Friday, March 22, 2013

Unsound America: The Journey Continues . . . Finally

Death By DJ and Imaginary Friends.

Let me start by saying that I have written and re-written this review way too many times. I've avoided and procrastinated about as long as I possibly could. Well, according to my last blog post that's been . . . um . . . I'm a bit embarrassed to say - 602 days. Uh, yeah, that's 1 year, 7 months, and 21 days. Would you believe I've been busy? OK, fine, the real reason is . . . it's Kyle's fault.

No, really. Let me explain. I was told that I should listen to both of these CD's together as they really were meant to complement each other; a packaged deal of sorts. OK, no problem, I'm down with that. But little did I know that one line in one song would make such an impact on me and my perceptions and understandings about myself that it would take me 602 FUCKING DAYS to be able to come back around and reconcile myself enough to be able to get past the simple request: ". . . to understand it, even conceive, the beauty of chaos; balance in everything." Beauty in chaos? I think not. Chaos makes me twitch. It makes me frown and grind my teeth. My brain just prefers things to be nice and orderly. (Yes, my CDs are in alphabetical order. Shut up, don't judge me.) But chaos kinda jacks that shit up.

I have a good friend who has nicely summed up that my control issues stem from a need to make order out of chaos. A.Need.To.Make.Order.Out.Of.Chaos. Sigh. I had never looked at my control issues from the other side. The chaos that I despise so much is really an integral part of my need for order and control. So integral, that I cannot have one without the other. (Really, I am grinding my teeth right now at this co-dependent relationship!) So it was about a year ago that this epiphany hit me and I realized the reason I have had so much trouble with this review is based one simple request quietly placed in one song out of 22. Now, mind you, I haven't just been ignoring it all this time. It has been lurking about in my subconscious (and sometimes not so subconscious) all this time. It really has just taken me this long to work it out and finally agree to have a love/hate relationship with chaos. Also, I think it bears noting that this particular shadow lurking around in the back of my mind all this time chose yesterday, the Spring Equinox and a day of balance, to rear its head and demand attention. A cosmic 2x4 to the back of the head, if I ever felt one.**

Wait, is this still Kyle's fault? Damn personal accountability and growth. OK, so maybe it's not his "fault" per se, but he started it. [Kicks him under the table like a 12 year old and then quietly mumbles, thank you.]

So let's try and pickup where I left off so many, many, many months ago and take it from there and tie this all in.

I stated in my last post that music falling anywhere near the 'electronica' genre isn't generally my cup of tea. (Um, hey, stop looking at my CD collection. No, Howard Jones is synth, which isn't even remotely similar to electronic.) So I'm going to get the genre issue out of the way and say I don't dislike these albums. Of course, saying that might be perceived to imply that I don't necessarily like them either. I know, it sounds a little like a backhanded compliment, but that's not actually what I mean. So what the hell do I mean? Well, for example, there are a few songs that I find myself unconsciously frowning over and I’ll even go so far as to say there are bits in some songs that I annoy me. (Yes, I said it.) And, yet, still, I don't necessarily dislike those particular songs. Instead, I find myself wondering why am I frowning over music? I don't like frowning over music. Music makes me happy. Music makes me feel good, even euphoric sometimes. Music has the ability to make you feel all kinds of emotions -- oh, hmmm, yeah, well even annoyance apparently. And I have decided that's OK, too. Because sometimes it can lead you on a very long journey to reconcile your relationship with chaos.

And while we're on the subject of chaos, "Seeing is Believing" is full of it. Chaos, I mean, not the other idiom you're thinking of. How so? Well, did that line say "everything we think we see" or "everything we think, we see?" Where is the punctuation here, because I'm thinking someone is intentionally being vague. So either it means that we have the ability to be swayed into seeing what's not really there or that if we dare to think it, we can therefore perceive it. Or it means both; or neither. See, chaos. How beautiful . . . and annoying. Chaos, I mean. Not the song. I like the song. But chaos pisses me the fuck off.

There are 22 songs between both of these CD's so I won't go into every single song and what I like or dislike about each, but I'll cover some that seem to have impacted me.

Death By DJ

Death By DJ: Catchy tune and I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. No vague opinions there. I like it. 
 Seeing Is Believing: Uh, yeah, so I think I covered this song in full detail above. It's a good listen and I like it a lot, but make sure you're ready to be open minded and maybe spend a year and half contemplating chaos. But that could just be me. 
 Open Source Future?: A little bit of an angry vibe which is fine by me. The opening line? "I don't know what you've been told, but the shit in your brain ain't true." Just so we’re clear, I'm not taking the bait this time, Kyle. I have more CDs to review and I don't have another year and half to spend second guessing what I believe to be true or not true. Just saying. 
 The Black Car: I like this one. It's got a dark, secretive and a sometimes creepy/menacing sort of vibe to it that I often like in my music. (Come join me on the dark side – we have cookies.) I just wish the driver would open a window and let that damn bee out of the car before it stings someone.
Sunrise Over Water:  Uh, yeah, that ship horn noise? Totally annoys me and takes away from the rest of the song that I do like. Sorry. I mean I get the point of it, but I don’t have to like it.

