New Age Amazon

a girl who does stuff

  • 9th May
    2014
  • 09

"American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown" are the difference between my era and my kid brother’s and I think that’s important.  I got more than half of my life to feel like the future held potential and that there was a point to stuff.  For more than half of my brother’s life the exact opposite has been true.  Nostalgia sells because my era wants those times back and his era wants to believe such a time existed.  We wanna buy back hope and possibility and that’s not possible but they’ll keep us believing.  Who are they?  The people trying to sell us hope and possibility and maybe the people who hoard the real hope and possibility.

My teen angst was neither greater or less than whatever people feel now.  The causes might be different, but I don’t know that I can judge them without knowing that my parents judged me and their parents judged them.  We get shitty with teenagers for feeling out of place or hopeless or, right now, feeling numb, and that’s pretty shitty of us.  Are they out of place or hopeless?  Doesn’t matter, it’s in what they feel.  We wanna dismiss it as “you’ll grow out of it” but did we ever grow out of it?  Or did it just get brushed under what we consider “adult” concerns, do we envy the seeming simplicity of teenage angst because at that point we could attribute it to being powerless, but now grown up we feel like we’re supposed to have all the power.  We always said “When I grow up, it’ll be easier, because I’ll be able to…” but fucking face it, we were wrong.  And we take it out on kids who have the luxury of angsting over who they ARE rather than how they’re gonna pay their bills. 

And when adults angst over who we are, where we fall, well, fuck you, shouldn’t you know that already?  What’s wrong with you, of course you know who you are, you can tell me where you went to college or what you do for a living or who you’re dating/married to, the names of your kids, you can give me exactly the way you relate to the outside world and your inner world doesn’t matter for a fucking second.  Don’t try to figure out who you are, just declare yourself something and stick with it and if you’re sad just swallow it or self-medicate it like a grown-up.  Don’t just smoke or drink your problems away at 16, wait until you’re 32 because then you’ll have real problems.

You’ll have real problems because you were told at 16 that your problems were fake, but they were fucking real, and now you have your 16-year-old problems left hanging for so long and you’ve got your 32 year-old-problems that are piling up on top and what are you supposed to do (you go to therapy?  Psycho) about it?

So you know, if the battle between rage and love on those albums still means something to me, maybe it means I haven’t let that angsty bullshit go or maybe it’s because I know I never resolved it in the first place, never called so much as a decent truce and how the hell am I supposed to find peace on top of that kind of struggle?

And if kids today watch us grow up having never really resolved that problem, do you blame them if they choose to numb themselves prematurely to the inevitable?  They don’t have real problems now, except that the real problem is what they’re faced with now, not the bullshit that’ll pile on top of it one day that we might avoid if we fixed that problem when we were 16 and I don’t just mean with shrinks or drugs I mean with….well I guess I don’t know what I mean with because it’s not like we have it, right?

The Broadway vocal version of 21 Guns is superior to the album version.

  • 16th April
    2014
  • 16

That band sucks.

YOU do not personally suck for liking that band.

This does not rule out the possibility that you suck for other reasons, reasons that do NOT involve liking that band.

But that band really sucks.

  • 14th April
    2014
  • 14

So as it turns out I’ve been misremembering this moment in my life that was kind of passing but also massively important and I found this out while double checking an album release date.

Anyway, the point here is that I had a religious experience in a music store while No Doubt’s video for “Hella Good” was playing behind the counter.

I alluded to this in the “Celebrity Skin” blog and really that should be the end of the story.  I was in the store with my father and my brother, Gwen Stefani was in black and white on a jet ski on several television screens and I had a religious experience.

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  • 31st March
    2014
  • 31

So, I was the stupidest person in the world.

It’s only fair, we all get our turn to be the stupidest person in the world.  It is a right of passage.  And it’s not cliche that for an overwhelming number of us, we will take our turn because of some kind of romantic entanglement or at least hormonal bullshit.  It’s just the sad fact, part of living in the world.  And I was the stupidest person in the world.

I was…okay, I don’t want to say “love” because that feels wrong.  I feel like “love” doesn’t quite describe it, but I hate saying “crushing” because while that pretty accurately echoes the maturity of my feelings at the time, it makes it sound trivial. I mean, don’t get me wrong, in the long run this whole thing was trivial, but my feelings during that time were not and that’s what I’m talking about here.  I felt hurt and crushed and like I’d never survive and while we can laugh at the melodrama of that from the safety of adulthood, when you’re a 15 year old that feeling is so raw and real and I hate the idea of belittling it.

Okay, let’s try this again: I was listening to “Don’t Speak” on endless repeat in my room, with the lights off.

