Remembering the beastie boys by andrew mcclain
After Adam Yauch died last week, there was one of the slew of eulogies (the pile of which I am now contributing to) that stood out to me. Mark Richardson, Pitchfork’s editor-in-chief, expressed something that I was just processing only a few days earlier. You see, the Beasties are warm-weather music to me, and I had been playing them incessantly for the weeks leading up to Yauch’s death, which made the news even more devastating to me. What Richardson said was this: “The Beastie Boys turned curiosity into an art form. They wanted to know more about what was around them and learn everything they could about what wasn’t. Forget about Kurt Cobain for a second: for kids like me, the Beastie Boys invented the 90s... Between their music and their label/magazine Grand Royal, the Beasties showed how to reach up and scoop up all the best parts. New York hip-hop and punk rock, Japanese pop, Jamaican dub – all of it could be gathered and re-assembled into something that reflected who you were.” The Beasties occupy an odd niche in pop music because their work is well-known, but 2
their legacy to casual listeners is still that of a novelty act. Hopefully Yauch’s death will inspire wider respect for this trio of innovators who are too often casually tagged as simply shrill, goofy, mischievous white rappers. Perhaps it is because the Beasties offered such a low bar of entry to their musical world that they were able to get away with what they did creatively; they harnessed the power of low expectations. The headline of one early Rolling Stone review read “Three Idiots Make A Masterpiece.” Look at the struggles of artists like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed who were constantly grappling with their fans’ expectations of them. Both these guys felt so boxed-in that they would make intentionally bad albums. The Beasties, branded “idiots” right out of the gate felt the freedom to progress and make interesting, challenging music and had the luxury of looking like they were just goofing off the whole time. As you may know, the Beasties began as a New York punk outfit in the mid-80s. When I tell this story to people, I usually say “then they got bored of that, because, y’know, punk was dead and hip-hop was a lot more exciting,” which I can’t say with any certainty was their actual line of thought, but it makes for a good story. They made an “experimental” hip-hop single, (which consisted of a hip-hop beat, a bass riff, cuts and scratches from a Steve Martin album, and two recorded prank phone calls of Adam Horovitz calling a Carvel ice cream store asking to speak to Cooky Puss, a character well-known as a mold for their ice cream cakes) and all of a sudden they were making hip-hop full-time. I like Richardson’s take on it, though – maybe it was just pure curiosity about the world of hiphop. License to Ill quickly became the best-selling hip-hop album to date, and, without missing a beat, the Beasties immediately moved on from the rock-sampling, 808-driven hip-hop sound to something much denser – the sample-rich Paul’s Boutique, produced by the Dust Brothers, which culled samples from every imaginable source, putting together all the best funk riffs and drum breaks available. You could spend days dissecting that album. It appears that, after working with all those funk samples, the Beasties had a desire to actually play the sort of music that the Dust Brothers dug through their record crates to find the tiny pieces that made up Paul’s Boutique, and delved into an entirely different world of low-key funk and revisited their punk roots at the same time. After having switched styles consistently, the Beasties still managed to turn out hits with every album, which is staggering for a group that obviously felt no need to cater to anyone’s expectations. Their “artistic integrity” masqueraded as simple eclectic goofiness, and it paid off. 3
this issue is brought to you by the merch guy.
