I tried playing with the "cool" kids last night and failed miserably. I drank too much, don't remember much of the evening, and missed the last train.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I have a few things to work out, that much I know. And when I do work them out? I'll be more secure, happier. And presumably lacking in the anxiety department. That's part of why things like last night happen. The anxiety. Blah. Anyway, time to shake off the dust and move on.
"Wake up! Wake up! Last night's over. It bled through 'til the morning after. We tore last night apart and met the morning with laughter." - Backs to It, the Young Hearts
Eve 6 @ Harper's Ferry - Friday, February 6th Kevin Seconds @ the Middle East - Saturday, February 21st P.O.S. @ Harper's Ferry - Sunday, February 22nd Jimmy Eat World @ House of Blues - Thursday, February 26th Greg Attonito (from the Bouncing Souls) @ the Middle East - Friday, April 3rd
The next month or so is going to be a blast. Now to fill-in the month of March...
After looking at what I just wrote regarding the Ataris, I feel as though there are a few things I could have worded better. More details could have been had. But that's part of this exercise: to get back into the swing of writing on a regular basis, worrying less about the way things flow, and just getting the thoughts out of my head and into a tangible form.
A recent blog by an Atari made me realize how much I've missed this band. I really have no excuse for their absence from my life over the past five years. It wasn't the hype and the hits behind "So Long, Astoria." Nor was it the dark, muddy vibe throughout "Welcome the Night." I actually dug both of those albums quite a bit. But for whatever reason, the Ataris had lost their magic until the other day.
I can remember the first time I heard them. The summer of 1999. My friend Ian came over with a new C.D. in-hand. "Fat Music, Vol. IV: Life in the Fat Lane." Looking back on it, the tracklisting on that sucker was impressive: Lagwagon, No Use for a Name, Strung Out, Avail, Mad Caddies, Screeching Weasel...All bands that would become staples in my punk rock diet over the years. But that summer afternoon, one track stood out among the rest: "San Dimas High School Football Rules."
Having recently completed my freshman year of high school, and being of the nerdy variety, this song hit me hard. It was reminiscent of bands I already liked. But there was something about the blatant honesty behind the words. Kris Roe wasn't wishing herpes on the object of his affection the way Blink-182 did, he wasn't hiding behind sarcasm the way Billie-Joe from Green Day did--he was just laying it all out there. A true hopeless romantic. It was love at first listen. And, perhaps more importantly, this was my first time (note: potentially second, but I forget when/how I first found out about Less Than Jake) discovering a band on my own, without any real help from the radio.
Fast forward to the end of the summer and "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits" was one of my favorite albums. I listened daily, learned every word, every note, and daydreamed about singing songs like that to the cute girls I would see at the mall but would never have the balls to actually say word one to.
When "End is Forever" was released in the winter of 2000, it was an event. I walked to my local record store in the frigid Massachusetts air to pick it up. I spent the month of February, training for the upcoming track season, jogging around town with "Giving Up on Love" and "Bad Case of Broken Heart" spinning on my DiscMan. "Song for a Mix Tape" led me to Jawbreaker, the Descendents, and gave me the first inkling of an idea that making a mix tape for a girl might be a good way to tell her how I felt. Y'know, instead of using actual words. A novel idea, given that my mouth refused to move whenever a girl was around. At the time I had no real concept of what "love" was, or even what it meant to "date" somebody. I just knew that I liked girls and girls didn't seem to like me. And I knew that growing up was going to be hard (for reasons I won't bother indulging in here--it was the usual teenage angst crap).
Me and my friends bonded over this fact--and the bands that entered our lives. We were a bunch of dorks who spent our Saturday nights listening to punk rock, playing video games, and watching movies. And really, those songs were what got me through those years.
The summer of 2001. The Ataris were playing the main stage on the Warped Tour. GASP! Finally. An opportunity to see one of my favorites live. I still remember seeing them on-stage, early in the day, Kris Roe talking about how it was "the first show they had ever played in Boston, but not the first time they'd ever played in Massachusetts." It was a good time. I bought a work shirt emblazened with the Ataris' star logo.
