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Nathan's American Dreams
Back to doing Recommendations
08/30/10 at 09:23 AM by mybreakingpoint
Thanks to some very encouraging people, via e-mail, PMs, and facebook, who've told me they really enjoyed my writing and would like me to do more of it, I've decided, well, that I'll try. I have a new laptop so I can finally download new music as it comes out instead of months after it comes out, plus just having regular internet access is a huge improvement over my previous computer-less existence. So in the spirit of getting this nonsense going again, I'm going to start doing the whole "You should be listening to this band, this band, and this band" thing. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you give any my recs a shot, what you thought, and if you have any recommendations for me, let me know.

Statistically, I'm not too far off right now from being in a place where I could be in the "rankings" on AP as far as blog popularity. I actually think it would be really cool if that happened, so if you could help me out by even just leaving a as a comment, I think that would be pretty cool. Thanks.

Terrible Things:

I don't know how, but somehow a huge portion of this site have completely written off this band. Whether it's because "there's not enough Andy" or "it's too much like The Color Fred" or even just labeling it as boring, unoriginal, or whatever, so few people on AP seem to be giving this record an actual chance. Well, you know what, they even state in the very first track of the record "This is not a revolution//Can we say it is?". And they're right, they're not reinventing the wheel with this one, but they've definitely put together something worth listening to. You can really hear the influence Fred had on Taking Back Sunday for Where You Want To Be and especially Louder Now. Some riffs on this record sound eerily similar to TBS songs. (The riff in the opener "Revolution" at the bridge sounds a loooooot like the riff in the bridge for "Error: Operator". I can't be the only one who hears that.) And let's face it, neither Mascherino nor Jackson have the most awe-inspiring, life-changing voices that don't get a little monotonous after a while, but together they've really put together a record that complements both of their voices, writing styles, and instrumental tendencies. Andy still gets to rip out quite a few solos like on Hot Rod Circuit's latter records, and Fred still gets to show us how you can still make 4-chord songs actually work without sounding like you just graduated from high school and are working on putting out your 4th second-wave emo album with your 4th line-up. Jackson and Mascherino are two of the best pop rock songwriters this "scene" has ever had, and the fact that they're now working together should way more people excited than there seems to be. Is "Terrible Things" going to change anyone's life? Probably not. But is this album still worthy of a few late-night car rides with your windows down and the volume all the way up so you can sing/scream along like you did on the weekends in high school and feel like you're 17-19 again? Absolutely.

Both Jackson and Mascherino have written records I really enjoyed when I was 15 through when I was 19 and 20. And now I'm almost 22 and they're still putting out records I can enjoy and can simultaneously fill me with a sense of nostalgia and substantial relation so I'm not just pulling out old Wakefield, American Hi-Fi, and Eve 6 records like I have to when I want to feel like I'm in high school again (in a good way). Obviously fans of The Color Fred, Hot Rod Circuit, Louder Now and Death In The Park will find something to enjoy about this record. But I can hear some Brandtson, some Bad Astronaut, and even some Northstar ("Lullaby" especially) in this record and if that doesn't entice you at least a little to want to give this record a listen, well, your loss.

Since the album hasn't "technically" been released yet, there aren't any "legal" free downloads available, that I can find anyway, to share. So just checking their purevolume page should do the trick. http://purevolume.com/terriblethings . And then pick up the album when it comes out Tuesday.

We All Inherit The Moon:

If you've ever read any of my recommendations before and you're already familiar with this band, you probably never expected me to recommend a band like them. And I wouldn't blame you; I don't really listen to any other bands in this "post-rock" genre or whatever the hell you want to call it. But I know great music when I hear it, and these guys...these guys are special. Call it "atmospheric", call it "ethereal", call it anything you want; all it is is gorgeous, beautiful, incredibly well-orchestrated music.

I don't know if it's because of my inexperience with this genre, or because this band's music leaves me truly, genuinely speechless (it could be either one), but I really can't say more about them other than they just write such incredibly beautiful music. I could lay on the floor of my bedroom and stare at the ceiling for days, days, and listen to nothing but this. You just get lost in it. It takes you to places you could only go when you were 7, laying in your bed at night, wondering what else is out in the world, where you'll be in 10, 20 years, and if tomorrow's going to be a beautiful day. Well, now you can lie and listen and pretend you don't know what fucked up things there are out in the world, wonder where you'll be in another 10, 20 years, and just know, you just know that tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day.

This is a song called "..and ever. Part I", from a split LP they did with The Ascent of Everest, and which was re-released on "13 Song Import", a Japanese release of their entire discography. http://www.undomondo.com/alarm/futur...e%20moon. mp3 (Right Click --> Save As)

You can actually download every song they've put out (as far as I know) as a part of that "13 Song Import" here: http://futurerecordings.bandcamp.com...g-japan-import 13 songs FREE. How can you say no to that?