Single of the
This week’s single of the week is from Pearl and the Beard’s break out sophomore album, Killing The Darlings. We simply cannot stop listening to “Sweetness,” and that’s how we like it! 4
Miscreant fodder by kenzie weeks
I’d like to think of myself as one part Rayanne Graff, one part Margot Tenenbaum, a big chunk Willow Rosenbaum, and a dash of Suzanne from Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” When I broke it off with my last ex, leaving me gutted of feeling and unsure of footing, I listened to “Woke Up New” by the Mountain Goats on constant loop, thinking, This song was written perfectly, specifically for me in this moment. I imagined my junior prom like the scene from Never Been Kissed, and as a senior, the time I rode around in the packed backseat of a Toyota with my new burnout friends, I felt straight out of Freaks and Geeks. See a trend? As a film and music junkie and a person whose inferiority complex drives her to shoot for a level of proficiency in “coolness,” my life has been patched together by a series of imitations and appropriations of pop culture. The way I relate to people, to experiences and to my identity is by digging back into my brain and rustling around for that one character, that one lyric that gives it all meaning. I guess as Rob from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity put it—in my mind, it’s not what you’re like, but what you like that makes you who you are. And with that I did it again. It’s an irrepressible urge, an immediate reaction to everything I do and everyone I meet. Postmodern theorists and college English professors would call it “mediation by simulation.” I filter myself and my experiences through this whirlpool of… of stuff, of made-up things created by other people that came before me. I’d say a majority of my friends do the same thing, too. We constantly spit out lines like, “What’s your favorite band?” and “Who’s your favorite director?” as if it was some deeply personal aspect that made up the essence of who we are. We tell each other “You remind me so much of a brunette Chloe Sevigny,” or “I’m the twentysomething Jon Stewart,” as if we personally knew Chloe or Jon at all. Honestly, these things have no meaning rooted in reality. They’re bullshit. They’re us trying to navigate the process of figuring out and constructing who we are using things that feel familiar to us, make us feel safe, make it easy for us to pack our identities into an empty box on Facebook or tumblr—they’re fiction. This worries me in a way, or at least makes me significantly nervous. It forces me to ask myself: am I real? It sounds glib, yeah, but less so when you really start to think about it. I wonder: am I a real, individual person or am I just a collection of fictions? Am I the number of Paul Simon albums I own (4), my favorite indie folk musician (Joanna Newsom), or my ability to quote all of David Bowie’s lines in The Labyrinth verbatim? Are you? And you know, if not, what else is there? 5
#musicdiary2012 by cassandra baim
Starting on Monday, May 7 and going until Sunday, May 13th, I am keeping track of every song I listen to as part of the #musicdiary2012 project I found at this address: http://sickmouthy.com/music-diary-2012/. This project comes at a good time for me: This week I’m finishing up my final papers and projects, packing up my apartment, hitting the road for Chicago. I’m going to need three completely different soundtracks: something to keep me awake and motivated to complete my schoolwork, something to help me pack up all my possessions and face an empty apartment without crying, and something to keep me from going crazy as I drive through four states to go home. Keeping track of every song you listen to is no easy task. Not only do you have to account for everything you hear from your own iTunes/iPod/ Spotify/Last.fm, but you also have to consider what you hear when you’re in public, be it at the store where you work, the café where you do your homework, or what you hear at the gym. So, without further ado, I present to you the highlights of the last five days’ worth of music. “Paul Revere” by The Beastie Boys off of License to Ill When the news broke on May 5th of Adam “MCA” Yauch’s untimely death, anyone who calls him or herself a music fan was visibly shaken. I remember first hearing the Beastie Boys when I was 11, riding in the car with my mom, listening to Chicago’s alternative radio station. “Paul Revere” came on the radio, and I was smitten. I did some research, and discovered that The Beastie Boys were in fact three nebbish Jews from New York, and I’ve been an obsessive fan ever since. “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear off of Veckatamist Besides being arguably the best song off of the album, this is one of the few songs that I can hear multiple times within the same day without getting tired of it. On my song diary, I have this one listed about three times and I can 6
say with certainty that I’ll have to add about five more entries for it by the time I reach home. “You Remind Me of Home” by Ben Gibbard off of Home Vol. V EP Ben Gibbard is responsible for serenading me through all the defining moments in my life, so why shouldn’t I use this tune to calm me down from the rigors of packing?
