When she knew

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They fell asleep by the light of the Visualizer on the laptop but the sound was tinny and the light from it cold, and neither one of them wanted to go to sleep but they both did without deciding to, and that’s called Passing Out.

He steadied himself over the toilet with his hand on the cabinet, and his reflection split into different angles in the four silver handles on the drawers. His head was at the angle of a security camera in a changing room, watching himself on film in case he did something.

She lay in bed in the dark with her thoughts, redemptive thoughts, similar to his but different too. The biggest problem with her was her boyfriend Wayne, and now there was a reckoning needed, that she’d slept with her boss, who sounded like he was getting sick.

The night came back to him in shards, a messy break, some big pieces but many small ones missing. She, calling for a razor from the shower and he explaining where to find it, she emerging without a towel and that look of hers saying It’s time.

She had this red-dyed hair but it wasn’t the color of it as much as what she was saying with it, like she was ready to pop. Like there was so much of her dying to get out, she just wanted to spray herself all over the place. It came brimming up in her eyes.

It was the margaritas, always the margaritas. He’d never really done cocaine (like a lot at one time), but it was a similar kind of rush and swelling like a wave coming up, that always came down hard later. It led him down dark hallways until he’d forgotten where he was and couldn’t get back.

She just lay on her back looking at the ceiling smiling, like she was about to cry she was so happy. But all he could think about was Wayne, the boyfriend Wayne who was nuts and big, with curly hair and shirt hanging out and much older — late 30s, maybe — artist, wacko eyes, into meditation and thinking he could like shoot lasers with his hands if he focused right.

He got back into bed and she made a space for his arm behind her and leaned in. We’re going to have to talk to Wayne about this, he said. And she said she would, it was hers to deal with.

In the kitchen she fried an egg for him but burned the butter and it had a volcanic look to it now, like a black chemical thing happened, and the egg was fucked they both knew it, but she coaxed it off the pan with a spatula and it hit his plate with a bit hanging off the lip, which he moved with his fork to the middle. It was a bit like leather, the tongue of a boot, but he ate it anyway and smiled and said it was great, and meant it. And that’s when she knew, she said.

They walked down a gravel road and she asked if he knew where they were going and he didn’t, but said he did. And there was something different about Wayne now, like he knew, he was onto them, and his face looked different like she was seeing him for the first time, or looking at him in a new way.

They needed to have a talk she said. He sat on a rock and though it would be beautiful any other day, it looked sinister and awful now, the pond, the birdsong, the flowers of spring. He talked into his hands and sometimes turned sideways at her, but it was like it hurt him just to look at her, it stung. He was crying and ashamed of himself and wiping his nose, saying it’s alright, he just wanted her to be happy and that’s what matters most.

And she felt regret right away, she regretted it all, but she knew she was doing the right thing, and steadied herself. They were two different things, regret and knowing. You could regret a decision but justify it by knowing it was the right thing to do, they were two different things.

He said he had a painter friend who could always tell if a painting was done or not, and when it was done, he knew: it was time to walk away, leave it.

They would leave the spot off the trail by the pond and that place would always carry this moment between them. She went off to be with another guy because she thought she saw something in him, something only she could help him get out.

Photo by Loren Chasse, Waitts Lake, Washington.

 

 

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Then I was the remnant of a tale (for Carver)

It is a nothing day, a gray day,
a throwaway day and I
have disappeared into a crack
in the sofa with all those
forgotten things,
a no-man.

I have dream-drafts to send
me off, sounds of the dryer
and the clock, reminding
tics of all that’s undone,
all that needs cleaned.

I have finished the book,
its pages uneven
and soft: to think, our words
could kill so many trees,
our photo tattooed
on the back. He writes so real
it’s like life, I don’t want it
to end — it needs to be saved.

And when I’m done a small
part of me is gone, another dream
I won’t remember on a nothing
day. The writer breathed his
last words into me and gave
me song: said live while you’ve
got the chance, get up.

