Mac DeMarco – ‘This Old Dog’ Album Review

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Mac DeMarco has become a symbol of modern day Indie, well-liked by indieheads, critics, and even extending to frat bros. Looking up the lyrics to this album in preparation for the review, dragging the pointer to Demarco’s name will warrant a pop-up that says that he is “the coolest guy in music right now”, and Genius is not wrong. His charisma, both on his albums and off, gives him a distinct personality that keeps me coming back to listen to him, even if I don’t think he’s the most musically sound Indie artist working today. So it came to much worry that, listening to the single “This Old Dog”, DeMarco had decided to move past his guitar-twinkling, sporadic days. He has matured, as the album title suggest, and I feared this would make him as boring as, well, an old dog. However, throughout this album, I was pleased to hear that this maturity (for the most part) was a great asset to the overall quality of This Old Dog.

Again, DeMarco has moved past his guitar-twinkling, sporadic days. The opening seconds of the opening track, “My Old Man”, shows that much of the musical content of this album would be simple guitar strumming with some soft electronic arpeggios embellishing. Although DeMarco isn’t as encapsulating in minimalism as someone like Bon Iver or Sufjan Stevens, catchy chord progressions, warm, inviting vocals, and personal lyrics do well when they’re around. “Baby You’re Out” is a happy tune about not making any regrets with a consistent guitar presence and a staccato keyboard that keeps the song on its toes.

On the other hand, songs like “For The First Time Again”, slow down both the pace and momentum of the album. With drawn out synth piano notes (like a minimalist Currents) and passive, neutral vocals, DeMarco brings out the shoulder-shrugging qualities that turn many people off. Even so, the lyrics can still keep one interested. “For The First Time Again” is about Mac describing missing his partner, Kiera, even though he knows he’ll see her soon. It’s these deep ruminations about low-risk drama that make his music so attractive as a counter-point to the “serious” Indie that is so commonplace today.

Emotions do come to the forefront here, too, as the concept of the album is about DeMarco growing up to be the age of his dad when he left Mac at a very young age. This epiphany seems to strike Mac to make amends and show his emotion, giving affection to his partner “One More Love Song”, his sister “Sister”, and his fans “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes.” This album might stick with you as more of a feeling than a piece of music, but the music does not seem lacking; it’s considerable, and maybe a little more.



Bruce Springsteen: To Lose Your Audience

bruce_laThere are several celebrities that I can just feel frustration for. They’re perseverance just never seems to be rewarded by the public. Hillary Clinton works her ass off to be the most qualified presidential candidate and loses to the least qualified presidential candidate. Joanna Newsom puts her heart and soul into writing and arranging dense instrumentation for two hour albums but get upstaged by millionaire pop stars who are praised for simply singing music that is written and produced by a studio.

Then there’s Bo Burnham. Despite being the most original, most insightful comedian by far of this generation, his name is often put under the rug in favor of the millennial-bait, buddy-cop-movie-with-Dwayne Johnson Kevin Hart and just-scream-into-the-microphone hack that is Dane Cook. What seems more tragic, though, something that Joanna Newsom doesn’t have to worry about, is Burnham’s fan base. Somehow, his style seems to mostly attract young teenage fangirls who are infatuated with “I’m Bo Yo” (I’m “Bo Yo” to Burnham is like “Creep” to Radiohead, an early, accessible song that both artists have move way past that are also their most popular by far.)

This is something I didn’t totally realize going into listening and watching the music video to Burnham’s “Repeat Stuff”, a scathing condemning of manufactured pop songs from caricatures like Justin Bieber, One Direction, and Usher. I loved the song so much at first. It was one of those things that you always had half-developed as a thought in the back of your head but hadn’t been fleshed out completely until you hear it in art. I saw it as a call-out against Bieber, but what I didn’t learn until later is that it was also a sort of call out against his fans, the same ones that were mythicizing Burnham as they were Bieber. “You don’t love me,” Burnham said in his special, What. “You love the idea of me.”

