What Do I Want to Do with My Life?

About a month ago, a friend asked me this question. I began spouting out a pretty stock answer I’ve been using for a few years now: “I plan on always making and performing music, but I’d love to work during the week as some sort of counselor and moonlight as an author.” Somewhere in the middle of that sentence, she interrupted me to correct my interpretation of her question: “No, I don’t mean what job you want; I mean, what do you want to do with your life?” Upon further reflection, I didn’t know how to answer the question. I told her I’d probably have to come back to her with an essay as an attempt to answer her question adequately.

Here’s that essay.

If I were to respond with as succinct and honest an answer as possible, I’d say that I want “to love and to be loved.” But let’s expand on this concept before I dive into its specific implications in my (and possibly your) life. I’ll never forget when I first discovered the meaning of the Hebrew word yada, (which is fairly different than the word used in the Seinfeld episode “The Yada Yada”…or is it?). Yada means “to know and to be known.” More specifically, the word was used in Hebrew culture to describe five different dimensions of knowledge:

  • To know something or someone completely
  • To know something technically
  • To encounter someone face-to-face
  • To have a personal experience with God
  • Sexual intimacy

Perhaps some of this resonates with you already. As for the initial definition–to know and to be known–I can sadly say I’ve lost friendships in the past because the other people felt like they were putting more effort into getting to know me than I was putting in to get to know them. Likewise, I know how inauthentic a friendship can feel on the other end of that equation, when the other person only cares about him or herself.

As for the first of the five specific definitions, I’m absolutely thrilled by the concept of knowing someone completely or being known by them completely. This might seem like an impossibility, especially concerning how we are constantly changing, adapting, and in flux as people. But even the journey, the concept, the attempt, would be more than worth it. This idea of knowing someone with such intimacy naturally ties into the fifth definition, for two reasons: 1) it could easily be argued that knowing someone completely would be impossible without knowing his or her sexuality (or even without experiencing it personally), and 2) while having sex is an obvious factor within marriage, marriage is also the ideal historical establishment for getting to know someone and live life alongside someone for a lifetime, enduring all the changes that person may undergo.

That said, yes, I hope to get married. Even as a child of divorce and someone who has legitimately considered marriage counseling as a potential future career, I am a huge proponent of monogamy and lifelong marriages. I am equally thrilled and terrified by the idea of getting to know someone completely, through all her secrets and flaws, while simultaneously opening myself up with all my own secrets and flaws. And then to see how each others’ strengths complement each others’ weaknesses, and to see the kind of team we are able to become as life trudges on.

To get completely off track for a moment, though: Seinfeld. I think the writers of the famous sitcom knew exactly what they were doing with the word yada during the famous “yada yada” episode. Although this Emmy-nominated episode made the phrase famous, it had already existed in American culture as filler words to skip over information in a story that either was already known by the listener or didn’t need to be known. In the episode, as confusion builds from an over-usage of this filler phrase, characters become suspicious that another character has used “yada yada yada” to skip over the details of having sex. As Elaine famously proclaimed, “I’ve yada yadad sex!” Could this be a coincidence to the fact that the Hebrew yada is used for sexual intimacy?

I would argue that this was completely purposeful, as the other storyline in the episode features Jerry’s dentist (Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston) converting to Judaism. Jerry is offended by this move, accusing the dentist of becoming a Jew just “for the jokes.” Perhaps this self-aware comment was true of the episode as a whole?

However, there’s plenty of Hebrew cultural subtext that can’t be gleaned from a Seinfeld episode, such as the fact that yada is not used as a be-all end-all word for any sexual interaction. The word is treated with a certain reverence and holiness, as it is used for the type of knowledge God had of mankind as well as the type of knowledge God desires his people to have of him. Similarly, in terms of sexual intimacy, yada is reserved for referring to love-filled, covenant-bound sexual encounters. Conversely, the Hebrew language has a wholly separate word for instances such as molestation and rape, a word that literally translates to “the exchange of bodily fluids.” Gross…right?

The desire for sex is primal, universally-shared desire. It would be laughable lie for me to say I don’t want sex as part of my idea future. But I also don’t want to sell myself short on how beautiful and important sex can be love. I don’t want to exchange bodily fluids with near-strangers. I want to share a yada-love with someone where our love for each other and knowledge of each other continues to grow for a lifetime.

