Thursday, August 8, 2013


Okay kiddo-s, today’s post is broken into two distinct sections: Section 1 wherein I discuss my penchant for breaking things and section 2 in which I discuss music. So, on with the show.

In which I break stuff

“…you're hard on shit. all I’m saying.” Mrs. B.

As the lovely wife so eloquently puts it, I am hard on shit. I break shit all the time. Like, all the time. Stuff that shouldn’t break? I break it. 

I once broke a hammer. The fiberglass and steel handle? Yeah, destroyed that bad boy. I’ve broken cars. I’ve broken electronics. I’ve broken bikes. And lots of bike parts.

About a year ago, maybe a bit less, I went from using a backpack to carry my gear to using panniers. The wife had found a great deal on some bags by Koki so I made the transition, put a rack on the bike and took a load off of my back.

It worked well for a time. Then my tendency to break shit came out and I broke the little plastic clips that connect the top part of the bags to the rack. Long story short, after much wrangling with Koki and additional breakage of parts of their bags, they sent me a new set of bags with some improved features and functions.
Monday of this week I experienced the first breakage with the new bags. Again, the plastic hooks that connect the bags to the rack broke. One tine. No big deal. I switched them out for an extra set of hooks that I had around the house.

Then this morning? Disaster. As I’m hustling to the bus stop, I hit a bump and hear a thump. The entire bag is gone. This is a first. I’ve not had the bag actually fall off before. When I go to pick it up, I realize that all of the little plastic tines that are supposed to hold the bag on the rack have disappeared. Not good.

So, bungies let me get to work with the bag and starting Monday, I’ll be using the backpack method again. A bit harder on the back, but more secure in the overall scheme of things. And given that I’ll need to start carrying an extra just in case jacket again soon as the weather turns as well as needing to securely carry my laptop on the days when I teach, the backpack seems the better option.

Or maybe it’s time to look into a cargo bike… Naw, not really.

But why am I so hard on stuff? Is it because of how big I am? Is that what does it? I think that might be part of it. I can’t really explain, otherwise, how I would be able to break some of the stuff I break. At 6’1” and 260-ish pounds, when I ride a bike or what have you, I exert more force, I guess, even just sitting, than someone who weighs in at, say 160. So, that might be part of it.

It might also be that as I find something I like using, I use it obsessively. I ride one bike. I use one bag. I use the same earphones every day. So, I might use things more than other folks tend to.
Or maybe I’m just careless. Don’t know. Just know that I’ve always had a knack for breaking things. 

I think I would make an excellent product tester.

In which I talk about music:

First let me explain something about my taste in music. I seek out bands who are able to do a couple of things consistently. I like bands who start out doing something new, some new take on what has come before. Secondly, they need to grow and mature over each album, honing a sound and improving the overall compositional quality of their music. Thirdly, they need to embrace experimentation and evolve over the course of their career, not resting on their past work or allowing past successes lock them into the reproduction cycle wherein they simply repackage the same album over and over and over.

The Cure is a supreme example of this. They twisted the post-punk thing around in the late 70s. They turned pop upside down. And they consistently make albums that challenge the listener’s preconceived notions of who and what the band is.

Isis is another band that continually evolved and changed their sound throughout their career. Say what you will about In the Absence of Truth and Wavering Radiant, but to me those are two wonderfully strong albums that took risks and, to my ear, paid off. And those albums are a million miles away from what Isis was doing with their early work, but there is a clear lineage from start to finish in their catalog.

Another band who has completely captured my attention with their willingness to do things that may alienate their listeners and take chances by doing what they want to do as a band is Rosetta.

From the get go, they’ve put themselves out there. I mean, their debut was a double album that was designed such that one could play both record simultaneously and create a new and different experience than either album alone does. Then they went harder and more aggressive with Wake/Lift. Then they stepped back and went short on A Determinism of Morality. And each album was brilliant in its own way.

Just today they released their newest album The Anaesthete. Apart from doing a self-release, pay what you wish model for this one, they've also taken the music in a new direction. It’s still heavy. It’s still delicate. But it’s different than what has come before.

I’ve just finished up my second listen and, while I can’t speak in depth about the album yet, I have to say I am impressed by what I hear. The album is wonderfully well constructed, with a well-defined sense of opening and closing and moves nicely throughout the rest. Which is what so many albums these days lack – a sense that to really appreciate it as a work of art it must be listened to as a whole, not as a single downloaded off of iTunes. In fact, here’s a challenge to whoever wants to take it: release your next album as a single track so that it has to be listed to from beginning to end.

Anyway. Like I said, I’ve not gotten the track names down yet, or really internalized the music yet. But I am impressed. And maybe I was always going to be impressed, being a bit of a fan-boy and all. But these guys clearly put their hearts and souls into the music. The DIY approach is also cool. But it is the music that impresses.

BJ’s drumming really stands out in the production here, crisp and clear and precise. Armine’s vocals also seem to be a bit more forward in the mix than on previous albums. Not so much so that they overpower the music, but taking more of a central role. Mr. Weed’s guitar work is, as always, stellar, and the use of acoustic on one track is a bold move. I would like to hear Dave’s bass a bit more in the opening sections of the opening track, though towards the middle it becomes clear and the playing is amazing, playing off of Matt’s guitar while also supporting the drumming.

Overall, on first impressions I give it 4.75 out of 5 stars. I’m still trying to wrap my head around certain elements of certain tracks, such as Hodoku/Compassion. I love the music there, but I’m not sure how I feel about Eric Jernigan’s vocals. To my ear, Dave may have been better situated to take the lead on that one. (Sorry, but the way Dave and Armine intertwine their voices on their remake of Homesick makes me really feel that they need to use that dynamic much, much more…just sayin’)

My only other complaint is the length…I love tracks in the 10 plus minute range, tracks that build slowly, work the dynamics, and tend to put the listener into a semi-hypnotic state. The Anaesthete achieves this, to an extent when taken as a whole, but I feel that the overall length and transitions between the tracks on both TGS and Wake/Lift do a better job of inducing this feeling in the listener than on The Anaesthete. And given then album title, one would expect the band to play up the concept – inducing a anesthesia in the listener through the music.

Go get it here and leave the band a little something something for their time and effort. 

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