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Old 06-03-2012, 07:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I’ve always wanted to have a music blog. I've always wanted to have my own radio program. I’ve always wanted to write insightful reviews of albums and share the profound ways in which music has touched my life. I’ve always wanted to recommend songs that I love and through that have some sliver of an effect on other people. I’ve always wanted to feel like I really know music, and part of knowing music is expressing that knowledge. Each time I make an attempt, however, my writing feels forced and is thoroughly riddled with clichés and unfortunate word choice. I want so badly to write well that I end up sabotaging myself by trying too hard or I become frustrated and don’t write anything at all.

It’s not surprising then, that for quite some time I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up a journal. I suppose the only thing that’s really stopped me up until now is, of course, the fear that it won’t be something people feel inclined to read. And why should they? I’m not a terrifically interesting person, I don’t listen to terrifically interesting music, and I don’t have terrifically interesting things to say. And on top of all that I’m one wordy motherfucker… I am in no way and by no means succinct. In fact I recently had a friend read an essay I’d written and when I asked what he thought he responded simply with “Are you familiar with Occam’s Razor?” I digress.

When I read other members journals I’m quite often blown away by the eloquence of the writing and the evident passion behind most of the posts. This is not likely going to be one of those journals. Consider yourself warned.

The main issue I have when writing about music is that I really just have no idea what to say. I often try to describe the sound of a song, but it ends up being something along the lines of: “Oh yeah and then the cello comes in. Or wait, is that a violin? Wait, no. Definitely a cello. And I believe that was a Dm you just heard there. Or possibly Am… Or perhaps G? fucking hell, just listen to it yourself.” I promise you now I won’t waste (any more of) your time with attempts like that.

I feel like there’s a point somewhere in all of this I’m trying to make, but if I find it I’ll be surprised. I don’t honestly know what I intend to do with this journal. I’m good at talking about myself so it will probably contain personal stories surrounding various albums and a lot of masturbatory word play. Oh and jokes. There will be jokes.

PS- I'm fully aware that I'm terrible about using apostrophes properly. I'M TRYING.

To kick things off I thought I'd post the song I listened to (on repeat) while typing up this mess of an introduction:


This is probably my favorite song from the Kinks. If songs had blood I think this song would be cold-blooded, because it can adapt to all environments and all of my moods. I turn to it when I need cheering up, I turn to it when I feel desperately hopeless, I turn to it when I want to cry but can't, I turn to it when I feel like celebrating. The Kinks are very dear to me, and I think this song could be the soundtrack to many different events and aspects of my life. I would like to call it my omnipresent theme song, but I can't because there's this other song I'm cheating on this song with and I call that song my omnipresent theme song behind this songs back. Don't tell Ray.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Songs That Remind Me of Childhood - Part 1/5

Kansas - Dust in the Wind


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see


If I had heard this song for the first time today I would most likely reject it or write it off as another cliché piece of shit based on this stanza alone. I mean really, "just a drop of water in an endless sea?" What a ridiculously easy metaphor to express the idea of human mortality. It's unoriginal, it's cheap, it lacks imagination. But today was not the first time I heard this song, the first time I heard this song I completely ate it up. As I grew older I came to realize the cheesiness that is embodied within, but as a child this was the first piece of music I remember having an intense emotional connection with.

In sixth grade (age 12) my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. In May of the following year she passed away. It was my first experience with death - no one close to me at this point had ever been seriously ill or even hurt, let alone died. I grew up in an extremely small, extremely religious town in the Midwest and as far as I knew only bad people died and those people went to Hell. I never thought it possible that someone who was good... who was really a positive, lighthearted, beautiful person would die so young without justification.

As most children do at that age I kept a diary. I remember explicitly writing many pages pertaining to Lynn and my deep hope for her recovery. About a month before her death I wrote an entry in which I said something along the lines of: “I don’t understand why God, if he is so good, would take away Carly’s mother when Carly needs her so much. Lynn will never help Carly get ready for her first prom, she won’t be there to take pictures of our 8th grade promotion ceremony, won’t see Carly graduate, won’t be there to dance at Carly’s wedding, won’t be able to help Carly through all the things a girl our age needs help with. God, please, let me take Lynn’s place. Let me die instead of her, Carly shouldn’t have to lose her mother.”

