The Best Albums of 2012…So Far :: Part 1 of 6
Sucre - A Minor Bird
Pros: Combining one of the best female vocalists in alternative/pop music today (Stacy King of Eisley), one of the most propulsive and entertaining drummers in the last decade (Darren King of MuteMath), and one of music’s most highly overlooked, brilliant composers of right now (Jeremy Larson), Sucre is technically an indie supergroup by awkward definition. None of A Minor Bird sounds like egos clashing or anything supergroup-like in the slightest though; in fact, it sounds arguably just as good or better than each member’s main project. “When We Were Young” is the hit single Florence & The Machine forgot to write, while “Chemical Reaction” is an easy contender for my Song of the Year with that tempo change in the chorus. It’s poppy, it’s 11 songs about love and marriage, sure. But the trio attacks these songs with such confidence and experimentation that nothing feels stale or wasted.
Cons: For fans of MuteMath’s explosiveness or Eisley’s wide-eyed innocence in the lyric department, there might be some disappointment. This album rests heavily on slower songs and is more mature than most of Eisley’s output. And, aside from “Young” and “Stampede”, the album can be a little quirky for the casual listener. Depending on how you look at it and how open you are though, this is what makes Sucre so unique and lovable.
Recommended tracks: “Hiding Out” (playing above), ”When We Were Young”, “Stampede” are great individual tracks, but the whole album front-to-back is the best way to listen.
The Best Albums of 2012…So Far.
Some days, I wish I could hate trying to discover music.
It would be convenient and blissfully mindless to simply stop buying records and start listening to whatever’s on pop or sports radio. Maybe I could pick up more friends with my new, one-size-fits-all music taste. “Oh, you like Kenny Chesney? Me too! I like the one where he says things about trucks and mediocre beer”. I could fit in to copy room debates at work on the basketball game last night. There are certain keywords I can throw out to give the illusion of sports knowledge, but my ruse seems to reveal itself whenever stats and athletes’ names come into the mix. Almost definitely would I have enough money to buy more aesthetically valuable items than records and CDs. I’d probably start saving more, amassing money for future apartments on my own dime. I could buy more books. I could buy more dates. I would feel more secure.
But I rode a train into work today listening to Sucre’s debut album, A Minor Bird. And, on the way home, I nodded off to Sigur Ros’ new album, Valtari. All day, I thought about running out of the intern office, the sounds of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin inexplicably soundtracking the moment as the skies parted for me. Sports makes people happy, I suppose. I’m definitely open to learning more about them. And popular music is…well, popular. But there’s something about being alive in this time, facing these stresses and challenges, and having this wide, exhausting variety of music options out there that makes the burnt holes in pockets worth wearing. Depending on who you ask, music is either at its lowest creativity levels in history or at its most expansive and curious. And, quite honestly, the days when I doubt discovering music as a passion in life are my dumbest days.
So, for those of you who hate when I don’t write in simple, bite-size Tumblr posts, here’s the meat of this post. I will be posting six of my favorite albums of 2012 thus far. I’ll later recap them all in a Spotify playlist, but each post will give detail and such to why these albums matter so much to me. Message me any new album I didn’t mention that you think I should give a chance and I’ll give it a listen. Message me asking for a mixtape and I’ll consider making one for you.
But really any feedback is great. Happy listening, friends.
The Empire of Flowers
The following is part of a collaboration between myself and one of the most eager, funny writers I’ve met via Tumblr, Vernon Carter Ross. Aside from his liberal use of the words “fashow” and “dope” (I went there, Vernon, and I kind of apologize), he is definitely one of the more interesting and passionate writers I’ve collaborated with on here and I encourage you all to read some of his many short stories (also: he posts on here WAY more than I do) Below is my part of a collaboration on flowers and humanity; I’ll post Vernon when he’s good and ready with his. — tim
It’s 3:42 AM and I blame Death Cab for Cutie.
And I think, somewhere in the world, Ben Gibbard, Chris Walla, Nick Harmer, and/or Jason McGerr all acknowledge the fact that they romanticized intellectual indie kid angst and pining for girls at late hours through Transatlanticism.
I put the title track on again for the first time in a good year or so and I realized how quickly 8 minutes can go by. It almost hurts hearing that song, partially because a) it defined a great chunk of my high school years (as it did for many, I imagine) and b) it’s still as emotional a song as the first time I heard it. It still makes me want to revert back to shitty poetry with broken rhymes. It makes high school seem not as awful a place as it truly was. Just the set of “Tiny Vessels” into “Transatlanticism” into “Passenger Seat” remains the best 16 consecutive minutes of music I’ve ever heard.
And, out of nowhere, it’s the kind of album that makes me gush about its greatness on my own blog at almost 4 AM. I love this album, no shame, no question of shame to begin with. Listen to it if you haven’t already. And if it doesn’t really hit any sort of spot for you, find an album that would keep you up until the morning. You’ll be a better or, at the very least, angsty person as a result.
Overheard Conversation #3 (Songs for Drunk Interns)
Nah, I really don’t like this song all that much. It’s just one of those songs that make me wish I was drunk, you know? I mean, I don’t like being drunk in the slightest, but every time it comes on my headphones, Pavlov’s dog bounds in to bark at me for not looking through your pictures in a while. Your information’s all there; you never blocked me. That photo album you titled in lowercase, “night at juan’s saucy taco spot” is still there (it was an inside joke between the two of us; it’s not considered witty when the joke’s never been allowed life outside of our mouths), albeit you deleted all 5 pictures in there of us tongue-kissing to hide from your new girlfriend. I’m there for your profile pictures though. I want to find cracks, darling. I want to believe a Business major and a girlfriend from a country I’ll never try to pronounce doesn’t necessarily hold hands with a successful career and beautiful, olive-skinned babies born in the South of Spain. I’m looking through the pictures and usually I wait until I get to the chorus of the song, the part where they pound on the drums and start screaming, to find your worst photo. My Exhibit A. It’s drunken treasure, really. Your left eye is half cocked and loaded with blood, the right is glassy and growing lazy. Your shirt shows all three of your chest hairs and makes the outline of your loveless handles almost visible. And, maybe it’s me, but I can almost see the outline of your small prick though the work slacks. You look alone and I swear I’m there with you, laughing at you with a vodka tongue. You’re alone! You’re alone! The band’s practically singing it with me; hell, I’m practically yelling it at you through the screen.
