Cassettes: A Beautiful ObsolescencE by dylan suttles
Over the past 16 years I’ve had the opportunity to make music with a number of talented musicians. I’ve performed in clubs, bars, basements, barns, living rooms, campgrounds, parks, community centers, coffee shops, and kitchens. I’ve recorded in professional studios, in semi-pro studios in homes, garages and a seafood restaurant, and on amateur setups in attics, warehouses, and anywhere you can find someplace to plug a recorder in. In these places, music has been documented onto the hard drives of cutting edge computers, onto beat up laptops, to mini discs and CF cards, reel-to-reel and VHS tapes and the format I hold the fondest memories of, cassettes. You may say, “But cassettes are unwieldy and sound like hot trash. Why would you romanticize that outdated junk?” Well, it’s because they do sound like garbage and are difficult to use effectively that I love the format, of course. Part of it must be how much I used cassettes in my so called halcyon days, I admit. I was in 8th grade when I first started to dabble in recording my own music on to
a tape player with one of those tiny built in microphones. The next step was rigging together two tape players. I’d play my simple songs into one machine then move that tape into the 2nd players and play along over that to overdub another track. The results were not great. Not too much later, I got my first 4-track recorder. O! The mythical TASCAM Portastudio! The fabled machine that launched countless musical journeys. The ability to record four separate tracks and tool with them after they were set to magnetic tape made me feel like a sorcerer. I’d spend hours upon hours recording everything just to hear how it sounded. Then I’d layer more sound on top to hear the results. And so on. Now, I have digital audio workstations, computer software and stand alone recording units. You can overdub virtually infinite tracks and choose from hundreds of different ways to bend and twist the sound by selecting options from a pull down submenu on a screen. On a 4-track you have to actually learn what changes the physics of sound. You have to go into a tiled bathroom and stand back from the microphone if you want some reverb. The significant limitations hit you quickly and you have to learn how to work around and with them to get your ideas down. It’s like a Polaroid instant camera. It might not be great for getting crystal clear photos but if you learn to exploit its strengths, you can take unexpectedly dreamy pictures. Sure, there is Hipstamatic, and digital audio equivalents, that give you a quick, easy approximation of the effect but the results never have the same magic. And you don’t get the pleasure and growth from the process. Cassette detractors will tell you they are worthless for recording because there’s too much hiss and distortion and there’s no high or low end to the sound. And whereas that may be true, what they have going for them is a sort of cohesion that’s hard to replicate in digital media. There’s a natural compression of the sound that keeps everything in a narrow volume and frequency range. Tape players, even pro level ones, are subject to the fluctuations of motors that move the tape spools, and inside the cassettes themselves the tape can get held up and vary the speed of its movement over the playback head. All the little variances and warbles make it so nothing you record is ever in exact tune or precise speed and tempo. Unlike the perfection of digital, this is how a live band sounds playing together in a room. The “downsides” to cassette recording add up to what can sound like a beautiful memory. It’s hazy and inexact but all the more lovely for it. Using only cassettes might be unrealistic and tiring but a nice old 4-track can prove to be a great learning tool and an important artistic device to have in one’s bag of tricks. I don’t record to tape often. I don’t listen to cassettes much anymore. It’s easier to press a mouse button and have music instantly playing or recording. But still, I love the fuzzy mess of noise that only cassettes can make.
this issue is brought to you by family gatherings.
Single of the
Week This issue’s single comes from the forthcoming release from cover babes, LVL UP. We can’t get enough of “GRAVEYARD,” track four on Extra Worlds. Check out the whole thing when it is released on April 6. Listen to more at http://lvlup.bandcamp.com/.
A Decompression Mixtape by molly long
A couple weeks ago I had my first SXSW experience in Austin, a city I moved to about 8 months ago. A mass of people descended, and suddenly I felt like a tourist among tourists. SXSW Austin is not the same as Regular Austin, and I still don’t even know Regular Austin that well. After the first few days, I learned to submit to the chaos rather than pretend I could plan or control anything that was going to happen to me that day. I bonded intensely with former strangers, met a bunch of people I’ve been secretly admiring on the internet, saw at least three of the best sets I’ve ever seen (including some in my living room!), watched friends decide how they want to relate with the music industry (answers will vary), and day drank with astounding consistency. It was a good week. I think. But afterwards I needed some Chicken Soup for the SXSW Soul. Everyone needs to decompress sometimes--or, you know, often. At moments like these, I tend to eschew the digital in favor of warmer acoustic sounds. Also I go for familiarity and nostalgia. I need songs I can lay under like a down comforter at my parents’ house. I need songs that warm my skin without burning it. I need songs that just want to cuddle. Here are a few I keep coming back to for solace. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - “Our House” If this song doesn’t speak to your longing for love and tranquility, then you might want to get that checked out. Bill Callahan - “Too Many Birds” Hearing Bill Callahan’s bassy timbre is like getting a brain massage. Cat Stevens - “Moonshadow” Cat Stevens is the kind of mom music I can really get down with. Donovan - “Jennifer Juniper” When I hear this song, I want to make a clover crown and barrel roll down a grassy hill. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Life In L.A.” The mellowest vibes from the prince of lo-fi, featuring one of my favorite lines ever, “The weather is your boyfriend on a Saturday.” Francoise Hardy - “Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles” Wide-eyed and wistful with a touch of cheekiness--my favorite kind of pop music. Lower Dens - “Tea Lights” Jana Hunter’s wave-like melodic contours in this song put me at ease. Perfect for a lone slow bop. Leonard Cohen - “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” My old buddy Leonard in a sweeter mood than usual. The female back-up vocals are golden as always. Vashti Bunyan - “Diamond Day” “La la-la-la la, la la-la-la la, la la-la-la laaaaa...” Velvet Underground - “Who Loves The Sun” A classic. I love songs that are about heartbreak but don’t sound like they are about heartbreak. Kurt Vile - “Jesus Fever” Or anything else off Smoke Ring For My Halo. This guy can’t stop killing it. It tickles me that a lot of the best current songwriters immerse listeners in warmth and wooziness. Maybe that’s what we need in the internet age.
