Sunday, June 10, 2018

my favo albums of 2018 thus far

Hey, I usually list my favorite albums halfway through the year, and that's what this is.
There are 16 albums here. Gonna try to give this an "unofficial" vibe because I think I still have some catching up to do. And even though I have them ranked, my opinion could change on any of these albums. And it's not like everything here will make my year-end list.
But yeah, I like these. And there was some other stuff I liked too. But I probably prefer these.
Playlist at the bottom.
So yeah, let's crank this out.

my favo albums of 2018 thus far













16 CupcakKe x Ephorize
Not for the faint of heart.
15 Kali Uchis x Isolation
Some fresh pop music with Columbian roots.
14 Parquet Courts x Wide Awake!
I guess it's "just a Parquet Courts album," but perhaps their most experimental + conceptual.
13 Iceage x Beyondless
A fun grab-bag of solid rock songs from my favorite Denmark band.
12 Father John Misty x God's Favorite Customer
Some Elton John ballads about self-loathing in relationships.
11 Mount Eerie x Now Only
Mountain man Phil Elverum continues his stages of grief with vivid detail + storytelling.
10 Janelle Monae x Dirty Computer
Some fun, futuristic, Prince-esque pop.
9 Charli XCX x Pop 2
Charli XCX's stint with PC Music reaches its peak in sound + songwriting.
8 Sleep x The Sciences
If you don't know what "stoner metal" is, any Sleep album is a good place to start.
7 Playboi Carti x Die Lit
A snapshot of where rap is today (for better or for worse).
6 Jean Grae & Quelle Chris x Everything's Fine
Some coked-up 70's jazz instrumentals + equally philosophical/hilarious lyrics from weirdo-rap's sweetest married couple.
5 Pusha T x DAYTONA
20 minutes of solid ghetto rap produced by Kanye West [which was eventually followed by the most insane diss trake of all time, "The Story Of Adidon" (R.I.P Drake btw)].
4 Car Seat Headrest x Twin Fantasy
The Strokes: The Musical!
3 U.S. Girls x In A Poem Unlimited
With lyrics smart enough to go way over my head, backed by some lo-fi production and primitive funk beats, Meghan Remy is totally ahead of the game.
2 Beach House x 7
It's like a collage every dream pop band ever, except for Beach House.
1 A.A.L. (Against All Logic) x 2012 - 2017
So, Nicolas Jaar made an album where he messes with a bunch of 70's funk samples, and I'm still not sure whether it's just some project to shrug off or if it's genius.



Friday, June 1, 2018

1st Listen Real-Time Notes: Kanye West, 'Ye'

INTRO
Alright, everybody knows who Kanye West is, everybody has a different opinion about him, he has a new album out today, it's titled Ye, it's 23 minutes long, his behavior has been clinically insane for the last couple years, I'm kinda scared to press play on this thing, but I'm gonna listen to this whole thing, and you're all gonna join in on my experience.
Here is the album cover.
...Ya know, I gotta admit, the deeper I get into music, the more I see album covers like this. Perhaps not so much in the rap world; not nearly as much as among garage indie bands who try to sound like Pavement or Meat Puppets... anyways. Here we go. The album. Ye.