And it seems so frustrating that Burnham, who doesn’t have that much of a fan base to begin with, has a fan base that is misconstruing his message. A more self-conscious person like me would even second-guess my art, if it was actually providing a message that would warrant a response like this. But what I think is even more tragic, something that, ultimately (like all things), has to do with mortality, is if one’s fan base changes over time, whether the individuals themselves or the the collective, to consist of ideals the artist themself might not agree with, and I can’t think of a better example of that than Bruce Springsteen.

Of course, Springsteen’s message has been, one way or another, misinterpreted for his whole career. “Born In The U.S.A.” was infamously misinterpreted by then-president Ronald Reagan as an ode to the country in favor of its actual meaning: a criticism of the treatment of veterans by the government after the Vietnam War.

But, still, not all of Bruce’s songs were like this. They were mostly about the working man and the struggles of the working class, a class that the Democratic party was very receptive to at the time, and vice versa. Starting with the Progressive Era and being carried out by Democratic presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson, the democratic party focused on labor rights and raising the minimum wage. The democratic party was tough with outspoken presidents that had charisma, while the Republican party was soft, representing a nice, calm, “silent” majority, so it was the perfect opportunity for Bruce to come out with this outspoken, charismatic music that fought for workers.

However, Republicans received a great deal of push-back after Reagan, and, after an elected George W. Bush, Democrats were fearing 16 years of Republican administration, and Bill Clinton comes in. Clinton has the charisma that past Democrats have, a similarity to Kennedy, among others. However, his platform was more centrist, a platform that could only survive at that time. After being elected, he passed NAFTA, a trade agreement that sent millions of American jobs overseas. Meanwhile, even under Democratic administrations, the minimum wage could not be waged any more than its ratio.

Image result for minimum wage graph by year

The Obama administration happens, and there’s a certain distrust among the white male voter, even though the President’s decision to bail out the auto industry did waves for the working class. Even so, little more was done in a country with heavy wealth disparity, and it isn’t to be overlooked that he also bailed out Wall Street, an institution that used greed to lead themselves in the situation, leaving the taxpayer getting his or her money taken.

It was with the nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016 that cemented the Democratic Party as different from what it used to be. It was less the Democratic party of the ’40s, one that focused on the working man, in favor of the Democratic party of the ‘1890s, one that focused on big businesses, via Super PACs. Because of this, the white voter, even the Italian voter has statistically gone more and more toward Republicans over these years, and the nomination of Donald Trump, an outspoken individual calling for labor rights (even if he’ll actually follow through) symbolizes that maybe the working man is now going more Republican.

And now we see Springsteen, in his sixties, still performing (and performing energetically), but to, mostly, older white males that are statistically more conservative, even though Springsteen is not only a Democrat but has been outspoken about his Democratic views in his songs. Interestingly enough, there seems to be an interesting inversion happening. As Springsteen’s fan base becomes more and more conservative, his music becomes more and more political. Songs like “We Take Care of Our Own”, “41 Shots (American Skin)”, and the entire album The Rising take leftist slants on topical issues, but it seems to not alienate his conservative fan base. A theory I have on this is that they simply prefer his older stuff, which isn’t surprising because the word “conservative” literally signifies priority on the past. It just seems like putting age on an artist can make them more attractive to a conservative listener, even if the artist has a leftist/druggy slant (i.e. The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel.)

Probably the face of conservative Springsteen fans is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, someone who has, time and time again, called Springsteen his hero. “There is some of his work that is dour and down” Christie acknowledged in The Atlantic, “but the thing that attracted me to his music is how aspirational it is–aspirational to success, to fun, to being a better person, to figuring out how to make your life better–and you can’t say that about most people’s music. What’s funny is that his progression is what Republicans believe can happen .That’s what Republicans believe–hard work, talent, ambition. We all know he’s the hardest working man in show business. It’s a meritocracy.”

Despite being such an outspoken, prominent figure, Springsteen hasn’t necessarily been best buddies with Christie. Maybe the opposite. Following the “Bridgegate” scandal, Springsteen performed a version of “Born To Run” with Jimmy Fallon called “Governor Christie Traffic Jam.”

So, according to the quote, Christie is saying some pretty sensible stuff, some stuff many conservatives agree with, and, yes, Springsteen protested an issue rather than an ideology, but if he is criticizing one of his most prominent fans, does he not like the fans Christie represents as well? Springsteen supported Hillary Clinton for this past election; he even performed in benefit of her. Clearly, he still believes in the Democratic party, even if his fans don’t. So when he performs, who is he performing for?