Far:

2009-2010 has been full of reunions.One-off shows. Reunion tours. Or complete, full reunions that come with a whole new album and everything. Tons of them. blink-182, Something Corporate, The Juliana Theory, the Tell All Your Friends era Taking Back Sunday, Spitalfield, The Junior Varisty, Park, the original Mae line-up, TREOS, Rufio, Down To Earth Approach, Small Brown Bike, Ultimate Fakebook, Metroschifter, and most recently, the The Moon Is Down era Further Seems Forever line-up. (Oh. And OMG! How could I forget DANCE GAVIN DANCE?!?!?! Obviously, that one takes precedent over ALL of the aforementioned reunions.) Wow. So essentially, I've had a non-stop you-know-what way passed that whole "4 hours" recommendation, and it will probably fall off in a matter of days. As excited as I've been for so many of these, and as awesome as the new Ultimate Fakebook and Metroschifter albums are, none of the reunion announcements and subsequent reunions albums have gotten me as excited and piss-my-pants thrilled as the reunion of Far.

Only two other reunion announcements, if they had happened or ever will (probably won't) happen, could have or ever will get me as excited as a reunion of Far, and those would be At The Drive-In and Refused. Those two are the kind of reunions you drive all the way to other end of the country to see, no matter what, even if your mother's on her deathbed and your wife is in labor. The reunion of Far is right up there with those.

Jonah Matranga has seemingly been everywhere since Far's demise in 1999, releasing albums under multiple monikers and with multiple bands, including but not limited to New End Original, Gratitude, and onelinedrawing, along with multiple solo albums and releases under his own name. But save onelinedrawing and his solo efforts, since the end of Far, Matranga hasn't been able to hang onto one line-up of bandmates long enough to release more than one record. He's become arguably one of the most recognizable and heralded names and voices of this scene in the last 10 years, and not solely because Water & Solutions, Far's "final" album and an album highly touted by countless band members among current bands as a huge influence on their music. He's been everywhere, doing guest vocals for quite a few bands and artists; you can even hear him on one of the Madden games, I forget which, probably 2004 or 2005, but I remember as soon as I heard his voice (on the Lupe Fiasco track, "The Instrumental") I was just like "Hey! That's Jonah! AWESOME!"

Anyway, so not only did the band reunite for a tour and to record a (rockin') cover of "Pony" by Ginuwine, but they ended up putting out an entire new record, their first in over 10 years. It was actually the first album I pre-ordered since Copeland's "In Motion" if that gives you any idea of how often I'm actually excited enough for something to pre-order it. And when I finnaly got "At Night We Live", it was everything I was hoping for, but not what I expected at the same time. There are several obviously Deftones-influenced tracks, really edgy, hard "rockers" that wouldn't be out of place on one of those "Buzz" compilations, but not in an obnoxious, bad way ("Deafening", "Dear Enemy").

The album really has everything you could want from a Far album, plus plenty more gorgeous, heartfelt ballads ("At Night We Live", "Burns"), pop rock anthems ("Fight Song"), and stripped down atmospheric tracks ("When I Could See"), all of which you've come to expect from Matranga's releases. "If You Cared Enough" sounds like a Gratitude song in the best way possible and is in contention for my song of the year, I can't get enough of it, such a huge chorus. "Better Surrender" is an old onelinedrawing/solo song turned into a Far track* and it translates perfectly; very driving, very catchy, it really shows what a brilliant pop song-writer Matranga really is. "Are You Sure?" sounds like a song Jimmy Eat World could have written as a b-side for Futures.

Overall, it's just an incredibly well-rounded, well-produced album good for a multitude of listens. This album will for sure be in my top 5 for the year, probably top 3. This album should NOT be overlooked. Fans of a perfect mesh of 90's "alternative" rock and early 00's pop rock or whatever you want to call it or just simple, gorgeous voices will fall in love with this, I have no doubt in my mind. Fans of Gratitude, The Juliana Theory, Jimmy Eat World's Futures, and maybe a little of Idlewild (at their more rambunctious moments) should find something they like in here. Thank God for reunions.

"Deafening": http://s3.amazonaws.com/site-images...._Deafening.mp3 (Right Click --> Save As)

"Pony (Ginuwine Cover)": http://s3.amazonaws.com/site-images-...57/12_Pony.mp3 (Right Click --> Save As)

*NOTE: He must have changed the name of it, 'cause I can't find it in my Jonah collection, but I KNOW that melody so I know he's used it before, even if it's just a re-imagining of one of his old songs. It wouldn't be the first time he's done that; he turned "The Leper Song" by New End Original into a completely different song for his solo release Songs From Sacramento, Vol. 1 called "Welcome Wearing Out".