Then there was three years of silence. The Ataris essentially disappeared. I still listened to them on a regular basis (and went onto kick-off a mix tape I made for my first girlfriend with the 30-second version of "Song for a Mix Tape") but there was silence on their end. Rumblings of a major label bidding war, but no real end in sight. Until the Columbia Records signing was announced, at least. That confused me. To my ears? They weren't a band for the radio. They were too honest, not gimmicky enough. But I was excited...
...Freshman year of college. I wound up with the best shift of all at my college's radio station: 1AM-3AM on Saturday nights/ Sunday mornings. I hosted a show with this girl Liz I had met, called: Gym Class Heroes! HAH! I know, right? I'm a fuckin' psychic. But I digress...
I don't remember the day, nor do I remember the month. But I'm guessing it was probably at some point around November. The radio station was mailed a box of Ataris samplers from Columbia Records. The tracks? "In This Diary" and "Takeoffs And Landings." I listened to them both repeatedly and was ecstatic.
Quick aside: I actually sent Jason Tate MP3 rips of those two songs over AIM shortly after I got them. But again, I digress...
Not only was there a song about a girl, there was a song about growing up. And at that point in my life, it was the songs about growing up and growing older that hit me. "In This Diary" was an important song. And to this day, still remains to be one of my favorite Ataris songs.
"So Long, Astoria" was released that March and I spun it incessantly throughout that spring/summer. To me, it felt like a collection for a person growing up, afraid to lose what they once had in the way of innocence, passion for life. At the time, it felt that those things were slipping away from me. And that album was like an old friend, tapping me on the shoulder. Telling me it was going to be okay...
And then something happened. I stopped listening. Not to music, but to the Ataris. I'm not sure why. I really can't explain it. Especially since there were plenty of opportunities to. I was cheated on, lost friends, dealt with bouts of depression, grew up too fast and not enough at the same time...
I don't know. Maybe I just needed to distance myself while I actually "grew up" before I could fully enjoy and appreciate them again.
I'm now 24 years-old and an adult, yet not fully grown up. And while the songs about "growing up" still make my heart race in a soothing way, what really makes me happy is that I can still find the beauty in a four-chord punk rock song about being a socially awkward teenager terrified of the opposite gender.
Some things never change. And that's a good thing.
Apparently Shaq uses his Twitter account to commit "random acts of Shaqness," and one of my old college roommates was his latest victim. The best part about the phone call? Finding out that Shaq is really into Three Days Grace and 311.
- Rare are the moments where I have something nice to say about Fall Out Boy, but "What a Catch Donnie" is one of my favorite songs at the moment. Dare I say that I'm obsessed with it? The piano work, the vocals, the lyrics - It's a beautiful song. I'm glad I found it.
- The new P.O.S. album is more than deserving of the hype. I was lucky enough to have my first listen take place on a frigid winter night in Boston, after a long day at work and it made the walk to the subway and the subsequent ride home feel better than it should have. It fit the scenery perfectly. I love the way Stef pieces together words, emotions, and stories. The vinyl can't come soon enough.
- I really wish I hadn't slept on Don't Look Down when they were a band. "The Fear in Love" sounds like what Over It would have become had they been more inspired by the metal.
- I'm still not sure if I'll be making the trek down to Bamboozle this year. Is it worth it? I'm pretty stoked about the prospect of seeing No Doubt, the Get Up Kids, and Face to Face again. And equally excited about seeing the Bloodhound Gang for the first time in a few years. Mac Lethal, Bayside, and Rise against are pretty choice too. But it's quite the haul, driving down to Jersey alone to see a handful of bands. Driving there to see Hot Water Music with a handful of friends, however, was completely worth it.
I miss those times. And I'm pretty sure that the last sentence of that last bullet point ties into part of the reason behind the first bullet point.
Another year, another Super Bowl passes. I watched the game but didn't pay too much attention to it. In fact, the game was on mute. I spent the evening getting some work done for the week ahead, listening to music, coupled with a few Coronas and a plate of nachos to get me through "The Office." I'd call tonight a success.
