April 18 — “Odessa” by Flin Flon

Flin Flon

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Odessa” by Flin Flon (1998, from the album A-OK).
Flin Flon is a three-piece indie pop band from Washington DC who was founded in the late 1990s. They released something like six albums while all of the band members were active in other bands. The lineup is:

  • Mark Robinson (Unrest, Grenadine, Olympic Death Squad, Cotton Candy) on guitar and vocals
  • Natalie Mencinsky aka “Nattles” (Cold Cold Hearts) on bass
  • Matt Datesman (True Love Always) on drums


Unlike the guitar-based Unrest, Flin Flon is built around the bass and the drums. Thanks to this structure, there is, at times, a very Joy Division sound to Flin Flon. Thematically, they’re not as dark, though.

Naturally, Flin Flon is on TeenBeat Records, which Robinson founded in 1984. They get their band name from a small mining town that sits on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. The name of the town was taken from a character in a 1905 science fiction novel The Sunless City by J.E. Preston Muddock. In that novel, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin is the captain of a submarine that explored in a bottomless lake. He eventually discovers a land where the streets are paved with gold, the currency is tin, and the cities are ruled by women.

All of the song titles on A-OK come from the names of small Western Canadian towns. While a couple (Red Deer and Kamloops) are named for towns of nearly 100,000 people, most are named for smaller, more rural towns. Ukrainia, Yellowknife, Buffalo Narrows, Moose Jaw, White Horse.
Today’s song, for example, isn’t named for the large city in Ukraine, but for a tiny village in Saskatchewan. Her 200 inhabitants are counted in the metropolitan statistics for Regina.

Geography of rural western Canada aside, here’s today’s song:
“Odessa” by Flin Flon

It’s best not to get too much into the lyrics. It’s fundamentally about sex. It’s about going to the ocean with a gal. And a swimming pool. And an office storage closet. It’s about seeing her “all undressed. With an ascot much much less”. That’s kinda strange, but it’s pretty much par for the course with Mark Robinson vehicles.

Another curious thing about the A-OK album is that it was designed NOT to be listened to as an album. The vinyl version has groove locks between songs, meaning that it won’t play straight from one track to the next. The listener will have to physically move the needle to the next cut. On the CD version, there are 18 seconds of “purposely placed” silence between each track. As the liner notes state:

This will facilitate a more focused listen, as each song is an entity unto itself. This album should not be considered as a complete work on its own, it is a collection of ten distinct and different songs

Another very cool curiosity is that the NHL Hartford Whalers secondary logo “Pucky the Whale” is stamped onto the CD. Mark Robinson was a big supporter of the Whalers, who would move to North Carolina in 1997 to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

For some technical specs, and also if you want to purchase a physical copy of A-OK, visit the album’s page on the TeenBeat site.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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