Imaginary Friends

Defractions: I think there is an unstated pre-requisite that you take acid before listening to this song. I mean I'm not really certain because that's not the sort of question you ask in polite company. Also, I might be breaking some secret druggie rules here that I'm not aware of. Sort of like how the first rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club. Well, the first rule of druggie club is you don't ask what the rules of druggie club are. Seriously, people, you're just supposed to know that shit. Wait. Did I really just end a sentence in a preposition? Now I'm breaking the first rule of grammar club. What.The.Hell me? (It's probably Kyle's fault.) Either way, I like this one. It's kinda trippy, even when you aren't on acid.

Strange Shapes: Pretty much my favorite song from both of these CDs. I love this song. Musically and lyrically. Poor Mr. Carson. You just have to be careful what you wish for, or look for as the case may be.

Finite Diamonds: Another one I really like. It's got a nice beat and flow. I usually find myself moving to this one in some manner or other when it plays.

About Five Minutes Of Your Time: I feel like I need a beer. I don't even particularly like beer, but this song makes you feel like you're just on the cusp of joining the “in” crowd and probably you would be . . . if you just had a beer or two. Of course, I've probably missed the entire point of the song, but it has a melancholy "I'm missing out on something" feel. The video for this song would end with the party goers walking off, laughing, beer in hand as it fades to sepia instead of black and you're left saying "Wait! Yes, yes, I do wish I could go with you."

Mars Canyon Tour: OK, I do really like this one. Mostly because it's just so "WTF?" Also, I am a sci-fi nerd. I mean a tour of Mars would be cool, right? Of course, with my luck I'd get stuck in traffic and run out of oxygen before getting back. I am ALWAYS stuck behind the slow rover in traffic! So this way I can just close my eyes and pretend and not worry about how much oxygen I have left.

Medusa: I really like this song, it's got a catchy beat and I like to sing along in the car. I don’t get the connection of Medusa with the song other than the fact that her name flows really well lyrically, but I just try to look past that and enjoy the song.

Imaginary Friends: This is also one of my favorite songs. Unfortunately, it reminds me of a friendship I lost a few years back. I guess I didn’t really lose it. I know where it went, I just don’t know why. She pressed stop and it wasn’t until I heard this song that I realized we were only imaginary friends after all. So I love this song, but it makes me sad, too.

Overall I think I prefer Imaginary Friends over Death by DJ, but basically, any CD that has songs about aliens or causes you to spend a year and a half going through some personal growth (or two days or ten years for that matter), is a valuable CD to have in your collection.

Yeah, that's what I said.

      **"This is the kind of shit we have to face every day for the rest of our lives," right?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Unsound America: The Journey Begins

The Journey
I have recently taken on the self-assigned task of listening to and blogging about the complete online catalog of music recorded by my cousins, Kyle and Scot Porter. These works have been recorded either as individual recordings, joint efforts or with other musicians and under varied monikers over the years, but all can be found compiled and available for your listening enjoyment at I will follow the order of the recordings as they are listed on the site as I am told that is more or less the order in which they were recorded.
How This Journey Began
For many varied reasons (or lack thereof as the case may be) that aren’t the subject of this particular blog, I have not had regular contact with a lot of my relatives who are outside of my immediate family. As I’ve grown older and, hopefully, wiser, I’ve come to realize that I have missed out on a lot of years of knowing some really cool people. I assume, of course, that all of my relatives are cool, ergo, so am I. It’s in the genes you see. You like how that works? Yeah, me too. In light of the ample technology and resources currently at my fingertips, it seems a bit absurd not to reach out and begin to reconnect with my family. This journey is a product of that endeavor.

I’ve always loved music. The only Christmas gift I can ever remember getting as a very young child was my first record player. Clearly, every other gift paled in comparison to that wonderfully glorious invention which was the catalyst for much joy over the years. I don’t know how many needles we replaced, but it was a lot, I’m sure. I also learned pretty early that although I had the ability to learn every word of a song and every last ooh, ah and accented tap on a cymbal, I couldn’t sing a note in key to save my life. I don’t know what they call that disability in layman’s terms, but I believe the technical term in the industry is “tone deaf.” I think not having the ability to create something I love so much has caused me to develop an even greater appreciation for those who can and do. For without them, my life would surely be lacking.
As with any supply and demand, if you need something you cannot provide for yourself, then you better do your part to ensure that the supply line stays open. I can’t even begin to calculate the amount of money I have spent on CD’s, t-shirts, memorabilia, magazines and music downloads throughout my life, but it’s probably enough to feed a small country for at least a year. Or two.