Tea Time With Tori & Anna Vogelzang an interview by miss tori cote
Hailing from the Boston area, Anna Vogelzang is a jazzy lady who is now residing in Madison, WI. It’s obvious that Anna sings folk songs from the heart, and her songs are filled with stories and life lessons that anyone can relate to and love. Her latest album, Canary in a Coalmine, switches from sweet to salty in a blink and definitely is something worth a listen. Check out this lil Miscreant!! www.theanna.com Tori: When did you start singing/ writing music and how do you feel you have evolved as a musician? Anna: OK, well I started singing when I was tiny, like most people who love to sing. I always sang in churches/groups/choirs/classes/bands/living rooms while I was growing up - wherever I could, really. I was always writing stories and little ditties, probably starting around 9 or 10, but they evolved into fully-formed songs with a guitar (or piano) by the time I was about 15. At the time, I was writing songs because the music I listened to inspired me to write, and I wanted to do something similar to what those musicians were doing -- make a song about what affected me, crystallize an experience or a state of being. The process was about explaining and releasing my own feelings, and on some level -- though I’m not sure I knew it at the time -- I was hoping that the end product would resonate with other people who’d had those same feelings. I think the evolution since those days has been tremendous (thank God), but besides the obvious aging, study of musical skills, & persistence of writing, I think the largest change I’ve made is being able to name what I just did -- my goal, if you will. You know? I’ve spent a lot of the last five years really digging around for why I do what I do. Music was everything to me growing up, and it gave me something concrete to point to and say, “THAT. That is how I feel right now.” That’s one of the reasons I’ve kept pushing, because those who can make art that gives a name or space to something universal, those people can make important changes, can help people who are struggling to express themselves. So, I think the biggest way I’ve grown is exploring my own motivations, my own goals, realizing the bigger picture around the music itself. Tori: You sing a lot about ‘heart’, whether it be broken, filled with joy, or having a heavy one. How do you feel this connects to your album Canary in a Coal Mine? Anna: I actually noticed that as the album was starting to flesh out. There’s a lot of the actual word heart in there. The album is obviously about the heart, in any or all of the forms you mentioned. I love the word itself, the consonants when you sing it, the visual it gives people -- that visual is different for everyone, it encompasses so many different parts of peoples’ beings. The album has love songs, crush songs, dance songs, angry songs, broken songs, songs about reckoning with things like death and fear and purpose. I think if anything, those all would fall into the “heart” category.