I meant every word that I had written. I prayed to God every night that in the morning I would wake up with Lynn's cancer. I prayed with every ounce of my being that the cancer would leave Lynn and move into my body so that she could go on raising her children. I didn't necessarily want to die, but I sincerely thought that it would be better for me, a snot nosed, socially awkward seventh grader to die from cancer than a genuinely amazing woman with four young children to raise.

My father, in all his patriarchal macho-ness, often searched through our house for hidden diaries (of which I had several), which upon finding he would use to discipline me and my sister.

I remember walking through the main hall of my middle school one day after class, and I noticed he was standing at the front office, his elbows resting casually on the counter. When I approached him he was laughing at some joke that was surely just shared between him and the secretary. When he saw me giving him a quizzical look he quickly said “Time for your dentist appointment.”

“I didn’t know I had a dentist appointment.”

“Your mother must have forgotten to tell you.”

After returning to my locker to gather my backpack, I followed him out of the front doors of the school, an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew I had done something wrong, my family never had dentist appointments. My parents didn't believe in doctors, or, if nothing else, couldn't afford health care. I knew he was lying but I couldn’t possibly guess what his real motives were. I knew I was in trouble but I didn't know why (which, unfortunately, could very well be said for much of my childhood).

We walked the block back to our house in silence, my father remaining a consistent five paces ahead of me, obviously agitated with some wrongdoing of mine. When we reached the front door, I began to shrug off my backpack when my father landed a hard slap across my face.

“What?! What?!” I cried out. He didn’t answer. He took a handful of my hair and dragged me from the entryway into our living room. Once he released his grasp I fell to the floor, sobbing. “What did I do?! What did I do?!”

“So you want to die?” he spat. I looked at him in bewilderment, genuinely confused. “You think that you should die for Lynn fucking Hagert?” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how he could have found my diary; I thought that this time I had hidden it so well. But as he was unemployed, I suppose now that my father had plenty of time to search the space of my room for evidence of my disloyalty to his namesake.

“Dad, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!” Another slap silenced me.

“If you really want to die just take my fucking shotgun, go to the woods and do it yourself. I’ll fucking drive you.”

He was pointing East. East toward Horse Creek. East toward the direction of my favorite childhood camping spot. East… the direction I drove five years later at 17 when I was intent on committing suicide. East. The direction that meant mortality, the direction that meant death. East. The direction that the wind blew, the direction in which you turned to dust. EAST. The direction I will actively avoid for the rest of my life.
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I wasn’t writing a haiku. Just because you want one doesn’t mean you’re going to get one.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Two words, one of which will be blocked out and become ****ing hell!

Are you insane? You think you can't write? Seriously, that was one of the most heartfelt and open and honest pieces of writing I have read since the last time I looked at Mr Dave's journal. What a horrible experience! Now, I know nothing about your family so won't judge your father, but it seems to be unconscionable that he should treat you that way, when after all, as a kid you really didn't know what you were wishing for. I know you say you believed it, wanted it wholeheartedly, and that shows incredible selflessness for a child of such a tender age, but really, had it happened you would not have welcomed it: who could?

But to take what is at its heart a powerfully courageous wish --- though misguided --- and have it literally slapped in your face! Surely he could have sat you down, explained why things happen and why it's wrong to wish for a disease, no matter the reason, and so on, instead of making you feel you were actively trying to die? And no doubt (well, maybe not: I don't know you, but it would seem likely) this contributed to your referred to suicide attempt five years later.

It's rare anyone lets us have a glimpse into their soul --- I sure as hell wouldn't --- but you've written a deep and intensely personal account here and should without question be applauded for it. I'm glad you started a journal, and look forward to more from you.

