Those Albums

You know the ones I’m talking about.  When you put them on they immediately seem to be about YOU at THIS MOMENT.  Sometimes they are even retroactive.  I have listened to a few of them that basically voiced exactly how I felt about my nervous breakdown in high school (omg, drama gossip!) or a bad break up but years later.  They make you feel exactly how you did at that moment, but it is comforting not painful.  I’ll think things like “wow, I really wish that I had this album then”.  Of course, if I did, it probably wouldn’t have meant the same thing.  Sometimes we need that distance from those moments to actually understand how we felt and what was going on.  So that is what this post is about, those albums that become almost cultural touch stones.  Sometimes they come to retroactively define an entire generation or group of people and sometimes it is an album that nobody else really seems to notice that much.  There are albums that I hold in higher esteem than some of these but those don’t seem to define me in the same way.

I’ll start with Emergency & I by Dismemberment Plan.  This album is what gave me the idea for this post.  It was one I entirely missed out on, I was not into the band (or really into music in quite the same way) when it came out and I was probably too young for it to really be “about” my life the way many critics and fans have claimed it felt to them.  The pitchfork review actually was a pretty lovely and autobiographical piece about how that album grew up with those who got it just entering their early or mid 20′s; how it came to define a certain sort of individual.  Although I am now on a path towards what I hope is gainful employment and a set future for myself, there are still times when I feel somewhat adrift and confused.  Basically, it is quarter-life crisis time and this album is pretty much the ultimate quarter-life crisis/break up album.  I’m in a very happy and stable relationship at the moment so I can really only appreciate the break up lyrics for their skill and emotion.  I’m obviously not even close to the only one but the other lyrics just cut right into how I feel about the world, anxious, jittery, lost, loving a magician.  I won’t bother quoting the songs here but you should listen to and read the lyrics to The Jitters, You are Invited, Gyroscope.  And listen to The City and What Do You Want Me To Say, they are more relationship songs but the lyrics are killer and they are brilliant songs.  Though this album was made quite a long time ago, and I had listened to the other three Dismemberment Plan albums, I did not actually hear this album until the reissue came out.  You know something is brilliant when you feel like it was something that was always part of your life on first listen.

Next, lets talk about The Meadowlands by The Wrens.  Also it pisses me off that The Meadowlands is for some reason underlined in red as a typo…its a touchstone of my state damn it!  Anyway.  I had this album for quite a long time but for some reason never actually listened to it.  I had heard various critical notices forever and always wanted to but it just never happened.  One day, nearly a year after my break up I decided to listen to Secaucus by the same band.  I absolutely loved it, brilliant.  So the next day I put on The Meadowlands and proceeded to completely get ripped apart emotionally.  Then I immediately listened to it all the way through again.  So, this album features a lot of songs about dead relationships, anger and sadness.  It isn’t entirely made up of songs like this but there are quite a few.  By this point the anger, sadness and guilt about the way things had gone down and ended in my relationship had mostly dissipated but this album basically made me feel as if it had just happened the day before.  Surprisingly, this feeling was good.  The songs gave voice to a lot of the things I had difficulty explaining to myself about how I had felt and forced me to deal with a lot of things that I had kind of swept under the mental carpet in the process of “moving on.”  It was very good.  By allowing myself to feel as angry as I did, even if it wasn’t entirely justified, and as sad as I felt, even if it didn’t entirely make sense, and as guilty as I was, even if it was more than I needed to, it finally allowed me to actually process all of that and move on.  About a month later I moved to Philadelphia and started a new phase of my life.  I was still lonely, but I wasn’t bitter anymore, which I must admit I had been.  I put on a face of being OK and acting relatively normal again but it was there.  I was nervous of being in a new city, being out of home for the first time but I was excited as shit.  Then because I was somewhat lonely and nervous on my first night in the apartment I decided to call up one my best friends who had also recently moved to the city and she invited me out to dinner where I met a really pretty girl who mocked me for liking Brand New and who I immediately had a crush on.  Quite a few awkward conversations and and “study sessions” later I finally got off my ass and kissed her.  So thank you Kevin, Greg, Charles and Jerome for forcing me to relive an incredibly painful thing, it was the best possible medicine.

These are just two examples, there are definitely others of course but two is enough for now.  This may be a series haha.  Anyway, if you feel like it, leave your example of an album like that and why in the comments section!

Odd Future

This wasn’t what I was originally planning as my first post but after watching the performance on Jimmy Fallon I couldn’t resist.  I have, so far, not been a fan of the members of Odd Future.  Not because I dislike them but just because I haven’t really listened.  I have heard the praise heaped on some of the albums they have put out (all for free on their website…very cool) but I haven’t really checked them out.  Over the past few weeks I have been hearing endless shit flipping for the performance by Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats on Jimmy Fallon.  I finally watched it tonight when I was bored.  Let me say this, after doing so I am now downloading everything I can get my hands on by everyone in the collective and am anxiously awaiting Tyler’s next album (which hopefully will contain the song they performed).  These guys are brilliant, young music makers.  They also perform in a totally batshit style and their sheer exuberance is incredibly infectious.  I wasn’t really sure I was into it at first but by the time Tyler runs over to Fallon and his other guests and shoves his mic in Felicia Day’s face I was grinning. 

I think what really sold me was how after the performance they angrily stalk back stage, totally in character.  Seconds later they run out, Tyler puts his hat on Jimmy Fallon’s head and jumps on his back for a piggy back ride with a goofy smile.  Mos Def and Felicia Day come over laughing and hugging them and screaming nonsense into the camera.  I liked that they maintained their act (I hate to use that word, I don’t want to imply that their music and lyrics are a put on or a total act as some critics have) for awhile but then couldn’t resist flipping out over the fact that they are teenagers and after making music for awhile are now playing Jimmy Fallon while people flip out over them.  That was a long sentence.  Their music somewhat reminds me of The Gravediggaz.  I hate to make a comparison as sometimes I feel that that implies a lack of knowledge on how to describe something but the combination of deadly seriousness and completely insanity/humor does remind me of that wonderful album that was the soundtrack to my junior year of high school (6 Feet Deep for those wondering).  It really makes me happy to see a bunch of young people (old grump that I am) who are incredibly restless and creative using those qualities to churn out brilliant music (at breakneck speed).  Yes, it can (and will) offend a lot of people, yes some of it may be in bad taste (and also fucking hilarious); but it is also incredibly personal at times and people who actually get offended are probably missing the point.

I am really looking forward to the music this group continues to create.  I haven’t been this excited about a hip hop artist in a long while.  I have liked hip hop recently (Kanye, Fashawn, etc.) but haven’t gotten crazy about a new album or group since I was in college.  Nice.

First Post

Well hello there.  This is a placeholder entry while I figure out how I want this place to look and before I post my first thing.  I am not entirely sure what this blog will be about; it won’t have a set topic the way I see many blogs have, and hence, it probably won’t really be read by many people.  I have some theories on some things I’d like to talk about (this started with an idea for a weekly blog post about a music album that I feel like talking about…this may happen).

I’ll basically wing it.  I may have some planned posts, but others will probably just happen when I feel like talking about something.  I will try to be analytical and not just bullshit like I used to in high school on my *shudder* Xanga.  no “OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH REPUBLICANS” here.  I will try to link to articles if what I am talking about is beyond the scope of just my opinions.  I may just have posts that say “You guys should watch this TV show so it does not get cancelled” but I may also have posts that talk about the ramifications of the military being in charge of Egypt’s transition to a new democracy.

Hopefully by the end of the week my first real post will be made, we will see what it contains.

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