Tori: What kind of influences do you say are more pertinent when writing? Anna: There are a million. My life and the lives of my friends are first tier. A lot of what I write is either autobiographical or biographical. On this album I tried to move into fiction, too, and let characters from books, movies, stories inform or appear in the songs. I also end up reading a lot of poetry when I write. & recently I’ve been listening to musicians I admire for stints at a time for inspiration - either writing ‘my own version’ of one of their songs, or using one striking word, phrase, or chord voicing that they used. It’s all in there. It’s about noticing the stuff around you and writing it down fast enough so as to not forget it. Tori: When you are on tour what is your favorite driving snack and do you listen to music when you are on the road? Anna: I always travel with a big bag (& cooler) of groceries so that I can avoid eating out. My ultimate favorite is dark chocolate covered almonds, and road staples include: kale chips, raw nut trail mix, peanut butter, hummus, fruit, turkey jerky, yogurt, and kombuchas -- the things that will make me feel satisfied without feeling gross (which many hours in the car will do no matter what). Usually I listen to a ton of music, including the folks that I get to play with/open for on tour -- one of the benefits of tour is getting to hear so much new music -- but last year a friend and I toured together and he read aloud an entire novel in the car over a week or so - like a real life book on tape! During this past monthlong tour I just finished I ended up listening to a ton of podcasts -- This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Radiolab, and On Being especially. It ends up being like TV for your brain and the driving time just flies. Tori: Do you have any tips or tricks for traveling? Even if they are beauty/ safety/ anything normal people that tour a lot can’t think of? Anna: I just wrote a bunch of stuff and none of it is decent... I guess I’m pretty boring when I travel! The only thing I guess I always do that might be helpful: I only play shows wearing something with pockets, even though it seems crazy. If dresses don’t have pockets, I don’t pack them for tour (and I’ve almost stopped buying any kind of dress or skirt without pockets, too). It’s almost always a life-saver. Tori: Do you like amusement parks? What kind of ride would you be? Anna: I actually don’t! I’m not a huge fan, and really dislike roller coasters. If I had to be a ride, I’d be a ferris wheel. Or maybe I’d be the old-timey high strike game where you test your strength... just because they always seem so nostalgic. Tori: What can we see in your future? Any upcoming projects, videos, song, tours, etc.? Anna: I’m spending a lot of this spring home writing and figuring out my next move! I’ll be making a new record sometime soon, and I’m just trying to narrow down the possibilities on that. I’m juggling a ton of new songs, so I’m excited to kind of pick a direction and hunker down. I’m also starting a few small collaboration projects here in Madison, and will definitely be out on the road again for a few weeks this summer, if not sooner!
LVLUP an interview by the miscreant
LVL UP is releasing the very first Double Double Whammy 7”, Extra Worlds on April 6th. This is exciting times for both the label and the band. With two songs released, and the rest coming on up right around the corner, the band have a lot planned for the future. Here they talk about songwriting, setting goals, and Mario Kart Double Dash for Gamecube. The Miscreant: How did you all meet? When did you guys start playing music together? LVL UP: We all met while going to school at SUNY Purchase, there’s a vibrant music scene here, which is what attracted us to this school in the first place. Dave and Mike started writing and recording songs together their sophomore year, which were gonna go on a split cassette with Nick’s solo stuff, but in the end we just put all our songs together and got serious by adding Ben and Greg. Ben lives in California now RIP. The Miscreant: How did you come to decide on the band name? 8
LVL UP: Well we call ourselves after this Magic we later settled
were originally gonna “UNHOLY STRENGTH” card we found, but on LVL UP somehow.
The Miscreant: Incidentally, what is the go-to video game to play as a band? LVL UP: When we were recording SPACE BROTHERS we were playing A LOT of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 for Playstation, but we’ve moved on recently to Mario Kart Double Dash for Gamecube. The Miscreant: What were your original goals when starting the band? How have they changed over time? LVL UP: We’ve gone from no goal, to a lot of goals. The band was mostly a recording project in the beginning, but since then we’ve decided to take it more seriously and play as many shows as possible. Mostly we just want to have a fun time and stuff. The Miscreant: What are the roles you take during songwriting? Do you guys have a certain process when working on songs? LVL UP: Until recently we’ve written all the songs on our own, mostly acoustic, and then brought them to the rest of the band to learn/change. Our newest songs have been a bit more of a collaborative effort though, which definitely feels like a beneficial thing for us. We each take turns singing on the songs which keeps things more interesting and exciting for us. The Miscreant: How do you feel the sound of your upcoming 7” Extra Worlds differs from SPACE BROTHERS? LVL UP: Extra Worlds is kinda weird because we wrote half the songs at the same time as SPACE BROTHERS (side A), and half more recently (side 9
B), and it definitely shows. The songs on the two sides are much different from each other, but also it feels like a sort of nice transition to our newer writing style. The new record sounds a bit cleaner, and we got to track it onto tape so it sounds a bit more professional. We recorded SPACE BROTHERS in a million different places straight to Garageband on Dave’s laptop. The Miscreant: Where did you record Extra Worlds? LVL UP: Our friend Greg recorded it in his basement in Portchester, NY, and our friend Mike mixed it there too. The Miscreant: Where are your favorite places to play live shows? Any particularly memorable stages? LVL UP: New Brunswick, NJ is always really sick. Big shout out to our girl Devin for only booking the sickest shows. We play a lot at Big Snow in Brooklyn too and we love those guys, really cool vibes there. We played with Kitty Pryde once, that was pretty memorable I guess. The Miscreant: All of your recent tour dates have been on the East Coast. Do you have any plans to play shows throughout the rest of the U.S. in the near future? LVL UP: Not right now, but hopefully sometime. Right now we’re thinking about Canada and the Midwest in the summer, still trying to get that on lock though. The Miscreant: Coming from a thriving scene like the one happening on Purchase’s campus right now is pretty exciting. What role has LVL UP taken on in the scene? Who else do you see coming up out of the current Purchase roster?
