even if it's just in your wildest dreams.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
i woke up this morning at 3:30am because i was so stressed. that seems so ridiculous, to be stressed out over something so intensely that it rises you from your sleep. you're unconscious, but the rattling and humming still spins so loudly that you just can't remain underneath that wave for long enough to let it pass.
i'm 33 years old working a retail job that is IDEAL for college students. and maybe a little bit beyond that. maybe great also for those who are really interested in the gaming industry and the customer service industry and can really genuinely make an impact on a small to medium business and take home some pride with that. putting it that way, actually, it feels like that's something i could be a part of. i do what i do pretty well. i'm not the greatest at customer service from a standpoint of whittling down a message to the lowest common denominator and then slowly building a conversation and thereby a transaction from it, but i genuinely enjoy helping people out when they need help. the entertainment industry isn't anywhere near where you should be if you're looking to genuinely help anyone out. that's just the honest truth of it. they want to play a game [or change that with watch a movie, hear a song, read a passage, phrase, story, tome] and they want to enjoy a part of their life outside of what's holding them to the earth. is that important? yeah, man. is it crucial? no.
again, i'm 33. i don't want to do this anymore. i want to help people in need, regardless of what their past was and/or what their future is. i want to be able to find a need for someone and help them out. should i be dishing video games? nah man.
that stress is ultimately the trunk and body of the tree for which this branch is currently low reaching: my store is too small for the volume and inventory that we have to contain it. so it feels as if it is constantly bulging at the seams. never going to use this as an excuse to not keep the store neat, to not keep the store shoppable, to not keep the store manageable or to just let things fall by the wayside and say FUCK IT, WE'RE TOO SMALL. nah, man. that's a childish approach. i'm 33, man. i can't just let there be a reason that i can't do something hover there. i'm a human being and i have reason. i'm a problem solver. that being said, every box that i open involves shifting other things in the back that were already in a place because of the box that i opened before it. so it goes beyond filing and merchandising. it is constant problem solving. and that's an exhausting prospect. SO. those are my 45 hours every week. and then this week and next are ramped up hours and 6 day weeks so bring that up to 58 hours this week. that's not inherently the issue. that's just the lack of relief that i get from the problem. it's retail, man. you do it because you were put here to do it. it's never, really, actually, something that you are going to want to do unless you're running your own business. in that case, you can go ahead and laugh at my 58 hour week and say that it really must be nice to have that one day off.
thanks for all that you do, by the way.
THAT being said, yesterday we had a phone call telling us that our RM is coming in to the area and, obviously, they didn't want to talk about where they were going. i opened yesterday so didn't close the store or have any idea what the store will look like. then i close today so i'm not going to be there until 2. so will i miss him? maybe. will i walk into him being there? maybe.
the call also was primarily about P&L reports for our store. i'm going to be honest with you. i can walk an entire classroom through individual P&Ls. i can dominate that conversation. i understand it. i get it. i have it. i know it. if this were what the visit were about, great. but instead, see the previous few paragraphs. store is basically a tight squeeze. and coming from other stores region-wide that are probably in a better position to be in a better position to not be constantly changing to be kept at 0, then he might have a thing or two to say about the way the store looks as opposed to wanting to understand what the Manager is doing. Managing, you know? no? alright.
so. there's all that. just. work stuff.
i'm not happy in a job where i am mentally and operationally operating above what it looks like and also don't really care about the nature of the units that we're selling, just as long as we're moving the units. yeah? [just took this and tweeted it in a smaller fashion]
also, the fiance is sick and we're just hoping for it to get better. it's physical and constant. nothing i can offer or provide is making any difference.
mentioned this somewhat recently. 2015 has been dominated by playing video games. far cry 4 into the witcher into batman back into the witcher into mad max and then into fallout 4. entire year of just video games. i have passed on so many movies to see, books to read, places to see, new state to learn, a life to live in all of my free time.
so that then has become me thinking about 2016 [and then my new year's resolution?] or a good turning point when i want to start turning something around and becoming something different or someone the same but a better version of that and making people around me better because i'm better. bringing people up. bringing people around. having friends again. being someone more than who i am right now.
having my new friends know that i want to write. that i write at all. that i write well. that at some point i was a dude with a lot of dreams and things i wanted to do and things i wanted to be and a growing individual.
instead now, i'm just some guy who hands out mixes and works at the game store.
i got a customer complaint a couple of weeks ago about customers saying that i was being childish and always treat them childish. that instead of just saying i didn't have an answer, i try to make up answers. this was from a new DM who i told, "hey. i'll take that for what it is. i can tell you that i don't act childish, but you wouldn't know that. i can tell you that i don't make up answers and will be the first person to say, verbatim, 'oh yo, i don't know man'. but you don't know me. so i'll take that as the first impression you have of me from a third person perspective, but in our two conversations, you know enough about me to know that i'm not going to defend myself here. it's all perception." he liked my response and he said that he absolutely doesn't think that i act childish and in the two conversations we've had, i definitely showed myself to be someone who clearly understands the position, the job, the company and a position a level above me. but he just wondered where that came from. is that stressful? am i on task anymore? naw man.
i had to finish a christmas gift for the fiance [which i finished this morning] and the process of doing that in my head was sort of daunting and i was wondering whether or not it was going to come across as a macaroni necklace or something that i'd be proud of. [having finished it, i like it a lot, but seeing it again when it's unwrapped may make all the difference]
my parents are old.
also, the thought that you will always think that there's more time. there's another day. there's time tomorrow. i'll do it next week. next day off i'll take care of it. when i'm done with this, i'll start that. you will never have enough time to do anything that you hope to do if everything that you hope to do is shifted back to make room for the stuff that you just happen to be doing. you/i should just be doing an equal amount of good and great and hopeful and i-can't-wait-to-do-this things, and catching up with friends and family because one day, everyone's going to be gone and you're going to miss all of them and all the things and you can read whatever fucking book you want when you're alone.
the best thing i'll ever be able to tell anyone about charleston, sc if i were to move tomorrow is that "downtown area was pretty cool. i never spent much time there. my fiance loved the beach. there was a lot of traffic." and for two years, for that to be all that i can show for it is fucking embarrassing.
i dono, man. i'm 33. is this stuff i should be stressed about?
i just want to do something that makes a difference to someone else.