1 I Thought About Killing You
Is this Francis and the Lights?
The title is pretty darn literal. Who is he talking about? Sounds like he's referring to himself.
It's a spoken word piece...
Whoa... an instrument.
"Sometimes I think really bad things." Thanks, XXXTentacion.
I think he's high.
Whoa, rapping. Kinda.
Instrumental is cool.
Whoa, switch-up!
This is legitimately weird. Lyrically, the background stuff.
FRITO LAY.
2 Yikes
1 minute in, this is already more accessible.
Russel Simmons, pray for me.
"You know how many girls I took to the t*tty shop?" I don't.
"We could be in North Korea." This is basically a Kanye/Trump relationship reference.
Same lyrical themes as the last 8 years.
Bipolar is a superpower... dang...
3 All Mine
NICE organs.
Weird vocal part here. Part(s).
Naomi Cambpell, Stormy Daniel...
Tristan Thompsion namedrop.
"I love your t*tties cuz they prove I can focus on 2 things at once." That's a terrible line. On multiple levels.
Ha. A come/cum joke. Nice, Ye. Nice.
Cool futuristic noise parts.
Yet this song really really sucks.
4 Wouldn't Leave
Ooh, pretty :)
Weird, but pretty.
He referenced his "slavery was a choice" comment. Didn't even justify it... It's just about him.
I think that's a crying baby in the background.
"I got a gentlemental." HA!  I kinda like that.
George Jefferson?
I need to know more celebrity names.
Wait... is he saying "white"? "White enough?"
To every guy who's ever been embarrassed... this song is dedicated to me now?
Aw, cute. Shoutout to the females who stuck with stupid guys. No, like, he actually kinda said that.
5 No Mistakes
Interesting sampling... not sure if I mean that in a good way or bad way.
Is that the 'Devil In A New Dress' beat?
What is this song about?
"The Cubs lost?" I guess he's from Chicago. They lose games sometimes...
This song is 2 minutes.
Chorus>Verse>Chorus. But what the heck is going on?
Ghost Town
Super old sample.
Who's singing? Is that Ty Dolla $ign?
Heavy guitar outta nowhere...
No, he was high when he made this. Like, during the process. Not beforehand, but like, 'WTF, let's just press some buttons and see what happens.'
Hey, he's doing some good singing here...
Kinda catchy. I would dare call it "emotional" if it wasn't so... bad...
What the frick that drum beat!!! That's sick.
WHAT? What is this?????? That was some outterspace sh*t.
So many different ideas, no direction :(
Sounds like Queen + White Album + Country Joe & The Fish + Gospel music + The Shaggs
7 Violent Crimes
Nice female vocal. Pleasant. Upfront production.
Very Chance The Rapper. Gospel.
Nice beat.
Some usual Kanye contradictions here.
Meet The Fockers.
He rhymed karate with Pilates.
I think it's about girls... His daughter...
He says the word "pray" a lot.
Nicki Minaj reference, but self referential.
I just realized this is not an album. Like, not really.
A girl on the voicemail at the end... what the heck?

AFTERTHOUGHTS
It's hard to call this an "album" considering it's only 23 minutes. It's hard to call this "music," because it's so non-focused. It's hard to say Kanye is just "trolling" us with this because some of the production is pretty dope. But where on earth does he go from here? This would be a pretty easy moment to erase from his catalog; music history at all, really. But this isn't something where he can just make a comeback... not any time soon. And even though we can shrug this off as some unofficial experimental mixtape, the fact that it exists still kinda creeps me out. Yeah, it's a cry for help; I'd say Kanye somewhat made it that way on purpose. I know he's trying to sound like he's off his rocker. The reason why I'm convinced he's truly on his way there... I think he himself believes it.