LVL UP: We love Purchase and it’s definitely been good to us. It’s always been super easy to practice and record here, and there are always cool shows happening. Our personal Purchase faves at the moment are definitely our boys in High Pop who we toured with over the winter. Some of those dudes are in another band called The Hiya Dunes who are great as well. Our friend Elaiza does this solo thing called Whatever, Dad which rules, and our friend Dean from New Paltz plays here with his band Quarterbacks a lot, love ‘em. The Miscreant: You cite acts from the late 80s and 90s like Superchunk and Guided By Voices as influences. What is it in particular about these bands that you find inspiring? LVL UP: We’ve always been into that era of indie rock music, and that’s pretty much where we draw our lo-fi vibes from. That was a pretty cool time for music. The Miscreant: Why is releasing music via analog mediums important to you, personally? LVL UP: We’ve just always preferred those types of formats, there’s something cool about the way they sound, and having a vinyl of your favorite record is always nice, and feels more substantial. More bang 4 yer buck. Dave runs a label that focuses on cassette and vinyl releases called Double Double Whammy, too. The Miscreant: What else is on the horizon for LVL UP and your other projects? LVL UP: Right now we’re working on a split release with a band from Brooklyn called TOONS, it’s new music from our friend Davey Jones who also plays as Lost Boy. Once Extra Worlds comes out we’ll be touring on it as much as possible. That’s pretty much it for LVL UP, but Dave and Nick’s other band SPOOK HOUSES are about to release a split 7” with Fat History Month, and Mike’s other band SIRS is recording their second full-length. 11
New-Wavve by wes wren
The idea of a critic of an album or any piece of art is to objectively look at the piece and praise or criticize it in the context of the times or the rest of the artist’s body of work. So, it is often best left to leave fans from reviewing anything and giving too harsh or too “nice” reviews. But fuck it. I love Wavves. I’ve loved Wavves since I first heard “Lover” off of their debut self –titled album in 2008. I thought their second full-length was more of the same, but with sharper songs. Then came King of the Beach the album that really broke the band into the indie mainstream. With songs like “Take on the World” and “Green Eyes” it instantly became a favorite of mine, and showed that the band was more than just a lo-fi buzz band. Nathan Williams, Guitars and vox, was evolving as a song writer, and thanks to the constant touring and line-up changes (Featuring such musicians as Zach Hill, Stephen Pope, and Billy Hayes to name a few) Wavves became a monster. KOTB came out in 2010, and until March of this year, they only released one EP and two singles. So, to put it lightly, I have been waiting for this album for a long. Damn. Time. Anyway, let’s get into the record. The first two songs “Sail to the Sun” and “Demon to Lean On” were released earlier in the year as singles, just so people would be given a taste of what the new record would be. “Sail to the Sun” picks up right where KOTB left off, with light jangly guitars and William’s signature nasal snarl. Though, they’ve kept going on with the 90’s nostalgia that you will probably see in every other review, especially those reviews that dog the record for being trendy or lamestream. The second song, “Afraid of Heights” is exactly what Nathan said the album would be. It’s a personal song about love-gone. It’s a song that Reflects on a failed relationship, thoughts of feeling alone as a kid, and the feelings that go with fleeting love. “You and I/ Pace along the grass/ And think of what we had/ Ambivalent and young/ we’re probably just dumb. “ croons Nathan as he starts the song over the pluck of an acoustic guitar. The chorus chants “Holding a gun to my head/ so send me an angel/ or bury me deeply instead/ with demons to lean on.” The song continues to build on that sorrow that you feel, and the absolute loss that comes with depression. The whole album deals with growing up, begin famous, and just being fucking down. The title track, “Afraid of Heights,” features the chorus “I’ll always be on my own.” This entire album deals with growing up, learning about yourself, and being in bad relationships. It also blends every genre that has been around the band. Electronica is seen on the song “mystic,” the jangle-pop/surf-pop song “Beat me Up” is melancholy love story that would have fit right with King of the Beach, or even the earlier EPs. I am absolutely sure that this album will have its fair share of people that hate it, because they just can’t understand where Nathan is coming from in his song writing, or they will compare it to any Nirvana, Weezer, Rentals, or Green Day song that might seem to fit. However, I will say that because of the subject matter of most of the songs that this will be a massive album, and many people will hold it close to their hearts. Anyone that has been in a fucked up relationship, wanted to commit suicide, or felt so alone that they think that no one will ever understand them will fall for this album. Afraid of Heights is without a shadow of a doubt my favorite Wavves album, and I am willing to bet that it will be my favorite album of my 20s.