“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel off of Bookends The last two defining entries in my diary come courtesy of some great scenes in cinema. I can’t listen to this song without immediately thinking from the best scene in my favorite movie, The Graduate. The Graduate serves as both comfort food and and a security blanket for me in times of stress, so I can’t get through a hard time without listening to this song. “Colours” by Donovan I discovered this song thanks to my roommate, who sat me down and forced me to watch Rules of Attraction (which features this song in a prominent scene) a few months ago after a particularly rough weekend. That movie came to me at a perfect time in my life, and this song provides the perfect “cool down” at the end of the most stressful two weeks (to date) of my college career. I encourage each and every one of you to take a week, and do this project. I used an Excel spreadsheet, but you can keep track using your Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, or even in a diary. Keeping track of what you listen to really changes how you listen to it. When you have to write down every song that passes through your ears, you really think about what you were listening to, why you were listening to it, and what that song means to you. And with that, friends, I leave you to your listening! 7
pearl and the beard an interview by kyle kuchta
Jocelyn Mackenzie, Jeremy Styles, Emily Hope Price make up the indie, folk, pop, all around pretty fucking rad trio of Pearl and the Beard. They sat down in a very scary storage room one Friday night and talked to Kyle. Kyle: Okay, so, what’s the story with the name? Emily Hope Price: This is the story that was told to me when they asked me to join the band. Pearl and the Beard is an “untold story” that we will be telling with our words and our experiences. We don’t know the ending, it just will continue on until it’s over. Because, like a good story, it does end. But we don’t know when. EVER. Kyle: You just got off tour with Ingrid Michaelson, how long was the tour with her? Jeremy Styles: Six dates. Canada and the Midwest. Kyle: What was that tour like? EHP: It was unreal. We had never played for as many people as we did on that tour. It was an incredible learning experience for us. JS: It was a learning experience about the machine of large touring. It was their first week out, and they brought their own sound equipment and their own crew and the musicians didn’t have to lift a finger, and it was interesting to see all the inner-workings of it and to be able to talk to somebody at that level. You know, to go on the bus and see what they do during the day, how they travel and the difference between their travel and our travel. And they’ve done the same traveling we’ve done, but it’s interesting to see them at this level, the pros and cons of that. Jocelyn Mackenzie: We really learned a lot from that week, and it was pretty unreal. Kyle: But now, you’re on tour with Ani DiFranco. You’ve played with her before, correct? EHP: We played with her three dates in February, and when we did THOSE dates, that was trippy. You should’ve seen us walking off the stage at those shows. That first date with her was THE most people we’ve ever played for. We got off the stage and went back to the green room and just started screaming and jumping around. JM: It was like Christmas. It’s just so cool that someone who has built the kind of legacy that Ani DiFranco has,
likes what we’re doing. Kyle: Now that Killing the Darlings has been out for almost a year, what are your plans for new recordings, if any? JM: Our plan is to go into seclusion over the summer and write our asses off. We are dying to write. We are ALL dying to write, and then go into the studio in December to hopefully record. We’ve been doing so much, so much, so much touring that it’s been sort of hard to write. And even the times that we’ve had chunked out it’s been, “okay, we have three hours between this and this,” and it’s just not really enough. I’m just realizing this now, that this may have almost been a good thing, because now we all feel like we need to write, and there will probably be less judgment and less pre-censorship. Whereas if you just have a ton of free time it’s kind of more relaxed and aloof. But if we’re all kinda dying for it, then it may help the process. Kyle: But you released the single “Prodigal Daughter” with three other songs you all personally did. What was that about? JM: The reason we did that was to bide time between releases because we were feeling a kind of itchiness, just wanting to do something and keep releasing material. My song, I got to work with Sophie Madeleine, who I met through Emily. Emily worked with Sam McCormally from Ugly Purple Sweater, and it’s a chance for us to get to do stuff we wanted to do for a long time anyway, but just needed a platform for. That is what Pearl in the Beard also helps me with; it can be a platform for other things. The goal is to build this as an entity, and to eventually do whatever we want in the world. Kyle: Any plans for recording with anyone special for the next album? JS: We were actually talking, and just talking, for the next album, about how we would like to play ALL the instruments, just the three of us. But it really depends on what the song needs. If it needs a French horn, none of us know how to play it; we’d figure that out. EHP: I want the album to sound different. Not like an “electronic, jazz, tap dance album” different, but a little bit different than before. So I think I’d like to approach a producer that we all trust and admire the work they’ve done in the past. That would be my goal. I don’t have anyone specific, but I’m gathering a list in my mind. JM: I would be really interested to see if, on this next album, we could incorporate any guest artists that add something aside from just a session musician. For example, we’ve been playing the song “Apple” that Emily wrote with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, something similar to that. Whether we do a co-write or something, and this is just all speculation and no judgment in brainstorming, that’s another one of our mantras. Aside from 50 paces.