Friday, May 25, 2018

Scott v. Reality


"You don't know what you got 'till it's gone" is one of those idioms built to make you feel like garbage. You look back on your past situation realizing you never knew how good ya had it. Yet in a strange turn of events, I've seen the other side of this phrase: My life has been even crappier than I thought!
It's a peculiar feeling. It's as though I should give myself a pat on the back, confirming that I've had reason to complain for years. It has a lot to do with migraines + anxiety. I've been aware of my issues with these setbacks for a while now. But it turns out, these problems were worse than I had imagined.
Story Time!
There were a couple weeks in March where I thought I was going crazy. But not in an emotionally intense or mentally stressful way. I mean, like, neurological stuff. I felt some weird neural symptoms every day, 24 hours/day. My scalp would get tingly. I felt pressure in different spots on top of my head. My face would go numb. I had trouble balancing when I walked. I had some nights where I felt euphoric sensory. And there were multiple times I recall thinking too slowly to finish a sentence, or stumbling over words. One day at work, the numbness on my face flowed all the way down through my whole arm. I was talking + thinking slowly; the numbness in my lips caused an obvious slur in my speech. I thought I was having a stroke.
After an expensive ambulance ride to an expensive ER visit where I got an expensive MRI on my brain, the doctors told me it was a "worsening migraine." I followed up with an expensive doctor's appointment where my doctor prescribed me some expensive drugs. At all this expense, it turns out they were all correct. I was experiencing some chronic/severe migraine symptoms I never even knew existed. And as it turns out, I've learned there are different symptoms I've experienced for years. 
So there's THAT!
One of the pills I started taking is a nerve pain med called Effexor. I noticed some immediate positive effects in areas I never considered needed fixing. Like, certain parts of my head; apparent nerve locations. Upon some online research, I found out Effexor is often used as an antidepressant. Gotta admit, if you found out you've been getting headaches all the time and then they started going away, wouldn't you be happier too?
Migraines are real. They are pretty darn real. And there are lots of different possible causes behind them. The other pill I've started taking, Sumatriptan, is made for the worst of migraines. I have to take this stuff more often than I'd like to admit, but they work. For preventing migraines, I try to eat + exercise + sleep properly. Not like I wasn't trying before, but now there's a lot of pain on the line. This isn't a blanket statement, but in general, my migraines occur more frequently when I mistreat my body + mind. Additionally, my nerve-related headaches are largely due to my under-bite jaw (plot twist, I know, yet I'm not even going to mention this again for the rest of this blog). These pains can increase a lot of anxiety. And ironically, anxiety can increase the pain. Talk about your vicious cycles!
So yeah, thanks to modern medicine I technically cannot afford, I've been feeling less anxiety and getting less migraines. Righteous! Tying this in with the first paragraph... It's still mind-blowing to me. There are physical experiences I've always had that I just assumed were normal. I never knew how bad I had it; or for that matter, what was wrong in the first place. I mean, my crazed experiences from this March was a whole other animal, but I mean... dang.
I'd say I still go through anxiety, but it's been noticeably minimized. I actually have moments where I feel like myself, comfortably + confidently. Although, the moments where I lack anxiety may even cause deeper thought; an estranged view of my past + future. It's weird, but I like it.
I recall feeling on top of the world as an 18 year-old in Jerome, ID. My favorite album at the time was Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, which I listened to recently. And it all made sense. This position where you love what you do and you're continuously succeeding; meanwhile you have to balance this out with facing your deepest demons unrecognized before... You have this understanding that other people probably don't know how you feel, while in karmic contrast, you probably don't know how they feel. It's as beautiful as it is confusing. Perhaps that's where me + Pavement's songs met up when I was a high school senior: We were scrappy and invincible.


Now here I am once again, battling my existentialist stigma against my humanitarian soul. It's kinda cool. Oddly enough, it's had an effect on how I view things as a songwriter.
Unbeknownst to most of y'all, I recently performed with a rock band for a big church activity. We did a bunch of classic rock covers. I played bass guitar for every song and sang lead vocal for most of them. The band also consisted of my buddy Andy, my bishop, and Andy's bishop. The whole thing was a hoot. There are videos... just ask for 'em. And over the last 3 weeks, I've heard tons of positive feedback from friends and strangers alike. It was fun, challenging, and gratifying. Looks like we'll move forward and land more gigs. My bishop has named the band "Checkmate." That's a cool band name... But yeah, my music performance chops aren't too rusty these days. And yet, I personally wanna go the opposite direction as a musician.
Unbeknownst to most of y'all, I recorded some self-written music back in March. I did 2 songs at this guy's professional studio basement down the street from me. It was actually during the couple of weeks when I was totally trippin' (my apparent chronic migraine). The melodies were older, but I shucked out some random lyrics for these songs only the night before. Looking back, the songs are okay, but I cringe at their lyrics. Nonetheless, I'll be releasing them on bandcamp + whatnot in the near future. They will be released with some other old tracks I recorded a couple years ago (also with regrettable lyrics). It will be legit! Kinda!
Anyways, I've been coming up with songs lately where I just imagine them being performed by myself. Lyrically, they seem both more literal and worthwhile. Before, I've felt so anxious in the songwriting process that my slap-together lyrics were the equivalent of not making a final lyrical decision at all. Now, I believe I can just stick to my strengths and rely on that. Hopefully I get to share these songs soon. Until then, I'll release my older stuff.
I could go on about philosophical stuff + girls and stuff, but this is already an extremely long blog post as it is. I have a new life perspective by default. I think I'm learning more about myself, both my mind and my body. And that's a good place to be.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Every Album I Own From 2008

Last year, I ranked every album I owned from 2007 in honor of their 10th anniversary. 2007 remains one of my favorite years in music. It makes 2008 look like a weakling. But I just remembered... I own a lot of stuff from 2008 too!
I have a few immediate music memories of 2008. I was listening to MGMT nearly an entire year before anybody else. Kanye West released an album that was somehow both artistic garbage and culturally influential with 808's & Heartbreaks. There was this super brief excitement about indie noise rock. By the time 2008 ended, there was no obvious pick for album of the year. And looking back, there still isn't. 
It was a weird year. And my taste was at a crossroads. I bought many of these albums listed below upon 1 week of their release. I'm scared to admit which ones.
There are 11 albums here. They are ranked. Enjoy!