There was a boy, of course, not the same [name redacted] I’ve written about before.  This was before [name redacted], a boy I liked.  I liked him SO MUCH.  I mean, I’d previously had boyfriends (in middle school, which does and doesn’t count and…the less said about that stuff the better), but I liked this boy. And this boy was my friend and we got along and talked and enjoyed being together so of course he was totally hung up on a mutual friend who wanted nothing to do with him because that was just the way high school worked.

"Don’t Speak" was the worst possible song for us and it didn’t fit at all.  But at that point I didn’t CARE because that song was the sound of my heartbreaking, regardless of the circumstances.  That moment when Gwen Stefani kind of growls “I know you’re good, I know you’re good, I know you’re real good” still grips me.  Because my heartbreak was my melodic and angry and pleading all at the same time.  It was emotionally the end of the world, and I was the stupidest person in the world because I fell for this guy and he was never going to like me back and I couldn’t be mad at my friend just because he liked her more and he took me with him when he bought her Christmas present one year because he could TRUST me and because I was the kind of girl he liked to hang out with and this was repeated stabbing through my bleeding teenage heart but at the same time I went because WHAT IF THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO GET HIM TO SEE HOW WRONG HE WAS, RIGHT?  And the music swells and it all comes together and maybe I’d have turned on my heels and walked away and left HIM heartbroken instead and who knows what song he’d have played non-stop to try and get over me (except I wasn’t “getting over” him, I was wallowing, exquisitely, in teenage heartbreak, as was my right at the time).

That was a ramble, sorry.

Anyway, we never worked out, neither did he and my friend and eventually I did get angry with him and there was distance and then a reconnection and all that stuff.

But here’s the thing: I knew that song before I knew the heartbreak.  So did I want the song to fit the situation, or did I just want the heartbreak so I could know what the song really felt like?  There’s that line from “High Fidelity” (a book I have never finished and long ago accepted I never will), “Which came first, the music or the misery?”  That’s a good question, but here’s mine: am I putting together the soundtrack of my life, or am I just what the music has made me?

P.S.: “Push and Shove” is a terrible fucking album.

  • 24th March
    2014
  • 24

(This is all the fault of one Kieron Gillen, because you can’t be Kieron Gillen and ask me to write something and expect me to turn it down.)

So, this is probably gonna be disjointed more than usual, but I’m writing about memory stuff and high school nostalgia and the building of myself so it’s a weird place to write about and I wanna try to edit it as little as possible.

I bought “Celebrity Skin” from our local Wal-Mart (ugh, yes, I KNOW, I’m so pathetically “small town girl in Pennsylvania” when you get right down to it).  Around the same time (or not, it all blurs a bit) I bought Silverchair’s “Neon Ballroom” and Offspring’s “Americana.”  These were my first ADULT albums.  I’d bought music before and I’m not saying it was Raffi or anything, but these were different.  Can’t tell you how.

Look, at that point I was kind of nobody.  I was smart, I wouldn’t play dumb, I was on my own, I felt weird and outcast and blank.  I went through a shitty half-hearted “goth” phase more to fit in with another group of friends than of my own accord.  I just liked wearing a lot of black.  Psychologically, apparently, it’s a thing people do when they want to be a blank slate, and that’s why it’s not uncommon for teenagers to do that while they’re finding themselves. 

Anyway, there was something about “Celebrity Skin.”  I bought the album off of just the title single.  And that music video.  It was glitter and dresses and smeared eyeliner and anger.  Glitter on a drum being repeatedly struck and flying everywhere, that CAUGHT me.  Like, this was something TOTALLY NEW to me, even though looking back it wasn’t new at all, it was a mainstream adaptation of something else I’d missed and I was just catching on.

Honeysuckle, she’s full of poison, she obliterated everything she kissed.

Just…YES.

I was a GOOD girl.  I was so fucking GOOD.  I was going to get GOOD grades go to a GOOD college and do GOOD things and then, suddenly I hit that fucking drum and the glitter went everywhere and FUCK IT, no.  I could be glitter and smudged eyeliner at the same time.  The lyrics to that song, the beautiful smashed up right against the disgusting and unwanted, it broke through something inside of me. 

And more than that: the video with Love and Melissa Auf der Maur with all that power.  Like, it was theirs, they were in charge.  I’d seen other girl fronted bands before, obviously No Doubt was a thing at the time (and would become more of a thing later as one of my other major musical formative experiences involves being in a record store while the video for “Hella Good” played and I possibly had a religious experience), but this was different.  It wasn’t about being pretty.  I mean, they WERE pretty, but it wasn’t ABOUT being pretty.  There was something to it that just.  I can’t explain. 

I didn’t like the rest of the album that much, aside from “Awful” which gave me the same feelings that “Celebrity Skin” did but to a lesser extent.  Those two songs, along with “Malibu” which has grown on me over time, are the only ones I revisit from that album.  I can’t say I’m a huge Hole fan.  But I’ve always kept my eyes on Courtney because she’s…something.  Check her Pinterest.  It made me feel stuff.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense or really even scratches the surface of what I want.  I do know that in 2000 I was in a scholarship pageant and when I was about to go out onstage for the “Presence and Composure” competition, I stood there in my black and silver ballgown, with my hair loose and curled and a little messy around my face and thought about Courtney Love.  For better or for worse.