If you haven’t noticed by this point, I see an inseparable correlation between the phrases “to love and to be loved” and “to know and to be known.” I want the five characteristics of yada to be evident in all of my relationships and everything I do in life. Take music, for example. The fact that I know a lot about the music industry and continue to invest time in learning more is evidence of how much I truly care about music. On the other end of the spectrum, when someone claims to be a fan of an artist or band but only knows the radio singles, I argue that the person actually isn’t a fan. He or she may be a fan of a song or two, but by taking no effort to learn about the artist and the rest of their discography, I see no evidence of actually caring. It’s kind of like the friendships I mentioned earlier, where only one side is putting in effort. If you’ve made it all 1,000+ words through this blog post thus far, you’ve proved that you actually care about me or (at least) what I have to say. If there is no knowledge, then how can there be love?

Perhaps I should attempt to sum things up now. What do I want to do with my life?

I want to know someone completely and be known by them completely through the establishment of a lifelong and monogamous marriage. I also want to have honest, caring, deeply knowledgeable relationships with close male friends, whether those friendships are for a season or for life.

I want to do good work with my life, whether I’m counseling for money and making music for free or making music for money and counseling for free. Whether I write award-winning novels or give up writing because all I know how to do is make overly verbose blog posts. Or none of the above! Regardless of how I make some sort of income, I want to care about my craft, know it technically, and accomplish it with vigor.

I want to be a good friend and a good stranger. I want to take my wife on dates, I want to keep in touch with my friends on a face-to-face basis, I want to write handwritten letters to people I can’t see, and I want to take homeless people to lunch. I want my handshake to be firm and my smile to be the authentic outpouring of someone whose integrity can be trusted.

Lastly, I will stand firm on the fourth characteristic I listed of yada: a personal experience of God. I’ve had plenty of these personal experiences and plan to have many more, be these when God miraculously healed my knee injury in a dire time of need, when He’s answered prayers on countless other occasions in ways that couldn’t have been coincidence, when He told me to go to Germany for a summer, or when He has shared wisdom to me and through me that did not and could not have come through me. Most importantly, I have had a personal experience of God in that He saved me, saving me from myself in order to make me His. He did not save me because I’m white or because I grew up in the Bible Belt or because my parents believed in Him. He saved me because he won me my heart by dying for the world two millennia ago, a sacrificial act of utmost love that has never been forgotten and is this very day continuing to change peoples’ lives throughout Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, and Australia. In the U.S., we’ve got things so well figured out that as long as we’ve got a job and a car and our Apple products, we don’t need to rely on anyone else to do anything for us. What do I want to do with my life? I don’t want to be independent — I want to be loved.

Currently Listening:

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The Evidence for Our Opinions

Opinions can be a tricky thing. We all have them–in fact, we are all entitled to them. However, that doesn’t mean an opinion is correct. The issue of theism is an easy example of this issue. Because science cannot convincingly prove or disprove the existence of God, holding to either extreme is considered an “opinion.” However, since the two conclusions are logically exclusive, they can’t both be true. Eventually, one must be true and the other false.

But this blog post isn’t being written to explore the philosophical ramifications of Pascal’s Wager or Schrödinger’s cat. Quite the opposite, in fact: I simply want to share an entertaining and helpful discovery I’ve made toward answering the question, “What’s your favorite _____?”

The discovery I’ve made is this: look at the evidence.

I’ve always struggled with such questions. When asked my favorite movie, I often just begin listing off a few dozen films from many different genres and decades. Back in January, around the release of American Beauty/American Psycho, the absolutepunk.net community blew up with discussions of everyone’s top 10 favorite Fall Out Boy songs. Determined to make a definitive list, I dug through the band’s entire discography twice through, making notes on each song. By the time I gave up, I’d narrowed down the list to my top, erm, SIXTY tracks.

Picking favorites is hard.

I always fail. I always end up with superfluous, unyielding lists. Ask me for a favorite song by an artist and I’ll give you two full albums. It’s helpless.

