“Instead of slashing my wrists, I just write a bunch of really crummy songs.” – Peter Steele, Ink19 interview
I remember it like it was yesterday: Freshman year of college, walking to work at the local elementary, World Coming Down spinning on my portable CD player.
It was 1999, and Type O Negative had a new album out – a gloomy, doom-filled prophecy. It was hard to get in to it at first, especially after the glam-goth love songs of October Rust.
Take “World Coming Down.” It’s basically a dirge, in rock form. Very hard to listen to sometimes. It’s sonic depression.
I remember walking to my job at the school, shuffling through the leaves, trying to make heads or tails of this funeral in my headphones. Everything’s wilting around me, I’m having trouble adjusting to life at college, the weather sucks, and here’s Pete in my ears singing a suicide note.
But now, all these years later, I play this album every autumn, and those slow, death-march songs stick. If you survive eight minutes in, the payoff is just fantastic. Peter Steele really was a fabulous song writer.
It’s taken me a while to find the right combo of (a) a song I could sit down and teach myself and (b) a song that hadn’t already been tabbed. But this ear-worm of a tune made me want to learn it on guitar. I failed to find any tablature for it, so I thought, “What the heck?” I went home that night and fingered(!) it out on my own.
It took a few days to get the phrasing just right, and a day or two to get the tab just how I liked it. But now it’s been approved at Ultimate Guitar, so I’m officially a tabber.
Enjoy the song, because it really is damned catchy.
I’m not shy about it: I still buy my music. Gladly.
Part of it is philosophical: I like the artist to directly benefit, however small their slice of the pie is. It’s like a vote for them.
Also, I’m old school in that I like to collect and organize my music library. My music belongs to me. I paid good money for it. And if I stop paying for it, my music will still be there – either on CDs or in iTunes. It doesn’t vanish to The Cloud™.
I know, I know, I’m old school. And it’s hard to fight trends like this one. We don’t watch TV via antenna signal anymore, no one signs up for Netflix’s DVD subscription service (except guess who!?), etc. The world of music is changing.
But for artists, they still have the same bills and responsibilities. They need to make money, and selling t-shirts doesn’t work for everyone.
I’m not sure what the answer is, exactly, but if you care about the artists that make the music you like, buy their stuff. Vote for their music with money.
This has been a pretty memorable music year for me. I can’t think of another year, except for maybe 2004-2005, or 1994, when things have lined up so well (maybe you need a 4 in the year number?).
Here are a few albums/songs/artists I enjoyed this year.
††† (Crosses) – The Epilogue
While not exactly new this year, and maybe not so witch house, Crosses is a great mashup of the best of Deftones and electronica. Grab a few samples and check it out – definitely sexy stuff.
The War on Drugs – Under the Pressure
This was on a lot of people’s “best of” lists this year, including mine. It only took about a minute into the lead song on Lost In A Dream for me to hit “buy.” Even better is “An Ocean Between The Waves.”
Flyings Colors – Mask Machine
I’m actually a bigger fan of their first album, but Flying Colors – a prog super group I should’ve known about their first go-‘round – had a second great album with Second Nature. The breakdown at 3:28 is great with Neal Morse taking over vocals. Also check out “One Love Forever,” my favorite from the album.
Mastodon – The Motherload
Definitely NSFW after the 0:40 minute mark, but man – what a song, and what an album. I finally got to see Mastodon live this year, and while there was little to no twerking, they’re a great band.
“If you want you can will it. You can have – I can put it right there in your hands.”
View on YouTube
TV On The Radio – Careful You
Apparently everyone else has heard of TV On the Radio except for me. But now I get it. Especially with “Careful You” on their latest album.
Tycho – See
Pretty amazing video for a great song – just like all of Tycho’s stuff. Think early morning on a west coach beach, set to music. Great for working, or relaxing. Tycho does a great job of mixing analog with digital to build these lovely soundscapes – all to a catchy beat.
Beck – Waking Light (Live on The Tonight Show)
The whole “Morning Phase” album is a gorgeous piece of mellow gold (pardon the pun), but it starts so perfectly with “Morning” and winds through “Waking Light.” A lot of people are calling it the spiritual successor to Sea Change – I like to think of it as Beck doing John Denver.
Interpol at the height of their powers, during the Antics era. “Not Even Jail” is one of those non-single songs that makes the album a joy to listen to from beginning to end.
And while I’m enjoying the new album, nothing beats the swagger and epic-ness of those early Interpol days. Think about the outro of “PDA” – those last few minutes are some of the most beautiful music made in the modern rock era.