Kyle: 50 paces? JM: If you need to tell a secret, you wait 50 paces. JS: Positive or negative. “Wow, that person is so hot.” Go 50 paces away, back into the van, whatever. EHP: Even if you think you’re out of an earshot, go 50 more. Like, just leave the premises. It never hurts, it only helps. JS: Anyway, I was reading about Maroon 5 and how they had those first hits early on, and it was insular, the band made them. Then they came out with that album that didn’t have “Moves Like Jagger” on it, and it didn’t do anything. Then they brought in these two hit-boys or whatever, someone who makes hits, and they came up with “Moves Like Jagger.” Then they put it back on that album and re-released it. They were afraid to put that song on the album because they’re a rock band and they did almost all their music themselves. But on the next album, they’re bringing back that writing team plus more. I like that idea, but part of me is selfish with what we do, and I want to do as much as we can for it. Kyle: Who, in your wildest dreams, would you most like to record music with? JM: I have personal dreams of working with They Might Be Giants, because I truly respect their songwriting. I would love to, one day, work with Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement. I would love to write jingles, too. I think that’d be super fun. EHP: I love that you say that. The longer we play together, the more evident the different pillars are to carry this ship. Ship and pillars? My point is that Jocelyn is very unique, her influences are very playful. And Jeremy has that, and I have that. But I would love to work with Johnny Greenwood, as a composer. That would be amazing, he would be my top dream. And Danny Elfman, I’m a huge fan. JS: I would like to pick the brain of Dr. Luke. I had a weird dream of being a 45-year old man who writes teen pop in the obscurity of my home. Our friend, Mike, is sort of like this. And people will call him in and he just gets to work his cheese bone, his cheesey side, and then he goes home and works his super rocky side. Everybody has that and I want it out! What I like about this band is we get to do that, or filter it. I would also like to work with Sigur Rós. EHP: The benefit of having these three pillars is that there are different standards happening. If we all want to win “first prize,” so to speak, then we all have to achieve different goals. Kyle: Do you always shoot for all achieving this
ultimate prize, or are there times when you don’t? EHP: That’s always what we shoot for, but there are times when someone will take second place on this one, as long as we all feel comfortable with it. I mean, we make compromises, but at the end of the day I feel like every song as a bit of each of us. Kyle: What are your favorite songs to play live? JM: My favorite song to play live is “The Lament of Cornado Brown,” or “Corny B,” because I like listening to Jeremy and Emily. JS: I like doing “Reverend” but I also like doing “Hot Volcano” because I can relax, and shred. Basically, Jocelyn and I are both lazy. I can just hang out and finally step away from the microphone and look at people and see what’s been going on. EHP: My favorite is a tie. I love how dramatic “Vessel” is, and I love opening that up for Jeremy. The longer we play it, the more intricate I feel I can be with it, and I like being able to work off what he does vocally. As selfish as it sounds, I love playing “Black Hole of Calcutta,” only because I get to exercise my hands and it’s more involved physically. The cello’s the only instrument, and I love the challenge of keeping that Pearl and the Beard sound present. Kyle: So has anyone made fan art based on the untold story of Pearl and the Beard? JM: YES! We actually have some paintings in our merch bin that we still have to put in our houses. This wonderful girl named Amy who lives in West Virginia, she’s an amazing painter and she did these wonderful portraits of us. We still need to take pictures of them and put them online. That, and her friend Dani made these gorgeous prints of them. People have done some beautiful work. Kyle: What instruments do you wish to play/learn? JM: I, secretly, would love to play electric bass. I think it would be so hot, if I were really good at it. I would hold it super low. EHP: I’d play the electronics. JS: And I would do a full drum set. That’d be a really interesting band. JM: We could go by one of our monikers, “Paul and the Beard.” Or “Ruby and the Beard,” “Girl and the Band,” “Pearl and the Bread,” “Pearl and the Bear.” EHP: “Pearl and the Barrel,” and they didn’t even spell “barrel” right when they printed it. They spelled it B-E-R-R-E-L. Kyle: Did I miss any questions? JM: Where are you from? Kyle: Where are you from? JM: Shut Up, USA.
ALBUM REVIEW: Now Now’s THREADS by billy ceskavich
Much has changed for Now, Now since the release of their last LP: multiple tours across two continents, a new label, a new name. Originally “Now, Now Every Children,” the band began as a high school project emanating from Minneapolis. The initial duo of Cacie Dalager and Brad Hale quickly grew to regional fame. Nevertheless, despite all the change relative popularity might bring, the trio has managed to maintain their interesting mix of conventional indie lo-fi sound with the occasional synth beats. However, their most recent LP, Threads, brings a much more haunting message to the table. Bluntly put, Threads is a dark, melancholy album. Here, Now, Now details lifelong intricacies through an examination of a broken relationship. Dalager’s story all begins with the pull of a thread, symbolic of the loss of control one decision can lead to. What makes Threads so beautiful and at the same time difficult to comprehend is the interrelated nature of the various songs. Together, the album tells the story of the evolution of relationships; yet, each song portrays a distinctly haunting message. In “Prehistoric,” Dalager illustrates a reality of individuals who are both singularly sexual in nature and in turn stuck in the “ice” of old ways. A lover’s obsession becomes a clear theme. In “Dead Oaks,” Dalager uses an eerie, distorted voice to portray a very mechanical sense of crying or begging. The music here compliments the lyrics perfectly. Heavy guitar riffs and harsh synth patterns accompany Dalager’s clear frustration and anger. And, soft, repetitive but catchy chord progressions reflect a key element of Threads—repetition. Both “The Pull,” the album’s opening track, and “Thread” mirror each other. Dalager sings “this is just the start/we’ll find out who we are,” a statement more asked, reflecting her own uncertainties. In reality, Dalager indirectly reveals throughout Threads that life has no beginning nor end, rather it is a repetition of either mistake or fortune. The final words in Threads itself are in fact an endless loop: “Can you feel the pull? Can you…” The beauty of Threads is that this theme arrives through realization, the audience seems to discover with Now, Now too this sad loss of control. Although many could argue against Now, Now’s message, the method of discovery employed is empowering. Every listen feels like a personal adventure, not a dictated lesson. When asked about their name change, Now, Now explained their desire to escape from any association with childishness. They mean serious business. And, Threads lives up perfectly to this self-proclaimed quest for maturity. Now, Now has painted a disturbing picture of life, haunting due to its daunting truth: the threads of our existence are often beyond our means of control. You cannot listen to this album without quickly feeling a pang of some emotion. An album that is beautifully organized and relatable, Threads is wise. Yet, something seems lacking within the trio themselves. Dalager’s vocals are almost too youthful for the message she attempts to put forth, conjuring images of a broken and confused teenager. As powerful as that image may be, it detracts from Dalager’s own quest for maturity. Now, Now has achieved something great with Threads: a beautifully orchestrated album which exemplifies the gorgeous harshness of living. The trio now must find this same level of maturity within themselves.
