it’ what is their end goal?  Are they just so into making music for their fans they want to keep it up? They can’t be making ANY money off of this.   I picture them eating ramen in a tent somewhere…waiting for their big break.  Writing sad songs of lost love on old napkins…

I bought three tracks from iTunes…even one off the new album…which sounds like it could be off the first album.   $2.97 of my hard earned money going to help keep those guys in ramen for another week.  What is funny is that the new album is produced by Kramer…who produced the Galaxie 500 albums…he probably wasn’t doing anything either.

DO they still play live?  Does dude have a wheelchair or walker now? I mean SERIOUSLY they can’t be at all fit anymore for a tour…what drives them??!?!   Are they making music JUST FOR ME?  I have a lot of questions…

The most important question is- will there be a new album in 2024?