Monday, October 26, 2015
trying to Wake Up instead of just waking up.
spent 2015 playing video games. watching television.
worrying about the fact that these new people won't like my words or actions or me.
cascaded into worrying about the existing audience liking my output or liking me.
second guessing for a whole lot of steps.
video games instead of writing.
instead of listening.
instead of watching.
video games instead of living.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Friday, May 01, 2015
i was inspired by an article written by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker (here) about the process of enjoying the music that you love and to pay what you want for music you love. i didn't read the article before getting this spark of thought. so the article itself might just be a dissertation on the industry of the music business.
what i'm going to talk about here is the process of sharing and enjoying what you love. whether it's an opinion about a song or a record or if it's the song or video itself, just love what you love. just get behind it. you can't find music that you're going to love from the most obvious of places all the time. sometimes you have to be that person that takes the risk and post a song that no one cares about just to get someone else's brain thinking. it's an important process of life. and the biggest thing to come to grips with is you might never understand or hear or witness the fact that you were the person that inspired that creative spark.
you're not always going to read a new novel and check the back and find a footnote that says, "this entire story and interaction between my main characters was inspired by Steve Cuocci, a guy i know on facebook from a show i went to once. Thank you for posting that HEALTH song that time and thank you for the brief comment you left above the video. It became my everything." a lot of times, catalysts are the furthest from the foreground, the things that come in this little subversive and pervasive ways, they enslave you in your dreams and they delay you in your walk to brew your tea or pour your coffee. they come to you in a doodle or you think you hear someone say a line from the song you thought you forgot on line at the post office.
always feel good about the things that you want to share. you like it, you want it to represent you on social media at that moment, so put it out into the world. don't base whether or not it was a good idea on how many likes or comments or shares you get. don't share it for anyone but you. share it like a banner you're waving from your porch.
FACT. i don't know how many people read this blog. i don't know if ANYONE reads this blog. i write poems and thoughts and dreams for myself here. sometimes i share things i'm proud of with the people i care about. sometimes i don't. i trust that at some point, someone will uncover this and read through some of it sometime. it's no big deal if no one does.
"the value of music is the value you extract from it"
listening to a record that i've heard no opinion on used to stress me out. it used to give me the feeling that i was walking down a pathway without any level of trust or any sense of direction. i've grown to understand that that very concept is what i've learned to love about music. sometimes i'll carry down the entire path and feel that a massive journey has been undergone. like i've crossed a desert or a tundra. i've recreated a whole new landscape of thought. and my virgin eyes and that path has been so clean that i feel that i've made my own impact on the place itself. other times i'll go through it without taking a single thing from it or feeling anything.
if it's something that i've received a recommendation from, so many different factors come into play. if they told me things to look for i might spend far too long in one position trying to translate their message into what's before my eyes or found in my ears. sometimes if someone has really torn something asunder, i'll be wondering and distracted why they found such a beautiful thing so terrible. ever worse, sometimes i'll take the time to agree with them on so many different things that they flagged for me that i won't explore the universes that sit behind them. or within them.
in the state of social media that we're in i think that we start to assign quality and value to our thoughts and ideas based on the amount of response that we get as opposed to the internal process that brought us there and the breakthrough that it took to arrive. i think we need to avoid allowing that value system to invade all of the things that we do. to a degree, we become addicted to that approval or that feedback. that's how so much of our output leaves our notebooks and our journals and our conversations and end up OUT THERE on the walls and in the big places for all the eyes to see. we want to be heard, and in those little micromoments, we want to be famous. we want to think that when someone likes our post, we have their attention and we're becoming that footnote in the novel.
you will never be the footnote in the novel.
even when you are.
you have to be the author.
i'm super caffeinated, man. so i'm running from thought to thought and i may not be making cohesive sense. but i'm not writing an essay for you. i'm capturing these thoughts to throw into the ocean in some kind of sealed bottle. i might tell people where to find the bottle and i might not. it just doesn't matter. assign the kind of love and the amount of love you feel only based on how you feel it. not how much you feel like you're allowed to or how much is appropriate to.
just be rad. have dope conversations. share your interests. share what you love. when you find someone with similar interests, don't compare just inspire. get behind it. your whole goddamn energy is going to disintegrate if you keep it in compartments and you dole it out in these regulated time frames.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
just a brief observation i made while walking from one room to the other today in our apartment/house. i can't believe how much has changed since two years ago. even just from a single year. i am home, off today. waiting until around three o'clock to pick up parker. not too worried about it or going to let it affect my day instead of getting bothered by it or even having that experience not exist. excited to watch playoff hockey on the ipad while the girlfriend and i watch a new episode of chopped. playing a video game sort of casually while listening to a bunch of new music that may have gone by the wayside. just taking it real easy. full of coffee and a positive energy. again, not all things are new and fresh and opposite. but the feeling of peace and serenity and overwhelming Home is more than i could have expected.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
wrote this dream on microsoft notepad and it crashed. as it was crashing, i took a picture with my phone. but it seems that i got most of it. it was days ago, so the beginning is shaky. the picture i took picks up in the middle of a paragraph. i don't remember what came before it, but it seems to start off in the beginning. i remember we were living in a city, and we were being led through these big check points, like toll booths in the beginning, like as we were going out of our houses, early on in the day.
