• Sunshine
  • Low
  • I Could Live In Hope

Low - Sunshine

The last time I effectively played an instrument I was in second grade. My dad was teaching me how to play the banjo when Bluegrass was a dying genre with most of the older members of my family defiantly in love with it. This was before O Brother Where Art Thou was even a script, I’m sure. One of the first songs he taught me how to play was You are My Sunshine.

There is one time I distinctly remember a phone call to my Aunt involving me singing and playing this song into the receiver while sitting uncertain on my parents bed, not knowing if the phone would pick up the banjo weighing down my thighs. Here is where my memory lapses: In one frame I am singing the first verse, and then nothing, the next thing I know it’s my Dad with the phone in his hand relaying her surprise and elation re: my recent performance. I doubt that they had me sing the whole thing. It’s a pretty morbid affair, and I mean at the time I was like seven or something.

The first time I heard this cover I remember wondering how it could fill out a legitimate three-minute song length. Scott Tennent used to keep a blog called Do You Compute which acted as an indie-rock history lesson with a very personal slant. I first heard this cover from his post about it. If you have enough time to listen to this song once more you have time to read that post, and you should do that. The font is large and the page has lots of whitespace. You won’t regret it.

Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault
  • Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault
  • Jawbreaker
  • Dear You

Jawbreaker -Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault

Neil Gaiman may have spoken the only essential truth for going to parties where the topography of everyone in attendance is going to be unfamiliar: kitchens are safe-zones. They’re good for people who arrive alone. (Not necessarily with the intent of being alone -just because everyone you knew had a ride and you’re the only guy or girl with a bus pass, or you were invited by that friend of a friend who equates higher head count with a good time, or something like that.)

So you get there, hang up your coat, and you head into the kitchen to either stash your drink or find something publicly available for yourself. Sometimes you end up the soul stuck listening to your friend’s mother talk about her vacation last winter, but when it’s warm inside and the people around you are all moving in separate directions it’s easy enough to slip out of responsibility and into a different corner. Someone’s always there for it. No one needs a reason to be in the kitchen.

Farewell To All These Rotten Teeth
  • Farewell To All These Rotten Teeth
  • Carissa's Wierd
  • Songs About Leaving

05. Carissa’s Wierd - Farewell to All These Rotten Teeth

Throat clotting precedes the opinion. Dry mouth noises. Wet, clicking, sick to fix precedes the option. Testing. One, two. Start with Hell as a shove of the diaphragm and an open, phonetic ring of the lips as a final notice. Oh. The What Have I Done drenches everything and washes off before you feel the rush. The next chamber is confusion and there is no floor there. You plummet and feel wildly for some anchor. Breathing becomes effort and thought becomes a coin toss: Heave or hum? Respire or respond? Look away. Close yr eyes. Leave the skin and bones to dry.

  • Listen


Jets To Brazil - I Typed For Miles 

There are fantods that come from, more than anything, slipping up. Not the slight-of-hand, err-of-tongue mistakes but the too-soon/too-late-turn, wrong exit, six-hours-wasted-so-give-up-and-go-home mistakes. The ones that start from rotten ground and grow crooked. The ones where the wrong answer comes from input overlooked, and the results are like like rabbits. Rabbits or insects or some kind of new math germinating into restless self-abuse. Where, afterward, proportion disregards perspective and the whole thing weighs you down in ways that seemed unimaginable when you thought you had the answers - not all of them because I doubt anybody really thinks they have it all, but enough to get by.

I was going to start this month out with a much less known song by a band from Connecticut but I guess this one probably works better because it more directly relates to the rest of the songs I’d like to post, and the things I want to talk about: writing, connectivity, people, apologies, music itself. Maybe we’ll get to the other band tomorrow.

Note to self: No one cares.

I am 23 years old and from Rochester, New York. I tend to live like a hermit and when I am let out into public I have this embarrassing habit of to talking too loud for too long. My name is Brian Latimer.

  • Engine Of Ruin
  • Earth
  • The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull

Earth - Engine of Ruin

Things come from nothing. Do one thing. Just one thing. When it’s not enough for you, do another. After that, do something else. Repeat. Eventually something will work. Eventually there will be a direction. If these things you are doing don’t seem cohesive for a long time, they are still moving you away from what is not right, and eventually you will have something that sticks. Something with substance. Things come from nothing.