As an artist, I would be horrified to lose my audience on an issue I really cared about, even if I still technically “have” the audience. Does he sympathize with the thought process of his conservative fan base, even if their end-goal political ideologies don’t necessarily add up? Or maybe he thinks Christie is an anomaly, and he still feels connected to his audience. But what if he doesn’t? It isn’t heartbreaking to not have a specific demographic as an audience. Joanna Newsom probably knows there are some upsides to not being mainstream. But what if your audience consists of those avoidable demographics like Bo, or, more like Bruce, what if your audience changes into it?

There’s really nothing more Bruce can do. As mentioned before, he’s done a lot of political music in the recent past. Maybe it’s reactionary to his changing fan base, not trying to pigeonhole himself like so many artists have tried in the past.

Then there’s another theory, that Bruce is simply performing for himself. Maybe it’s why he’s noticeably had more fun on stage in his recent shows. Ask an artist about their audience, and four times out of five, they’ll say I write for myself first. Then there’s the Bo Burnham quote “If you can learn to perform without an audience, you should do it.”

But I’ll end on a high note. I think about his lyrics, the music. Christie is right; it is aspirational. Bruce is all about hope, and he won’t lose that no matter what.  Even when he’s at his most negative on Jimmy Fallon, he still has a smile on his face. And even if his fan base is conservative, it’s not like he sings specifically about politics. He sings about love, something that everyone can connect with. Christie said in his interview. “If Bruce and I sat down and talked, he would reluctantly come to the conclusion that we disagree on a lot less than he thinks,” and, for once, I think he’s right.

Ty Segall: Setting Free

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Although no one said it, we had a feeling it would be “Diversion.” I walked outside of the Airbnb with Mike and his friends on the way to the concert, my first concert. It was Philadelphia, and it was February.

Mike had been to a Ty Segall concert before, so he knew what to expect. Small but cramped, and there was a mosh pit. He talked about the pit like it was a transcendental experience, a place where you can let go and just let the music take you. “That’s amazing that your first concert will be a Ty Segall concert,” his friend said.

In an age where genres are irrelevant, it’s best to describe Segall as lo-fi garage rock. Despite this moniker, he does bring a psychedelic spike, and his songwriting has a strong Beatles influence. Segall is the Woody Allen of music; he consistently comes out with at least one release a year. Since his start in 2006, Segall has released 18 albums with several different bands. Just this year, Segall has released two albums, Emotional Mugger and Goggs (from the newly formed band Goggs), and just this Wednesday, he had released a new single, anticipating an early 2017 self-titled release. 

In 2014, Segall released Manipulator. It was a sprawling record at 56 minutes, his longest ever, and it was recorded in 14 months, the longest time it took him.  The result? A record stripped back in productions but layered in instrumentation, psychedelic magnum opus that topples others as his maybe best reviewed record.

But Segall was never one to rest his laurels, as, in 2016, he released Emotional Mugger. It was a resort back to his underground, cramped, lo-fi sound, warping us into some kind of nightmare (in a good way), and that’s what I felt at this concert.

The actual venue was a small floor space, about as big as the cafeteria at a high school dance, except there aren’t just your idiosyncratic punks there; punks dominated the scene. There were even booth seats for the older crowd, my guess being fans of earlier artists like Iggy Pop and The Dead Kennedys who were still into the scene but out of the age range. The whole venue seemed like a dystopian Victorian theatre, or the movie theater in Inglorious Basterds after the fire was put out.

Segall came out to the distinct riff of the opening track “Squealer” in a baby mask, one which I had seen in previous pictures and disastrous morning talk show performances.

The actual music seemed best listened to in a venue like this: live. Visceral. And Segall himself was as gung-ho and animated as his music even his music makes him out to be. In an almost biblical action, Segall literally walked on the crowd, having his feet held up by the struggling hands of his willing fans. Then he stage dove three times before being missed by the crowd and landing, from what we witness merely ten feet away, on his neck. “He’s done,” Mike’s friend said. “That’s it for him.” Amazingly,  Segall got up, filed back onto the stage, and sang the rest of the song. What perplexed me the most was that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was definitely not the only place he has done this before.