As for trying to describe music, I would stay away (as you've already decided to do) from cold descriptions of chords, notes etc, as most people, myself included, don't play and can't distinguish one chord from another by ear, so it means nothing to them. Just write for yourself: don't worry about how people will interpret it. They'll do that as it suits each person. All you need to get across is your knowledge of, love or hate for and interest in the music you're discussing.

And if you get stuck, do what I do: make up words. Some I have so far are "chingling", "synthery", "wurbling" and "chuggering". As long as they get across the idea of what you want to convey, who cares if they exist? Hey, you might start up a whole new trend.

Till next time, be well.
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Old 06-04-2012, 04:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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All of the things you are self-conscious about are the same things that I was self-conscious about when I began my own journal, but I think you've got a headstart on writing quality, whereas for the first few months I didn't know what I was doing. I think you'll write a splendid journal, and I'm excited to keep tabs on it myself.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Last night I posted an entry which I had intended to be the start of an ongoing mini-theme-thing I called Five Songs that Remind Me of Childhood. Under the influence of... erm, several margaritas... I began writing about a song in hopes that I would express the strong, melancholic, nostalgic connection I still feel with it, but as I typed things started to take an unexpected turn. I consider myself a fairly open person, I’m ok with talking about my past, but some of the things I ended up saying I felt were too personal and would invite inquiries I don’t feel prepared to face as well as conversations I would rather not have publicly.

So yeah. Deepest apologies for starting things off on such a strange note, I deleted the post as soon as I woke up and remembered the things I had written, and I really hope not too many people were subjected to it before then. Trollheart, thank you sincerely for your kind words. And Pedestrian, thank you as well for your interest.


Music I Found Through MusicBanter - Pt. 1/5


For my next (lighthearted) mini-theme-thing entry I thought I’d write a bit about artists I’ve grown to love dearly and that I would never have gotten into without the guidance of fellow MB members. As I’ve been here for over four years and couldn’t possibly list (or remember) everything, I’m sorry if I don’t mention something I should have.

1. Elliott Smith - Sleepy Jack

There have been few artists that have impacted me in ways comparable to those of Elliott Smith. When I started listening to him, I started listening to MUSIC differently - I had always enjoyed music and been fascinated by it, but I felt like for the first time (at eighteen years old) I was actually feeling what it means to love music. I don't know that I could explain why it was Elliott Smith's music in particular that had such a profound effect on me, but it was undeniable.

There had obviously been artists I listened to before that point that I felt emotionally connected with, there had always been songs that could drive me to tears as well as musicianship that was so inspirational, amazing and beautiful that I learned to play guitar so I could attempt to replicate the bands I loved. But Elliott Smith was the first artist that really made me think "I want to do that."

I don't listen to his albums as often as I used to, but when I do I am always taken back to the first time I heard him, and the feeling is just as vivid now as it was then.

The first song I heard:



Current favorite song: King's Crossing



Current favorite album: Either/Or




Another artist Sleepy Jack introduced me to: Daniel Johnston
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I wasn’t writing a haiku. Just because you want one doesn’t mean you’re going to get one.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Music I Found Through MusicBanter - Pt. 2/5


The Olivia Tremor Control – Molecules

I’ve never been one to accurately assign the correct genre to the correct band, and I don’t intend to try now, but I once saw OTC described on some pretentious music blog as “quasi-psychedelic experimental electro-acoustic classic pop.” Many reviewers have called OTC the bastard child of the Beach Boys and Brian Eno. I don’t know how accurate either of these descriptions really are, and I know that the members of OTC pride themselves on being difficult to categorize (and therefore, difficult to pigeon-hole), but my favorite way to describe them is through an anecdote.

Once upon a work day I was playing Black Foliage (I spend a lot of time in the greatly coveted Back Room at my job, packing and unpacking boxes and rarely speaking to anyone, so I have complete control over what music is being played at any given time) and a coworker walked in and after a few moments asked about the song. “Is it supposed to sound like that?” I said that yes, it was. She responded “Oh, I thought the speakers had broken again.”

