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.