  • Listen

Rivulets - Cutter

You asked if you could call and I told you it was fine but you still apologized because neither of us like phone calls even though this was important enough that you wanted to hear my reaction. You also knew it was cold out and I hated to be around anybody who could hear me when I talked on the phone. I think the next part went like this:

- He went to my grandparents.
- What?
- No. That’s not the good part. Wait for this.
- Ok.
- He told them I’m a drug addict and an alcoholic.
- …what?
- Yeah.
- But… what?
- I dunno! He’s supposed to be at school.
- That’s like a six hour drive.
- I know!
- It’s Monday night.
- I know!

The snow was falling against the glass and I stopped before I opened the door like I was waiting for a moment when I could have exited without it drifting inside. The phone was cordless and started to crackle against my ear once it got into the cold. My face was numb. I put my back up against the door after it sealed the house off again and kicked away some snow to sit down on the steps.

- So what the hell is he doing at your grandparent’s?
- Fuck if I know.
- And he said-
- Yup.
- Did they believe him?
- What do you think?
- I think your Grandpa would shoot him if he set foot on his property.
- I’m surprised he didn’t!
- He’s the type.
- I know it.
- Have you talked to him?
- My grandpa?
- No.
- Not in a few months. Not in person anyway.
- So what the hell?
- Fuck if I know.

  • 6/99
  • Frodus
  • And We Washed Our Weapons In the Sea

Frodus - 6/99

Really perfect bodies of work involve history and struggle. They suffer within themselves. When you receive and experience them they activate something inside you that sends shivers down your spine and excites you in ways you probably haven’t felt in years. They involve more than just technical ability and - we’ll make this strictly about music for now - they’re always something that leaves the artist feeling dead afterward while standing listening to this sonic eviscerate; when the whole ordeal is over with wounds still open the artist is asked to kindly collect themselves and walk away because we all have lives to get on with. Every time.

Then there’s the long-lasting damage. Bands break up. Songs aren’t played live. Unrealistic demands are given focus in spite of generosity. Things break. People quit and distance themselves. Nothing gold can stay. I close my eyes.

I can count the number of albums that affect me physically on one hand. Only two of them are by bands that are still together, one of which has changed members (due to personal circumstance) enough times that they should hardly be considered the same entity. They aren’t the band that wrote that album, they just have the same name.

But time effects people. I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t in one way or another laugh at who they were five years ago.

  • The Obituaries
  • The Menzingers
  • On The Impossible Past

18. The Menzingers - The Obituaries

For every time one intensified or distracted version of myself has gripped a beer-scented handshake there have followed upsets and aftermaths to furrow my brow. At some point we learn about how routine is a condition of survival, and how ritual can right a scale that may tilt askew from rust or be weighed down by habit. For tension in the face of good news, for knowing better but still trying and certain as anything waking up with your face on the floor as a result here is an anthem.

Butterfly Kisses
  • Butterfly Kisses
  • The Depreciation Guild
  • In Her Gentle Jaws

The Depreciation Guild - Butterfly Kisses

As much as I subscribe to the belief that Good Music is usually not ‘fun’ (read: 'easy to listen to/digest completely the first time’) and that it’s all supposed to be serious stuff that reveals deeper things to you about life and humanity, and that maybe if religion has any real leg to stand on it’s because of Math and therefor probably Music vis-a-vis ’The Language of Birds’ is the same thing as ’A chorus of Angels’ and all of that is just a metaphor for measured speech - starting from classical poetry with extreme regard for meter and form, and projecting forward - which eventually turns inward a little further into lyrical compositions or poetic lyrics in songs, which eventually could lead to things like what DeLillo talks about with the 'feel’ of a sentence that he puts down etc, etc, etc… despite ALL of that and all of the places it could take you and I if we were in the same room to talk about it instead of sitting in front of two separate monitors reading this, I’m still a kid who was born in the late 80’s and who did most of his growing up in the late®-90’s/early-00’s while playing too many video games; if you include some tasteful 8bit accompaniment in a song that already leans in a direction I’m interested in I will probably be all kinds of gaga for it for at least one or two repetitions.

(Plus, I mean, there’s something to be said for a visceral reaction too isn’t there?)

Ma Jolie
  • Ma Jolie
  • Bear Vs Shark
  • Right Now, You're In The Best of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know...

