A Stream of Unconsciousness

I’ve written about how music has changed my life multiple times. This blog only exists because of music.There’s certain bands or songs that hit me to the core every single time. Music is so powerful, but the difference between the music I listen to and pop radio is minimal in terms of how it effects people. I have no right to say that Nicki Minaj’s music doesn’t have the same impact as say Red City Radio on a person. However, I’d like to share some of the intimate experience “in the pit”.

Punk music and people who grew up with those traditional ideas of doing things your own way, on your terms, for your own reasons. Sometimes they were personal, sometimes political, and sometimes just to break up the monotony of daily life. It was simple that everyone could join and belong. In a place were everyone individually comes together to feel whole for period of time. Music fills the void, at least for me, that drugs or alcohol do for others.

I’ve been to a lot of different concerts. Some with a dozen people, some festivals, and some arenas. I’ve never felt so disconnected than being at rock concerts. I’m used to being near the front or middle during aggressive music, but seeing people trying to murder each other at a Five Finger Death Punch was sad. Seeing Dragonforce’s guitar players play endless solos on top of fans blowing their hair instantly made me feel like I didn’t belong here. A smaller show doesn’t mean better, but it does give the bands and audience to create something special that a band in an arena can’t do.

I’ve been in some pretty reckless mosh pits, but for the most part no one is trying to hurt each other. If someone does, they are called out on it by the collective, and sometimes the band themselves. I’ve broken up many a fight, and helped people I’ve never met because that’s what you’re supposed to do. I was recently at an Off With Their Heads show that was so crowded nobody could move. It was hot, sweaty, and being able to look to a complete stranger to your right and scream along to a song together is something not a lot of people have the chance to. I showed a video to a couple friends of mine trying to demonstrate how the shows I go to are. I’m still not sure they quite understand.

Sometimes, I wish people understood what it feels like for me to be at one of these shows. At Fest this past year, Red City Radio played their first chord and by the end of the first verse, I was covered in beer, my glasses broke, and I was holding people up in the air as they sang and had the time of their life. It felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. I’ve had strangers give me hugs, share stories with me, all because we were there for the same reason. It takes a certain mindset to put aside bullshit differences that society tries to force upon us.

I’ll never get too old to go to shows. I might be sitting at the bar in 10 years instead of in the midst of it all, but I’m excited to see a new generation understand that there’s a whole underground to explore. You can be and do whatever you want. The means to do so are more in reach than they ever have been. If you take anything from this rant. Please walk away with that knowledge.

Longer Than It Should Have

Spoiler: This post will be bias. If you’ve read this, you also know I’m pretty honest with my opinions. Not in a “I don’t give a fuck” punk attitude, but rather the lack of need to impress anyone. I mean you love me for the way that I am, right? Good, I’m glad we share the same feelings. Now that we’ve got that our of the way, Chris Stowe quietly released a small masterpiece today in his album “Hollow”.

Many of you may not know who he his, but that’s okay. There’s room on the bandwagon still. I’ve known Chris since I was little. His dad and mine played in bands way back in the 80s when we were both toddlers. We never really super close but we hung out together as kids, then life goes on. Fast forward to fifteen-ish years later, I’m with my wife in a tiny art space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to watch a childhood friend play some of my favorite songs. (Worship This! and The Homeless Gospel Choir also played. Both of whom I’ve grown to love)

Chris is still one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known, and upon meeting again years later it’s clear nothing has changed. He tells a story in the middle of his set how it’s amazing how life connects people together. We hadn’t spoken in years, but through following similar music scenes we reconnected. It really is quite amazing how music is so much than deeper notes and rhythms.

His first album, “Bleed”, is something I still listen to regularly for it’s simplicity and straightforward honesty. Emotion and passion go a long way when all you’re armed with is a guitar. You can’t fake it. Well, you can try to, but most people will see through it. Chris’ songs are so good because he doesn’t have to fake it. He’s a human, and opens his heart a bit for listeners to hear when he plays. Being a writer, it’s hard to be that honest, and it’s sometimes painful. I thank Chris’ for opening his soul a little bit because it’s helped to heal mine in times of need.

I remember when “Hollow” was announced. I know this because I was delivering a newspaper route in Russell, Pennsylvania (Chris’ hometown ironically). It was about 4am, and my wife just had to call me and tell me the pre-order was up for his album. I pulled the car over, and she told me there were two variants and a shirt with a deer on it. Shortly after that, a deer ran in front of my car. (Not rare as I had seen at least half a dozen on that morning already, but it’s odd how life connects the dots for us). I told her to buy one of each variant (because I’m indecisive, and I mean, why not?). She said, “Already did.” She’s as big of a fan as I am.