The pit was crazy on its own right, a fluid body that seemed to go to-and-fro like a wave. We were standing back, waiting for the right time to come. Mike said moshing really drains your energy, but some people still do it all show long. I can imagine that a younger Ty Segall was one of those people, and, in a way, he’s still the same. He has never garnered much mainstream attraction, and, after his most mainstream album, he has delved back into the underground. It perplexed me, how someone who probably hasn’t earned that much money and hasn’t had that much public appeal works so hard at something that can be, more-or-less, futile. Then, seeing him and the crowd, I realized that, uncannily, the thing he probably cared about above all was the music and getting lost in it and setting him free, just as the mosh pit was setting the crowd free.

Then the thunderous opening chords of “Diversion” played. “Let’s do this,” Mike said, and we ran forward and set ourselves free, too.

The Off-Brand: Approaching the Threshold

credit: The Off-Brand Facebook Page

Bands get to a “threshold.” This threshold is often indicated by whether a band “makes it” or not, which, in 2016, could mean anything. However, this threshold is dynamic. It isn’t just physical; it’s representative of a band’s perspective. Before that threshold is something of joy, seeing a bad try to make it, reveling in the struggle, having so much fun for the pure joy of making music.

That’s why I felt so great after my interview with The Off-Brand. This band was just formed earlier this year, in September, literally in the Rutgers University Demarest Hall basement I was interviewing them in. Joe Cap, the lead guitarist of the band, discusses how he knew Clayton Gomberg, the drummer, before after already played with him before. “One night, we were sitting down here, and, then, he starts walking over and playing piano, and he’s wearing this fake tattoo sleeve, and I’m like ‘who is the hell  is this kid?’ I’m like ‘can you sing,?’ and he’s like ‘yeah,’ and I’m like ‘you wanna be in a band?'”

Gomberg wasn’t able to make the interview, but Cap, Sam Crisci, the bassist, and Hanny Ra, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist, did. Cap was wearing a Saint Motel shirt. Saint Motel is an up-and-coming Indie Pop band, and he actually got the shirt from a concert he went to. “I ended up sneaking up backstage, and I met them.”

Meanwhile, Crisci was wearing a Jimi Hendrix shirt. “I think we each have a different specialty in the eras,” Ra says. “(Sam’s) like a sixties, seventies guys, I’m into eighties to nineties, Joe’s all around.” “At the end of the day, what can we agree on, and we all said ‘rock.'” As for the genre? “People call us garage rock, but I’d want to say garage pop.”

However, it doesn’t look like they’re too worried about a specific label or genre. “I know most bands hate categorizing they’re music,”Cap says.  “We write songs that fall into categories,” Ra says, “but we just call ourselves a New Brunswick rock band.” In this stage, they’re more focused on the experience. “We definitely write to play ourselves and the crowd,” Cap says. “Not only just ourselves, and not only just the crowd.”

Two months into their careers, The Off-Brand hasn’t played many shows, but the shows they have played have been big. “When we played our first (show),” Ra says, “we hadn’t even been playing for twelve days.” “We thought like three people would show up?”

“We advertised our show a lot,” Crisci says. “We had fun!” Ra says. “Those were good days. We ran around in our boxers outside–” “At like three in the morning,” Cap says. “Yeah. We’d give out flyers,” Ra says, “which, technically we weren’t supposed to do. Because we were just beginning, we didn’t know the rules and regulations of college, so we kinda just did things that kinda just went our way. That was really an exciting time because we weren’t sure where we were going to go.

“I think we ended up having forty people?” Ra continues. “I think it’s around 50,” Cap says “Which, if you know the basement scene,” Ra says, “fifty is an average crowd. There’ll be some math rock bands that are pretty big, and they’ll sometimes get literally five people.”

The Off-Brand is looking for future shows, and, they will be playing at a showcase in the Demarest Hall basement on College Avenue next Thursday, November 17th at 10:45. As for New Brunswick basement shows? “That’s the scene we’re trying to get into,” Ra says “Right now,” Crisci says, “we just gotta record, get our music out there, and go to shows.”