top 10 my chemical romance songs by meagan gregg
My world shattered on March 23rd, the day I woke up hungover and learned that my all time favorite band had announced their break-up. Without shame, I mourn the loss of My Chemical Romance, a band that has been a significant part of my life for a decade. I can never successfully describe to people the influence that MCR has had on my life. The relationship I have with their music is a complex, deep-rooted thing. My first real concert was a My Chemical Romance concert. The song my first boyfriend and I considered to be “our song” was a My Chemical Romance song. The day I bought Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, my childhood friend and I listened to it and wept, awkward pre-teens, sprawled out on her bedroom floor amongst candy wrappers and empty coffee cups. My world has changed a lot since the night I first heard their music, but my appreciation for MCR has stayed strong and true. I think the day I stop being a fan will be the day that I die. As a tribute to them, here are ten songs that really got to me. 10. “Drowning Lessons” This was technically my first favorite My Chem song. I learned about the band before the release of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. I found their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love through a music service my mom was subscribed to. I listened to the album up to this song, and I was so struck by it that it took me a couple weeks of listening to it on repeat before I bothered to move on to the rest of the album. This song sparked my love for MCR. 9. “Sleep” Gerard Way was inspired to write this song after experiencing night terrors and sleep troubles during the song writing process of The Black Parade. This probably wouldn’t be one of my favorite MCR songs if it weren’t for the fact that I have dealt with night terrors and insomnia since I was a young child. It was comforting to learn that somebody I idolized had experienced something similar, and I used to listen to this song on nights when I couldn’t sleep. 8. “Headfirst for Halos” When I first heard this song, I absolutely hated it. It stood out so violently against all of the other songs on I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. I just wanted a bunch of sad songs, and this song was too energetic, too bouncy. It took me a while to realize that this is probably the saddest song on the record. The first time I didn’t skip over this song was on a particularly dark day in my life, and it provided some much needed light. 7. “Hang ‘Em High” What originally drew me to this song was the vivid imagery the lyrics and music evoked for me. My childhood best friend and I shared this song as one of our favorites, and would belt it while walking through the schoolyard to her house. Also, when I didn’t feel like committing to all six minutes of “Demolition Lovers,” I would listen to this song. It is basically just a fast, frantic version of “Demolition Lovers.” 6. “It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish” While most MCR fans I knew when I was younger were crazy about “I’m Not Okay” and “Helena”, this was the song I considered to be the anthem of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. I think it perfectly sums up the album’s themes of revenge and lost love, and the last minute of the song is just an explosion of desperate emotion unmatched by most of the songs on the record.
5. “Cemetery Drive” There’s no reason to get in to details about why I like this song. It has been and will probably continue to be my favorite song on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. When I was younger, this song made me romanticize the idea of drinking in a cemetery. I’m certain I’ll get around to it some day. 4. “Demolition Lovers” This was the song I shared with my first boyfriend. He had been one of many people who bullied me for liking My Chemical Romance, until I showed him their first album. At the time, I thought this was the most romantic song I had ever heard in my life. The love illustrated in the lyrics was the kind of love I thought I wanted, until my relationship became really unhealthy and obsessive. The boy left, but I didn’t let him take this song away from me. 3. “Desert Song” When I have sad times, I have a list of songs that I go to, and this song is at the top of the list. I will never be able to describe how this song makes me feel. Every time I listen to it, my heart aches. 2. “Cancer” While The Black Parade didn’t influence me as strongly as MCR’s first two albums, this track is ranked high for personal reasons. Three or four days after I bought the album, I learned that a very dear relative had been struggling with cancer for a while, and that they were weeks away from losing the battle. The day they died, and for a couple days afterward, I listened to this song exclusively. This was also the song that made me weep openly at the first MCR show I went to. 1 . “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” At the time I heard MCR’s first album, I was a hopeless romantic and a budding horror film fan. This song, inspired by George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, ended up replacing “Drowning Lessons” as my favorite song on the album because it mixed together love and zombies, two things which were very relevant to my pre-teen interests. I would be lying if I said that those interests have changed completely.