Raymond Carver shot from my iPhone

Raymond Carver shot from my iPhone

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From the throat, a crow’s hand

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We are several hours away in the hills, the desert steppe, a friend’s cabin, down a dead end road that leads to a lake, a quarry, so quiet you can hear the gravel on the shoulder when we pull over and get our cameras out, split up.

There’s a ramshackle settlement that’s abandoned and says Keep Out so we get out to have a look. We collect more than we need, to make things. We seem to go looking for trouble so we can be part of a story, so we can say look what we found.

And there is a way the light is filtered through the broken roof and something in the air here, the gore of animal parts that’s been stacked by someone we don’t want to meet and can only imagine — hunters we tell ourselves, and go.

And back to the car we discover clumps of rust-colored rock sagging off the side of a hill, falling into the shoulder right there into our laps, so we load up the car to make sculptures and to leave one for Brad. This is how middle-aged men act sometimes, like boys.

We stop by the abandoned boxcars in the town of Valley, WA, named because it’s in a valley, that’s pretty much all there is, the valley, the boxcars. We take pictures of the graffiti and Loren rubs a rock alongside the rusted-out steel, records it.

We piece together firewood scraps and railroad spikes and arrange them by a wagon wheel that makes a mouth. And Loren is fussing with the pieces and bent over them with his camera, a crime scene urgency. We must look like funny insects from above.

And from the edge of the property in the woods, a sound of something dripping in a cave that’s echoing across the water: the kind of sound that makes you freeze when it stops, and as we come upon it the sound takes flight and turns into a crow waving its hand to erase our sight, a magician’s hand, the crow.

We sit at the breakfast table in the sun and there is no sound until you open the front door. The synthesizer has 127 effects on it and Loren makes use of every one. He rubs a metal wind chime with a hammer and waves his phone over the synthesizer to make an interference and records it. And they have his records in the CD bin in Seattle, right there with the other C’s, filed under Electronic. And I just wrote a poem called Then I Was the Remnant of a Tale, it’s true.

There’s no one in these towns it seems just dogs, they spill out into the roads and just sit there by the car looking like they can see right through you, no one moves.

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 Photos by Loren Chasse.

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Hold me put, here

It’s either a dead worm or part of a banana adhered to the grout in the kitchen tile; it’s gotten that bad, the house. Shrew-killing season in full swing for the cats and some, catch and release style. The cats are sisters and work together when hunting and position themselves on either side of the sectional couch, with Dawn and her headlamp and broom, trying to get it out.

The dog doesn’t know what to do with the dead shrew so she holds it in her mouth, spits it out, then squats over it, pees.

And my hearing is worse now from eight days in the garage with loud music, washed-out, far away, resurfacing at the kids’ school in the drop off corral air-drumming to Led Zeppelin with the windows down, a permanent crick in my back from lurking about the upper loft, its low ceilings.

The kids make a Leprechaun trap out of an empty case of beer that says Wellcum with friendly smily faces to lure the Leprechauns inside, and fix the door closed with a 2″ wood screw and some glue. It’s amid the other clumps in the garage that have a logic only I can articulate, with paths carved out from one room to the next.

On Tuesday I dismantled five tool boxes and grouped items by species to work out the redundancies, a kind of corporate down-sizing. And I yanked items by the napes of their necks and hauled them out of the house with their roots screaming and buried them in bins to be hauled off and buried elsewhere in the earth.

An inordinate number of pocket-sized black combs, as if for some school project, breeding like eyeless spiders exposed to light. Contacts on scraps of paper never made. Subjects in photos I can’t identify, ticket stubs from the Tube, 1994. Something died or leaked out at the bottom of the bin and there are brass tacks clumped together in a jelly substance, interlocked.

If you believe what we own is a part of us, getting rid of the unwanted parts is like sloughing off dead cells, brown leaves, the remains.