I typically try to do 5 recommendations per blog but this one turned out to be so lengthy that I decided to cut it after 3, but I'll try and post another one tomorrow or later this week. Feel free to leave feedback, please and thanks.
Tags: Terrible Things, Far, We All Inherit The Moon, Jonah Matranga
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I'm Scared Shitless Of The Sophomore Slump
04/20/09 at 01:03 AM by mybreakingpoint
So I know I'm not supposed to be doing this for anyone else, and for the most part, I'm not. I write these songs for me, about me, sometimes about my friends, but even then, it's done in a way where it still affects me personally more than I think it would affect anyone else. Typically, it doesn't bother me when someone doesn't like my music. When someone hears one of my songs and doesn't "get it", it doesn't bother me. I get it, my band gets it (usually), and typically I have a couple of friends who "get it", sometimes even without me explaining the significance of it. But sometimes there are people whose opinions I value so highly, that when they don't dig one of my songs, it bothers me, it eats at me. I know it shouldn't, but it does.

I have a friend I made here on AP. He contacted me two years not long after I posted my band's very first demo on here, a really shitty version of our song "Sure Things." From there, we developed and built a strong friendship, centered for the most part on our mutual connection on my songs. He loved all of them, every single one. He was honest when he needed to be, told me what he didn't like/what didn't sound right/whatever, and then other times he'd praise them more than anyone else in my life. More than my bandmates, more than my dad, more than anyone, he was the one person who I always felt like no matter what piece of shit garbage song I gave him, it could be the worst song ever, and he'd like it, he'd get it, he'd understand it.

Nowadays, almost 2 years later, I have several more people like that. My bass player Steve is one, and our new guitar player Tom is another. They like anything & everything I write, no matter what it is. they're always so enthusiastic, so eager, so anxious, so excited to be playing with me. It really makes me feel like someone special, they really make it seem like there's nothing in the world they'd rather be doing but sitting there, playing my songs with me. that's a great feeling, ya know? My friend Dave is the same way. Aubrey, Joe, Ben, Kris, Dave Nap, Matt, Adam, Aaron, so many people who support me, and always tell me what I need to hear. It's a great feeling.

But lately, I'm starting to get paranoid. At first, I was so excited to be recording my new songs, to be sharing them. the first record was made up of songs I'd written over a 4-year period. There was no real consistency, no real flow. It was more like a compilation of singles & random songs ala I Am The Movie, as compared to an actual album. But the vast majority of the songs I've got ready for this new record are ones I've written in the last 6-8 months. They flow. They're consistent. And they hit me on an emotional level when I'm playing so much more than any of the songs on the old record do anymore. After writing "Wait" my sophomore year of high school and now playing it at the end of every single show we've played for the last 2 years, it doesn't affect me like it used to. That song has brought other to tears; people have told me, I've seen it. People, sometimes friends, sometimes strangers, have thanked me for writing that song. And it's not like I feel nothing, but it doesn't tug on my heartstrings like I feel it should. I feel like I should be able to sing every song as passionately as the day I wrote them, but after a while, I can't anymore.

"Sure Things", "Lost", "Forgive Me", "Come Back Home", and "Can You Hear Me Yet?" were 5 of the 8 songs my old band Silhouettes Of Something Strange played for over a year before TIL started. I have not gone a single full-band show in over 3 fucking years without playing "Sure Things". I can't stand that song anymore, I can't listen to it anymore. It feels so stale, so empty to me now, but it's one of those songs we have to play at every show. Silhouettes opened every show we ever played with it, and now it's either the 2nd to last or 3rd to last song at every TIL show. It was our first song, I put it up on here on AP, and to this day, it's still the song I hear about the most. I get the most comments & compliments on that song and I hate it. I hate that fucking song. I can't stand it. Honestly, I'm to the point where I don't have fun playing any of those ^ 5 songs except for "Forgive Me". Musically & lyrically, "Forgive Me" is the pinnacle of my creativity over the last 4 years up to the point of recording that album. "Forgive Me" and "Finally Here" are the only two songs on that record I can still see myself playing at shows 5, 10 years from now. Solo, full-band, whatever I'm doing, I will probably always love those songs. I'd be perfectly content with playing "Finally Here" at every show until the day I die. It was my favorite song I've ever written for a long time, and even though with the new batch of songs here, it's kind of fallen to second or third favorite, it's still a song I love & can never get sick of. But guess what? Pretty much no one seems to give a shit about that song. Alison is the only person I've ever had say to me that they really love that song, or quoted it to me or anything, save the time Aubrey said she loved it because it describes perfectly the whole summer-before-school-starts feeling. "Just 11 days/Only 10 if you consider that's 4 in the morning right now." But really, it's my favorite song on the record, and yet no in the band hardly ever likes to play it, no one ever says anything about it, I guess it's just been overlooked, or people just don't look at it the same way as I do. i wrote that 11 (10) days before my first day of band camp for college. I spent all of high school trying to be someone I wasn't, someone I told myself I wanted to be. I had zero confidence. I had a lot of friends, but I never really felt like I fit in there from day one since I moved to Michigan from Oklahoma in 10th grade. So I was just ready to "start over" essentially. Be around new people, a new environment. A fresh start. No preconceived notions about me, new first impressions, if I played my cards right, I could really truly make people believe that I was the person I wanted to be. "Breaking into early August/Counting down the days to starting over with a clean slate/Not completely, but enough to have me practicing my confident smile/It's time to make them think I am who I want to be/Who I'm gonna be as soon as I stop overthinking everything." I always over-analyze and over-think every single insignificant detail of my life, and I felt like if I could just stop thinking & start doing, that I could stop being a depressed, nervous wreck who cared way too much about what everyone thinks of me.