That all changed this week, when I finally thought of a convenient way to figure out my favorite songs. In hindsight, the solution is comedically simple: look at the evidence. I’ve been using the same iTunes collection for nearly 5 years. I expanded my ‘Top 25 Most Played’ playlist to include the top 200 songs. Then I went through and collected (in a separate playlist) the top song per artist included in the list. This ranged across 35 different artists, maxed out by The Reign of Kindo and trickling down to a more recent obsession, Wolves at the Gate.

Rhythm, Chord & Melody

When I compiled these favorites, there was a peace that came with it. There was no stress involved with picking the right choice. Breathe. Look at the evidence. It’s all there in the numbers. I didn’t have to worry about picking “better” songs, making more prestigious choices. Instead, I just trusted the evidence in front of me, clearly stating to me, “Chase, these are your favorites.”

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Now, this list isn’t perfect. Not all of my music-listening occurs through iTunes. These numbers are skewed toward newer releases, ever since my speakers blew out in my car, which forced me to listen to my iPod more than CD’s. Take my favorite band, Thrice, for example: I listened to most of their pre-2010 discography physically, but digitally thereafter, meaning the band’s 2011 album Major/Minor appears nearly track-for-track in my top 200. The top song was “Disarmed”, just a notch above “Treading Paper.” (I’m also pretty sure that many plays of “Red Sky” were lost from my iPod not syncing correctly on one occasion.) Does this mean “Disarmed” is my favorite song from my favorite band? I doubt I’d ever be able to choose a song, and thereby stick to my decision. But who cares? Look at the numbers.

There are some anomalies in the list, too. “Alone Down Here” by the SpacePimps and “The Love Inside” by Laura Hackett Park both made the list even though I’ve spent very little time listening to those artists as a whole; those are just two songs that I’ve listened to on repeat (and repeat and repeat). Similarly, “Bloom” by Between the Buried and Me made the cut because, from its parent album, that’s the song I’ve most often shown other people.

Meanwhile, picking a top song from each artist was often a toss-up, as most of my music-listening is done in full albums. The top 200 songs are dominated by 16 albums where most of the tracks are represented (…evidently my favorite 16~ albums ever?). One of those albums is Fall Out Boy’s Folie à Deux, and I actually expected “27” to take the top spot. Instead, there was a tie for the most played song, leaving me to basically flip a coin between “The (Shipped) Gold Standard” and “America’s Suitehearts.” (I chose the former, as the latter had such a high mark because it often appears when I’d do shuffles. I guess I do have a favorite FOB song after!)

Before I post pictures of the final two playlists (each capable of fitting onto an 80 minute CD), I’ve got one final remark about how they turned out. On a less technical note, I’m just amazed at how fun these playlists have been to listen to! (What’s funny is, by listening to these playlists in isolation, I’m inadvertently cementing the play counts and making sure other songs don’t overtake these…which I suppose is called sabotage?) Part 2, for example, begins with Canadian worship band Starfield’s “Filled with your Glory,” which somehow seamlessly flows into British thrash metal band Sylosis’ “Fear the World” before miraculously making a smooth transition into Fall Out Boy. Could this be true? It’s so strange, so unlike any playlist that I would purposefully piece together, and yet it is all so very ME. There’s nothing about these songs that doesn’t scream, “Chase! Alexander! Tremaine!” Even though there are some glaring absences and some surprising results here, it’s all an incredible example of what my taste in music truly looks like on a practical level, with all of my preferences and idiosyncrasies laid out with no filter or barrier. You can see that Michael W. Smith and Barry Manilow are my favorite artists I’ve held onto since childhood. You can see how I’ve dealt with homesickness by singing along to The Receiving End of Sirens’ “Pale Blue Dot” over and over. You can see that I love at least one country artist and three metal artists. You can see my massive bias towards Thrice, as frontman Dustin Kensrue makes 4 appearances (Thrice, his solo work, with The Modern Post, and a guest appearance on Ascend the Hill’s “Even When I’m At My Darkest”). I’ve always wondered what album or playlist I could hand to someone that would be the most certifiably “me”…and now I’ve found it.

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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Now, for those of you who have actually read through to the end of this blog, indulge me for a moment as a conclude by widening my topic’s scope once again. When we speak of our opinions…are we looking at the evidence?

For example, do I think I’m a safe driver, yet I keep getting into wrecks? Do I think I’m a great listener, yet I always do most of the talking in conversations? Do I say I love my parents, yet all I do is argue with them? (To be fair, that last one is a question I often need to ask myself.) We are all entitled to opinions, but we might do a much better job heralding that entitlement by grounding our opinions in evidence.