divided into two colors, orange and blue. and at no point did we know what those oclors meant, but we knew there were going to be differences. celebrities started coming in and being part of those teams as well. not teams, but sides. and you could tell camera crews were coming in as well. and filming dialogue with the celebrities but not letting us know what was going on. and when night fell it was almost like a scene from godzilla where there were buildings falling apart and explosions and earthquakes and everyone was running and being 'coraled' into this one office building. and we sat around in these big office lobbies. in an instant, a switch was flipped and the floor and the chairs and the walls became not glowing a certain color but you could tell what color it was. and you could also see what color each individual was. and anyone orange in the blue area was being shoved over the line, or hurt or killed. and i was hanging with my best friend and we didn't know we were different colors and i was trying to talk to him like, hey, it's just colors, who cares? and he was FULLY bought in. just walking away, totally not down with getting involved in an orange team member. and i went so far into that area that i was 'captured' not even touched or anything, just knew that i'd been captured. and to an audience, one of the celebrities said that i was going to be executed in front of all of them. and some were applauding, some were laughing, some weren't paying attention. … so I was put down on my knees with my hands behind my head like a ‘prisoner’ style. and this guy had this massive switchblade axe type weapon and he was going to slice my head off with it. but time ran out or something like that. so ‘at morning’, we all became uncolored again. so the show was over. but at night, the earthquakes would happen again and we would all have to resume our places again. and my friend was my friend again and I was having discussions with people about being executed. and I tweeted or facebooked about it and people were responding to it like crazy. and I started to feel ‘okay’ about being executed. the day was weird because the celebrities hung out with me and I was on tv on one of those good morning America shows on a couch, etc. and that was all a blur, like a memory. and I remember going into the ‘offices’ early and getting set up and people were walking by like “ohh there’s the guy” in a cool way, like I was an athlete or something. and the time came and we resumed our places and as I was about to be killed, I think I was getting rescued but the timing wasn’t working out. things were happening in the background and the peripheral, but no one was stopping the executioner, just the team around him. I either got killed or saved the moment I woke up.
Friday, March 20, 2015
i feel like with addiction,
there's got to be that weird stasis you hit where
NOTHING HITS THE SAME
and you feel awful and awful and awful about when the
first and second and third hit will just be priming you
for the supreme and metamorphasmic drip
that you finally surge through yourself.
but the exhaustion at that tipping point,
is it all worth the sale? the purchase?
circling down into the core of Need.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
it was weird. all the lights in the bar were on and I had arrived and all was warm and familiar. like old friends. I'd never met a one. but all old friends, like high school graduate mates. but a bit detached. like they knew,e, thought more OF me. more exactly, they knew a friend that I'd dated. and I came back to see her but she wasn't around or she was. but in this dream I never saw her. I remember walking in and they gave over control of the music and the atmosphere. and all the drinks were free. one of those absolutely temporary moments and one that feels so invincible. I sat on the bar and watched the full room and drank a beer endlessly. cold and constant.
the specific part I remember is her friend coming over. a whole new invention. small and shorter. shoulders. a white tee shirt. she was sad and missing someone and I never understood who but I understood it. He had left her. and I never Loved her but she was under my protection there and then. and I had her back. and there was no romance save that reserved for the lost. I just wanted her to be okay. and she sat on the bar with me, quiet. large sunglasses and silent.
and we left the bar and she drove us to a house somewhere unimpressive. white porch, unclean. and the sun was coming up on the light blue slats. paint peeling. and I remember sitting on the step. sun rise like a film waiting to be made, all the right reds and oranges with the blue. a goddamn deep sigh that goes forever because he's gone. and for some reason I don't have a shirt on and she has a neck tattoo and still wearing he sunglasses and the tears. the I'm sitting and she's crouching behind me, her arms crossed and leaning on my back and her head rested on her arms and crying. and I'm just there for support and we're okay.
Saturday, February 07, 2015
i feel like i shy away from conversations that go from intro/beginner tier to intermediate/knowledgeable tier because the level of competitiveness in those conversations can be more overwhelming than the amount of shared information and helpfulness and reason that goes into them. at least in my experience. forget expert level. that's just where people to go masturbate or piss.
i guess this could be mostly pointed out on the internet, because where else can you really REGULARLY go to speak your mind on topics? the most ready example i have is a music group that just popped up on facebook that i got included in. there's so much that i want to speak about, but only one of them is a friend and the rest are friends of friends. so if i go in and start just wielding all of these opinions and throwing down general input on different artists, i'm already perceiving that i'm coming across as knowledgeable to a fault. that could just be my own nature of perception of others clouding my perception of how others perceive others. i think the syntax of that sentence holds up. what i'm trying to say is maybe it's just me.
same goes for anything hockey related or video game related. once i step outside of the realm of people who know and understand my voice i start to feel like i'll be seen as the person i was in middle school/high school which was a sort of forceful know-it-all who tried to prove that i knew a lot about subjects i knew nothing about through reference, posturing and "conversational logic equations". awful. so now i've learned about that part of my Self and have been very toned down about how i approach revealing my opinion outside of my groups of friends who know what i mean. but ALSO, i've been compensating for that part of my personality by being COMPLETELY nonpartisan in so many conversations that i actually do have a leaning towards. the one thing i've gained out of that style of conversation or interaction is that i leave all of the negative opinions out of it. it's never helped anyone. even now when i hear negative opinions about something it frustrates or embarrasses me for them. going back to the music discussion, there are times i wanna lay in and be like "that band is honestly more wack than i have ever heard. how are people listening to this and then bringing it with them?" but what's that going to do. are they going to change their opinion? a decade ago, fifteen years ago, yeah, i honestly think i thought people would rethink their stance. now, i more or less take a higher road where i want to ask "hey man, i don't think i get it. what song(s) or what other bands are you listening to that got you into that? i think i need a stepping stone." same thing happens with sports, but the nature of the conversation is always competition so i'm always instantly disappointed when someone brings competition into it because obviously i'm the outsider there. it's fine.