by debbie lechtman I am majoring in magazine journalism, but newsstands annoy me. You could say that there is a problem there. Let me explain. I have no interest in Louis Vuitton handbags (actually, if you care for my opinion, I find the fact that the logo is plastered all over each bag to be incredibly tacky – and don’t even get me started on Coach). I don’t find Snooki’s latest drunken escapade to be the least bit newsworthy (entertaining, yes. Newsworthy, no). And if I have to read one more cookie-cutter celebrity profile in one of the many glossies, I might just have to gauge my eyes out (just kidding. But really). And so, long story short, that is how Vitality: the Magazine came to be. Long story long, it took two years of friendship, one-too-many glasses of wine, and a weekend near the Hamptons for my best friend Alex and I to put two and two together. Real people have no voice in the media. Real artists, in particular. And what would this world be without art? Pretty boring, if you ask me. Over the past couple of months, Alex and I really kicked it into gear. Working with absolutely no budget to speak of, we asked all of the best independent artists we know in fashion, music, art, and literature – many of them our dear friends or friends of friends of friends – to submit their work so that we could get their stuff published. In print. Screw the Internet (seriously, your dog could start a blog. Which I would probably read, by the way); these incredibly talented people deserve to see their work published in print. For two months, we worked day and night to make our vision become a reality. We may or may not have let our grades slip. We networked incessantly. We won a grant. We decided that we will donate 10 percent of our revenue to nonprofit organizations supporting the arts. And we did it. Our website is up at www.vitality-the-magazine.com, where you can view our current “preview issue” online, read our blog, and in a few more weeks, purchase the print edition – printed on recycled paper. Our first official issue, fittingly named “The Birth of An Artist,” will come out exclusively in print this September. And here is where we ask for your help, dear Miscreants: Running a magazine (on recycled paper, no less) is expensive. And unfortunately, Alex and I are two broke ass college students chasing a dream. If you like what you see, please spread the word. Tell every artist you know that they have a shot at getting their work out there. That making it as a painter or a musician or a poet is, indeed, possible. After all, the more Vitality grows, the more independent art grows. It’s a win-win situation, wouldn’t you agree?
THE SCUTCHES by ryan raichilson
Ten Songs, Ten Years, the newest full-length from Long Island, NY’s The Scutches, is now available for pre-order from Bright & Barrow. The album will see an official release date of May 29, 2012 on digital and 12” formats, with the latter being limited to 500 on translucent orange vinyl. As a special bonus, anyone who purchases the LP will receive a free digital download of The Scutches 2007 debut full-length, Vinny Gets A Job. Additionally, vinyl pre-orders will automatically be entered in a contest to win a test pressing of Ten Songs, Ten Years. To celebrate today’s announcement, Bright & Barrow and The Scutches have teamed up with AMP Magazine for an exclusive stream of the song “Summer Night.” To listen to, go here. Influenced by the likes of pop-punk heavyweights such as The Queers and The Methadones - not to mention the sweet sounds of legends like Buddy Holly and Richie Valens The Scutches has been the primary songwriting vehicle for Vincenzo Hoffer (guitar, bass, vocals) and Rich da Silva (drums, backup vocals) over the course of the last decade. Ten Songs, Ten Years is an virtual pop-punk classic in every way; from the instantly memorable choruses and undeniably infectious harmonies to the propulsive rhythm section that pushes along the blissful power-chord buzz of the guitars. The lyrics cover standard themes of love and heartbreak and just about everything in between, but Hoffer’s clever songwriting is delivered with just the right combination of sincerity and bite, keeping things interesting and fun throughout the album’s 26 minute run time. There’s nothing complicated about Ten Songs, Ten Years but that won’t keep this pop-punk gem from finding a permanent spot in your collection next to other great records from the genre’s forefathers and contemporaries alike!