Listening to Black Foliage was one of the first times I remember noticing a distinct difference between listening to the album on speakers or through headphones. Each is its own experience; you pick up on different features and seemingly hidden or strategically placed bits in each track depending on how you’re hearing it. That’s not to say that one way is better than the other, mind you, just apparently different. All the more reason to listen to the album repeatedly, I suppose.

OTC is also one of the first bands whose songs had melodies and textures that would stick with me rather than lyrics. I tend to judge how much I like a band based on how much I like their lyrics, so having an interesting horn riff or kazoo solo stuck in my head instead of an interesting stanza days after initially listening to a song was a new experience for me.

The Olivia Tremor Control are one of the more "obscure" and certainly most innovative bands that I have in my music collection, and through listening to them I later began exploring the Elephant 6 Recording Company, which turned me on to bands such as of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, Circulatory System, Elf Power and The Apples in Stereo.

The first song I heard:




Current Favorite Song:




Current Favorite Album: Black Foliage



Another artist Molecules introduced me to: Guided By Voices
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I wasn’t writing a haiku. Just because you want one doesn’t mean you’re going to get one.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Music I Found Through MusicBanter - Pt. 3/5


Yo La Tengo – Dreadnaught

I’m not a fan of jam bands. I don’t like things that are “groovy” and outside of band practice I don’t care much for improvisation in music. This is certainly due more to the fact that I’m terrible at ad-libbing and too neurotic to really enjoy it, and I’ve been told one too many times that “you’re a hippy, you would LOVE Phish”. As mentioned in my previous post, I focus more on lyrics and melodies when listening to music, so it’s hard for me to appreciate bands that fit into this category. When I first heard Yo La Tengo back in the summer of 2009, I more or less wrote them off as another jam band that wouldn’t do anything for me.

But, surprisingly enough, a couple of weeks after dismissing Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind, I found myself wanting to listen to it again. I believe it was included in a compilation Dreadnaught posted that I found and downloaded from the 10 Track Mix-Tape thread, so I pulled it up in iTunes and gave it another shot. I ended up listening to it several times in a row, head nodding, toes tapping. I downloaded the album and burnt it onto a cd and went for a drive (this is another way in which I assess how good a song or album is… if I listen to it in my car and it makes me want to drive to the beach then I know it’s really good – but more on that later).

After exploring the rest of the album I soon went in search of everything Yo La Tengo. For a couple of months YLT was all I was listening to. I went to see them that fall and have since seen them a handful of other times at festivals and in small pre-show coffee shop or record store gigs. They’re apparently notorious for never playing the same show twice, which both impresses me and makes me feel anxious – I can’t imagine what that would be like. To be so confident in your material that you don’t just play your hits or the songs that are easy repeatedly… but the members are all clearly incredibly talented and seem very genuine. You can see throughout their discography that they love the music they make they love creating and sharing it, and as a fan that’s a great thing to observe.

Yo La Tengo does melancholy well, which is something I’m drawn to, but they also are really good at doing upbeat and happy without (always) being cheesy or annoyingly poppy. When I listen to YLT I’m always reminded of autumn. Their music is warm and holds onto the lightheartedness of summer but still maintains the edge of an approaching winter.

The first song I heard:




Current Favorite Song:





Current Favorite Album: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass





Another artist Dreadnaught introduced me to: WHY?, Doseone and the entire Anticon scene.



*BONUS!*


My Cover of a Yo La Tengo song:


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Old 06-12-2012, 09:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Your writing is great! This looks like it will be an excellent journal!

And my gosh, that cover was fantastic. Your voice is beautiful.
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Old 06-13-2012, 02:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Blarobbarg View Post
Your writing is great! This looks like it will be an excellent journal!

And my gosh, that cover was fantastic. Your voice is beautiful.
Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback.