"The Office," by the way made me really happy. This season has been pretty solid. Between this show, "30 Rock," "Scrubs," and "Lost" I've been watching far more T.V. than usual.
Now for the playlist...
Nightmare of You - Bang! E.P. Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine Andrew W.K. - The Japanese Covers Bruce Springsteen's Super Bowl half-time performance The Bouncing Souls - "Gasoline" and "We All Sing Along" (ad nauseum)
I'm guessing tomorrow's blog will be more music-oriented. I have a few thoughts running through my brain that are aching to get out. I just need to digest them before putting them out there on proverbial paper.
I'm going to try something new. Whenever I feel it creeping up on me, I'm going to write something. Or work-out. Depending upon my mood. I'm basing this on the theory that creating something, being productive will steer me away from negativity. That and I recently read it's what somebody I admire is using as a therapy technique.
And hopefully, with any luck, the by-product will be more writing. I know they say you can't force inspiration, but inspiration is never the issue. My mind is constantly in full gear. The trouble has been finding the self-confidence to create something. I need to stop worrying and just start creating.
I've been working late and taking my work home with me for the past two weeks. These twelve-hour days are fucking me up, draining me. Luckily? The end is in sight.
But for now? I've fallen asleep on the train ride home two nights in a row with my headphones on. Both times I was awakened by a total stranger, simply letting me know (with a smile, might I add) that it was the last stop.
It's times like this that I wish I were more of a people-person. I mouthed a "thank you," and mustered a small smile. I then get nervous and retreat. Not only am I incapable of reaching out to a stranger with a friendly gesture, I'm apparently incapable of receiving such a gesture without some form of awkwardness.
While it's not the kind of thing that keeps me up at night, I really wish I could show some gratitude when somebody offers up kindness without mild panic striking me.
It's also worth mentioning that ten minutes prior to this taking place I was reading Jim Norton's "I Hate Your Guts." The chapter title? "Thanks a Latte." Har har. That guy is hilarious.
I've had better weeks. Late hours, less sleep than I would like, and hardly enough time spent listening to music. I feel drained. Physically and emotionally. And I feel as if it's going to get worse before it gets better. That being said, it's time for some positivity!
Polar Bear Club. I'm beyond stoked that these guys found a new home. "Sometimes Things Disappear" was far and away my favorite album from 2008 and I'm looking forward to see if they can top it. I'm anxious to see who they get to produce, how frequently they start to tour, etc. It's been a while since a signing announcement has made my heart beat faster. And no, that's not hyperbole. The world needs more bands like this. Nevermind the gatefold vinyl that's coming out in the spring. I can't wait to get my hands on that puppy. The artwork is sick.
Mail. I finally got the "Doomtree Blowout" DVD in the mail, along with Cecil Otter's "Rebel Yellow" album. Louis CK's "Shameless" came via NetFlix as well. Have I mentioned yet that I love stand-up comedy?
Radio. I don't listen to the radio for the music anymore. Instead, it's T&R via WBCN and O&A via Audible. I'm too poor for satellite radio. But both of those shows make me laugh something fierce. Work would go much slower without it.
The Casting Out. This album is a grower. Sure, it's simple in style, but Nathan (ex-Boysetsfire) and his vocals drive the songs along. I was lucky enough to see them at the Fest and they were a blast. See them if they roll through your town.
Two-thousand and eight. This was a very different year for me. I turned 24. My first full year as an "adult," working an 8-5 job. I found myself in my first, full-blown long-term relationship. I'm still living at home with the parental units while the rest of my friends are making the big leap, but I have a few things holding me back. Meanwhile, there's a growing distance between myself and some of my friends. My good ol' buddies Stress and Anxiety came to visit and they don't appear to be moving out anytime soon.
I mention these things because they all played a role in my listening habits over the past year. I was never wired for listening to music for the music alone. The way it makes me feel is what it's all about. And the things going on in my life affect what I listen to. I think it's safe to say that if I didn't have a girlfriend supporting me, a few of these records would have been higher up on the list. And if I weren't losing sleep at night due to a few other factors in my life? Some of these records may never have had much appeal in the first place.