how to write a song: a step by step process by sam kogon
part 1 So, you want to write a song? Maybe even a hit song? One that thousands of people can connect to worldwide? It may seem like an impossible task to pen the next “Let it Be” or “Waterloo Sunset”. However, I have actually just identified the first problem you are facing and why you have decided to read my article. The fact that you place your favorite songs on such high pedestals that it intimidates you, may actually be inhibiting you from writing your very own masterpiece. In this step by step guide, we will analyze what it takes to write a hit song. Step 1: Realization that you have talent. Ok, this is the first and foremost important thing to remember. Are you actually a talented musician? You don’t need to be a classical musician to have a hit song. Having a little music theory and being able to play a few chords on the piano and guitar go a long way. Don’t worry about your voice. If you’re just planning to be a song writer, you don’t need a good voice. Many do have fantastic voices (i.e. Burt Bacharach, Carol King, Boyce & Heart, etc.). Many also do not (Robert Zimmerman). Having “the voice” is really in the opinion of your fans anyway. If you think you are good, and people besides your friends and family agree, then you probably have something going on. Step 2: Listen to music. Listening to your favorite musicians will not only inspire you to write songs, they might influence your writing. Many look at this as a form of “stealing”. Well, let’s just look at the history books. Everyone stole something from someone else. Elvis covered “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog” which is nearly identical to Willie Mae “Big Mamma” Thornton’s original recording from 1952. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones both were influenced from African American Rock & Roll musicians. John Lennon’s favorite musicians were Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. The Beatles started as a cover band. Look at their first three records. They were covering songs right up until “HELP”. One can go on and on about who stole what and who was the originator. Long story short, if you like the sound of something, who is to say that you can’t put your own spin on it. You see? There you go again with the social constraints! The rule about music is that there is NO rule in music. This leads us to the next step. 16
Step 3: Ok, so you have good taste in music and your iTunes library even has The Zombies “Odyssey and Oracle”. Big deal. You still don’t have a song on your hands, and that is ok. Remember a few sentences back when I stated that there is NO rule in music? Well, there is one rule in music; don’t force anything. If you force yourself to write a song it will be an excruciating task that will leave you frustrated and unfulfilled. Get inspired. Go outside. Take the headphones out of your ears and listen to the world around you. It’s great to listen to music. However, when you are outside of your room, treat the world as your iPod. You never know what you are going to hear or see when you step outside every day. If you are open, inspiration will strike you anywhere. It could even be the conversation you overhear at your favorite diner while reading Rolling Stones list of Top 100 Songs. Instead of lamenting over why your song isn’t there yet, you should look at those songs as a helpful tool for what you might want to write about. Step 4: By this point, you’re wondering when we will get to the actual writing. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and Abbey Road wasn’t recorded in one session. That’s the thing about song writing, it might take you a year to write a song or just a few moments. Brian Wilson wrote “God Only Knows” in seven minutes. “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. It’s really whatever channels you at the time. The best way to start is by keeping a note pad with you at all times and possibly keeping a voice recorder by your bedside. You might wake up in the middle of the night with a great melody or you might even capture that ghost that bothers you while you try to sleep. Either way, you’ll be sure to have great material for a song. Step 5: Avoid songs that are too personal. Leave these tunes for after you get big and famous. John Lennon basically used his Post-Beatle records as a personal diary. That is all fine and dandy for a superstar, but perhaps let your audience get acquainted with your sound first rather than your lyrics. It is usually the music that catches the audience’s attention first. Once you get past the music, you then must commit to writing the words to the song. If it’s the first song you’re writing, then maybe starting simple is the way to go. What should your first song be about? People love clichés. There’s nothing wrong with writing a love song. It could be about your goldfish, nobody has to know that. Just remember that not singing about a specific name will keep your song limitless. Singing about one name will only attract those who share the name you’re belting. Those very same people will end up hating the song because everyone will start singing it to them. Stick with using more generic terms such as you, me, us or we. The more general you are, the more people will connect with your song. See next issue for steps 6-10... 17