11 Mudcrutch Mudcrutch
My high school drama teacher burned me a copy of this! I still know how to play "June Apple." "Orphan Of The Storm" has kinda stuck around. And "The Wrong Thing To Do" is classic badass Tom Petty!








10 R.E.M. Accelerate
R.E.M. was one of those bands I worshiped at age 17. I like that they shifted from dinky lounge pop to more fun, hard-hitting rock for this album.








9 Beck Modern Guilt
I called this album underrated in a blog post back in October. This is incorrect. "Chemtrails" is an underrated track, that's for sure. But I can't remember the last time I listened to this whole album.








8 Nine Inch Nails The Slip
Looking back, this is actually pretty good. But I remember downloading for free. For some reason. 











7 The Killers Day & Age
This album is strangely memorable. Songs like "Human" and "This Is The World We Live In" are actually more enjoyable to me now than they were in 2008. 









6 Coldplay Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
Having owned their 3 previous albums, this stuff didn't settle well with me at first. I had to re-imagine Coldplay as (ahem) "rock stars." Despite their popularity, I still couldn't swallow that thought. But you really have to give in to it. In 2008, arena rock didn't get more interesting than this.







*COFFEE BREAK*
It's fair to note that I had to recount my old 2007 list. I own 17 albums from that year, not 15! With all due respects, here is the actual list of all the artists I own albums from circa 2007: 
Against Me! Animal Collective. Barenaked Ladies. Bon Iver. Bruce Springsteen. Burial. Iron & Wine. Jens Lekman. LCD Soundsystem. M.I.A. Modest Mouse. Queens Of The Stone Age. Radiohead. The Shins. Spoon. White Stripes. Wilco.
Meanwhile, the rest of this 2008 list basically consists of household hipster band names. So fill your mason jar with some Horchata and enjoy.


5 Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP
I guess by all technicality, my dad bought this, not me. So I see it as a totally separate release from their self-titled follow-up LP. Which I have a lot to write about.










4 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
I'll never forget watching these guys perform "Blue Ridge Mountains" on Letterman and buying this album right away. Fleet Foxes hype was the pinnacle of the "weird Americana" movement. Nobody was making music specifically like this in 2008. That sounds dumb now, but you had to be there.
I'd say if I wanted to combine this + Sun Giant as one entity, the overall 2008 work of Fleet Foxes would be #1 on this list. If "Mykonos" + "White Winter Hymnal" were on the same literal album, that'd be a big fat deal. You really had to be there.



3 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
Oh yeah, these guys. Most annoying band in the world, am I right? I admit, I roll my eyes every time I hear "A-Punk" these days. But that used to be the only VW song I knew. Over time, the album tracks have become bigger hits than the singles. Despite the band's pompously hoity-toity personality, you don't forget these songs. "M79." "Walcott." "Campus." "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance." This thing is stacked. 



2 Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
So, this album was actually released in 2007. Most reviewers didn't catch wind with it until 2008. And by the end of the decade, it had become wayyy more popular than it ever intended to be. I'll take it.
Possibly more so than Ezra Koenig or Robin Pecknold, Justin Vernon's voice is immediately recognizable; an indie vocalist standard. Which is crazy, because this originated from the most minimalist low-budget depths imaginable. Just wanted to note that this didn't crack my top 5 in the 2007 list I made. But it's easily an album-of-the-year qualifier if considered a 2008 release. Food for thought.