There was a year I had a Word of the Day desktop calendar and I loved the words so much I saved all of them loose in a box, believing they held some secret fortune. And I could not throw them out without going through them one by one and keeping some for the refrigerator.

Topo maps in Ziploc bags, a 10 pound note in a birthday card from my step-dad’s estranged father to him, a brief signature, the note unspent.

Cut up credit card shards, loose change, binder clips, condoms, tea bags, a plastic device used for joint-rolling, puzzle pieces, locks without combinations.

Our house is a wreck but it’s lived-in, I’ve let it go. When it smells I open a window and burn sage over it. You can tell a house that’s not lived-in, it aches to be inhabited. It has different smells, it’s hollow.

I watch Charlotte cross the street and get on the bus and she turns around many times to see if I’m still there and I am.

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Drunks are like fruit trees

I changed my pants today, which is notable because I took a vow to keep wearing the corduroys until I got the garage done, and that was a week ago last Tuesday.

Yesterday, I found a draft of a story in the garage about our eccentric neighbors, when we lived in West Seattle. It’s dated October, 2006.

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Just like that, Joey blew back into town. We spotted each other in the alley and he introduced his two friends, Johnny Thrasher and Scotty Karate. They were all wearing black rock T-shirts with army jackets and cigarettes, walking to the store.

Like other drunks I’ve known, Joey could drink all day and all night with amazing clarity. It was hard to tell if he was still going from the night before or if he’d just started early.

And he looked worse this time, with skin flaking off in large patches around his nose and cheeks, and more teeth missing. I imagined kissing him would be like biting into a rotten apple, brown and mushy.

Johnny Thrasher and Scotty Karate were obvious friends from Joey’s hometown, Aberdeen; they bore that same kind of small town, going-nowhere-gloom. It’s where Kurt Cobain grew up, and that’s about all they had to be proud of.

Joey had a laughter like the crackle of deep thunder, an arresting laugh, the kind that elicits pause. It starts as curiosity that someone could laugh like that, but soon makes you feel unsafe.

I knew Joey had been to jail at least once before he moved in, next door. He never talked about it, but a friend of his confided in me once when he saw our CD collection and said maybe we should be careful about locking our doors.

Two weeks before his parole was up, Joey got into trouble again. A large American Indian started coming around with his girlfriend, a wiry chick with a raspy voice and obvious addiction to hard drugs.

Soon, she and Joey started hanging out without the Indian, and one Sunday afternoon we watched in horror as they kissed and touched each other out by our vegetable garden, right there in plain day.

The Indian came back though, and threatened to kill Joey. Joey called the police, and they came by to discuss. A few nights later, the chick with the addiction started to overdose, and Joey called 911. When they came, they searched his room, found a pipe, and Joey was on his way back to jail. While it was upsetting on one level, it was also a relief to have him gone.

It was a Sunday when Joey blew back into town. I commented that he and Scotty Karate looked related, then joked probably everyone is, in Aberdeen.

They laughed and Joey said he might come back for me later, something about kidnapping me to go drink with him, to catch up.

It was about one in the morning that night I heard them. All of our windows were closed, but I could hear the music as if it were coming from our own house, it was that loud. It was that awful death metal dirge: angry, slow music that crashes and explodes but never seems to go anywhere.

I imagined beating Joey with one of the iron implements we used on our fireplace to stoke the coals. And I imagined him liking it on some level. I heard the clock in our living room toll once, for 1 AM. If it went off again at 1:30, I was going over there.

Their house radiated neglect, the scab of the neighborhood that never healed. They had a large Mastiff named Kayleigh who looked like a three-headed beast from Greek lore. The dog was clumsy and shy though, and just drooled and shat all over the yard.

The gate on the front yard squeaked every time it opened, and we were aware of the comings and goings at all hours, just by that squeak. At 2 AM, I threw open the gate and approached the door. I could see a sliver of the living room and hear broken dialogue. Scotty Karate answered the door.