And it worked for a long time. It mostly still works. But I do still overthink everything, and I guess that's what's brought me to my current dilemma.
___________________________________ ___________________________________ __________________

I had to stop right there a couple days ago after I started it 'cause AP went down, and I've been going & doing & busy since then. I'm going to try & not repeat myself WITHOUT having to re-read all of that^, but basically, what I'm getting to is that my friend whom I became friends with solely because we bonded over my songs...doesn't like my new songs. Like, at all. I've sent him 6 new songs now. 1 is a really old one from the sessions from our first record. It's called "Afraid Of You", and it was supposed to be on There's Always Next Year in place of "Untitled", but we never got around to finishing the guitars & vocals for it, so it just remained incomplete. We're planning on finishing it this time around & having it on the new record. He's loved that song since the first time he heard it, so that's good. He also loves "Not Like This", the rough demo of which we included on the AP Members Comp Volume 4 a couple months ago. Since then, I've sent him demos of "Cleaning Up", "Disappear", "It Never Happened", & "First Impressions" and...he doesn't like any of them. At all, really. He says "they have their moments", but overall, he doesn't like them. And should that matter? No, not really. Like I said from the start, these songs are for me & sometimes my friends, mostly for me, but you know what I mean. And now he's my friend, and while I didn't write any of these songs for him specifically as I do for some, I was so sure he'd love them no matter what. And now my confidence has just been shattered. Into pieces. It's gone. I was so sure that no matter what, no matter if everyone hated my new songs, at least he would like them, right? Wrong. And I don't know, it's really hard for me to sort out in my head. It's making me second-guess myself. Making me second-guess my abilities as a songwriter & a singer & everything. I'm questioning whether or not I'm really any good, if I'm really worth listening to. And I shouldn't. I know that, I realize that, but it's really not that easy. I have a select few group of people outside of the band who get to hear pretty much every single song I write that I plan to put towards the band. They're a group of smart, nice people who know what they're talking about and will tell me what they think regardless of if it's what I want to hear. So I guess I got what I wanted, I got honesty. But it wasn't what I expected, because I had so much confidence & faith in these songs that I was just absolutely certain that my friends, my little group, would like them and love them as much as I do and the cycle of us bonding over these songs I write can begin again with a new album.

I love the feeling of connecting with someone over the songs I write. I wouldn't trade that feeling or those relationships I've built for the world. But now I'm starting to worry that I'm not gonna get that again, that no one's going to like these songs. If the one person who I was so sure would like them...doesn't, then how am I supposed to think that anyone else will?

Aaaah, I don't know. My head's going in circles all over again. I guess it'll just be a wait & see deal. What I sent him were just demos, after all, not even close to the final products. I feel like they're going to be understood & grasped a lot better as a whole, as a group, better anyway rather than being spectacular stand-alones. I'm going to try & be as optimistic as possible, but it's not going to be as easy these next couple months while we're demoing & then finally recording the final product as I was hoping it would be. I came into this with all the confidence in the world, and now I'm not even halfway through it & I've got my head down & my tail between my legs. I guess we'll see where this goes.

___________________________________ ___________________________________ __________________

I think I'm going to work on another recommendation entry, and then I think I want to try & do a song-by-song explanation of "There's Always Next Year." Would anyone care to read that? Basically, I'd go song-by-song through the record, from "Fall Apart" through "Wait", explaining my inspirations for each song & the stories behind each song. Point out my favorite parts, my least favorite parts, and just kind of give an explanation of each song, both musically & lyrically. If anyone would actually care & read something like that, say so & I'll take the time to do it.

If it goes over well, then maybe I'll try & do one for the upcoming record(s?), and do song-by-song analogies & explanations of what you can expect from the new record. But I really only want to take the time (probably several hours) to do that if anyone would be genuinely interested in reading it & giving their thoughts on it. Like I said, let me know.
Tags: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits, Fart, Turd, Twat
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