1 TV On The Radio Dear Science
If you came here thinking I wrote this blog just to reminisce about TV On The Radio, you're right! The last few artists I've mentioned have become the face of hipster shtick, with their 30-minute albums full of songs everyone can play and sing. You can't play these songs. You can't sing them. And you sure as heck can't produce them! This is the only album on this list I get excited to listen to. It's big, electric, colorful... Still today, it's rare to come across a straight-up indie act who can convince you they're the biggest band in the world.




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Promo Of Sorts


I just found out there's an old guy who lives 2 blocks away from me with his own recording studio. So there goes my next paycheck.
I think in a of my couple blogs in the last couple months, I've spouted out comments along the lines of, like, "People never talk about things I think about. So I never bring it up." This commentary is 100% true yet 100% vague. For the most part, I'm referring to music. Not so much the stupid hipster music taste I've developed over the years, but the fact that I'm always cooking up songs. Like, on a daily basis. Nobody says stuff like that. So I've always considered it something embarrassing to admit. But yeah, screw it, I want to record some freaking selfwritten music. 
So I know tons of people who can help me with recording music, and probably at a cheaper price at that. For some reason, for the last couple months, I've romanticized the idea of recording with someone I don't know. Many active local musicians are my friends + acquaintances, and they have equipment to help me out. But I walk down Canyon Rd every day, and I love the idea of recording music on this very street. 
I guess I could record plenty of instrumental parts in this dudes studio, and it would sound niiiiice. Yet I don't want to lie to my audience. Why should a 27yearold dude living below the poverty level try to convince people he's "the next big indie altpop act" or some fake garbage like that? If my songwriting skills can't keep a minimalist song interesting, I'm obviously not doing my job. 
I want to crank these songs out. Make it a quick recording process, for financial purposes. I'd like to finish an EP or LP or some godforsaken body of music within the next 2 months. That sounds feasible to me. 
What would my music sound like? I'll narrow it down for you: 
I will not be rapping
Each song will just be my voice + an acoustic guitar or two
From there, not even I know
What would my songs be about? Like hell I'm telling you that much!
Anyways, I guess this blog post counts as a super vague promo for my supposedly upcoming music. I've taken this approach before, but not like this... I actually have a plan now, and people actually read my crap now. So shall it be written, so shall it be done.
I just hope people hear my songs. And that my songs don't suck.


I'm actually not a "poetry" guy, but it's the principle that matters here.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The 10 Best Nick Drake Songs

I assume this post won't get a lot of views, because you're probably only clicking the link if you know who Nick Drake is in the first place. For those who don't, I'll try to give you a brief synopsis on him without sounding as geeky or condescending as your Facebook friends who relentlessly flaunt their love for Bitcoin:

Image result for nick drake smile

Nick Drake is a British artist who made dropdead gorgeous music. He's got this low, soothing voice that you'll get hooked on at first listen. He died in 1974 due to overdose on antidepressants. He made 3 albums in his career: Five Leaves Left (1968), Bryter Layter (1970), Pink Moon (1972). Five Leaves Left is a definitive folk album with with vast, raw instrumentation that sounds like he's in the room with you. Bryter Layter goes for even larger, more colorful arrangements with production that aspires to fill up the entire sky. For Pink Moon, we literally get just his voice and an acoustic guitar for 28 minutes.

So yeah, for an artist with less than 2 hours'worth of LP recordings (a total 31 songs) under his belt, this was an easy list to make. I've been listening to his stuff a ton lately, and I recommend you get to know this guy as well. It's basically the most beautiful music of all time. Not sure where to start? Spotify playlist included, here are my 10 favorite tracks from him:

10 Introduction
4 of Nick Drake's 31 songs were instrumentals. This one kicks off Bryter Layter, but honestly sounds like the beginning of the first day of your life.
9 Thoughts Of Mary Jane
I try not to think about the double−entrendre in this title... I myself am pretty sold on this song once I hear that flute part in the beginning.
8 Time Has Told Me
This might be Nick's most familiar song. I can't remember my first time hearing this song because I feel like I might have heard it throughout my whole life. Plus: I LOVE the lyrics.
7 Which Will
Many of Nick's songs basically just mention girls he has a crush on but he's too shy to talk to. This song is conversational. But definitely nothing wistful. It's actually a painful pin to the heart. 
6 One Of These Things First
This song could be a Bible for people who believe in reincarnation. Yet somehow, Nick reaches for an even more personal and romantic concept.
5 From The Morning
The last song from his last album. I say, as an album overall, Pink Moon is the most depressing album of all time, and yet... this song always makes me smile.
4 Hazey Jane I
This Bryter Layter track lives up to the grandeur and beauty that "Introduction" sets us up for. 
3 Northern Sky
I'd like to think this is equally a love song as much as it is a song of rebirth. And living in Logan UT, it's hard not to think of this colorful "Northern Sky" when watching the sky turn pink at sundown.
2 River Man
Whether musically or lyrically, I think this track would fit nicely on any of Nick's 3 albums. He pulls all of his strengths out for this track. The textures, the mysticism, the clarity, etc.
1 Pink Moon
I gotta admit, there's nothing quite like hearing this opening acoustic guitar strum. A 2minute song with 22 seconds of piano and 25 words in it somehow leads us to ultimate self−introspection.



Friday, January 26, 2018

ADULTHOOD

Adulthood can be hard.

This picture may or may not mean anything.

For me, adulthood has been a bad trip. I don't think it's that way for everyone though. And it's not like I can blame all my problems on a stage of life everyone goes through. But I think a lot of my expectations for my own adult life have just continuously/constantly backfired on me. 

INTRO TO ADULTHOOD 
I think there's a person I see myself as; someone who I should attain to be. I've had a blurred vision of this person for years. It's blurred by all the other great things I see around me. There are so many beautiful people and bright opportunities around us, it's overwhelming. I cannot be everyone. I can only be me. 
Despite this blatant truth, this has not stopped me from trying to be everyone at once.
There are a few months of my adult life I romanticize on; most of the 18th year of my life. I think I figured something out then. Because I remember feeling a sense of sincere charity and understanding for others that I have since merely tried to imitate. I remember friendships, service, hiking, my AP English class, acting, musical discovery... The Renaissance of Scott. 
Then I specifically recall my mind being hit with a sense of anxiety and loneliness I'd never felt before. This was some time during my first week of junior college.

THE WEIGHT
Everything I had ever imagined, created or dreamed was slowly sinking down a hole. Over the years, only portions of this have occasionally risen back onto the surface. I've made many choices out of fear of looking like an idiot in the generic public eye. It's so bizarre. I'm always thinking things that nobody ever says out loud, so I never bring these things up. I have felt as though everyone grew up and I'm just a childish boy trapped in a man's body, pretending to be something I'm not: An adult.
This all sounds poetic and negative. Well, I've learned that this is not true. 
**Apparently I'm full to the brim with creativity. 
**...And heaping doses of self-doubt.
I know some of you probably don't believe either of those last two statements, but hear me out.
The college campus is packed with eager business majors done-up in suit+tie outfits from Men's Warehouse and reek of cologne. Engineering majors who are extremely lanky and scholastically intelligent. Art majors who button the top button of their flower-print shirts and keep the hair gel industry alive. Ag majors who were raised on a farm and look like they're literally made out of meat and potatoes. And all these people think they know the answers to life's questions. 
It's overwhelming, really. It's as though I am no longer myself, but a small ball entwined of every character that barks at me as I pass them. The vision of who I want to become gets lost.

A CONCLUSION OF SORTS
Throughout this month, I've had days where I feel like I've been hit in the face with a baseball bat and I'm waking up from some nightmare. I wake up to find that my life is real and that there is still time for me to be me. And the vision of who I want to become is clearer than ever.
I guess it's a constant drive for self-improvement that will keep me alive+well as an adult. Whatever righteous desires and creative ideas I've ever conjured up are for me to share. My views on adulthood have crushed my dreams into oblivion. Some saccharine movie made from gentrification, professionalism and wedding photos has reduced my self-confidence to a crumbled sheet of paper. Somehow, amid this world of cowboys and CEO's, I must be my own person.
No, I'm not gonna go on a backpacking trip to Europe or move to a crappy overpriced apartment in New York City to find myself. All I want is to be my best self possible. The person I aspire to be is willing to help; someone happy and kind. Someone confident in themselves and caring towards others. I just want to do my best in what I do, and do what I feel to be right.
For the first time in a while, I think I can say with a surety that I will accomplish this. Because in a way, it's already happening.