  • 21st March
    2014
  • 21

Do I like it because it’s bad, or is it bad because I like it?

breesays:

There have been two very notable essays about music criticism circulating recently. Daily Beast and, in defense, Flavorwire

I don’t consider myself a music critic. I’m an entirely emotional listener. But I listen to a lot of music. I imagine myself in other people’s shoes. In other people’s shawls. In other people’s intricately designed living rooms, sitting beside a hardly-used but very coveted record player. I get a grip on songs and choruses and want to slap them right into well thought out settings. 

I think the life, the story of a musician MATTERS. 

No, I don’t really care who he hooked up with, unless it inspired a song that got me through an unbearably slow Sunday morning post-brunch-breakup. 

I don’t think performances need to be controversial. But they do need to be moving. 

Moving isn’t the same for everyone. 

But you do have to be open. Be listening. Be malleable. 

We don’t really have to be music critics. We can just be music cheerleaders. 

I was bothered by the Daily Beast article because it really seems to say you are either discussing the technicality of the music or you are writing a gossip column.  I’m not going to say that all music criticism written right now is good, or even that most of it is good, and I’ll be the first to say I agree with Werde’s complaints about celebrity culture trumping actual culture, I will say that I don’t think that you necessarily NEED to be talking about the pentatonic scale or the arrangement or how the obvious use of a guitar with THAT style of humbucker makes the song better in order to counter that.

(Confession: I just wanted to use the term “humbucker” there because it sounds vaguely dirty to me.)

I stumbled into writing about music.  It ended up making sense: I write, I’ve always been drawn to music, my life included exposure to a variety (I won’t way “wide variety,” but my dad did go through a number of mid-life crisis-es that always came with their own soundtrack).  I don’t have much experience with MAKING music: four terrible years of learning to play saxophone along with six much more enjoyable years in school chorus as well as musicals and karaoke outings sum it up.  But I LIKED music, I could use words well, so it all kind of came together.

I don’t write about the mechanics.  I probably talk too much about lyrics, about “stylistic” music choices without going into detail.  I have to make a conscious attempt to not just write “It sounds like [band x] mixed with [band y]” because I end up feeling lazy and hate trying to compare bands like that.  I write about what I like, I write about what I don’t like, I try to find the right words to express it.  I write about how it makes me feel. I am not as personal as Lester Bangs, but I can’t divorce myself entirely from a listening experience because it’s my personal experience.

Look, criticism is weird.  People point to critical acclaim in the same breath as they scream “FUCK THE HATERS!” People do and don’t care about what the critics say.  The question has become where does music criticism even fit in these days, so is it a shock that it’s become something that we KNOW has a place? I’m not saying turning review pages into gossip columns is GOOD, it’s obviously NOT, but the old school techniques don’t hold up anymore. 

The music industry has changed.  Even more, our CULTURE has changed since the early days of music reviews.  So changes, for better or worse, will happen.  The answer ISN’T to have someone shake his cane at us and scream “GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU PUNK KIDS!” or to spend paragraphs talking about someone’s lovelife when they’ve just written a jawdropping album you could instead be concentrating on.  So, now that we’ve eliminated those choices, let’s try something else, shall we?

  • 17th February
    2014
  • 17

Basically, I forgot how much I love concerts and how great they can be when you’re just there.  No pressure, no photo pass, no “I’m representing an outlet,” just there for the music with nothing riding on it.  When you don’t feel like you have to press to the front of the room, when you don’t have to watch the show through your camera.  When you can relax, chose your own spot and feel the drums through the floor and the support beam you’re leaning against.

Basically, Saturday night was awesome. And I got a little drunk.

  • 14th February
    2014
  • 14

(The following is an excerpt from a project I may or may not have abandoned.  It is about love, stupidity and music.  It may or may not ever appear anywhere else.  It is not a challenge or an invitation for your advances, please don’t, I can’t love you back, my heart is black bitter and dead and I’d like you to please leave it that way, thank you, signed The Management.)

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  • 18th July
    2013
  • 18

Uuuuuuuuugh

Okay, so, I take some issues with pretty much everything said here.

First of all, it’s bullshit nostalgia parasiting.  It reeks of either “old person who doesn’t get what you kids are listening to get off my lawn” or “hipster desperate to prove they’re too good for this shit that’s popular.” 

Secondly: Okay, let’s look at the Billboard Top 100 charts from, say, 1975, which seems like a good time for “real” artists, and 2005, right when that terrible shift towards “mediocrity” happened.

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  • 22nd April
    2013
  • 22