“Hollow” is the natural extension of “Bleed”. The same emotion is there, but there’s a bit more variety in instrumentation, backing vocals, and the feeling of completion. At the end of the album is feels like something has been lifted off the singer’s shoulders. It’s hard not to feel that weight linger as the album ends. “Blood Drinkers” is the perfect opener. It opens with just Chris and his guitar and tells the story of the singer falling in and out of love. Everyone sings about love, but goddamn this girl broke this poor man’s heart. Then again, we’ve all felt that stinging pain. Unfortunately, some of us are not musically inclined to let the emotion out as poetically as this.

“Rain” is probably my favorite track right now. It reminds me of when I first heard, “Bleed”. It’s a love song carried by his voice. It’s unique in that it’s raspy, but it’s clear that the man can sing. With every punk guy carrying an acoustic these days, this stands out as his delivery of his music. “Angeline” introduces a harmonica and has an infectious groove to it. My wife’s favorite track right now, “Oh Lonesome” has a haunting atmosphere that sums the entire album. It’s a hollow, bare bones showcase of the human condition. And, it’s beautiful.

The entire album takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s not necessarily the ride you planned on, but sometimes on the great ride bus on life you get let out at the wrong stop. Sometimes you meet an old friend. And sometimes, just sometimes, you make a new best friend.

 

Purchase it at: http://a-frecords.bandcamp.com/album/hollow-af062

 

The Quietest Mutiny

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This stuff is so good. Paired with a cinnamon creamer it was like drinking velvet. I also spent this morning remembering how great the band Hostage Life was. “Walking Papers” is a great punk rock album, and “Centre of the Universe” showed a brief peak into where they could’ve gone if they decided to stay together.

Mugshot

Ok, so this series was intended to be a space for beer review. The problem with trying to review beer is that one leads to four pretty quickly. That, and I catch a case of ADD when I drink (which my wife will attest to). I become increasingly more social and easily distracted. Instead of half-assed attempts to write reviews, I decided to just do away with it all together. It’s not because I don’t enjoy a good drink. It’s because I don’t usually enjoy a good drink alone. There is another brew of a different variety that doesn’t impair my ability to think.

I put coffee in my veins like I put gas in my car (and my last blog tells you a little bit on how much I drive). I usually drink a minimum of two cups in the morning, and sometimes enjoy a cup evening while relaxing. I’m not super picky with my coffee as long it’s not brown water (a term I affectionately call the coffee that someone brews at work). I don’t claim to be an expert on anything I write about: music, beer, coffee, etc. However, I give honest opinions from genuine experiences which I think is more valuable than the opinion of a trained or paid critic.

My wife and I also recently bought a Keurig Vue. It’s a different experience, and felt wrong at first not brewing in a pot. However, it brews really good, and is giving me a chance to change up coffee flavors regularly. I thought it’d be another appliance like the George Foreman Grill that got used for awhile and then put aside in the graveyard of appliances. Well it’s been about two weeks, and I think it’s the convenience that keeps me using it.

Every morning I get ready, select an album off my iPhone to start the day with and hit brew with a random coffee in the Vue. It’s not hard to snap a picture and update my readers on the mornings occurrences. Yes, that could be reserved for twitter, but frankly I talk too much to be constrained to a character limit. Not because I have a lot to say, but rather I don’t know when to quit.

Xingu-Black-Beer

I did pick up a six pack of beer this weekend though of Xingu Black Beer. It shocked me how good this stuff was. It’s easily the smoothest beer I’ve had in quite some time. It’s a dark lager from Brazil that I can’t recommend enough to anyone that wants to dabble into dark beer. Yes, it’s summer, but one can only consume so many citrus beers. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Except cliff diving. Yeah, don’t do that.

Something Old, Something New

It’s been some time in between these things, but that is not to say there hasn’t been anything happening this little corner of the world. I’ve been to shows, bought more music to keep my wallet slim (we’re all trying to stay healthy right?). and put a couple thousand miles on my car.

My job like all jobs has pros and cons. The cons mostly being that I can be unexpectedly woken up in the middle of the night to drive ~100+ miles delivering newspapers. While that’s quite the con, it usually doesn’t happen on a regular basis. Except the past few months it was a daily occurrence. It changes my sleep schedule, and generally makes me a terrible human to be around.

The pros of my job that I genuinely enjoy almost everyone I work with (which is a huge plus if you work in an office environment) and there’s a lot of time where I can listen to music or podcasts while I work. I’m able to stay up to date with things that are coming up, but unfortunately haven’t been able to inform my readers of these things. There’s only so many hours in the day to search for things. I found out about bands through a couple websites that had very little information and through the credits in the liner notes of albums. I found out what record labels I liked, and went from there. Not too much has changed over the years, there’s just more crap to sift through.