i would love to 'escalate' my interactions on these types of subjects that i actually have a knowledge about. not only to learn more on the subjects but just to get proven wrong a little bit. learn that a few people might talk some cool shit and be willing to hear me out and learn something. i know i have a lot to offer and with my current surroundings and current job, i don't think i'm teaching anybody anything, which is something i've always sort of gotten a big rush from.
you gotta feel good, man.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
i just had the craziest flashback while standing and cleaning the kitchen.
it was from a "cub/dad" weekend camping trip when my dad and i went camping with the cub scout troop i was a part of. it was the first or second night we got there. probably the first night. and we had gone to sleep and it was dark. probably around 8? 9? had to be somewhat early. and i remember going to sleep and waking up alone and there were voices far away. and i just had this recollection of walking across this field with all of these tents and getting closer and closer to where my dad was with all of these other guys, these other men and i remember seeing him and us interacting... i don't even think i knew what to say and/or i don't remember saying anything in particular. but then i remember going back to the tent alone and going to sleep.
i feel like this is a memory/moment that really [eventually] put into perspective what goes on in the world of People as opposed to Parents. i think about this moment from time to time i realize. and i wonder if he was embarrassed or if he was surprised or if he cared or if that ever crosses his mind. i wonder if he was just kind of hanging with these other Dad Dudes and feeling good about it. i've always seen my dad as kind of antisocial. mom and dad never had any friends as i got older, just members of the family they spoke to. no one who were "family friends". is that rare? are family friends real?
anyway, now i'm thinking about when you're just trying to get away for a weekend and you meet this random set of people you'll never talk to again and you're just shit-hanging and maybe drinking, maybe smoking, who fucking knows. and this little kid comes up and is like "ummmm..." and what do you do? i'm in that position now. he's not MY kid, but he "is". and if i have someone over and we're shit-hanging and playing a game or talking bands.. and little man comes out and wants to have food or something, i'm cool with it. but i'm pretty social. if you're not social, does it affect that?
ALSO. who do i get this social vibrance from? is it my dad? there's no way. i don't think i get much from my dad at all, in fact. it took me a while to realize that i think i got my more creative side from my mom. i realized that my mom always wrote us letters. i think she has that drive to write. or at least that small seed that could have been nurtured into a more avid writer. she reads a lot. she has a love for Words. i wonder if she ever has realized it. or if she realized that I realize it. any of it. but i think if she were allowed to grow in a creative environment, i think she would have spun something really great.
i know dad reads a lot as well. or read a lot. he's read a lot of those weird coming-of-age novels. henry miller and hesse. vonnegut. a lot of that older stuff. asimov sci-fi. really interesting to see where that. his mind is more of the left brain, science minded stuff? who knows. it's always been pretty easy to tell that i'm my mom. and my sister is my dad. everything is strange.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
i went back and read a story/memoir that i'd written years ago about a break up. and i can't believe how sharp some of the points still are. but i remember the people involved. me and her. and i remember them as characters. they're no one. they don't matter to me. but the events and the things that occurred within that life are so authentic and surreal to me.
there's a couple of things:
- it still reads like the voice that i generally write in. so there's something about that that feels like it doesn't need a translator or a period of time to pull those words together. i don't have to sit back and understand it. i don't have to figure out if i believe it or not. i don't give a shit if i buy it. there's something in there that i feel.
- that experience of the breakup... that particular breakup... was the defining moment in my life that took me from who i was to the very beginnings of who i am. there's even video of me during that time that i look back on and kind of don't get. i don't understand who that person is or was trying to be. well. i kind of get it. there's an ego there that i don't respect. there's an ego there that's never been checked. also, an ego that's unfounded. someone that became a character in his own head that deserved way more clout than he had assumed. even now, i know i have an ego and i have a strong bravado of a narcissist. and that's fairly repugnant. i get pretty tired of it. but there's a HEAVY sadness that has come with that learning experience that opened up the deep end of the pool. and even if i don't linger in it, i respect that it exists.
as a music listener, if i didn't make mix cds, i wouldn't listen to anywhere near as much new stuff as i do. and i really enjoy that chase. to say "i don't care" who listens to it is a shitty lie. but to also say that that's completely why i do it is wrong as well. i'm glad that i have a series of mix cds that i've built on my own from other people's work and then shared with people. i think this process helps me keep a part of me alive that i will always miss the tail end of. /// even making end of the year lists keeps me listening to new music that comes out during the current year.
as a blogger, i'm not sure what i would be without the many different voices i try to compartmentalize in different URLs. this blog, the games blog, the music blog [RIP], and even a new entertainment blog that i'm doing with the girlfriend. these are all individual exhibits that have NOTHING to do with each other. and i think even as characters, they'd truly annoy and bother each other at a party.
i don't know.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
how do you not write something down in a small, personal notebook once a day? you worry about what other people will think when you write it. even down to the smallest little monologue about veterans or war. you HAD that thought. it happened. and it spiraled off into nowhere. just jot it down. it's frustrating that you don't write it down anymore. audience ruined everything. this is the third stream of consciousness you let change from smoke to smoke in the past month. IT'S THERE.
baby out with the bath water.
talked to a friend on the phone yesterday for almost an hour. felt incredible, like i was alive and throwing real opinions at real listener. and getting tactile feedback. and hearing opinions back. learning and teaching. it felt important on that scale. it felt like the friendships i miss. no small talk. no talking about real stupid life without attaching things overly large or overly small. everything a fairy tale or a joke or a way for us to understand each other. not making the tragedies digestible. not making the stupid things we think anything less than cosmic.
you wonder why.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
can we just talk about...
can we just talk about...