From behind, Joey acknowledged me with glee and waved me in from the sofa, said he was sorry he forgot to come get me for that drink.

I said Actually, I’m here to ask you to keep it down. I had insomnia, a wife, and a toddler who was already having trouble sleeping without the fucking sounds of Aberdeen next door.

Joey was infinitely sorry. Johnny Thrasher lowered his head into his cup.

How could this happen, I thundered? Don’t you people have jobs?

And then it was like a dream when you realize suddenly you’re not wearing any clothes. Of course they didn’t have jobs, they were from Aberdeen. They hated themselves and each other, no one had jobs. I was the odd one out with my perfect little corporate life, downtown.

Stay for a drink, Joey implored. You’re up now anyway, right?

Drunks have some kind of special power over other drunks — like fruit trees that only bear fruit if they’re pollinated by another fruit tree in close proximity. You see a drunk and it reminds you, maybe you should have a drink.

And so I wandered into their kitchen and studied the contents of the styrofoam cooler in the sink, a dull green liquid comprised of Vodka, beer and lemonade, all in the same drink.

I had just dipped the plastic ladle into the cooler when the gate squeaked open and Kayleigh the dog let out a deep Woof. Scotty Karate looked through the peep-hole and said, It’s some big Indian guy Joey, and he looks pissed.

 

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What we keep, who we are

Die Garage

Die Garage

I’ve broken through a membrane in our garage, the garage that’s bigger than some apartments I’ve lived in, where our kids can ride their bikes or scooters when there’s no cars and I’ve cleared the boxes to the side.

The garage, that’s come to represent all our excess, that’s formed a membrane between us and our objects, because objects have weight and sentiment and your possessions can grow to consume you.

And so the task of cleaning out our garage grew to become more than it should. The task now something more, a symbol of life’s lethargy, a dark lidless bird outside my window, a reminder growing more ominous each day that passed as if time alone, my procrastination, gave it life.

But like anything, once you start and make some progress, you’ve broken through the membrane.

MASTER TAPES

It’s the thought of what might be buried in the boxes, the boxes under the stairs, that made it so hard. The boxes that came from my mom’s house in Pennsylvania, labeled “Master Tapes,” all caps, underlined. An implied directive to handle with the utmost care. If the Ark of the Covenant were labeled, it would have the same font.

DSC_0019But to understand how a system works you have to take it apart and put it back together again.

So I dismantled the insides of all the boxes and laid them out on the ground. And like Noah, I put an order to things; I organized them by their color and species.

For my stepdad John was a musician and a collector, and at times a stretcher-of-the-truth. In other words, every object, every record, every book or piece of art had a story behind it. It’s not to say John lied, but because he was a story-teller I’ll call it more a creation of New Realities.

Because he said things like,“I knew Marc Bolan and actually had some letters he sent me when he was going through a difficult time…wasn’t easy being Irish and gay and Jewish in the 60s…”

Or the fact he was in the studio the night they recorded The Court of the Crimson King.

It’s scraps like this that force me to go slow taking apart his boxes, in hopes I’ll come across something truly precious.

Here are a few stops along the way:

Hand-written note on cover, German.

Hand-written note on cover, German.

Talking Books! Talking Boxes!

Talking Books! Talking Boxes!

Lost Treasures of English Folklore!

Lost Treasures of English Folklore!

The Master Tapes boxes are from John’s recording studio, an era spanning the 60s into the 90s, with multiple sized reels and audio/video format, including 5″ reels, 7″ reels, two sizes in between, compact discs, cassettes, vinyl in 45s and 33⅓, video cassettes, Super 8, even video film, the big reels: the original film from BBC recordings John starred in, late 60s. African safari expeditions, too. It’s stuff I will likely never watch because I don’t have the equipment but I’m compelled to keep.

And while it’s not wise to do so and lesser to admit it here, I’m moved to drink in the garage, to start earlier than one should and continue on deep into the night, as if there are spirits here in the garage, that The Chamber of Secrets has been opened and it’s true: you can hide pieces of your soul in books and objects, it’s not advanced wizardry.