Bear vs. Shark - Ma Jolie

Going to try to make this the epitome of my available laziness this month, but this story is - despite it’s brevity - really funny (to me) so I guess I feel it’s justified? Anyway, some friends of mine went to see Bear vs. Shark in 2005. A few in the group went without knowing what the band sounded like. I wish I had been there. After the show one of the kids in attendance said he was really glad they were good “because if they were shitty that would have been a huge waste of a seriously awesome name.”


From California
  • From California
  • The New Amsterdams
  • Worse for the Wear

06. The New Amsterdams - From California
I reach back into time to see you. Our attributes are well preserved relics, but I can’t say with real certainty that we suffer in the same ways. You have been a monument cast in sunlight. Now I’m starting to realize that that might be more inherent than learned, the same way I’ve inherited this explosive temper as a reminder of my velocity. A million sparks at my feet from the crack to the crash of my eyelids. I can’t tell who is healthier.

This is probably why our media differ even when the driving forces are almost indistinguishable. The discipline in our blood connects us. If I’d have taken any time to visit in the past few years I might have seen that sooner.

  • Hello
  • The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up
  • It's Winter Here

The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up - Hello

So I want to try and go through some of this month without speaking directly about the songs or bands that are being posted. The idea with this project is 1 song + 1 thought. That means the discussion should correlate with the music but maybe the two don’t have to be conjoined, right? Like “Let’s not be totally self-indulgent with this venture.” Yeah? And maybe with that as a starting point we can explore the idea of, like, soundtracking a story that isn’t filmed? Presenting themes as couples through media? Injecting fictionalized scenarios into nonfiction narrative to convey a feeling? Can we get behind this? Anyway I want to speak directly about this band and this song for a minute even though I’ve done that before without introduction.

The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up has been my favorite band since encountering them in the period of my formative years referred to most frequently as high school. Their split with Xiu Xiu came out… I think it was 2004? Right? Fabulous Muscles came out that year, and Jamie Stewart had a pretty rigorous release schedule (something about The Smiths?) and his songs from the JYPU/XX split would all appear on FM, so I think it was then. Regardless, the split gave me four songs that I could play again, and again, and again that I never got tired of. The rest of their albums I would grow into the same relationship with, but this was instantaneous.

I pretty firmly believe that this band is one of the most criminally underrated groups of people to ever plug guitars into amplifiers in the name of Indie-Rock. (Or used to be. I think since disbanding their name has taken on a low-key murmur of esteem in the right circles.) It’s difficult for me to say much more than this, but if you like this song enough to checkout their other recordings you won’t be disappointed.
I just went back to their official site to doublecheck if it was Jim Yoshii Pile-Up; or THE Jim Yoshii Pile-Up; and realized all of the dates on the posts end in or before 2005. That struck me very suddenly just now, and is kind of upsetting.

Leave it to me to stumble and take too long to find any of the right words. The car was warm though and that made it easier to stop my hands from shaking. It was only August then, but it seemed like winter was coming fast. A month of wrong thinking. (Now I’m writing this and that year is well past over. There is barely even snow on the ground anymore.)

Then the car was full of things. Not my things. Things that needed a new place to sit for a little while though. The next time I saw those things we were carrying them into the house and I’d forgotten that they were not mine.

So the drive was me telling someone about you, and about the only other person I’ve ever met who instantly made me think of you. The person I was talking to, The Driver, has never met you. They probably never will. Maybe they will. I don’t know. Talking about any of this always means talking about You. You started everything off and you always make me backtrack through all sorts of embarrassing memories because we’ve known each other since we were three.

And when I was finished with you - that is, talking about you, because in all likelihood I will never actually be finished with you - I had to negotiate my own feelings into the story which requires a certain level of comfort. One which at the time I was fairly certain The Driver and I had reached; the two of us having discussed things far more serious than hangups like this.

Anyway, so then there was this other person who reminded me of you. In physical presence first, but it did reach farther than facial features and your common haircut and that peculiar gait you both share because your hips are, in all likelihood, very similar. You were there in the way danced to music that none of us had ever heard before. I saw you in the way they pulled off a pipe and passed it to the next person while doing that same stupid thing with their pinky finger that you do when you’re holding the lighter and the pipe at the same time. And it was more than how I spent the entire night feeling disoriented and a little too high and like I might not have changed very much in the past five years at all because certain simple, specific things can make me feel like I’m trying to function while the back of my skull is caved-in.

But despite feelings I am a little older now, and that matters because I have a house to live in. A place to retreat and collect myself and realize that muscle memory is the fastest way to make mistakes when things feel the same but aren’t. A place to let my bones fall into their sockets and complications into the proper scenarios that would come of them. A place to remember why you and I are the way you and I are now.