There are four ways I know of to support those who make the music I love: 1) buy their music and merchandise, 2) listen to their music (hopefully loud enough so that someone else will hear it and say “hey, that sounds good, who is it?”), 3) go to their shows whenever possible (and buy merchandise there), and last, but not at all least, 4) tell other people about the music you love and encourage them to listen.

That’s where this new blog comes in. It’s my chance to cram my opinions down your throats share some great music with you in the hope that you will listen and enjoy it, too.

Now, with all that being said, I must preface the start of this blog with a note that while I have a very expansive love of all types of music and have a wildly eclectic collection in my CD repertoire, I’ve never been a big fan of music that falls within the genres of electronic, techno, house, industrial, etc. I also prefer lyrics with my music. I admit it, I’m a word nerd. I love reading, word puzzles and anagram humor. Of course, now that I’ve said that, anyone who looks at my iTunes library might say I was full of shit because I do own a significant amount of music without lyrics. It’s true. I’m sort of an enigma that way. I usually have to be in the right mood or looking to accomplish something specific to listen to music without lyrics. Because of this fact alone, I approach this journey with a little apprehension. Because, really, who wants to say “yeah, this CD sucked.” Not me. Well, OK, I’ve have said that before, but I do have a teenage daughter. Enough said, right?

This journey also gives me a chance to expand my horizons a bit and push me outside my box. It’s how we grow and open our minds to new possibilities. That sounds good to me. So I fully expect at some point along this journey to come across some music that doesn’t excite me or that I just don’t “get.”  But, even then, I promise to give it a good listen with an open mind. Fortunately, I don’t have to say that about this first album. I dig this one.

Shall we begin?

Unsound America: Manifest Destiny

I’m currently reading The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform by Lauren Artress. Often a book like this will give you assignments that require you to really dig deep and evaluate yourself and where you are in life. Chapter 8 is entitled Soul Assignment. I figured what better way is there to tackle a chapter asking me to find my Soul Assignment than by listening to an album entitled Manifest Destiny? Am I right? While I can’t claim to have actually figured out my Soul Assignment while listening to Manifest Destiny, I do have to say that it was very conducive to the free flow of thoughts during that process (which is ongoing still). I firmly believe that music can significantly influence your thoughts and ability to reach into your psyche, so I decided to let the music play without paying attention to the individual songs. Just let it permeate and ruminate around in my brain a bit and see if it had any impact.
There was a particular moment in my journaling where I came to the realization that there were events in my life where I had been told something and relied on that information to formulate opinions, beliefs, impressions and sometimes integral parts of myself, only to find later that what I had been told was not accurate. I realized I was resentful about this and, if I had not blindly accepted what I had been told, I would have formulated completely different opinions on many things. I had been duped. (I tend to run on the na├»ve side, so for those that know me well, this isn’t a real shocker here. Although the realization is always hard when it hits you.) What I found particularly amusing, however, is that at this point I happened to look up at my iPod. The song title of the track that was playing? Factory Warranty. Yep, I thought, I got me a cheap ass factory warranty all right. A fucking faulty warranty at that. Something worthless that I paid dearly for. Not that this helped resolve my resentment any, but I did find it very apropos to the moment.

I have to say that my favorite song on this album is Trade Publication. I don’t have any idea of the creative inspiration behind that song, but I do know of all 15 tracks, this is the one that most often made me look up and say “What song is this? I like it.” While some songs contains noises and effects I wouldn’t normally expect (like alarm clocks), I can honestly say there isn’t one song on this album that I dislike.

While it’s often easy to understand where song titles originate in a song with lyrics, I often wonder how that process works for songs that don’t have a lyrical theme to dictate the title. So it’s interesting to just peruse the titles of the songs and muse on them. As I would expect and want, You’re Fucking Lying to Me has a little bit of a dark, biting edge to it and even some moments I would describe as accusatory. I like it. I also like how on my iPod it pretty much melds seamlessly into Delusions of Grandeur. Come to think of it, I think all the tracks do this. It gives it a really nice flow.

I like the haunting and bittersweet vibe that Longing has.
The last two tracks just engender questions from me. I Like How He’s Not Saying Anything. Really? I don’t mind the title, but why isn’t he saying anything? I’m a little concerned about his silence. Is it because he’s feeling very Emo and would rather cry? Have something untoward happened to him? Is he dead? Or is he just pissed off and over in the corner glaring at the world while on the verge of a psychotic break? Sometimes silence is not a good thing people!

And Track Fifteen. Can we talk about Track Fifteen? Did you just fucking run out of ideas by the time you got to the end? Or was that the point when “he” wasn’t saying anything? “Dude, what should we name Track Fifteen?” . . . *glaring psychotic silence* . . . See what I mean? Well, I’m officially reaming Track Fifteen to Yeah, That’s What I Said. Well, you know, “officially” in my head anyway.

So, people, I highly recommend you go check out this album. I think you’ll enjoy the range of emotions it will spark.

Yeah, That’s What I Said.