Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October Roundup: "Gone Til November"

Of all of the stresses I have pushed through this year, none have been harder than dealing with the move up to Denton while simultaneously becoming less available to my family due to the demands of helping to reinvent this band program.  The most unfamiliar aspect of the job that is new for me is teaching marching band.  For the majority of my teaching career, I have dodged this bullet, but no longer.  To say that its time consuming is an understatement.  When I was hired, I was warned that October would be particularly grueling.  It did not seem too bad on paper, but I had no idea how rough it would be in practice.

Not only are there late night rehearsals on Tuesdays and a game every Friday, there are also all-day marching festivals every Saturday leading up to UIL at the end of the month. I was looking at a month away from my family with no small amount of dread.  Miraculously, however, we did not have a game on the last Friday in September, so at least there would be a brief respite.

September 30, then, was to be the last day before the big push, and it looked to have some bright sides. In addition to having a “free” evening, the Luke Cage series was premiering on Netflix, and four hotly anticipated new albums were scheduled to arrive in my mailbox. We decided to capitalize on our time and have our first house guests over for dinner. Things were great. Until they weren’t.

Right towards the end of the evening, I started to feel a little achey and tired. I suspected that I was dehydrated, so I upped my fluids and went to bed right after our guests left. The next morning I felt better (not great) so I proceeded to go to our first contest.  It ended up being a long, hot day, and by the end of it I felt terrible. I spent the following two days huddled up in bed sleeping, getting up twice to go to the restroom. Not the most auspicious beginning to what might be the hardest month of the entire year.

In any case, September 30 was also the day I had set to finally change out the albums I have been listening to in the car since June. There were two exceptions, which were albums that I put in rotation right as I was leaving Austin.

Anderson/Stolt - Invention of Knowledge: I have a very pleasant recollection of P’s brave trip to the dentist on the day that this showed up in the mailbox. It was only recently that I started to really appreciate the genius of this collaboration.

Death Grips - Bottomless Pit: I received this album in the mailbox on the very last day before my address change took hold. Although always interesting in terms of their identity and image, Death Grips has been in a musically challenging experimental mode since The Money Store, but there are hints of accessibility on Bottomless Pit that are tempered by these experiments.

There were also a couple of albums that I received after moving to Denton, which should properly start a new chapter.

Thee Oh Sees - Weird Exits: The first proper Denton album I picked up from Mad World Records after officially becoming a resident. Weird Exits is raucous punk-meets-psychedelia in the vein of the early Flaming Lips, although without as much of an emphasis on songwriting.

The Daredevil Christopher Wright - The Nature of Things: This has been sitting on my wish list for a while, and the price of a used copy was just too appealing to pass up. It's a thickly harmonized songwriting excursion that sits somewhere on the spectrum between Grizzly Bear and Seryn, complete with thought-provoking lyrics.

Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2: Got this earlier in the year, but at the time I wasn’t really in the market for hip-hop, no matter how good. My solo commute has opened up some space for non-kid appropriate music, however, so this has really clicked with me recently.

Finally, there are the Sept. 30 releases:

Opeth - Sorceress: I appreciate Opeth’s dark prog direction, but also I admit to missing their crunchier approach. There are some heavier moments on Sorceress, however, that harken back to those days just a little.

Marillion - F.E.A.R.: Although I will defend Marillion, I will also admit that past a certain point in their career their output gets a little spotty. This recent release is pretty dense, so the jury is still out, but I do think that keyboardist Mark Kelly’s role as sound engineer plays a significant role in its most successful moments.

Bon Iver - 22, One Million: Although I was not totally on fire to get this album, all of the preliminary press and ambiguous song titles certainly piqued my curiosity. There are some fantastic moments on the album that I hope will add up after repeated listenings.

S U R V I V E - RR7349: This was the one I was looking forward to most, and it has not disappointed. It is particularly satisfying to have hardcopy, as its predecessor was never released on CD.

Finally, halfway through the month:

Syd Arthur - Apricity:  Late comer this month, but a welcome one.  Been an advocate of Syd Arthur's sparkling prog-pop since their debut came out a few years ago, and initial spins of Apricity indicate that is continues in this tradition.

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