photos of our friends by meagan gregg
the root cellar by bella mazzetti
The Root Cellar was one of the places at Bard that really drew my interest. If you didn’t already know, its a super tiny, student-run venue in the basement of one of Bard’s oldest dorms. Its dark, smelly, falling apart, and super punk rock. As an incoming freshman, I was so stoked to be able to see live local music on campus, for free. When I got here, I was slightly disappointed. I had only heard of about three shows at The Root Cellar, and no one really talked about them after they happened. I wondered why students were taking this awesome space for granted, and wished that there was something I could do to change the way that Bard students thought about the venue. I didn’t realize how easy that would be. So I know these guys in this band called Dumb Talk through a high school friend, and one day they told me that I should try to book them a show at Bard. I gladly said yes and started my quest to find out what I needed to do in order to book a sweet rock concert. Like I said before, I didn’t realize how easy that would be. Two emails and a bunch of hand drawn flyers later, it was show time. POGS, a Bard band, opened and really got everyone excited. The Mighty Schnitzel, Our Daily Fix, and Dumb Talk all put on some amazing sets. I don’t really know what the maximum capacity of The Root Cellar is, but I do know that we were way over it. Not only was it packed, but people were dancing. Do you know how hard it is to get people to dance at shows? These Bard kids were going all out. And for an entire week after that, people kept coming up to me to say how great it was, and how they couldn’t wait for the next one. So, that’s the thing I’m known for here. I’m the freshman that puts on cool rock shows at The Root Cellar, and that’s something that I really like. I want to continue to book and host these events, showcasing local-ish bands and Bard bands together. So like, if you’re in a band that is pretty cool and you want to play at Bard in the coming semester, email me and I will hook you up. Email Bella: firstname.lastname@example.org 19
artwork by Doris Gutierrez
“a hundred thousand blazon suns erupting into supernovas synchronically” by nick capezzuto The art of music should not be about what it is that is being played, but the message being conveyed. It doesn’t matter how fast the fingers of the lead guitarist dance across the narrow fretboard or how intricate and overbearing the drums may seem, if the song is not felt then why play it? Because it’s music and music should be appreciated regardless. To this I say certainly, but that is not the art of music. The art of music goes beyond the simple aesthetics of complex notation being interpreted by both hands simultaneously upon a block of wood. The art of music is about the raw essence of sound being blended together by various instruments that fall upon one another for support and hold a song together, similarly to how an arch falls into itself yet still is able to hold entire empires up. It is about the interpretation of the music not only by the five senses, but by that ethereal sixth sense that so many people shun and bury deep within themselves because logic tells them that is the only obvious thing to do. These are the people that are most uncomfortable with themselves because they do not understand just how deep a feeling can go. That intrinsic connection we have as human beings to various frequencies and waves that undulate at certain points across a medium is no doubt the very soul of music itself, which is naught but the life breathed into the art. And to connect with the soul of music we have to feel it. Feeling music is what it means to understand the deeper message of the vocals, guitars, bass, and drums bursting forth and radiating like a hundred thousand blazon suns erupting into supernovas synchronically. Once you can truly learn what it means to feel the music they can then understand that the seemingly metaphysical connection between your consciousness and sound delves much deeper and is exponentially more widespread throughout your entire life. Those things that you never gave a second thought to suddenly get third, fourth, and even fifth thoughts. Love in what you do manifests itself all around you and brings a most natural elation that is completely rooted in you. The beauty of reality exposes its naked self for you and offers you the chance to cut yourself free from the ties of technicalities and enter into a new world in which you can groove until the never ending sun of love and meaning will forever shine its golden glow upon your face.
