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Full Albums:

  • Driver Friendly, Bury a Dream1
  • Mr. Dream, Trash Hit2
  • Big L, L Corleone3
  • Kraftwerk, Computer World4
  • Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror5
Random Excellence:
  • Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
  • Otis, “Tramp”
  • Nine Inch Nails, “The Good Soldier”
  • Common, “Payback Is a Grandmother”
  • The Clash, “This Is England”
Songs of the Week:
  • Driver Friendly: “Messidona,” “Younce Creek,” “Shark Cave,” “Do Whatever You Want” and “I Have Better Things to Do Tonight than Die”
Reviews:

1. All my mom and I talked about while we listened to this album on repeat during my visit was about how surprising it is that music this good comes from my high school. We even looked up the band members in my senior year book in order as if we were trying to prove they were really there. My mantra was, since they were in the high school band, “It’s just a bunch of musical dudes making good music” and my mom’s was usually, “The drumming’s just so good.” And yet, I could sense the struggle: Last time I talked to one of them, I think he said they had a minor distribution deal, but they weren’t really signed to a label. The music’s amazing and the lyrics are sometimes really just as good–but they still live in a haunted world where they get to speak in metaphors and use word play unseen outside of places like hip hop. Instead of using their voices as the defining factor for every song, they treat voices like instruments, layering them and pairing them up with horn lines. I get the impression that’s hard to take for some people who rarely venture beyond the Top 40, though I can’t be sure. They have all the hallmarks of other phenomenal albums–reprises, bridges, and codas–but I sometimes wonder if they’re too dark for your average listener. Which is to say, I’m not your average listener because I’ve been listening to it habitually since it came in the mail about a week ago.

2. It felt like a rough draft, like I was waiting for clouds to part or something. They seem to have gotten a lot of hype for sounding like a grunge album out of the nineties, but I cringe to think back, knowing full well that not every grunge album then was good.

3. It really would have been amazing to watch him grow and either get stifled by Jay-Z or develop as some kind of sparring partner. This smacks of a really solid mixtape, like he’s building his street credit before releasing an album–even though it does hold its own weight against a lot of albums out even right now.

4. It’s good, though not enough for me to spend my day waiting for a ticket to the Museum of Modern Art to see them perform. Maybe that’s not really it, though: They clearly laid the groundwork for a lot of music I really enjoy (LCD Soundsystem, Calvin Harris, uh, pretty much anything with a synthesizer), but I’ve come to them so late in the game that the effort it will take to catch up isn’t worth it. I’ll listen casually and attempt to broaden my roots, but I don’t want to force it and ruin the whole process for myself.

5. There seems to have been a huge swing against Sleigh Bells since their first album. It used to be all the indie kids loved them, now most people seem to murmur that “Rill Rill” was the only song they rilly ever loved off the album. Sure, the beats were somewhat stale, but that’s what you get when you’re playing all your beats at shows off an iPod. I don’t know if their mystique wore off or something, but there’s still that very boom-bap hip hop feeling to the beats laced with metal riffs and lyrics. “Road to Hell,” “End of the Line,” and “Comeback Kid” are really quite good. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be embarrassed by this, but I still like them. Perhaps even worse, I don’t know if I’ll still like them down the road–I think I’d like to be nothing, if not consistent.

Comment:

Some things about staying at my parents’ house never get any less strange. I thought the strangeness stemmed from the length of visits, but I’m realizing it’s just who we are: we all developed into these puzzle pieces where we fill the gaps that have been open so long, or irritate the open wounds and make the situation worse.

For example, I love doing handiwork and my mother made sure to point that out and that she appreciated my help. But sometimes she disapproves the ways in which my high school friends and I choose to cavort. Both of these sides of me appear in her presence no more than three times a year, but she’s come to define my life post-living with her in that manner.

To her, since she can only base my existence on those three days or so, I’m some kind of party monster who breaks as many things other people own as he fixes in his household. But that’s just a random sampling: I feel like I spend most of my time at work, catching up on work, writing, watching videos about which there’s a very real chance I might write (read: freelance work), and spending time with friends. I don’t own enough things to break and keep up that fixing-everything-in-sight pace.

Hopefully, I don’t strain this system, but I do feel like all of these relationships (family and friends) would be healthier if the distance between us shortened. However, I’m not prepared to leave New York, I’m just noticing that the distance really seems to be the crux of many of the problems that arise each time I go back and have to adjust my lifestyle to what it used to be.

But more importantly, I attended a beautiful wedding and had a wonderful time.
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