Now, go make yourself a playlist!

Act Action (Blog #2) – What Kind of Music Do You Play?

(Note: this is part of a series of blog posts concerning my new album, which can be streamed or purchased here. However, this is one of the posts that I believe might be difficult to enjoy or participate in without hearing the album first.)

I hate this question.

Can I be honest? I really hate this question.

When someone asks me, “What kind of music do you play?”, my first reaction is usually to freeze up and scurry through my thoughts in an attempt to figure out some sort of response. Sometimes I’ll be super generic and say, “pop/rock,” or I’ll say something untrue like, “pop-punk,” or I’ll say something that’s strangely specific and impossible to discern, such as “a cross of Thrice and Barry Manilow” or “a mixture of Jesse McCartney and la dispute.” I also secretly want to get super sassy and say, “I play music with words and instruments.”

But I think the best thing I can do is request, you tell me! I would love to know what you think I sound like, what genres I seem to fit in, or what influences you think I have. So let the comments fly!

If you want some hints, I’ll do my best to recall the music that was inspiring me when I wrote the bulk of these songs, which was during the summer of 2011 in between my freshman and junior years of college.

This is surprisingly hard to remember… I can recall all my favorite albums from every single year of grade school from 6th grade through 12th. During college, things got blurry. Looking through my iTunes collection, I’m not seeing many albums released in 2011.

One of the primary reasons for this is I spent most of that school year purchasing second-hand albums from EntertainMart instead of buying new albums. I fell in love with Barry Manilow’s lesser-known albums, as well as the entire discographies from Michael W. Smith and The Academy Is…, all of whom were probably inspirations for the record.

I do know at the very least that during the writing of many of these songs, I was pretty hooked on the first half of The Dear Hunter’s Color Spectrum, primarily the Black, Red, Orange, and Yellow EP’s. I also know that I took a trip to Hawaii that summer (which, obviously, is where I wrote the song “Sandcastles”), and on that trip I was primarily listening to Pala by Friendly Fires, Human Hearts by Maritime, Mirrorwriting by Jamie Woon, Unfinished by Jordan Knight, and musiqinthemagiq by Musiq Soulchild.

Alright, your turn: what do you hear?

I would love to finally have a decent answer to this wretched awful question.

Act Action (Blog #1) – Why “Ours By Accident”?

(Note: this is part of a series of blog posts concerning my new album, which can be streamed or purchased here. However, this is one of the posts that I believe can be read, understood, and enjoyed without needing to hear the album.)

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Friends, fans, and stalkers might notice that Ours By Accident has not always been my artist moniker. Heck, even this blog itself was named by my intended-at-the-time band/artist moniker Alexander Machine. So for those interested in knowing the significance about why this changed, keep reading:

First off, band names are stupid. I’ve been playing music with my brother for about eight years, and we have been through three official names together, along with countless numbers of almost-names and joke-names, from The Brothers Tremaine to Heaven Yes. Our most recent (and most official) moniker was Romantic Machines, coming off the heels of another moniker derived from our middle names: Nelson and the Alexanders (i.e., Taylor Nelson Tremaine and Chase Alexander Tremaine).

Since 2013, my brother and I have been focused more on writing separately than together, leading to the idea of having side projects that were tied into our together-project, Romantic Machines. Through this, my brother had the idea of his project being called Nelson Romantic and mine Alexander Machine. This felt like the perfect idea at the time, so we ran with it and he released a few 2013 demos followed by a 4-song EP in May 2014 as Nelson Romantic.

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Meanwhile, I meant to begin recording my full-length debut as Alexander Machine in the fall of 2013. I even made a good amount of progress into the pre-production of the record, but busyness with working and being a senior in college kept pushing the recording dates further and further away until I began fearing the album would never come.

By the time I graduated college, I decided to record a different album, with a completely different style and set of songs. When I began recording what would become Act, Action, and the Peace that Never Was in May 2014, it was still supposed to be an Alexander Machine project. Here are the main reasons why this decision changed:

1. Because Google: When you search “alexander machine” on Google, it takes pages to get to my blog posts, Youtube videos, etc. Instead, you find a bunch of links to machinery sites. Even the domain alexandermachine.com was already taken…yes, by a machine and tool company, likely owned by a man named Alexander.