Just a few months and some memories in, The Off-Brand knows their about to cross that threshold. The days of handing out flyers in their boxers might be over, but another part of their career might just be on the precipice. “We’ve come to a lot of bumps in the road,” Ra says. “This is the time where we’re deciding if we can make it or not.”

The Off-Brand Bandcamp Page

The Off-Brand Facebook Page


“Indie Music”: The Scene of the Future


“As history changes, technology changes, and technology always fragments media. There used to be called one magazine literally called ‘Life.’ It was the only topic; it was literally about life. But then, as technology and printing magazines got more efficient, more available, more cost-effective, you “fragment” that media into ‘sub-topics’ of life like ‘Ninja’ and ‘Cat Fancy.’”  -Dan Harmon, creator of Community and co-creator of Rick and Morty.

I find this piece very interesting. With such a rapidly changing world, we are constantly trying to identify what is or isn’t wrong. People will blame technology and say life was better in the “simpler” times. Like most things, I believe the advancement of time isn’t simply a dichotomy; there is no right or wrong. What there is today is simply more opportunity in a fragmented world where we are overloaded with information and content. Look at TV, or look at music, specifically the Indie music scene.

More thriving now than it ever has, the “Indie music scene” is simply an overarching tarp cascading through city and country, style and genre, record label and appeal, to describe a sub-culture that enjoys music that, coming down to it, has a sound that strays from typical mainstream music of the current day. This very idea of Indie music started in the 80s with bands like The Smiths, Sonic Youth, and Pixies, but have essentially encapsulated all genres like pop (Grimes), disco (LCD Soundsystem), and rap (Childish Gambino.) The term Indie used to mean that the artist wasn’t signed to a label; now the artist just needs to sound like they’re not part of a label.

With such a widespread appeal and vague definition, there really is no definitive physical landmark milestone in Indie music history. There is no Woodstock. There is no transcending time event. Again, there are just too many cities–countries, even–that forward such a march. And how could this march be so uniform, and why has is grown so rapidly now? The internet.

Indie music really started getting popular in the Early 2000s, when the Internet proliferated. Bands could upload their albums online for free, and consumers could listen to music for free. Not to mention, there created so many Indie blogs like Hipster Runoff as well as music reviewing websites like Pitchfork. LCD Soundsystem’s first single, “Losing My Edge”, documented how the Internet actually changed our listening experience.

In fact, we do have such fragmented music, but what separates the Indie Music scene from our current magazine dilemma is that the Indie Music scene does try to make its own overarching, metaphorical Life magazine, even when music is so diverse that a single word can’t do it. “I find the term ‘indie’ to be really inadequate to describe such a large set of music that’s full of all different things,” Rutgers Sophomore Elizabeth LaMorte-Wright says. “I think maybe in the 2000s it would be appropriate to call something indie.”

And it’s true. After the 80s and 90s where a sound slowly developed, we had the definitive genre “Indie Rock” genre in the 2000s that had a specific sound with bands like The Strokes and Arcade Fire. They were a force, and they provided influence. Now that sound is only carried in bands like Car Seat Headrest and Courtney Barnett. Even The Strokes and Arcade Fire have gone past their Indie Rock roots and changed their sound.

And in the Indie scene specifically, it’s not like we have a few bands per subgenre. It seems like every artist has their own style. Joanna Newsom has her contemporary baroque trademark, Mac DeMarco has his sparkling guitars and stripped back production, and Beach House has their shoegaze-y, layered ballads. Even some contemporary Indie artists like Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, and Sufjan Stevens have found ways to reinvent themselves with every album.

With all this in mind, how is there even an Indie Music scene? “All this music is labeled as ‘indie,'” Elizabeth continues. “What does that even mean? It doesn’t have a meaning anymore.” And even if there are music review sites and subreddits dedicated to Indie music, isn’t there some injustice in just grouping all this music together? I feel like there’s often a lack of identity and purpose and agenda with this scene. Punk fought the machine, and old school rap fought the power. Disco in the 70s was about having fun, and Rock n’ Roll in the 60s was about having sex. Indie music is about…?

Even so, I think this is simply a trade-off for a new time. Sure, there isn’t a cohesive identity–except open-mindedness, I guess–, but there is just so much to gain that particular music scenes can’t. Someone doesn’t need to be tied down to one genre, for example. Don’t like rock? There are dozens of Indie pop artists today that are well-known.