Pvris – White Noise I heard about this record almost by accident through a user on instagram. something simple, like a picture of the album cover and “I can’t stop listening to this album.” you know, you think, “let me see what their biggest song is and see if I can vibe with it.” I’m always trying to see what people like, constantly trying to devour and understand what people are digging. and once I threw this album, I kind of had that same experience. I ended up listening to the entire record all the way through, loving at least one part of ever y track. it has a bunch of stuff going on in it that I have liked before, but I think the way singer Lyndsey Gunnulfsen belts out some of those notes with the rough and powerful punctuation, it makes the catchy and poppy parts that much better. it helps you to believe it. great record, man. glad it was introduced to me. I would have completely missed it.
Taylor Mcferrin – Early Riser yo this is bobby mcferrin’s son. and it’s true, the best way to set this up is exactly how it was set up for me. it’s simple, but important. “it isn’t what you’d expect.” I mean, just based on where he’s probably come from, I assumed his influences would be somewhere in R&B? soul? singer/songwriter jazz scat? naw man. this is some really low frequency, bed of static, easy easy lo-fi. it’s well put together, and very very smart. I’m not sure if the quality of it sits ENTIRELY on the fact that I was surprised it was what came from Bobby’s son. I really think that might have a lot to do with it. but this is definitely a record I’m VERY glad I didn’t miss. a great background record. early morning commute, late night nod off.
Lydia Ainsworth – Right From Real it might be the voice. that might have been what initially pulled me in. but then on the full record, hearing the swelling and shattering songs and the way that things were being pulled in so many different directions really won me over. disco ball reflecting strobes on acid in slow motion. there are some really surprisingly bassy tones used on the record that set up a bunch of truly incredible beds for this record to play it’s upper range stuff on. and I think at times, that juxtaposition gives you a pretty proper feeling. like skating for the first time or something. there’s something about this album that has a Brit Marling feel for me, if that makes any sense. a completely involved work, hands on everything, making sure everything is completed to perfection. some really cool moments that focus on music as going beyond song.
i think i get it but i need help
Run the Jewels – 2 this is dope. I’m into it. I need… like… NEED a hip hop rejuvenation in my life. I want something new. the problem for me with the genre is that I’m not “good” at listening to lyrics. I can’t remember them, I can’t understand them sometimes. not “understand” in terms of unable to decipher what they were referring to. but more like I just hear a blend of words and sounds that sound like OTHER words and sounds. but this record has such cool production. so unique, so completely different than anything else out there right now. it’s so real and modern. is that how we talk about a rap album today? I DON’T KNOW. I can’t find myself coming back to this often. it feels uncomfortable for me at times, but in an okay way. I remember listening to this a few times and being like, “oh… oh wow.” undeniable impact on me. but I want to hear or read someone else talk to me about it. tell me about the things that make this important and quality. because I know there’s not JUST a surface here. it’s been showing up on a bunch of top 10 and top 50 lists all at the end of this year. it’s so good. plus the de la rocha track? so sick to hear him come back.
how is this only two tracks??
Lifted Bells – Lights Out oh, cool. bob nanna is putting something out into the world? these guitars, my god. any project he’s involved in, I feel like there’s something about the guitars that remind me of the way lights look on a highway through a rain covered windshield. they’re so all over the place. somehow one note slides into another completely different one. maybe that, maybe it’s just so fast. but this ep is two dope tracks and by the time it’s over I’m already missing it. 5:46 isn’t long enough.
Death Grips – Niggas On the Moon i don’t know what to say about this record. ALSO. extremely unique and weird. it’s almost hard to listen to if you’re paying too much attention to. like trying to wonder why you have cotton mouth when you smoke or trying to figure out if that girl was actually just looking at you when you’ve been drinking. you have to sort of let it go. you’ll find yourself in this album a lot. you’ll find this album in you a lot. it sounds like found footage. it’s really good and without a doubt, completely interesting. has that CAN’T LOOK AWAY vibe.
Swans – To Be Kind I promise I like this album! getting into it took some time. but I heard some really incredible moments and some of the weirdest, soul opening sounds that I couldn’t have found anywhere else. felt like cold soil under rocks and shadows in freezing caves that are found in sweltering deserts. but the vocals seem to completely remove me from the experience. like people talking in a movie theater. or the friend who a friend brought along who is trying to butt into the big boy film conversation. actually, that friend is probably usually me. but I just want to know more and I’m sorry. but I have had this album on a few times and have been pulled deeper into it than I’d originally expected, but I’m still getting used to the vocals kind of like a new last minute emergency roommate.
The Top Ten (the playlist)
yo. I have no defense. I would love to discuss any and all of these. I hope you all listened to stuff out there that you enjoyed to the point of needing to text any and everyone who might understand about certain clumps of seconds within songs. these are what got me there. would love to hear what got you anywhere.