2. Because connotations: When my brother and I decided that he’d be the romantic and I’d be the machine, we brainstormed ideas that I could record music with electronic drums and distorted vocals. When I got in the studio, we tried those ideas out and it just didn’t seem right for these songs–I began to desire a more organic approach.

3. Because people: With a first-name-last-name set up, Alexander Machine sounded more like a singular person’s stage name or solo project, and I really did not want to rule out the possibility of this project becoming a band. I was already asking a bunch of friends to join on the album, and all but one person that I asked to be on the album ended up making an appearance.

4. Because the alternative: When I began questioning Alexander Machine as the right artist moniker, I didn’t really have a solid plan of where else to turn. I thought about changing the Machine part to Minutiae, but it turned out I was pronouncing the word very, very wrong. When I found out how “minutiae” was actually pronounced, I loathed it. (Seriously, it’s an oddly bizarre, almost disgusting sounding word…) Back to square one. Then one day I came across a Soundcloud account I had created few years ago, under the name “Ours By Accident.” Until that moment, I’d completely forgotten about that account and that band name idea.

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This discovery made everything add up for me. Fall of 2012, I tried my first attempt at recording this Act Action album, which at that time was just an 8-song acoustic EP. [The story of how that EP turned into this album can be read in a future blog post–also, one of the demos from those sessions can be downloaded for free as part of the bonus tracks EP]. Had I finished that EP back in 2012, I would have released it under the moniker Ours By Accident. This name harkened back to the summer I spent in the Grand Canyon, and the phrase began meaning something really huge to me: how special it can be when the greatest friendships seem to come together at random, by accident, in ways that we can’t predict or plan for.

Summer of 2012 was also when I really began taking friendships seriously; I began realizing how little sacrifice I’d put into relationships up until this point in my life and how shallow most of my friendships were. When I returned home from my summer at the Grand Canyon, I cherished friendships old and new alike, spending time and spending myself in favor of honoring this shared possession that we call friendship, this strange entity of human relations that is essentially “ours by accident.”

When this moniker appeared into sight once again, I knew this album needed to be released by Ours By Accident, and the fact that this album was filled with the appearances and influences and support of my best friends in the world only supported the relevance of this artist moniker.

So, yes. Ours By Accident isn’t currently a real band. I hope it will be someday. But the fact that I am currently releasing this album as a one-man-band solo artist thingy doesn’t mean it has to be MY album. This album is OURS. This album’s ownership is shared with everyone who participated in its creation; now you, potential listeners and fans, have my permission to also share in the ownership of these songs.​

Currently Listening:

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Genres as Colors

Imagine for a moment if we could transport music into a completely different medium of art. How about a coloring book? Maybe you’re listening to a really great rock song; once we transport that song into a coloring book, it becomes a vividly-realized grizzly bear. (And no, I’m not talking about songs by the band Grizzly Bear.) Filling the frame of the bear are lifelike shades of greys and browns and pinks, completing the space of the image. The hair looks real, the eyes anthropomorphic. Now let’s take all the color away, leaving us with the empty frame of a bear—it will look like a brand new, untouched coloring book (…or perhaps it’ll look like a polar bear). If we take this colorless image and reverse it back into a song…what will the new song sound like?

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An anomaly I have been shocked to see over and over again lately is bands releasing “reimagined” versions of songs. The most notable version I’ve stumbled upon is Manchester Orchestra’s Hope, an October 2014 full-length album of acoustic re-recordings song-by-song of their April 2014 LP Cope, which was filled with pretty straightforward post-post-hardcore guitar rockers that pretty much all fell into the 3-4 minute range. (I just about died laughing when I saw someone online suggest that Manchester’s next album would be electro remixes, titled Dope.) Hope might sound one-dimensional in theory, but—au contraire—the record actually greatly expands upon the dynamics of the original. Along with some changes in lyrics, the Hope versions are more varied in song lengths, carried occasionally by acoustic guitar, sometimes by piano/organ, and one track is mostly a’ Capella. The World Wide Web seems to be in one accord (for the first time in the history of the interwebs) that Hope is a better record than Cope, (along with the fact that its new style of music was perfectly fitting for its autumn release).