So like I said in the beginning this was just my way of fumbling around in the dark until I found the right words to tell you I still miss you.

  • S.O.S.
  • Off With Their Heads
  • All Is Not Well

Off With Their Heads - S.O.S.

I once saw a woman in a well maintained cardigan and expensive earrings pick up change off the ground in the same place where this homeless man used to come and look for it. When I told her about him she said she knew he would most likely be by, but she wanted the money - which probably didn’t amount to more than just over a dollar or so, if that - for her grandson’s college fund. Winter was just starting then.

Uptown Sleep Solution
  • Uptown Sleep Solution
  • Banner Pilot
  • Pass the Poison

11. Banner Pilot - Uptown Sleep Solution

I say these things so you all might start to think about why I am quiet. It’s because you are scared of imposing, and you are still trying to get me to say the things I can’t grasp words for, and because we never catch one another at the right times, and because you won’t admit that you do the drugs you do, and because you’re dead now, and because you feel like a severed limb limping into words that are already slanted.

Because my steps slip every time I try to meet you above ground.

Because you’re hopelessly naive, and because you barely had the chance to be - I’m sorry to bring you into this again - and because you don’t understand that you’re weaving those straws you’re grasping at into a noose.

So let the record play. It covers up the things that we don’t say.

Blue Christmas
  • Blue Christmas
  • Bright Eyes
  • A Christmas Album

12. Bright Eyes - Blue Christmas
I love the Bright Eyes Christmas album. As music. As sentiment. As entertainment - though never when it’s in season. Playing this while drinking from a sweating glass in the middle of a heat wave is too perfect to say anything else about. Last week the mercury hardly wavered below 85°. It just didn’t seem possible. The humidity was relentless.

Cheers. I hope wherever you are you’re perspiring.

4. Pujol - Psychic Pain

When the peaks of our skies come together my house will have a roof.

Consider what happens when we are afraid. When, beyond all control and strength of will, we are overtaken. Attic, head. Base vs apex. Maslow the carpenter. Blow the roof off or don’t. When shivers call up & down the spine what else is there, save the howling? Allow yourself to be taken out of your body. Unify with nothing. In the event of panic, panic. Pain will rap at the windows on every story of the house, and when no one answers it floods out the basement like a calling card. Whatever it is that most people keep down there usually floats. Consequence is as consequence was.

  • I Took A Beating
  • I Am The Avalanche
  • I Am The Avalanche

3. I Am The Avalanche - I Took a Beating

Yesterday was a mess poured onto the floor. Biking too much in oppressive heat, trying unsuccessfully to sneak into a Wilco show, not eating, a mixture of mild exhaustion, not-quite defeat, and reexamining my comfort zones. I forgot the internet existed by the time I got out of work. Apologies. I’ve got some cleaning to do.

Young Man On A Spree
  • Young Man On A Spree
  • Modern Life Is War
  • Witness

21. Modern Life is War - Young Man on A Spree.
Can I even finish a sentence before seeing see what starts as anticipation erupt into recognition? It all falls effortlessly out of your eyes and over your cheekbones.

What’s left to sleep off? Nothing but the sores inherent in me and the half-mumbled idioms you’ll only hear when my limbs hang from the side of my bed. I won’t be able to explain them. My hands shake less than they used to now.

You’ll never be able to know about the places that steal my breath, or why they do, but when they were through with me I left with a limp. It looks a lot like yours.

I don’t wanna be alone when these walls start closing in.

1. Wilco - Reservations
It feels like something is here in the hour.
The athlete’s ritual, yeats’ box clicking.
Some extrasensory sharpness, a touch of else.
Reaching for the apogee to steady my footing; a condition balanced on fragility.

Despite what happens some days I do understand that these plates of bone house a high-efficiency machine. Chemical soup. A 1:1 scale map of a room with too many walls and no entrance or exit. The windows are boarded up because there is nothing behind them to look at.

Query: After so many turnarounds and breadcrumbs and nights curled up in cold corners, where am I going with this? The machine resets.

Posit: There is no getting there. The only place to arrive is into motion. The power in things comes from the temperament of the bases they’re built on. You survey the chasms and plateaus because it keeps the machine running more than staring at a map ever will.

Hello, again. Hello. Hello. Hello.

-Brian M. Latimer