10. Angus & Julia Stone – Angus & Julia Stone
I heard a song from these two as my introduction to them via spotify radio that had been playing for about an hour or two, cultivating from thumbs ups and thumbs downs that I can’t even remember to what. But when I heard the track, I really took note of it. I think I wrote it down in the same moleskine I’ve been trying to fill for the last two years. just a quick note. I think it was just the song title. I remember pointing out a track via the wrankmusic facebook.. maybe? and Brian pointed out that they’d done some other great stuff individually. really the first time I’d ever heard of these guys and it makes a lot of sense. the songs on this record show a lot of years of knowing how to play off of each other in imperfect melodies and harmonies. it reminds me a lot of a more constructed version of the EP from Armistice that came out a few years ago. simple folk songs with romantic lyrics. and this isn’t really the type of music I’m into either. but the record sits in a special place and really captured a lot of what 2014 became for me. the second half of this year was really marked by falling in love in a whole new and liberating way. and this record always seemed to represent the soundtrack to that. I think the one thing I can say that the album “suffers” from is that it goes on for what seems like forever. which I’ll tie right back into the “falling in love” thing. a lot of times, it’s great when you’re going through it but for anyone else to have to hear about it time and time again can be a bit much. but still. this record has a timeless quality to it. not the kind of thing I’m used to being into all the time.
Important Tracks: Heart Beats Slow, Wherever You Are, Other Things
9. Code Orange – I Am King
I’m really happy about this record. it’s just punishing. and sludgy and heavy and hard. I don’t know if the band always wants this pointed out, but the singer is a girl and that makes it feel THAT much heavier and frantic to me. but yeah. just heavy notes ringing out and dragging themselves across the speakers. so good. the record has some of those parts that are just so deep and miserable you can’t help but laugh. a lot of face palms. it feels good to see a band develop into this, even dropping the “code orange kids” moniker and just going for it. I haven’t been looking in a lot of the right places, really, but it’s really good to see a band doing stuff like this again. it feels fresh, although it’s more or less doing stuff that I was getting hype about eight to ten years ago. this sound just makes me happy. they’re doing it right. this record makes me want to watch videos of people fucking with the lions when they think the cages are locked. Some really cool moments where you can really hear the guitar being recorded in a studio, in the room. And I’m not sure if that’s ever something you want to come across in any other genre but this. even down to the track “Bind You” it reminds me of just how unfinished and… not great a band can sound while still conveying how great they WANT it to sound. is that a fair assessment? Just an album that makes me feel good. hell yes.
Important Tracks: Dreams In Inertia, I Am King, Starve
8. Taylor Swift – 1989
These are some of the best pop songs written this year. Catchy as hell. Danceable. The lyrics are VACANT for the most part. completely empty and next to impossible to care. But despite all of that, listening to this album I can’t believe how many tracks in a row I actually enjoy all the way through. I almost don’t know who I am while I’m listening to this record. I feel like I’m trying to find a key in my jewelry box to open my diary to write with a gel pen while laying on my stomach and looking at all of the pictures I have hanging around my stupid vanity mirror. I feel like I’m drawing hearts around boys’ names. it’s such a distinctly FEMALE record. I can’t imagine Steve Cuocci walking up to me and being like, “YO. 1989 IS SECKKKKKK.” I think they could probably do a really heavy drop, trap or dub version of Bad Blood. I just think it’s set up for it. And I think the track Wildest Dreams might be a better Lana Del Rey track than Lana did on her own record. I dono. This record is great, dude. Get over it. I think I wanna see Tay live now. SHRUG. NBD.
Important Tracks: Style, All You Had to Do Was Stay, I Wish You Would, I Know Places
7. My Iron Lung – Relief
this record gets its strengths from the moments that can be found in the thick. and just how smart and well placed those moments are. silences and single lines that show up in the middle of a throng of the shouting. records like this seem to speak in a specific voice. and it’s all very obviously influenced and inspired by each other. the guitar tone, the chords, the pattern of the vocals. but what sets these bands and records and songs apart are the knowledge of when to stop and when to start, when to let the notes do the work. to let momentum carry you forward instead of raw force. and those things are what separate this genre from more aggressive ones. where some other records on this list are enjoyable like a road trip or a film, this one is more of a roller coaster or an episode of television. there’s more nuance than phase. the distinction of this record is the things that it makes me feel.
Important Tracks: Commonwealth, In Defense of Drowning
6. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
one day, I’m walking back from a break at work and flipping through the last few pages of my RSS feed and see thom yorke’s name pop up. and I see that he’s releasing a record TODAY via bit torrent and has dropped a track. I peek in the window of the store and there’s a line, but I don’t care. I stream the new track while leaning up against the wall outside and NEED the rest of the album right away. it’s a strange thing that Thom does with his music. it never goes beyond a really solid and strong hum. it’s sits in the pocket and just delivers at top notch quality FOREVER. it always speaks to you a bit more clearly on headphones, and it’s not to say that most music doesn’t, but it’s almost the difference between watching someone on TV and then meeting them in person. you see a little bit more marks and the height and weight are different and more correct. I think this record definitely brings to light the fact that he dabbles in the DJ scene. and most radiohead songs are built upon the spinal columns of drum loops that tend to run the same from beginning to end. and these songs work similarly, in that there’s a bed of samples that persist throughout the individual tracks. the loops become hypnotic. there’s even moments on the record that are constantly and gradually building into a climax that you didn’t know was a climax until it passes. purposely destroyed piano chords. it’s just really a mastery of timing and restraint. sometimes I even wonder where he comes up with the pattern at which he’s going to sing, almost the same way we decide how we’re going to ask someone to get down off of a ledge. and of all of the lines in this record, the ones that could potentially have incredible impact on you, I can’t ignore the one that feels the most powerful: “oh my god; oh my god.” as I mentioned earlier in my description of ‘run the jewels’, I don’t often hear words in lyrics, but sounds and human voice. and this record almost embraces that concept perfectly. thank you.