That may sound New Age or Young Adult, but amid the old microphones and chords and many small recording devices unopened and described on the packaging in German, amid all this I found a random love letter from an old girlfriend of mine, read it, had the impulse to save it, but when I put it in my pocket I sensed it actually stir, like it was alive, and so I threw it out and closed the lid.

It’s all these things that drop to the bottom of the boxes and roll around like loose pebbles in our shoes: handwritten or typed letters, the ink fading, addressed to John.

A musician in Salzburg offering to put John up at his house and maybe John could get him a recording deal,

…I hear you’re touring in Austria in the near future. I have been singing around the German and Austrian folk clubs and many people are asking me for a record of my songs…I have sufficient material for 5 or 6 albums but you would have to choose whatever songs you wanted.

Signed, Les Brown (who sounds like he should be someone).

By going through John’s records you can follow him around the world as his tastes grew from the blues and ragtime in the American South, onto Hawaii, Portugal, India, Afghanistan, parts of Africa.

Because he was signed to Island records in the 70s, he’d get promo copies of records from the label, and it’s through John I first heard Rain Dogs, because according to John, Tom Waits had contacted him directly asking, would he produce his next album? But John couldn’t listen to it it was so bad, which made me about die.

Many of the cassettes have lost their mates (tapes without cases and vice versa), and some of the reels have the tape hanging out like guts, and I do my best to organize them and flip the titles so they’re all facing the same direction, and I’ve effectively moved contents of boxes from one box to another, but I’ve at least scoured the insides and feel like I know what’s in there.

And I move on to my boxes now, containing the precious but disorganized artifacts of my own life, and release old letters from professors, first resumés, drunken photos from college. It’s the micro-scenes lived, lost, forgotten until this moment, a final gasp where we all go to die, in the garage.

From a writing professor (in red pen, cursive),

May well be the very best (at least creative) journal I have ever read Bill. If you ever really get control of all your talent & channel it better you might well be a force to be reckoned with.

(Then, a capital A with a circle around it.)

Another professor:

So you’ve learned how to expose the naked nerve. Ooof. Creepy, painful, devouring, liberating, useful — above all, useful. Keep doing it, nerve by nerve, body part by body part, jagged edge by jagged edge…

When you discover your planet of origin, please let me know.

DHG

She may be dead now but she was alive again when I found that letter yesterday.

And so the picking away at these forgotten parts of our lives takes on an obsessive aspect, like picking at dried glue and scabs, because there’s parts of us buried in boxes but some things buried are better left that way — there’s a reason they’re buried, they’re dead.

Of all the treasures I imagined there is one I did not: an antique pocket watch my grandfather gave me when I was going off to college. I thought it had been stolen from a fraternity house, from a special place I’d hidden it but it was gone. Instead, it was here at the bottom of a box and my grandfather appeared when I held it in my palm and looked to the sky, I felt him.

It’s in our basements, attics and closets in the things we keep we think we’ll find answers to life’s pointlessness, the gaps in our past, but of course we never really find it in our things, it’s just enough to make us keep looking.

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When the skin once so taut loses shape

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Fall City, Washington

I got to the intersection and wasn’t sure which way to go. When there’s nowhere to go and you can go anywhere, it’s like spinning a Roulette wheel, deciding which way to go.

I took the same, windy road that day I was working, the day I went home sick. It was a white lie I told myself so I could go home, the inverse of the same white lie I told myself to stay all those years, something you half-believe to quiet down the half that knows better.

I got our good camera out which makes me nervous because it’s expensive and sensitive like a pet, it draws attention. And I never liked cameras because they say a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s a lot to compete with, for a writer.

I pulled over once I hit the country, once the roads and the valley opened up. When you’ve got a good camera it makes everything look different, like anything could be a good picture, because it can. But cameras are like pens, you can’t just wave it around and think sparks will come out, it doesn’t work that way.