But here on this thing that I call The Sound of Ideals Clashing, we Cut the Crap (pun intended). Here’s some albums that have been released between my last entry and today:

PUP- PUP
OFF! – Wasted Years
Apologies, I Have None – Black Everything
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
Menzingers – Rented World
Cheap Girls – Famous Graves
Bane – Don’t Wait Up
Masked Intruder – M.I.
Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island
7 Seconds – Leave a Light On
Fucked Up – Glass Boys
American Football – Self-Titled reissue

That could very easily be someone’s Best of 2014 list. That’s just how good this year has been. Fortunately, the music gods have been good to us this all of this year so far, and looks like the next couple months will be quite the treat in the form of

Braid – No Coast
Pennywise – Yesterdays
Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
The Holy Mess – Comfort in the Discord
Trap Them – Blissfucker
Chris Farren and Grey Gordon – Ducks Fly Together

Well that should catch you up if your schedule has been much like mine as well as given me a written reminder of what’s been out. I’ll be working on doing more in depth reviews, but that gives you a bit of what I’ve been up to lately. Hopefully, everything has been well with you, and let’s stay in touch.

I’ll leave with you a song off “Souvenir” by Banner Pilot.

 

How Much Art Can You Take?

Nothing is free in this world. You get what you pay for. Everything is subjective. All are cliche sayings used to justify the purchase or non-purchase of something. It’s always bothered me that people complain about how much things cost. I didn’t come from a rich background, nor do I live a lavish lifestyle now, but I think about everything I buy.

Is it worth it? Does this product enrich my life? Why am I buying it? All questions I ask myself when I buy something. Yes, I still buy things that don’t enrich my life, aren’t worth it, or don’t have a justifiable reason as to why I bought it, but I feel if we start thinking about why we buy things we will be better off.

This conversation started over recent policy changes to where I work and an album I pre-ordered being leaked early. People seem to have a sense of entitlement. Art whether it’s written with musical notes, paint brushes, or ink is all subjective. When something is subjective, it’s worth is up to those who value it. When something is presented to you, it is at that point you decide whether the price and your value match up close enough to make a purchase. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t buy it. Just don’t deface the product because you don’t value it as others do.

Support what you enjoy, and don’t support things you don’t enjoy. It’s simple. I buy things from companies and people that offer products I like and/or have good business practices. There are enough places to buy things at, and enough alternatives to products to support people doing the right thing.

Think Apple is too expensive. Don’t like Windows? That’s okay, try one of the hundreds of distributions of Linux that are maintained and created for free. Like one band but hate another? Buy from the one you enjoy so they hopefully can continue making music you like, and hope the band you hate slowly fades into the shadows forever. *Cough* Nickleback *Cough* Don’t like the price of the newspaper? Search for other ways to stay informed on things you are interested in.

We have more choices in this world now, than we ever have. Utilizes this freedom. Some places in the world are not so lucky to have this freedom. Take from this what you will, but it was more of a rant than anything else.

Youngblood

Sometimes an album comes along that just makes sense. The right place, the right time. I knew “Youngblood” by Divided Heaven was coming out. I had pre-ordered it awhile ago, but somehow was still surprised when I happened to swing by my apartment on my lunch break to find it gently leaning against my door. I finished up my work day and other responsibilities. It was a long, rainy, and dreary day. I’m relieved that it was over. I was going to wait to spin the record until tomorrow, but I’m glad I glad I decided to finish out my night listening to it.

Like I said in an earlier blog, I met the man that is Divided Heaven, Jeff Berman, last October at Fest in Florida. He was a genuine nice guy, and it comes through on the album. I want to start off by saying that this album sounds so good. His acoustic guitar sounds so warm, and his voice has only gotten stronger over time. The opening track, “Youngblood”, speaks of the indecision that is life in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or any age for that matter. This blog is titled The Sound of Ideals Clashing. The struggle of where you are, where you want to be, and the paths to get there. The closing track, “Gin” talks of the struggle with one of my favorite lines to end an album with, “Too young to plan, too old to fail.”

Jeff finally has some band accompaniment on songs like, “Melissa Militia” and “The Worst”, which only serve to accent the song. Not needed, but it’s enough variety to keep the ear interested in what Jeff has to say. Jeff’s lyrics have always been great, but you can tell he had some time with this album to create what he wanted. When the artist believes in his work as you can tell Jeff does on “Youngblood” makes for a better listening experience.

My dad, being in bands all of his life, always told me that you have to play what the audience wants. I always asked him why don’t you play what you want? He said there’s no money in it. I always felt that wasn’t true, and even if it was, I didn’t want it to be true. I’m happy to support Jeff in creating the art he wants to. Support the musicians you enjoy, there may not be a lot of money in it, but that’s not why the good ones do it anyway.

Order the record at: http://dividedheaven.com/music/

Youngblood Cover