RA RA RIOT @ THE FADER FORT SXSW 2013 // AUSTIN, TEXAS PHOTOS BY ALYSON ALIANO alysonaliano.com
Watching The Graduate With My Father by cassandra baim
My relationship with my father has always been rather tenuous, though that’s bound to happen when two people with the exact same qualities live under the same roof for 18 years. There was very little we saw eye to eye on, instead we resembled two magnets of the same pole—we could never successfully connect. And then one day in the car, driving down some Chicago street backed up for miles in traffic, I change the radio station until I land on “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. I hum the tune to myself, expecting my dad to change the station to some talk radio bullshit where bloated white men yell at each other about gun control policies and/or football, but instead I’m treated to a lecture describing how Mike Nichols used this song in my favorite movie, The Graduate, as if I didn’t already know. The Graduate has saved me more times than I can count. Last year, I went through what can only be described as a “platonic break-up.” A girl who was once my closest friend, told me, among other things, that she wanted nothing to do with me anymore, and that I was “nothing before I met her, and nothing without her.” I couldn’t do anything but listen to “Sound of Silence” on repeat and wonder how a girl so rotten could have loved this song as well. I watched it right in the middle of my junior year, when knew once and for all that the boy I’d pined after for the better part of a semester was never going to do what my favorite Taylor Swift song asked of him. Tears stream down my face as Benjamin Braddock races down the highway to stop his one true love from getting married, and though I know how the story ends, I’m glad I can feel something at least resembling hope. I grew up listening to the soundtrack with my mother. We had wildly different tastes, but nothing connects a mother and daughter more than a shared love for guitars, banjos, and the underlying possibility of homosexuality from two men harmonizing (and she was even open-minded enough to eventually listen to The Lemondheads’ excellent cover of “Mrs. Robinson”). I’ve even considered on more than one occasion getting a tattoo that simply says “Plastics.” I’m lying on the couch pretending to be asleep. I haven’t eaten or slept in days, and I’ve already gone through the pack of Parliaments I’d bought the day before. My dad, puttering around the house seven hundred miles away, calls me to check in. We argue, which is par for the course, but right before he signs off he asks me the question that sends me into a whirling shame spiral of hysterical sobbing. “So, what are your post-grad plans?” He didn’t expect me to wail, and shriek, and scream about my successive failures as a young adult. I think the entire block can hear me, but I give zero fucks. My father doesn’t know what to do; he’s never had to deal with a sobbing 21-year-old before. And so he responds with the only thing he thinks will calm me down. “’I’m a little worried about my future.’” He quotes The Graduate.
TAKE ME AWAY by olivia cellamare
Public transport can be a drag. You can be sat in an empty carriage or the bus will have nobody on it, but someone will sit next to you. I personally don’t see it as a problem, but I just really like to listen to music. All the time. Pretty much. My headphones are always in; I always have to be listening to music. From long journeys I’ve made I have found certain songs just fit the mood of long journeys. Songs that you can gaze out of the window to and just get lost in. Songs that may thrash your ears or songs that may just give of an ambient kind of mood. However, there is also something else I have learnt from these nighttime trips. Some songs you just have to play at nighttime. Whether indoors or wandering around doing nothing; it just has to be dark outside. That’s the only requirement. I was going to make this into a Top 10 but I thought I’d want to keep on adding songs. So I’m sticking to 5, and I will more than likely want to change it. It’s a vicious cycle. 5. Burial - “Archangel” This was Burial’s first single, which came out in 2007. I was in Uni when it came out, but it wasn’t until a year or so later that I paid Burial any attention. I started with this song, and since then I’ve developed a huge obsession with his music. All of his music should be played at night. Those times where you find yourself alone on the last bus or train home; this song was made for you. To guide you home safe and sound. 4. The Horrors - “Sea Within A Sea” I’ve loved The Horrors since 2006. I skipped a lecture in my first year of Uni so I could go out and buy their debut EP from a local record shop. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Their debut EP and LP had influences of The Birthday Party to great Garage rock bands such as The Vagrants, The Gruesomes and Count Five. I was hooked. Then came the second record, Primary Colours. “Sea Within A Sea” was the first single, and I remember they had a countdown on their website to something. At 8pm (I remember it so well) the video to this song was streaming. It was 7 minutes of bliss. I can listen to The Horrors at any time. All day, every day. But there is something about “Sea Within A Sea” that just makes me want to only listen to it late at night, through headphones with no interruptions. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. 3. Nick Cave - “Are You The One I’ve Been Waiting For” I really wanted to pick “Into My Arms,” then realised I cannot get past the first 30 seconds without wanting to cry like a baby. For some reason, it does that to
me. I love Nick Cave. I love him more than I should probably love a stranger but it’s okay. I favour The Birthday Party over the Bad Seeds, probably because when I wake up my hair is exactly like Nick’s when he was in The Birthday Party. Are You The One..is one of the best love songs I’ve ever ever heard. I love how Nick has so many sides to his songwriting skills. He can be a menace but you can listen to the next song and he is the most romantic person in the world. That’s why I love him. He is a poet, a storyteller. I just think he is incapable of writing anything less than perfect. He’s one of the very few singers that can really explain the meaning and feeling of love. The pure and unconditional kind. The devotion in this song is just beautiful; his voice sounds so vulnerable. Ideal to listen to when darkness falls. 2. The xx - “Infinity” Picking a song by The xx was difficult as they are the best band to listen to when it is dark. Every song of theirs has a dark mood, regardless of subject matter. I’ve chosen “Infinity” mainly because it is my favourite song by them. However the buildup near the end of the song is one of my favourite moments in music of recent years. It’s brilliantly intense. You feel your body tense up as it starts, and as the song ends your body relaxes again. The last 2 minutes of this song are just divine. I love The xx for many many reasons. I love the boy/girl lyrics, how they don’t use gender in their lyrics and also how honest they are. They aren’t afraid to be so open, there aren’t many around who are this honest with their music. The repetition of the cymbal crashing near the end is one of the vast beautiful moments on their debut record. Again, like with The Horrors I can listen to The xx at any time, but certain songs of theirs just have to be played when it is pitch black. 1. Warpaint - “Stars” It had to be Warpaint. It had to be “Stars.” I would have picked Lissie’s Heart Murmur but I hold too many personal feelings towards that song so I went with “Stars.” “Stars” is a prime example of just how ethereal and how gentle Warpaint’s music are. Even with bold songs like Elephants, Emily’s voice remains so calming. I don’t fall asleep too easily, and a few months ago it was pretty bad. I used to listen to some music before trying to sleep. Turns out listening to Tupac’s first record doesn’t help you sleep. So I put on some Warpaint; more specifically I played Stars. I shut my eyes and for those 5 minutes I felt this strange and peaceful feeling take over. I always get that when I listen to them, but this time it was different. I really picked up on Emily and Theresa’s voices and how they just compliment each other’s so perfectly. For me, Stars is the best song to listen to at night. Just put your headphones in and let them take you to a different world full off bliss and tranquilty.