Secondly, with the Internet, someone doesn’t need to live somewhere to be part of the scene, so, not only can you connect with people from all over the world, but maybe people in your own town enjoy the same kind of music. On the flip side, with that outreach, you can discover that music in your town just like Elizabeth did: “When I got to high school, I started talking to this guy that I had a huge crush on. He sent me a link to The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, and that was the first time I started listening to them, and they became my favorite band.”

Connections like these aren’t that easy, but they can happen, and they can happen mostly due to the time we live in now.  This new music “scene” isn’t conventional, and it’s definitely missing out on some things that make a scene cool, but there are also some things that make a scene better. Maybe we should just accept the good and the bad with our new, “Cat Fancy” world.


“In The Flowers”: An Experience


In 2008, Baltimore quartet Animal Collective were two years past their biggest critical and mainstream album to date, Strawberry Jam. The experimental Indie Pop band found a way to turn their child-like, saturated sounds and raw energy into a more electronic, repetitive, and accessible sound. Following the start of the hiatus of the band’s long-time member, Deakin, AnCo members Avey Tare, Banda Bear, and Geologist went on on their own to release Merriweather Post Pavilion in January of 2009.

The opening track, “In The Flowers” was not just the start of a new album, but a new Animal Collective. That new Animal Collective was very successful as Merriweather Post Pavilion is, to this day, Animal Collective’s most critically loved album, being ranked as the 14th best album of the decade according to Pitchfork.

I think this is, in large part, to “In The Flowers”, my favorite song of the album, and I hope you do, too. As I said in the title, this song is an experience, so, for best listening, go somewhere quiet, lay down, and put on some headphones. Also, I’m not saying you should do drugs; I’m just saying that if you happened to be on drugs and stumbled upon this song, your experience would be heightened.


The opening track of Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion starts with a sweepy, drony synth, transitioning from ear to ear. 0:05 layers a synthetic, almost crunchy repetition, akin to the sound the ticked collector at Chuck E’ Cheeses would make. Then, at 0:15 comes a rapid, yet subdued noise; my best comparison would be the buzz of a bumblebee. It’s urgent, something you would hear in a Mission Impossible movie.

Each one of these sounds layers on top of each other, and you could hear something in the background. A piano, maybe? Then it really breaks through. At 0:45, haunting arpeggios crisply take center stage, bringing the listener into a scary place.

Not much later, at 0:55, Avey Tare starts with layered vocals and abstract lyrics: “Saw the dancer/Who was high in a field/From her movement/Caught my breath on my way home.” Then, when he goes, “Couldn’t stop that/spinning force,” the break between “that” and spinning” gives way to clapping in the background that persists for the rest of the verse. The speaker and audience are feeling the same thing now.

After a quick interlude, another verse starts with the arpeggios at 1:39. Same thing, different vocals, but a snap starts (boom-click, boom-click.) And background layers envelope the listener. The listener is completely within the confines of the song…at just the right time.

At 2:27, Avey Tare gives the spiritual yearning “If I could just leave my body…for a night.” 2:29 is my favorite musical moment. In that gap between body and for, something acclimates. After so much deliberation and graduality, there’s just that quick moment that it goes from 0 to 100, like the start of the push on a launch roller coaster.

2:31 features a cacophony of drums, bass, and what seems to be like a melody of fire alarms. This sound dominates everything in its radius. It’s as if a major war over Sparta broke out, and the ground is crumbling under it. And, through that rawness and rage is Avey Tare, at 2:50 singing “Then we could be dancing/No more missing you while I’m gone/There we could be dancing/And you’d smile and say, ‘I like this song'”, a beautiful buildup to a falsetto, the perseverance and percolation through all the chaos that is happening under his feet.

Then a loud, vibrating synth kicks in, as if the battle is now a large electronic that is working on its last legs. Likewise, Tare descends into the crushing “To hold you in time/to hold you in time/to hold you in time/to hold you in time.”