Important Tracks: A Brain In a Bottle, Guess Again!, Truth Ray, Pink Section
5. Fairweather – Fairweather
longterm ongoing theme: yours truly being terrified of his favorite bands releasing records. fact. this was possibly one of the biggest ones. favorite band dropping a new record for the first time in a decade? I mean, there are so many different ways it can go. they can try to keep up with the times and lose their identity. they can be too mired down in their old style to really grow. it can be missing identity altogether. NOPE. this record came through as something just as special as everything they’d done before it. it was the next logical musical step for the band, based on their previous timeline. even without putting years on the records that came out, you can watch how they got to this very place. you can see these songs fitting perfectly into a live performance of their old material. it all works. it speaks directly to me. it affirms why this band is the band that I answer who my favorite band is almost immediately. I don’t know, man. this record feels like a celebration. it doesn’t feel like a reunion or a release after a hiatus. it feels right. the guitar tone still has that really full control, that really warm vintage sound. I understand how this description might feel a little pale. I’ll explain the best I can in this way. if a friend takes a photo, or writes a book or makes a film and you watch it and you’re genuinely impressed or moved or just completely engulfed by it… it might not even be something that would be considered for an award outside of that shallow little circle, but for your world, you just cannot believe that something like THIS rested inside someone you knew.
Important Tracks: Carte Blanche, Clear Skies Full Sails, Last Words
4. The War On Drugs – Lost In the Dream
This record spreads itself so widely and beautifully across any landscape. It’s so broad and serene and calm. I used to listen to it in the early to mid part of the year when it was still pretty cold (for here) and would commute some really early mornings. The consistent, rolling vibe of this record made it smooth over seamlessly. It’s what I picture and envision while I listen to this record. It recreates that exact feeling of travel and the calming value that it can have on you. Even the down time on this record fills itself with hashmarks to pay attention to. This seems like a work that Granduciel continued to come back to and filled any empty corners, smoothed down any wrinkles or even made any cracks deeper or any blemishes dirtier. While a lot of the themes seem to be pretty forlorn and from a negative space, the pace of it all and the consistency of it seems to have a positive vibe to it. Every song, while most of them pretty lengthy, seem to have a need to be heard all the way through. There’s a post rock vibe to all of it. Really big and majestic. Lots of the little notes meaning grand things. This is definitely another great headphones record. it’s a really big endeavor and it feels like 70s novel covers in outer space. there’s a lot to like about it.
Important Tracks: Under the Pressure, Red Eyes, Eyes to the Wind, The Haunting Idle
3. Phantogram – Voices
Such a dope band. Their sound is already really cool, very fresh. Boldly modern. These are all weird magazine quotes, though. It’s true, they have a lot of the sound that you would want to advertise in your crispy media. But the sound is so on point. There’s the crunchy electro beats. The way Sarah’s vocals sound like the mouthpiece to a future where the robots are beautiful and the way the synths are round and direct and deliberate. It’s such a forceful record. When the record first dropped, I bought it based on their capability and skill. I knew I liked them. But what this record did was really take them to a whole new level. This is the kind of music I want to be listening to deep into my adult years. It’s so grounded and foolproof but also has a lot of that new crunch and that future sound to it that keeps me fresh UNTIL death. I feel like this record could be performed with such diverse yet similar reactions and emotions in both a massive venue or a small intimate showing. really layered and textured sounds here. I think the production is really king on here. and Fall In Love is probably one of my five favorite songs to be born all year. A lot of dance in this record, too. And what initially gets you interested, all of the elements that made this album a flashy and outwardly attractive listen in the first place starts to speak in its own language down the home stretch with songs that take themselves more seriously but use a lot of the same repurposed tools for more mature and sober and forlorn tracks. feels violently sad and uncomfortable, made even more prickly by the minimal lyrical content. This is just a great listen all the way through. Universal but not vague.
Important Tracks: Black Out Days, Fall In Love, My Only Friend
2. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
the first words on this record are “Blow your fucking brains out.” Thank god. Pulling absolutely no punches, wanting everyone and everything, including yourself obliterated. Listening to Every Time I Die used to bring me back to listening to “Gutter Phenomenon” for 8 straight months, but now will always bring violent visions of their show in Brooklyn where Jeff Roche broke his nose. forever. and any time I hear a song, I will try to think if their song will make sense in that battlefield. and every moment of this record makes sense as a prisoner in this vision. These songs are warriors. “Love is the only way out.” Fuck. Sometimes there are moments in songs, especially for people like me who can’t understand what in the name of God anyone is saying, where lyrics stand out and freeze you in your tracks. And this record might hold the record for just those moments. And while “Decayin’ With the Boys” has no distinct lyrical content, the misery and joy that it brings me is almost too much. It just feels too good. Too much like a record that only this band can pull off. It’s almost funny, but brutal and with hooks, but catchy and deadly. And I say funny not in a way that they’re telling jokes or being overly sarcastic or tongue in cheek. Because they are at times. But there are moments in this record that I can’t believe they went as heavy as they went, or as funky as they went. Some bands wouldn’t be able to handle some of the tight turns that these guys pull, but they do it flawlessly. It makes more and more sense the deeper their library goes. So many of their songs sound like sand running terrified through an hourglass. And what can be said about Moor that hasn’t already been said? I feel like I could write several pages of comparison and visions I get from it. I’ll start with THIS visual, though: the last time I listened to it on my own in an empty room, the best way I could explain the way that I was dancing to it was to conjure memories of Jonathon Davis a la Korn. It sounds like a house that despite its endless company will always seem abandoned. It sounds like standing in a circle of feeding vultures. How dark can a song like this get? Even the piano sounds broken. “All I want is is head and this horrible world will be wonderful again. There’s so much beauty and love and when I eat his beating heart I can bring it back to us.” FOR FUCK’S SAKE. It like the Bill the Butcher of songs. It serves as a glorious centerpiece for the rest of these tracks that are some of the darkest the band has thrown into the world. This record seems fully deliberate and faster than a lot of their more recent work and it feels like a massive personal release for them. Not that they’ve ever come across as holding anything back, but there’s something immediate about all of it. There’s a weird personality to this band that comes out in so many of their songs. It might be the guitar tones, it might be the sardonic lyrical content, or it might be the fact that you just KNEW there would be a full piano slide in a song as punishing as El Dorado. I hate pointing this out, but this is the band you want to be out partying with just to push yourself to the limit. Still talking about El Dorado, they use a riff that represents that Harley Davidson as a spirit animal without coming across as ironic, and then without building into it, goes into YET ANOTHER completely different type of “I think I’ve heard this progression before but DO NOT GIVE A FUCK” stomp out. This record just feels fun. And I can’t tell if I’m starting to sound like a Radiohead fan, but with this band, you start to understand the language they’re speaking with every new record and every new move they make. There’s a history being built here. And it’s where I want to live.