I wish I could be one of the cool kids and say that I demand all of my artists to be new and exciting, groundbreaking. But I treat my music the way I treat my cookies. Chocolate chip is fine by me if I'm in the mood for it. And when it's time to bust out the Oreos? It's time to bust out the Oreos. You can't fool your taste buds. You like what you like. That being said...
25 Favorite Albums of 2008
25.) Airborne Toxic Event - Airborne Toxic Event
24.) The A.K.A.'s - Everybody Make Some Noise!
23.) The Riot Before - Fists Buried in Pockets
22.) The Copyrights/The Methadones - Split
21.) Scream Hello! - Everything is Always Still Happening
20.) Banner Pilot - Resignation Day
19.) Ninja Gun - Restless Rubes
18.) Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward
17.) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
16.) No Use for a Name - The Feel Good Record of the Year
15.) Off With Their Heads - From the Bottom
14.) Flogging Molly - Float
13.) The Copyrights - Learn the Hard Way
12.) Bridge and Tunnel - East/West
11.) Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger
10.) Bayside - Shudder
9.) Living With Lions - Make Your Mark
8.) Dillinger Four - C I V I L W A R
7.) The Loved Ones - Build & Burn
6.) Less Than Jake - GNV FLA
5.) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
4.) Frank Turner - Love Ire & Song
3.) Street Dogs - State of Grace
2.) The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
1.) Polar Bear Club - Sometimes Things Just Disappear
Anti-Flag - The Terror State
Everlast - Love, War, & the Ghost of Whitey Ford
H2O - Nothing to Prove
Local H - Twelve Angry Months
No Harm Done - Escape
Pennywise - Reason to Believe
Rise Against - Appeal to Reason
Scott Weiland - "Happy" in Golashes
Static Radio N.J. - An Evening of Bad Decisions
Tim Barry - Manchester
December 28th and the glimmer of the holidays has already all but faded. I haven't felt so great the past few days and up until this afternoon I was unable to put my finger on it. And here it is: I only received on text message on Christmas wishing me a happy holiday. And it was from a number I didn't even have in my phone. Phone calls? Nothing. Facebook? Nothing. MySpace? Nothing.
Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't some sort of self-pitying, "nobody likes me!" write-up I'm doing here. Lord knows, I got all of that bullshit out of my system via LiveJournal back in high school. But three years ago, back in college? Greetings galore.
Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms best exemplified what I'm attempting to convey here when he explained to the crowd (at one of many Lawrence Arms shows I've attended, but I can't recall the specific one) that the song "Brick Wall Views" was about having all sorts of friends and waking up one day, several years down the road, and realizing that they've all gone M.I.A. And you're left, sitting there wondering: "What happened?"
And that's right about where I'm at. It's not that I'm friendless, by any means. But I definitely feel as though I've grown apart from most of the important ones. We still talk, but something in my gut is telling me that they don't really know me anymore. They might "get" me, but do they really know me anymore?
"Empty rooms don't have pictures to talk to. Brick wall views demand uninspired afternoons. The days are flooding into months, the nights are staring into centuries. I've got some older pictures of people I see once every couple years. Intrigued or unamazed, you were so much different back in those days. And now this smile has a bitter curve and now these eyes are unenchanted. And all we see is a faded image of what we used to be. How can we relate when we don't know a thing about each other anymore?"
- Brick Wall Views, the Lawrence Arms
Finally. A break in the snow. Christmas shopping? Done. And in a mere half-hour or so, I'll be heading out for some dinner with the girlfriend at T.G.I. Friday's. Cold weather plus mozzarella sticks equals awesome!
That being said? I received a letter in the mail today. From a band! Not an e-mail, but a letter. Banner Pilot are the band in question and I was pretty stoked. Here's how it starts:
Hey! We just got a bunch of stickers and figured that since you bought our CD you might want some. By peeling away the backs you'll be able to "stick" them on all sorts of things! Give it a try!
This is followed by a band update and the suggestion that I should burn a copy of their CD for friends so that when Banner Pilot comes to town there might be two fans at the show instead of one. It's a simple letter, that's not even personalized, with a handful of stickers for the sticking -- and yet? I was stoked to receive it.