Music I Found Through MusicBanter - Pt. 4/5



Arab Strap – Unchained Ballad

When I hear Arab Strap I imagine Aidan Moffat sitting in a dimly lit room with cracked wooden floorboards and lampshades thick with layers of accumulated dust. The room stinks of spilled booze, stale tobacco smoke and a perfume unique to the unwashed, bearded woodland creature that is Moffat. Overflowing ashtrays litter the room and there are used condom wrappers in the bin filled otherwise with empty, unlabeled glass bottles and sheets of paper crumpled and shredded in frustration. There is an open window but it only serves to push around the humid stench – the epitomized smell of misery and misanthropy.

Arab Strap albums sound like novels in which you follow an apathetic antihero through a plot-less, gritty, urban landscape. You can empathize with the protagonist's thoughts and you are both disgusted by and supportive of his experiences and actions. You hate how much you can identify but you love that you’re not alone. The colloquial storytelling that is each album contains tracks heavily ridden with verses of self-contempt, sex and infidelity, alcoholism and drug abuse. Each song is saturated with witty, amusing wretchedness. It is depressing and it is filthy and I fucking love it. Arab Strap is my favorite band of the moment, no question. Unchained Ballad sent me a song one day and I instantly clicked with the music - the lyrics, the style and structure of the song, Moffat's voice, everything about it was perfect. They are the band I've been wanting to find for months.


The first song I heard:




Current Second Favorite Song:
(I Would've Liked Me A Lot Last Night is still my favorite, but I want to keep with the structure of this theme thing... but actually it's a tie so never mind I'm going to fuck it up anyway. Fuck the system. Thug life.)







Current Favorite Album: It's another tie! Mad for Sadness is the best live album I've ever heard and most of the songs are really great ones from Philophobia, therefore I can't pick between the two.






Other artists Unchained Ballad introduced me to: Pulp, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Music I Found Through MusicBanter - Pt. 5/5


The Mountain Goats – Sweet Nothing

How do I love John Darnielle? Let me count the ways.
I love John Darnielle to the depth and breadth and height
His nasally ass voice can reach, when feeling out of earshot
For the ends of production and ideal grace.
I love John Darnielle to the level of every day's
Album consumption, by sun and laptop back-light.
I love John Darnielle freely, as men strive for gigs.
I love John Darnielle purely, as they turn shyly from praise.
I love John Darnielle with the passion put to use
In my own songwriting, and with my youth’s fangirlism.
I love John Darnielle with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost taste in shitty music. I love John Darnielle with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if he so choose,
I shall love John Darnielle until death.

Oh John Darnielle. You and your loveable ass face. You with your nasally ass voice and cute ass glasses. You with your incredibly clever, succinct ass, (auto)biographically honest songwriting – oh John Darnielle, the things I would do to marry you.

I really enjoy lo-fi; I really love shitty recordings of songs. The shitty, lo-fi recordings of The Mountain Goats cause me to imagine John Darnielle as one of those people who absolutely have to create. He doesn’t care about quality of production or the gimmicks that come with it, he just has to write and he has to record and he has to share his thoughts. Some may find this behavior narcissistic or even annoying, and understandably so, but personally this is my favorite form of music: songs that are more about raw expression that have an unabashed shouting out of lyrics that read like a scribbled down stream-of-consciousness, cathartic and satisfying.

That need to create reminds me of the Marquis de Sade a la the film Quills, writing his stories on the walls of his cell with his own excrement…… but that’s a terrible analogy. John Darnielle would probably not like that I just made that comparison. At least it’s original? My point is that I have a soft spot for people like John Darnielle who put out full-length albums recorded on boomboxes and distributed via cassette tape. I do still enjoy the later albums from the Mountain Goats, which tend to be more produced and feature a different tone than the rest of the band’s repertoire, but even on those albums Darnielle’s lo-fi roots seep through every now and then and I'll admit that I hold my breath for those moments.


The first song I heard:





Current Favorite Song:





Current Favorite Album:





Another artist Sweet Nothing introduced me to: Interpol
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