At 4:02, the cacophony subsides, and we are put right back into a verse, but Avey Tare seems more sure of himself this time. “While we were dancing/Early hours/Drunken days finally ended.” While this happens, the listener finally leaves the grasp and can now go on. “Now I’m gone/I left flowers for you there.”


#AnimalCollective #AnCo #MerriweatherPostPavilion #MPP #InTheFlowers #IndieRock

Late Night Reflection


Some music just sounds better tonight. Whether it be the cool, intricate sounds or the reminiscent lyrics,  these the feeling that these songs evoke are appropriate only when it’s dark out and the day is done.

“April and the Phantom” – Animal Collective

Delving into Animal Collective’s discography, I finally got around to this album and this song. The syrupy bells at the beginning evokes the taste of a dessert and Avey Tare’s nasal delivery and fable lyrics give a bedtime story tale to it. The production is severely stripped down, only to be listened to when all is quiet. As the rest of the album, Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished has done, this song reminds me of childhood, being irrationally happy one moment and irrationally angry the next.

“Supersymmetry” -Arcade Fire

Getting into Arcade Fire’s discography, this last song on Reflektor stood out to me. This song reminds me of an intergalactic love story, with it’s fluttering synths. The lyrics also really stand out, too. The line “I wait for you in the bed by the window/Reading books better than memories” gives me the feeling of the passage time, and “I know you’re living in my mind/it’s not the same as being alive” seems like such an appropriate thought to have at night when you’re alone in bed, without that person.

“10:37” -Beach House

I saw that Pitchfork gave this song’s album Depression Cherry, a favorable 8.4, and I decided to give it a listen. What a treat, especially with “Space Song” and this song, “10:37.” Victoria Legrand gives a soaring, smoothing performance here. The elongated delivery of “chances arrreeee” are like a nice night breeze. I feel so at peace when listening to this song. A few comments from the YouTube video I attached: “This song is like the feeling u get after a first kiss.” -zozo 95Q swat “It’s like a warm opiate hug.” -Ron Smith

“Lump Sum” -Bon Iver

My girlfriend at the time introduced me to Bon Iver, and, so, I got this song. The overlapping, ghostly vocals at the beginning set the tone for a chilly night, and Justin Vernon’s lyrics of what could have been,”so the story goes”,s makes me want to look back at past relationships, which means, ironically, the one with the girl that introduced me to this song.

“I’m On Fire” – Bruce Springsteen

When I started my vinyl collection, my grandparents had a few of Bruce’s albums. I had listened to some of the songs from Born In The USA before, but I couldn’t say that I would have found this song if I didn’t get that vinyl record to listen all the way through. The quiet but hurried guitar in this track reminds me of driving late at night with no one else around. This song also focuses on relationships, something that I think a lot of people usually think when it’s really late at night. ‘

“Never Going Back Again” -Fleetwood Mac

It was at Spina Records on Easton Avenue that I got my best record purchase. I had contemplated getting Rumours, knowing the hits like “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way”, and I ended up getting it. What made it my best record purchase, however, were the songs I didn’t know, like “Songbird” and this track, “Never Going Back Again.” The crackling guitar is like a bonfire. The stripped down nature is great for when you’re still awake enough to talk but quiet enough to just want sweet, sweet noise. And the title, “Never Going Back Again”, is like an interlude’ after experiencing something, the next day, you know you won’t experience it again.

“Reckoner” -Radiohead

Going into Radiohead’s discography (as you can tell, this is how I find most songs), I found what may be my favorite Radiohead song. The rattling hi-hats are somehow calming, and the hypnotic guitar leaves me in a dream-like state. Of course, Thom’s nasal delivery and calm assurances “You are to blame for/bittersweet distractors” make this the best song to fall asleep to. However, before you do, make sure you make it to 2:25.

“Counting Days” -Wild Nothing

My friend, Mike, recommended this band to me, and this happened to be the first song I picked. “Counting Days” has a nostalgic mood in it’s guitar, and the soothing rhyme of “You wanna make me spin/You wanna hold me in” are just the right balance of lazy and wise. It’s influenced by 80s synth pop, most notably When In Rome. Maybe that’s why, when I listen to it, it feels so familiar.

These songs have become a big part of my life because they’re best for the time when I’m like “what do I do next?” Will I wait for you in the bed by the window, or am I never going back again?