How I Came to be Dancing with Strange Boys and Other Wonders by mary luncsford
It’s second semester of my senior year in high school, which, in the grand scheme of things, is probably inconsequential, but I can’t help but feel a little sentimental as things start winding down and I begin the long string of lasts. My last plays and musicals, my last cabaret show, my last [insert school function that didn’t use to mean as much as it does now]. However, this year, I have had some opportunities to experience some firsts. I had my first DJ experience about a month ago. By DJ, I mean that I was in charge of making a three-hour-long playlist for my school’s Video Game Tournament (VGT). In case you are unaware of the awesomeness that is Perry Meridian High School’s VGT, it goes a little something like this: There are several video games projected around the gym. People sign up the week before for the games they want to play, and brackets are made. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. All the money we raise from tickets and shirts goes to Invisible Children. While my friend Kelly was in charge of all of the important stuff, like organizing the whole thing, I got asked to make the playlist that plays all night so people can dance and jump around and listen to something other than the barrage of gunshots coming from the Call of Duty corner. This task was without a doubt the most menial of the tasks that went into making the VGT a success, but that didn’t stop me from meticulously crafting the perfect playlist. I had taken two hours to put this playlist together for a crowd of people who, I assumed, would at worst think it was crap and at best remember that there was some decent music that night. I was petrified. Here I was, laying out my mix and permitting people to judge it. Like most wellplanned endeavors, my track order was scrapped as various people picked through my playlist like vultures would to a carcass. Aside from a few inquiries as to where “the booty pop” music was (which elicited a blank stare from me), and if I had more dubstep, people seemed to be enjoying it.
Fact of life: Getting high schoolers to dance is a challenge on its own, and getting them to dance appropriately is an even bigger challenge. At first, only the usual suspects (my friends) were dancing, but then we played “Thrift Shop.” I have never seen teenagers swarm that fast to anything that didn’t involve food. All at once, I was surrounded by my peers, and they were dancing. And singing. And it was glorious. Say what you want about Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but when artists have the ability to unite a whole gymnasium full of teenagers, that is real power. The swarm continued through “Can’t Hold Us” and “What You Know.” Eventually, the party died down and only a hodgepodge group of kids remained. Being someone who could dance forever, I kept on as one by one my friends took to the bleachers for a breather. I came to the realization that it was only me and a group of underclassman boys left. One of them wandered over to the laptop to scroll through the playlist. I asked him what he was feeling and he pointed to “Tutti Frutti.” I warned him that that was an oldie, and I fully expected this strange group to dismantle as the first syllables came out. To my surprise, the group swelled with new energy. We formed a giant circle and twisted and hopped. My friends rejoined the mess and all I could do was smile at how amazing it was. After that, we chose “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” by Jackie Wilson. Okay, I just want to pause here for emphasis. Do you realize how amazing this is? For four years, my friends have been the only people who don’t grind when given the option. Four long years of witnessing nasty things happening to music that is made for the sole purpose of having nasty things happen. I mean, one year, there was a lap dance given at Prom. And yet, here I was, surrounded by a bunch of boys I’d never met, and we were grooving. To Jackie Wilson. Miracles do exist. But wait—there’s more. You remember that awesome scene from 13 Going on 30 where they all do the dance to “Thriller” at their high school reunion? Well, I put that song on my mix because I know that Nate Rollison (a kid in my class who will forever be my hero) knows the entire dance. And I knew that Nate was going to be there. Most of the games were winding down; someone put on “Thriller.” As though we had been born for that purpose, we formed a group behind Nate. We danced to “Thriller.” And it was exactly like the movie, except it was better because we are young and we weren’t dancing to be reminded of our youth. We were living it. I stole glances at the people who weren’t brave enough to dance, and I saw something I would compare to wonder on their faces. As the song ended, the group morphed into zombies and began to attack each other in between undead groans and fits of laughter. I guess that most people remember their Prom or football games from high school, but I think I’ll remember the dancing. I’ll remember feeling exactly my age. I’ll remember dancing with a bunch of boys I’d never talked to. When that night started, I was so nervous about the music and if people would like it and if I’d included enough this or that. I think that’s a pretty good metaphor for how I started high school. I was really concerned with how people would view me and if I was too this or too that, but I grew into a person who could look beyond what other people thought. I am brave enough to dance to “Thriller.” If we decide to do that at our 20-year reunion, I’ll still dance. I won’t be one of the cool kids who just stared in wonderment and something they couldn’t understand. As I begin to wrap up this four-year-long journey, I’m starting to realize how amazing it’s all been. I’ll remember the dancing.