Hello lovely Americans! by queen karen edith millar
Apologies for a recent lack of input from the British Miscreant but between college finals, overnight stays in hospital, a landlord who may as well sport a swastika and a severe lack of Internet, it has been more than difficult to do anything other than stress. But now SCHOOL IS OUT BITCHES! Instead of sleeping for a week like normal students at the end of the academic year I’m waiting at a train station to go to Brighton for The Great Escape; the Brits’ answer to SXSW. Needless to say excitement is rife. But that could be something to do with the second double gin and tonic I’m just tucking in to. (It’s just after noon BST.) Regardless, keep a beady eye out in the next issue for my catalogue of (most likely unfortunate) events. My crew of British Miscreants are most stoked about seeing Oliver Tank, Dry The River, Gabriel Bruce and S.C.U.M. If my experiences are anything to rival that of SXSW however, don’t expect to see reportage on any of the aforementioned acts. Itineraries don’t work so well when I hear wind of a free bar. ANYWAY. I also want to tell you of the latest bearded, soul-tortured, skinny- ‘do-you-think-he-might-be-Jewish?’ man I’ve fallen in love with. Keaton Henson. By trade simply a graphic designer, by heart someone with enough ability in his voice alone to charm the underpants off a nun. Well, maybe a hipster nun who has a thing for emotionally fragile young men. Or maybe just me. ANYWAY… His album Dear was featured by Rough Trade as their album of the month for April and the record is more than worthy of this prestigious accolade. Not since listening to Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago have I heard something so subtly injected with so much emotion. Whoever fucked this guy over has a lot to answer for, but we’re more than thankful she did. (Sorry Keaton.) Take a listen to You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are and if you think you’ve ever fallen in and out love you may have to reassess the situation. Recorded mostly in his bedroom, Henson’s songs are gritty, rough around the edges and far from perfectly mixed; but it’s not just the music we really listen to upon playing this album. Without wanting to sound clichéd, Henson really has bared part of his soul to the world, we hear things we almost feel uncomfortable listening to. The very personal sentiments the music expresses almost creates a sense of voyeurism for his audience and perhaps this is why his debut release has enjoyed such positive criticism. Another thing that is enjoying positive criticism (from me) is this: bonivererotica.tumblr.com. Bon Iver Erotic Stories. Need I say more? No, you are most likely thinking, but just let the following extract do the talking and you’ll understand why this sassy little blog has only furthered my life ambition to ensure that Justin Vernon is in fact the father of each and every one of my 17 future children. Bon Iver is oiling the weather, which has been squealing in these spring winds and frightening the dog. The sky behind him is richly red, an odd color, unsettling. We know the storm will rattle the house tonight and we will hold each other close as the trees groan and toss. He calls down to me from his perch on the roof. ‘I don’t need this old rooster to tell direction,’ he says. ‘You’re my compass. You’re my everything.’ Admit it. You’re in love. On that note, I need to bounce to a panel on new music press. How apt! Speak to y’all in a fortnight Miscreants.
Expect to Hear at The Great Escape by queen giulia aliverti It’s that time of year again when the salt encrusted city of Brighton is transformed into a magical three day festival slash music convention. You ‘mericans’ have SXSW, we have The Great Escape. You guys get tans, we get colds. So here’s how it goes: every venue is hosting artists and bands from far and wide, there are over a hundred people playing and it might get a bit tricky to picky which person you want to go see. Here are a couple’o musical wonders I’ll be queuing out in the rain to see: Disclosure - “Tenderly.” I hate to sound like some douche-bag radio DJ but these two South London boys make SERIOUS TUNES! I’m ending my festival experience with some of Disclosure’s bouncy goodness at 1am Saturday. Alabama Shakes - “Goin’ to the Party.” ‘There’s gonna be dancin and there’s gonna be a fight’. I hope this sums up the whole experience. There is going to be a lot of flailing arms, jiving legs and possibly a fight if any of my wandering limbs hits someone in the face. Grimes - “Oblivion.” This unconventional Canadian beauty does warm fuzzy things to me. She has an adorable lisp, she drethes like sthese a fairy, and her music isn’t half bad either. I’m going to make the most out TGE’s international imports and fit this girl in on friday night. Gang Colours - “Heavy Petting.” Another UK native gem. There will be a lot of heavy ‘panting’ at TGE; to get from one venue to the next you will have to have the stamina of an African Gazelle and a helluvalota patience (lots-of-queuing). Not of worry! Fit Will Ozanne’s downtempo sound waves in and all your problems will just float away. Dry The River - “Shield The Eyes.” An East London band that sounds a bit Mumford and Sonsy and a bit Noah and the Whalesy. Mellow, wholesome.... if I was deaf I’d still go see them. Dreamy songs, even dreamier band members with beards. Peace out.
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Thank you for reading issue 21 of the Miscreant! And thank you to all who submitted to this issue; keep those submissions coming. This marks the beginning of a really exciting summer for miscreants everywhere. Weâ€™re honored to have Pearl and the Beard on the cover of this issue. Their recent show in Syracuse was jawdropping, and I know Kyle and I canâ€™t wait to have them pack as soon as possible. So, my misfits, I want to remind you, as always, to be sure to send your album reviews, feature stories, and artist interviews to: email@example.com! This summer holds a lot of awesome shows, releases, and upcoming issues of the Miscreant. So, be ready and stay tuned. love, the miscreant