Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June Roundup: Cultivating the Special

In an interview conducted during the Snakes and Arrows tour, Rush drummer Neil Peart quite casually made the observation that the idea of personal change is a misnomer. Instead, he said, people grow, and either accept or deny the events and perceptions of their past. Whether I like it or not, the seed of who I am today was already present in the person I was yesterday. I can gratefully say with all confidence that I have grown positively in the years that have passed since the move from Denton to Austin. Life is better than it has ever been.

One of the things I have worked on since I relocated is that for me, building a world with myself at the center is not healthy. I feel most centered when I am strong, but not the strongest; brave, but not the bravest; calm, but not the calmest, and I can lead by example rather than force of will. After all, it’s not a competition. Absolutely everyone wants to feel like they are special, but to do so at the cost of the people around you is, I think, an illusion.

When I left Denton, I left behind a world that I constructed around myself, for better and for worse, over the course of nearly twenty years. That world has also grown in its own way without me (as it should!) and the place that I held within it is receding into the horizon. I can see that and I accept it. Truthfully, I am overjoyed to notice the seeds that I helped to plant take root in fertile soil, but the maturation of this fruit is bittersweet because I don’t see to its daily cultivation.

Furthermore, I don’t always feel special in Austin, at least not in the same way. I often I feel like I’m just another face in the crowd. I grapple with the temptation to disingenuously stand out to massage my ego rather than work patiently for the growth that I am now undergoing to take root in this somewhat rockier soil.

Gangster of Boats Trilogy by Jeff Hodges on GroovesharkSpeaking of rock, for the Year in Rush project, I blew through almost two decades worth of material early in the month: Counterparts, Test for Echo, Vapor Trails, and Snakes & Arrows. I was anxious to finish before the release of Clockwork Angels, but I’d like to let this last one one simmer awhile longer before I respond to it with the gushing positivity of novelty. Don’t worry; I’ll post on it soon.

In the meantime, something special - beginning in 1991 on Roll the Bones, Rush began to compose freestanding instrumentals again after over a decade's break. This point was edited from the blog for the sake of brevity. Therefore, for this month's roundup, I am compensating by posting a collection of instrumentals from this late period that might be considered, for the studious Rush fan, the Gangster of Boats Trilogy (all four parts).

-and furthermore:

June 2012 Listening by Jeff Hodges on Grooveshark Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger: Before grunge became the new thing, Badmotorfinger was the underground metalhead's delight. Its difficult to divest it, however, from the typhoon of airplay that Soundgarden subsequently received later in the 90s.

M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us: My first step backward into M83's catalog has been incredibly gratifying. As emotionally affective as the album is as a whole, the most moving tracks, both poignant and terrifying, are spoken-word experiments.

Miike Snow - Happy to You: I'm not sure if the band is trying to be psychedelic or humorous with their imagery, and keeps me off balance. There are lots of things that I aesthetically like about the album, but sometimes it seems a little goofy. 

Beach House - Bloom: Beach House has been getting a lot of attention in the indie press, which I think is largely deserved. Its accessible enough for a casual listen, but smart enough for deep examination.

The Wondermints - Mind If We Make Love To You: Another relatively obscure power pop album that, despite being intentionally retrospective, should be more visible. Track for track, it compares favorably to classic psychedelic pop.

Fishbone - Truth and Soul: So many people came to know Fishbone through The Reality of My Surroundings, and as good as that album is, it seems very overworked by comparison. Truth and Soul is the clearest and most direct statement of the band's career.

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless: Now that I've acquired the taste for this album, I find it to be incredibly beautiful. More importantly, I am starting to gain an awareness of just how influential it really is.

Now, Now - Threads: Now, Now's melodic songwriting and overall energy have me excited. This one may need to simmer awhile, though, just to make sure that what I think is going on is what it seems.

R.E.M. - Document: In the long run, I lost faith in R.E.M. From a songwriting and performance perspective, however, Document was a relatively important album to me (in 1988).

Baby Lemonade - The High Life Suite: This Father's Day present was unexpected, but is a brilliant example of the kind of songwriting I really enjoy. It is also incredibly short, unless you count the 25 minute bonus that sounds like a suspended animation effect from a video game.

The Beach Boys - That's Why God Made the Radio: The Beach Boys have long seemed to be functioning as their own tribute band, with very little to offer artistically beyond a fossilized nostalgia for yesteryear. Wilson, however, has skirted the margins of relevance for several years now, and the possibility of a real follow-up so SMiLE, no matter how slim, is too compelling to pass up.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: Coltrane was always searching, and A Love Supreme was the first clearly stated hypothesis in a newer experiment. It could be studied at length, not just from a musical or theoretical point of view, but also as a historical and cultural statement.

One last thing, if you made it this far.  Since "The Year in Rush" is drawing to a close, I'm considering a new background project: "The Jellyfish Family Tree" (unless anyone else has any other suggestions......).

1 comment:

  1. Considering the imminent release of a new Jellyfish live album (new/old, that is):
    , I vote for The Jellyfish Family Tree. It's a rich family history, after all: Jack Joseph Puig, Jason Falkner, Roger Manning, Lyle Workman, and of course Andy - it could be quite a series......