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I noticed earlier this week that the band Issues are on the verge of releasing an EP of soft versions of their songs, and Hands Like Houses did this a few months ago with (the obviously titled) Reimagine, which will likely end up being my favorite EP of 2014.

Now, this all could simply be a trend of heavier artists trying to prove their versatility within a musical landscape that currently prefers folk-rock bands and singer-songwriters. However, these releases also expose a fascinating feature that seems to be true of all pop music in general (note: when I say “pop music”, I’m referring to any non-classical song with an emphasis on lyrics and melody): music genres tend to function simply as the “color” of a song.

I think all of us have heard an artist perform an acoustic or stripped performance of a song, maybe even seen it done live. Chances are, a lot of the songs we listen to started out in those stripped down, one-instrument versions. While not everyone will agree with this statement, I’ve heard it said, “Take out all the production; that’s how much song you have.” That gives us two questions: 1. How good is a song when you are left with only the lyrics, melodies, and the simplest form of musical accompaniment?, and 2. How did the song end up in its final version, with this specific coloring?

Recently, I had the chance to perform in a songwriter’s competition. Before I played, someone tipped me off that the judges were biased towards country-folk and Americana. I thought about the two pop-rock songs I was about to play and considered changing my choices. Instead, I stuck to my guns, played my pop-rock songs, and lost the competition to a few Americana artists. Before performing, however, I realized that I could have played my songs with a country accent and a swing-rhythm strumming-pattern and all of a sudden I would have had a pair of Americana songs on my hands. No one would have been the wiser, and I could have stood a chance at winning.

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The idea for this blog post came from listening to an older AbsolutePunk.net podcast, episode 26, titled “Songs vs. Production.” In it, the podcasters discuss how every time a certain type of sound gets huge, a lot of other artists want to make their music sound exactly the same. Artists might walk into a producer’s studio saying, “Make us sound like this other band’s album.” In a more specific example, the podcasters also discuss how, in the wake of the success of New Found Glory, many new pop-punk bands were trying to write the “perfect NFG song.” However, that was never the goal of New Found Glory themselves. Instead, NFG were simply trying to write good pop-punk songs. Because pop-punk was their color of choice.

Color can make a song. Heck, color can even make a band. I admit pretty shamelessly that I love the second and third albums by One Direction. After sternly disliking and ignoring the British band for about two years, I finally gave both of those albums a chance in November 2013. I was stunned by their dedication to guitar-pop with really dynamic drumming and percussion. The way songs progressed was exhilarating, with oft-compelling transitions from verses into the choruses. Now, strip away the great guitar parts and drums parts and harmonies and you’d probably never find me listening to One Direction songs. The lyrics and melodies alone would be far too cloy and cheesy for my tastes, yet when the songs are surrounded by huge guitars on “Best Song Ever,” Journey-ripped stadium-massiveness on “Love You First,” or dance-drum magic on “I Would,” I honestly can’t get enough.

The idea of coloring songs can be very manipulative, which itself can be positive or negative. One of my favorite positive stories of color manipulation comes from Steven Curtis Chapman while he was recording his 2013 wonderwork The Glorious Unfolding. Once he had all the songs written, he and his producers began listening with a careful ear to all the popular songs on the radio at the time, asking themselves, “What can we learn from and borrow from these songs that would be a benefit to our album?” While this may sound like a disastrous idea, the plan worked out perfectly. The record became the first heavily-synth-based album for the 50-year-old singer-songwriter, but it was not at all a sell-out, EDM or Europop album. Instead, the album utilized very warm synths in a mixture of acoustic guitar and real and electronic drums that worked beautiful. Even better, Chapman knew to draw back when a song could work just fine with only a piano.

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Personally, I haven’t gained the tact that Chapman displayed on that album. From mid-2013 through early 2014, I planned on recording a full-length album of folk songs I’d written during my summer 2012 while living at the Grand Canyon. However, since at the time I’d been listening to so much .letlive, I the Mighty, Defeater, la dispute, Touché Amoré, etc., I began trying to transform those acoustic folk songs into 4-piece band post-hardcore productions. Time after time, I kept failing, especially when I tried to take one of the soft-poppiest songs and color it as a heavy, 7/8 rocker. While I was clearly working outside of my comfort zone, I also realized that perhaps not every color is very compatible with every song.