Then I remember you’re not there. I’m on the subway. My headphones are on. And nobody really appreciates being around the girl breaking down in the corner of the car over a guy she kissed twice at intern parties.
Graduates (2nd Edit)
She might be five years younger than me.
It’s not that I don’t know her age. She’s quintessentially eighteen, from the graduation ring dangling on her necklace to the kind of girls she’s with as they crowd the McDonald’s lobby. It’s just that I’m in the unbecoming part of my twenties where I actually have to think about how old I am. I’m always draining out, always losing city names and names of exes in the creases of friends’ couches. My constants are McDonald’s in every town I stop in and driving, driving, driving.
She’s something else though, this girl. Something memorable. She leans against the counter and communicates nothing aside from bursts of bubble gum and fluttering eyes as her friends chirp on about what positions they’d screw their former teachers in. She’s dressed conservatively amongst the canvas of pale, half-naked girls, but it’s catching me. I don’t want to fuck tonight and especially not with some high school girl, but she turns her head towards the windows where I’m sitting every few minutes to flip her summer-stained brown hair and…
I don’t know the feeling that wells up in me.
Basic emotions divide and become their own cells. I want and I don’t want. She continues to float above her friend’s conversations and I try to eat my 11:00 PM dinner.
A work-swept mess of a girl walks out from the back and, like vultures dressed as American Eagles, her friends descend on her. I dive back into my Bacon McDouble, extra sauce. Then I hear trays fall. A body falling against the soda dispenser. “Now you’ll know to fuck off when you’re told!”, a lanky, dark haired girl calls out and I look up to find the McDonald’s worker girl sitting against the window, nursing a scrape on her thigh. All the girls flew out the doors save the girl I couldn’t take my eyes off of, who’s on the floor with the McDonald’s girl.
My guts say no, don’t do anything. They gurgle and churn and they plan dollar menu mutiny as my desire to lose some weight just begs in the corner to be heard. I feel it though as I watch this fast food depravity, the feeling I get before I begin moving. I left home on these motions, left girlfriends and college plans, left the other trucking job. My legs are autonomous sons of bitches and, before I could plan anything to say, I was standing over the girl and the broken McDonald’s worker.“Need me to call the police?”, I ask. The girl looks up and I realize she’s the first person I’ve talked to beside myself in the past week. “No…I don’t know, I don’t think so…it’s…”, she trailed. “High school drama?”, I ask. She laughs, the McDonald’s girl smiling as the torrent of tears slows. “It gets better, don’t worry”, I say. The girl looks down and she’s considering it.
Her beautiful eyes, green and ocean streaks, are rolling over the words. Her hand is on the McDonald’s girl’s leg, who puts down her phone without calling 9-1-1. They’re considering the hope of a bigger town and a better life. And, without leaving any more words or telling them that their savior of the night is a guy that sleeps in truck stops on most days excluding holidays, I throw out my meal and get back on my route.
Soundtracks to Sleeping Cats
It’s a night of broken English in a bed surrounded by broken Christmas lights. The lights only blink on the right side of my room, making everything only half-unseasonably festive. My roommate’s cat is making his nest on the skip button of my laptop, the music’s flashing by in quarter second intervals, and I can’t tell if there’s a deeper message to drag out of it or the cat’s just tired from eating his weight in cat chow today.
I have about a hundred thesis statements about things nobody will ever want to read.
I want to return to writing about bruised knees and fumbled kisses.
I need to write a mixtape of songs to play while going over state borders in the pursuit of bottling something sweeter smelling than any place you’d ever been before.
I want release every floodgate, corral every bored elephant in the zoo, swing every hopeless dreamer on the swingset over that fence, and play conquistador to the heart of any girl who can list five interests outside of public drunkenness and enjoys literature outside of picture books.
It’s 1:30 in the morning though.
My alarm will be singing in six hours. I’ll wake up to History classes, empty swingsets, and half asleep girls with even more tiring personalities. The cat will probably be sleeping on the skip button still, rushing by every favorite song I’ve ever heard.
There’s consolation in the rushed noises though. Half broken Christmas lights still half work. Cats will move to eat more catnip. Days will end. Eyes will glance upwards. Something beautiful will eventually stop to tie their shoes in your path. All you have is ears, all the music you have in this life is the soundtrack of sleepy cats. Noises and chirps will rush by until a sound comes, a brief murmur that makes you believe there’s some sense in this world.
Wish. What a word. It’s pitiful. It’s practically stuck in 7th grade, forever awkward with a built-in lisp. Wishy-washy. It holds no confidence. You can’t trust it, but it can’t be feared either.
Wishes are demands that got castrated.
They’re something you throw into the world for the sole purpose of hearing your own voice, but expecting nothing in response.
I wish I cared about my four classes.
I wish I cared about my four classes next semester.
I wish I felt ecstatic to be halfway through college.
I wish I could become a growth on my bed and watch United States of Tara all day.
I wish my life could become something that multiplies, builds, goes forth, does something other than pulls along a once ideal path.
I wish wishes had more bearing. I wish they had meaning other than as a prolonged pity party.
I wish I could stop all this shitty wishing.