I pulled into town and parked by the Masonic Temple, saw a police car and walked past it with my camera and my Carhartt vest, trying to look normal. I shot the library, shot the post office, and then got approached by a guy talking to himself, but didn’t shoot him.

There’s a bar at the end of the road where the river forks and you can turn left for more mountain towns, but I stopped short at a Last Chance Saloon type place, littered with signs and leaning pictures inside.

And it was that kind of place where everyone looks startled when you open the door. There was just one guy at the bar and the barmaid asked, First time here? And I said yes, I must have looked that way, like it was my first time.

And it was not quite noon but we’d turned the clocks forward which makes it even earlier I guess, but I went for it, and got a Pale Ale and asked could I take some pictures please.

I didn’t ask if I could write but I did; there was a bee trapped inside the window fanning the glass, and the Velvet Underground was on, the guitar climbing up and down the scales, ripping them apart, a bleeding rage of drugs and hysteria and dripping-wet chaos, and the bee keeps strumming the glass too, to where we’re all getting nervous and coming undone: there’s another guy at the bar now, three of us, and they’re all gathered around that bee saying someone should let him out so I do.

On the TV it’s some live coverage of women long distance runners and we’re all watching because it’s easier than looking at each other and a lot more gratifying: you can be a pervert and not at the same time because it’s expected, to look at it; it’s all right there on the screen, so look at it.

The women have a raw, animal beauty as they’re pressing on in the pack. The one in the front looks like she’s there and not there in the eyes, swinging her arms, breathing in and out: she could be crying/scared/ecstatic at any one moment, the emotions are moving in and out of each other like clouds behind her eyes, the mind subverted to the body, and vice versa.

And the men are beautiful too, they start in the pack and they’re calculating when they’ll go for it, when they’ll push ahead. They bob up and down like the ocean waves, and Lindsey Buckingham cries out from the background, Lightning strikes…maybe once, maybe twice.

And I write with my pen at the bar in a showy manner like I’m strapped to a lie detector and can’t control my wrist because I’m channeling, my jaw open agog, and they’re making comments now, like Are you writing us a review or something?

My backpack has a thousand page book in it and a half-growler full of water and some other devices, and when it falls off the stool it makes a weighty metallic sound like a bag of dropped groceries with cans and breakable goods and everyone looks up.

Outside I do laps around the town, off the main road, where it goes quiet on a Monday, mid-day.

The Hanged Man, Wikimedia commons

The Hanged Man, Wikimedia commons

I stand eating cold pizza on a dead-end road with a woodpecker banging the insides of a metal drum at some industrial treatment center; it’s where you get salt to put on the roads if you work for the D.O.T. and it’s snowing and you’ve got a plow. There are stalls with spray-painted numbers over them and idle tractors, razor wire, ROAD CLOSED signs stacked in a corner, no one here but me and the woodpecker.

I wear my ear buds but the chord isn’t long enough so it forces me to walk with my head bent at a bad angle, the kind of off-kilter urgency that defines the sick or deranged. It catches my neck when I turn to respond to a sound, and my face curls under the weight of it, Peter Lorre style.

I take my shirt off at home and stretch out on the grass with my dog and make an inverted figure-four out of my legs like the Hanged Man. The dog’s upper lip has gone slack, hangs off to the side. She’ll never have a job but will always be happy because she knows her role, she knows her place here.

 

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Release Your Inner Artist

pinklightsabre:

Monday inspiration from dear writer friend Tish Farrell; reminder to me on why I write…and why I dwell here on this corner of the Internet.