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Now, there are plenty of times when songs aren’t first written in a simple format and then colored into a genre. I’ve read stories from the band Thrice that it worked both ways on the album Major/Minor. One song, “Anthology,” began as an acoustic demo that the singer wrote by himself, meanwhile another song, “Cataracts,” was written as an instrumental song without the singer, who later heard the song and just wrote his lyrics and melodies on top of what his band members had created. In the case of the former, the other members attempted to make the song more effective and more fitting for the band’s style with their additions of drums, bass, and lead guitar. But strip those away and “Anthology” is a beautiful acoustic song. For the latter, it’s hard to even imagine what a stripped version would sound like–all the dynamics of the song are driven by intricate, melodic bass lines and guitar riffs, to the point where a stripped version would completely compromise the essence of the original.

Maybe not all songs fit within the idea of a coloring book? Maybe there are some songs, especially those cohesively written in a shared setting of a group of musicians, which would— when transformed into a piece of art—have a more abstract output. There might not be a clear picture of an object (like a bear), or even any clear lines to trace around. In this abstract painting, begin taking away colors and you would begin to lose the piece entirely.​

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Unfortunately, the music industry in general is moving in the direction of color-in-the-lines music, with most bands actually being a singer who writes the songs and then has hired guns as his band members, adding in the color. And I can’t call out these “bands” without pointing right back to myself–my new album fits this description to a T! (Click link to stream/purchase.) Yet I can’t help but remember that the best experiences recording my album were when I had friends come in to sing or play along with me. And most of the best musical experiences I’ve had in my whole life were when a group of friends and I were in a garage or basement jamming, flowing off of each other in fluid, wholly improvised pieces. These jams were sometimes magical, creating pieces of art so abstract that not only did they not fit the color-in-the-lines model: they can never be experienced again, either.

So while I might spend most of my time dealing with coloring books, I’d trade all the coloring-in-the-lines for a good old-fashioned jam any day of the week.

(Drawing of bear courtesy of http://deathmetaldan.blogspot.com)

Currently Listening:

60_bigixora91g89Q1Hk1L._SL1500_thegloriousunfolding(m)orninga-fternoon-b-iext24794040(e)vening.jpgOne_Direction_–_Take_Me_Home_album_coverOne_Direction_Midnight_Memories_(Official_Album_Cover)ArticleSharedImage-20243The+Reign+Of+Kindo+EPRhythm, Chord & Melody The Reign of Kindo - This Is What Happens (2010) 163187190

Boyhood – A Parody (with Respect)

Boyhood, the Album

boyhood

A 12-song album recorded over the course of 12 years, Boyhood is a musical remake of the 2014 award-winning, universally-praised Richard Linklater film of the same name. Releasing in 2026, this album features the same backing band over the course of its dozen time-travelling tracks, with one new song being written and recorded each year. The band’s frontman is the now-20 year old Holland Rivers, who joined the project when he was only 8 years old. Each track highlights both Holland’s singing as well as his guitar playing, each song giving him the spotlight for one solo–even though he first started playing guitar when he was 8. Listen to Holland as he evolves from song to song, year to year, growing from the one-note soloing and boyish chirps of album opener “I’m Just a Boy” to the gravel-throated swagger and virtuoso guitar licks of epic album finale “Youth is Wasted on the Young (and I’m a Wasteful Man)”. The lyrics throughout the album powerfully portray every human’s transition from childhood to adulthood, ranging from the careless comedy of the early tracks to the confused anger and cynicism and rebellion of the middle teenage track to the cool, confident hope that pervades the album’s closing triad. While the scope of this album may appear to be a gimmick, what proves itself to be true by the end of the record’s running time is how Rivers has developed into an accomplished songsmith throughout his years, with each song upstaging the previous one. All in all, Boyhood offers not only a cohesive musical triumph and a deep look into what we call human nature, but it points toward an illustrious future career for Holland Rivers that technically has not even started yet. You can expect his official debut, XXI, in stores next fall.

Currently Listening:

ixorathe_ghost_inside_dear_youtho ransomed sonpvriscover for bandcamp

P.S. The name “Holland Rivers” was completely made-up.