I really appreciate when bands throw in these simple, friendly gestures like this. I remember when I mail-ordered the Banner Pilot's Resignation Day album, and received a quick note along with the disc saying that they hoped I enjoyed the record. It's a quick, simple, and friendly gesture that not every band has the time to put forth.
But really, that's what makes it so special. And don't get me wrong: I know a certain element of this may be self-serving (i.e., let's send out some mail to make sure we stay in the listener's minds!) but if it's done correctly, it can make the listener feel special. Like they're a part of something. And if you ask me, there's something special about that.
I really wish I had more time to thoroughly sort out my thoughts, but those mozzarella sticks are calling me...
It's been a full 24 hours since my first post and it's still snowing. In fact, it hasn't stopped. At all. I've spent more time listening to music the past few days than I have in quite a while. It's been refreshing to spend some time with a few new records, as well as some old favorites. Oh yeah. I also played some Scrabble. I won a game, lost a game. Story of my life. HAH! But I digress...
I spent a bit of time meandering around the AbsolutePunk blogs and I definitely took note of all the "Best of 2008" posts. I attempted such a list about a week ago. It was harder than it used to be. While I definitely had a few favorites that stood out above the rest by a long-shot (Polar Bear Club, Gaslight Anthem, Street Dogs), the rest were a bit of a blur. Not to say that there wasn't a multitude of music released in 2008 that I fell in love with...
I just think my listening habits have changed. And honestly? It upsets me. I don't think I spend the amount of time with each album that it deserves. I'm not sure when this happened--or why--but I no longer spend the amount of time with records that they truly deserve. I blame my short attention span, coupled with the all-too-accessible Internet.
When I discover a new band via MySpace or a free download of sorts, my first instinct isn't to sit with that one or two tracks for a few days, letting them sink in as I try to decide whether or not to purchase the album. No. Those days are gone. Now? You can perform a quick Google search using a few creative keywords, hit up iTunes, IM a friend, and within minutes? Pow. Full-length album. Ready for the listening. Shortly thereafter (at least for myself) the physical purchase takes place.
But by the time the physical record reaches my hands, I've already spent some time with the album. Thus, downgrading the beauty of the packaging and the overall experience...
...And as I'm writing this, I'm beginning to realize that I've read similar sentences quite a few times from a variety of sources over the past few years. So I'm going to cut myself off right here and cut straight to the chase.
I have a New Year's Resolution for 2009. I want to be able to compile a "Top ## Albums of 2009" list by becoming a listener more than a hoarder. What good is an Internet's worth of music if you don't take the time and effort it takes to fully appreciate what it is that's hitting your ears? I'm pretty sure that's what it takes for the sound to go from your ears to your heart.
I'm a big believer in strong beginnings. Y'know, like the pilot episode of a T.V. series that paints a vivid picture of the cast and their personalities, the world they inhabit, and what is to come for said-cast in the coming episodes. Of course, for this to happen the show needs to garner an audience with said-pilot that prompts the carrying network to continue airing the program.
It's a good thing writing isn't like television. If it were, I would have had just as many shows cancelled as Judd Apatow. I've always loved writing but I'm yet to find an appropriate outlet for myself. Perhaps it's the result of my short attention span. Maybe it's because I can never seem to find an audience.
Hell, maybe I'm just an awful writer. Damned if I know. But, that being said? I aim to fill this sucker with music-oriented musings, pop-culture ridiculousness, and maybe a monologue or two about how ZooBorns is the 3rd or 4th best Web site on the Internet.
That's the aim, at least. My track record isn't so hot. Just ask LiveJournal. But it's a snowy winter night here in New England, I'm snowbound, all of my friends/acquaintances seem to be M.I.A., and I don't have any alcohol in-house. I might as well do something productive, right? I mean aside from spending the evening listening to the following releases...
Off With Their Heads - From the Bottom
A Wilhelm Scream - Mute Print
Tim Barry - Manchester
Foo Fighters - Live at Wembley Stadium (DVD)