Important Tracks: Decayin’ With the Boys, Moor, El Dorado, Idiot
1. La Dispute – Rooms of the House
I literally LAUGHED (and still laugh) at this band’s last record. Something was so silly about all of it. Its spoken word parts felt so clunky and like those moments where friends would invite you to see their bands at these cheap little bands and you’d stare wide eyed with some other guest you’d brought. But this record helped me understand what everyone else was seeing. The honesty and the narrative of the lyrics and the way that the writing style was capturing a specific age and transformative period. A lot of this record, ironically, is lyrics and descriptions of hesitant moments. And for the most part, as you’ve read, NAWDAWG, it ain’t me. One strange thing about listening to this record is that I started to really become acquainted with it the way you become close with favorite books or magazine voices or your favorite films. And I found that two of the songs on this record felt like some of the most strongly written, dare I say, PERFECT songs that I’ve heard in a long time. One of them being the third track, Woman (In Mirror). And I certainly can’t be sure what it is about this track that makes me feel an unbelievable wave and flush of nostalgia. But also, there’s something restrained and completely bared on this track. There’s not all that much happening in it and so much of it is a sound on repetition. But it strikes a chord in me, all of it ringing out in harmony. Nothing in this track wants your attention, but instead in its humility, it demands it. And what this track and the next really sticks is that the guitar tones never have to be tweaked and turned all the way up to remind you that it’s a song. So much of this record feels comfortable and feels like books that have been on your shelf forever. Oddly, for the number one record of the year, there’s nothing that so much of it takes over the landscape around you and has songs that you want to REALLY show people 30 seconds of and wow them. With this one, it’s the one you mail to a best friend and really hope they find the message that’s been tied to it. And yeah, there are parts of this record that are flawed and still feel like songs you’d walk away and order a drink during. Like the song where Jordan Dreyer says he’d “rather be the mayor of splitsville than suffer your jokes again”… or the ENTIRETY of the track “Extraordinary Dinner Party”. The latter of which is one that is an ongoing joke between the girlfriend and I where an artist embarrassingly details their visit to a gas station or takes a poop or plays basketball with friends, thinking that the revelation into a personal life just brings you close enough to TRULY believe the artist, but instead sounds like the journal of a 14 year old. I was driving home lost from a town over an hour away with no data available on my cell phone and was exploring this record the entire time, and the track “35” is the first one that REALLY jumped out at me as something to truly pay attention to. It wasn’t lyrics the way we often think of them, but instead what felt like a piece of micro fiction about a bridge collapsing and the parties involved. Just really caught me off guard with what I was hearing. There’s something about this record that makes me want more, that makes me want to continue turning this channel on. I don’t even know if these are songs I want performed live. I think it might only exist in these moments, in solitary car rides or with the headphones on while sitting drinking coffee and writing letters. Spiraling conversations where there is time to kill and we might never see each other again. And songs like “Stay Happy There” are perfect examples of that. It goes by being in one voice and in one pace without really knowing the song is even happening. And “The Child We Lost in 1963” has something enormously heavy about it, like forcing a friend to talk about something they’ve always mentioned they’d never explain or share. There’s a space between the trajectory of the song where you feel you get a look into the writer’s intention, where you get a look into the narrator’s thesis that really take my breath away. And the instruments drop away thoughtfully and just kind of “get it”. And the track is followed appropriately by “Woman (Reading)” another one of those songs that somehow I’ve found to be one of those perfect songs, like the way snow can capture someone’s distinct footprint, someone’s distinct voice, and your entire year if stepped and forgotten in just a precise way. Even writing this, I know there are ways that other listeners won’t hear anything even remotely close to this, but I know I’m in that constant hum that people can find in their favorite songs, or with their favorite people that they can relate to in a specific way. The way that things in your brain and your heart and your soul align perfectly to frame the moments that you’ll never forget. Whether it’s songs that you love or paintings you’ve found or letters you’ve received or nights that you’ll always remember. It’s the decimal that fell appropriately and despite the chaos. Yeah. That’s the kinds of moments that this record brings for me. Somehow, I feel like it gets me. And the final track, “Objects In Space.” It just feels like every moment that friends have spoken about, even that I’ve spoken about, when we dissect a weekend, a week, a year with another person. And we just say, “fuck.” All of us. Just “fuck.” How did we survive that. How did you tell that? How did I just hear that and be okay with that? “Fuck.” The realest, most boring, least exaggerated, brutally honest… the real essence of hope being extracted from history. Just being sad. Living in full, blooming trajectory and then suddenly having to redefine ALL of it. Hearing about how questions became fights became breakups became revelations. “Fuck.” Things we’ve said, places we’ve visited, things we’ve found. “Fuck.”
Important Tracks: Woman (In Mirror), The Child We Lost in 1963, Woman (Reading), Objects In Space