Originally posted on Tish Farrell:

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We are each of us born brimming with potential, creators in the making. But then something happens – at least for most of us it does. Somewhere between the childhood dreaming, and the adolescent wake-up call we make a decision. For each of us this will be the result of particular, often very painful circumstances, but the outcome will be the same. From that point on we will tell ourselves we are not goodenough, and what we do is not good enough and that even if we toil until the crack of doom, it never will be good enough. We give up. Surrender, often before we have given ourselves half a chance. Somehow – through repeated expressions of contempt, denigration, ridicule, bemusement from peers and elders – we learn that it is dangerous to be too extraordinary, and that if we persist in following our dream we will…

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Moon song for März

The moon is yellow and full and low in the sky
and the sky no longer drops now, it’s a slow fade to dusk.

I walk the lake road
and a car comes round the bend
and with the swoosh of the taillight in this frozen frame
it’s a paradise right here,
but I can only think of leaving.

And I walk to the park, to the baseball field
to admire the moon
and there’s a beam-me-up quality to it
just standing there alone,
it’s a soft mirror that won’t talk back,
it just grins and makes you think
it’s listening:

I am the only poet in the park on the bench writing after dark

I take the trail into the woods,
I crave the fearlessness of youth and know
I am as much a spirit as any who would harm me here,
likely more —

And I become larger than myself in the dark,
for I cannot see my feet strike the ground,
but know that they do,
I return to my senses
when forced to use them
and close my eyes to see inside.

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Guest Post: Top 3 records of 2015 so far

I am still working through music my dear friend Anthony has shared with me over the past 10 years — I think I asked him to stop in 2008, so I could catch up. This week, I asked Anthony if he’d contribute to my blog with his favorites of 2015:


Something I’ve noticed among a lot of my peers, friends and acquaintances. An unscientific large percentage saw their pursuit of music stop right after college graduation. I can understand this as people get busy with jobs, kids, pets and life in general. While I understand, I can’t relate.

I’ve been actively seeking out music for the last 31 years. Even before, I loved listening to the radio. My 9th grade year, 1984 was when I discovered bands like Joy Division, The Cure, R.E.M. and The Replacements and the curiosity to keep learning never abated.

Oddly, I’ve never been in a band and never really had the desire to. While I enjoy concerts and shows, I have always preferred listening to music at home or with friends to being at a live venue. I get asked often for recommendations and often end up asking the person more questions about what they like and ultimately end up annoying about 6 out of every 10 people who ask me about music.

I’m going to share a few records from this year which I really have enjoyed. I’m positive there are plenty of online reviews which will add more detail about them.

Father John Misty — I Love You Honeybear

Father John is a guy named Josh Tillman who has recorded a few albums under this moniker as well as under “J Tillman.” He was also drummer in Fleet Foxes for a while. This record is a throwback to 1970’s AM Soft Gold. He’s urbane and witty, but also heartfelt and sincere. Making a folky roots record in 2015 can be painfully derivative. Making a collection of great songs is timeless no matter the year. This is like a good pot of gumbo, let the temperature subside so you can taste all the layers. Don’t approach it hungry, let it invite you in over a few listens. The producer is Jonathan Wilson who has made a few fantastic records of his own over the last few years.

THEESatisfaction — EarthEE

People don’t realize that Seattle is a hotbed for fantastic hip hop. Conscious hip hop which bends styles of music into a rich combination of sounds and poetry which really defies words. You just have to listen. The two women in THEESatisfaction have created a flowing record of psychedelic, post modern music which I’ll probably have my head fully around in say, October. There are quite a few guest spots on this from their peers in this movement. If you think “I don’t like rap,” give this a try.

Viet Cong — Viet Cong (self-titled)

I love darkwave/post-punk more than any other genre. I’ll listen to bad albums by bad bands who wear their Bauhaus influences on their sleeve. When great albums by great bands like Viet Cong come along, I’m over the moon. This isn’t simple derivative copycatting here. This is an album carefully thought out and sequenced. It has a true beginning, middle and end. Like any good post punk record, it makes you nervous and jumpy with the mix of futuristic angularity and low-fi basslines and rhythm. This delivers everything I look for.

What are your favorites from 15?

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