Tag Archives: high school

winter 2016-2017 on last.fm

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i breathe music

The boy stared at the record. It was Bob Dylan’s second album—he wanted it. For four dollars and fifty cents, the brand new vinyl was his. And it would provide him with years of countless enjoyment. Thousand of miles away, a girl also received a record. Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was given to her from a good friend. This record would also be overplayed. About 15 years later, these two people would have a child. The child, a boy, would grow up to be more obsessed with music (everything from Bob Dylan to Rhapsody in Blue) than both of his parents combined. I am that boy, and this is why I love music.

My love for music is rooted in my parents’ love for music. They were lucky enough to follow music as it through different types of technology. From the * to the record player to the cassette player to the CD player (and even to this day) to the mp3 player—my dad invested in each one. Though they do not purchase music as often these days, hundreds of records and CDs are still scattered about the house from when they did.

So, as one can infer, I listened to all of their music. On the fifteen minute drive to my elementary school, my mom would play oldies on 99.7 KFRC. I still love The Supremes. Or on Saturday mornings, while my mom was cooking breakfast, my dad would play some “Thriller” or “Billie Jean.” I wish I could still remember the first time I heard those brilliant pop songs.

As the years went on, an even more significant factor began to influence me: my older brother, Billy. Billy was a lot like teenagers in the 90s. He loved alternative rock or grunge, you know, the rebellious stuff purposely made to irritate your parents. Nirvana or Green Day would spill out of the speakers as he and his friends played air guitar; sometimes, I was even let in on the fun. So, approaching the huge milestone of ten-years old, I had already grown a fondness for catchy lyrics, ripping guitars, and smashing drums.

In fact, around age 7, I began begging for a drum set; be it Christmas or my birthday, that was what I wanted. My parents finally granted me my wish about five years later. Also, my older brother received an electric guitar (complete with amplifier) and my younger brother received a keyboard. In addition, we would all receive lessons. After six weeks, while my brothers, beginning to favor rap over rock, had gotten bored of their instruments, I was still going strong; I continued my drum lessons for about a year, joined band at school, and actually used my instrument. I tried learning songs I had been listening to for years and even played with my cousins sometimes. Though there would be a long period of time where the drums simply collected dust, like the guitar and keyboard had, it would be used extensively once again, just a few years later. My cousins and I shared very similar tastes in music, and formed bands based on those interests. I am still in a band, Wronger, with my older cousin, Chris.

This is where I am now. I love music. Just a few months ago, I dug up all of my parents’ old vinyl and took everything I liked: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc. The records sit in my bookcase, next to CDs and tapes alike, not collecting dust—I play them all the time. The record player is under my bed. The CD changer is on my dresser. My headphones, portable CD player, portable tape player, and iPod are all situated on my bookcase. Ridiculous amounts of music are stored in my computer. My weekends revolve around shopping for music or going to concerts or just plain sitting and listening to music. My love for music evolved past a simple enjoyment of it, like my parents had. Music is what I dream about. Music is not just what I hear, but what I see, taste, smell, and feel too. I breathe music. Continue reading

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espresso stories

once upon a time (read: in high school), i submitted to Espresso Stories.

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a losing memory

i still remember the first time i listened to “Losing My Edge,” the epically ironic, endlessly tragic, and amazingly magical intro track to the second disc of LCD Soundsystem’s debut double album.

in high school, just as today, i honed OCD-esque methods of listening to music. my methods were religious–in stark contrast to the adolescent irreverence i puffed around the Catholic school ground, i practiced my musical rituals day in and day out: falling asleep and awaking to tabla prayers, patiently assembling a library of MP3s over the years, and–every time i went for a drive–pressing play before moving an inch and refusing to exit the vehicle until the song spilling out of my speakers breathed its final breath.

one particular morning, as i set out on my school commute, i hit play on “Losing My Edge.”

the chaotic spasms of the song’s first fifteen seconds instantly spit me out of my morning daze, in time with my 80s Delorean-lookalike flopping out of the crooked driveway. that initial explosion then left me bobbing to a spacey, sparse, but confidently bumpy beat as i rolled down the steep hill away from my childhood home.

then this guy starts talking. he starts talking about how he’s losing his edge. “to the kids,” or something. he “was there”… somewhere. everywhere? every year? in every important place?

trying to get a grasp of his point, i roll onto the freeway and run straight into traffic. stop and go, stop and go, as this creep keeps going on about his musical knowledge and experiences, as if someone is supposed to care. he uses overly self-conscious phrases like “Internet seekers” and “borrowed nostalgia,” more annoying than they are interesting.

stop and go, stop and go–my view starts changing–bass to snare, bass to snare. the beat is irresistible and his meaning is coming through. i’m just a young high school kid that loves designed-for-the-angsty bands like Nine Inch Nails and Tool, but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing names like “Beefheart” and “Daft Punk” and “Larry Levan.”

as James drones on about losing his edge, the sparse, timid beat in turn starts caving to blasts of crash cymbals and electric guitars, like a thin sheet pressed against flame–and it’s only getting hotter. and the more serious the sounds get, the less serious he becomes. (probably consciously, painstakingly) borrowing a page from Bob Dylan, he delivers deadpan the most hilarious lyrics ever spoken with a human voice, almost like a child ashamed to be sitting in confession. synths instead of computers, turntables instead of guitars, guitars instead of turntables… is he serious? is that what musicians are like?

later, that last question becomes “how is he describing all of my friends?” better yet… how does he manage to foreshadow the next near-decade of my musical development? Juan Atkins, Lou Reed, Joy Division, Soulsonic Force, Human League, Eric B. and Rakim, Basic Channel. jesus, the way the guy names great bands as fast as he can makes it seem like he almost WANTS us to help him lose his edge. like its his mission.

the song reaches its climax with crash cymbal after crash cymbal (“the Sonics… the Sonics…”) just as i start speeding out of traffic and along the tree-lined California freeway, devouring the final delicious minute remaining. and a voice begins to drone repetitively, “you don’t know what you really want.”

i end with this: yesterday, i swear to god, i finally got around to downloading “Here Are the Sonics!!!” dear god, that is good fucking rock & roll.

i don’t know what i really want, true. but at least someone does: LCD Soundsystem. Continue reading

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Sexing. Dean Martin

the cure to writer’s block is wine, whiskey and amplified bass frequencies. and fucked pixels. birthday wishes in a world post-facefuck: a god among birds in Echo Park: meanwhile: alas, la is not for me. sf is. i much prefer … Continue reading

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