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It’s December again.

1 Dec

Oh cute: did you, precious fictional reader who actually pays attention to this blog, think I’d outgrown it by now?

Hah. Nope. #Sorrynotsorry, I’m still pretentious enough to think acknowledging my own pretentiousness somehow mitigates this characteristic.

For those of you just joining me: every year since 2011 I’ve written one music review of an indie(ish) album that has come out that year for (just about) each day in December.

As a creature of laziness rather than habit, who enjoys overanalyzing the known rather than acknowledging the unknown, this has become my only trusted way of discovering new music, and a reassuringly joyful ritual.

And so I’m continuing the tradition this year, this time in collaboration with my other half, himself briefly a music review podcaster at some point, and essentially a more heterosexual and less misanthropic version of myself.

Shell+Trav

[90s house party, Grahamstown, 2013]

I’ll post a review on odd-numbered days, and Travis Carlyle over here will take the even-numbers.

Enjoy, losers.

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Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon

5 Aug

your-favorite-weaponOppikoppi starts in two days, bringing with it a band that is very close to my heart despite how little time I have taken over the years to pointedly sit down and listen to them.

Brand New is unique for its ability to pinpoint complex emotions in a single line and highlight unnoticed pains and triumphs in one-sentence vignettes, which will jump out and jerk you down from the daydream the song was backing and stay painted at the back of your mind forever.

Listening to Brand New’s Your Favorite Weapon feels like sifting through a box of teenhood memorabilia you find in a cold, damp cranny at your parents’ house, and this time not cringing at the person you used to be, but, with a melancholy that is difficult to place, finding slivers of the perceptive reflection then suppressed by school and more facile friends, and startling fragments of the person you ended up becoming.

Your Favorite Weapon at a cursory listen sounds like the thrashy alternative music we listened to in high school, but a keener ear and a softer heart will find more complex sentiments threaded through the lyrics than adolescent misery and rebellion: the surfacing self-respect in “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad” and the tired exasperation in “Sudden Death in Carolina”, for example.

Debut album thought it is, Your Favorite Weapon contains some standout gems untouched by the then-amateur status of the band, most notably “Mix Tape”.

Yet the song that does not need sharp attention to thrust you into existential crisis is “Soco Amaretto Lime”: the wretched elegy to the thought that within our society’s restrictive framework, our closest experience to true happiness may well be those short months between high school and whatever comes afterwards: when, itching with the hope-fuelled drive towards self-actualisation, we are just old enough to experience independence, and so briefly young enough to be allowed to enjoy it.