5 Reasons Why Justin Beiber Should have Picked Justin Timberlake by ibet inyang While JT has been giving us old school hits, JB has been giving the world several reasons to hate him. Harsh, I know. But between the shirtless hospital picks and jabs at Lindsey Lohan, who’s really still here for the Beibs? All of this could have been avoided if he’d just picked team Timberlake instead of team Usher (yes, that’s an allusion to The Voice) and here’s why. 1. Beibs hasn’t handled the art of the beef. When people saw his paparazzi antics as Lindsey Lohan-esque, JB shot back by ranting on Instagram about his tax statements look nothing like the jailbird’s. Classy. Timberlake knows better than this. When the ever eloquent Kanye West said that he couldn’t get down with “Suite and Tie,” Timberlake nonchalantly slipped in the lyrics “my hits so sick got rappers acting dramatic” during his performance of the song on SNL. Boom. So you see, with Timberlake by his side, Beibs would have known that you have to prove your worth through the music, not with poorly written Instagram messages. 2. Speaking of the music, Timberlake could have taught Beibs a few things about the artistry of it all. No one’s disputing; Justin Beiber is a hit-make. But that’s it. They’re just catchy chart toppers, but not classics. Justin Beiber isn’t making albums; he’s making a string of hits with little substance that are eventually going to fade away. (No one will dance to “Beauty and the Beat” at their wedding, at least not years from now) But they may dance to “Pusher Love Girl,” “That Girl” or even “Suit and Tie” because they are are songs several years in the making, all of “20/20 Experience” was. I respect Justin Timberlake’s attention to detail and desire to get it right. 3. And he gets it right with every falsetto vocal run. Beiber don’t do that. Justin Beiber does nothing interesting vocally (unless you count the obvious octave change thanks to puberty) Why Usher doesn’t have jam sessions with Beibs, showing him how to expand his range, I will never know. But I do know that his talent level hasn’t changed much since he had that ridiculous, flippy haircut. 4. Justin Timberlake would not have authorized the term “swaggy.” 5. Justin Timberlake is currently illustrating how to successfully go from child star to superstarit doesn’t involve making yourself into one of the weirdest sex symbols ever. Yes, it has gotten Beibs plenty of teenaged fans worldwide, but not much respect. Justin Timberlake shocked the world with killer collabs in Justified, brought sexy back when we didn’t know it had left and then came back with songs and a swag that we can’t get out of our heads. Now, Justin Timberlake has a fan base that consists of pretty much everyone and a career that will last as long as he wants it to. Can’t say the same for the Beibs. Get your life, Mr. Beiber! Or at least visit our blog at therenegademusic.tumblr.com or listen to our weekly jam session The Renegade, live at thecollegesound.com/werw on Wednesday nights at 10/9 central.
WANT MORE MISCREANT? My Miscreants, I hope you this issue finds you well! We’ve been mighty busy, still catching up from a wonderful week at SXSW. It was such a treat to see so many friendly faces down there, new and old. I’d like to give a shout out to all my fellow PORTALer’S who were down there, cutting it loose. We had quite the time, and the Hype Hotel showcase was fantastic! I miss you all dearly. I’m very excited for some of the stuff we’ve got cooking up here for the rest of the semester, summer, and, with any luck, CMJ. Stay tuned for more details! I’d like to thank LVL UP for being a part of this here issue. I’m so excited for the record to finally come out. I hope to see you all at the Extra Worlds release party at the Stood on April 18. That’s a Thursday, and it starts at 8. There are a bunch of other cool bands playing, so be there or be square! If I can boogie on down to Purchase from Syracuse, I’d love to take a caravan. Also, many thanks to all of the lovely contributors to this issue! Lots of lovely lists and stories in this one. Still always excited to have new contributors, like my new friend Molly. Also, was very excited to have Tori’s interview with Anna in this issue. Anna played the WERW 25th Birthday Party a month or so ago. We had an excellent time, and you all should check her out while she’s on the road. Now, it’s time to start on issue 38! We are proud to feature Ra Ra Riot, and an interview with Mat Santos. Submissions are due on April 9. Send in your top ten wedding songs, your interview with your neighbor who plays banjo on her porch, your concert photos, anything to do with music. Email your work to email@example.com. Look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more! Love, The Miscreant