“I’m about to drive in the ocean
I’ma try to swim from something bigger than me
Kick off my shoes and swim good, and swim good
Take off this suit and swim good, and swim good, good”
It was 7 months ago that I was unceremoniously dumped by the first girl I had ever let myself love and it hurt like a bitch. Since then I fast tracked through the 5 stages of post-breakup grief in an attempt to keep myself from being anymore stagnant than I had been for the last 2 years.
What followed were the least productive 3 months in my entire life. It was full of sex, liquor and rock n’ roll (maybe not so much rock n’ roll, but you know… it was some pretty reckless behavior nonetheless). Moving forward was actually the last thing on my mind and instead moving past my heartbreak took precedent. You’re probably thinking that those things are one in the same, but they are very much on opposite sides of the spectrum. It was like I tapped into my dark side, or the side that had been developing in the recesses of relationship addled brain over the course of the last 2 years. It was never me masking any type of unhappiness, it was me finally putting everything and everyone else to the side for once and just dealing with myself and what I needed to make me a whole person again.
Am I proud of some of the activities that took place over the summer? Not particularly and I’m sure they’ll shape an event in the future in same way, but it’s something that I needed and I can honestly say that it’s made me a better person. Experience is key and this life is too short not to have as many, good or bad, as possible.
But at some point I had to hit a wall. And Jebus Christmas, did I. See, I was taking these secret weekend excursions to LA and Hollywood and bar hopping by my lonesome, desperate to make a connection with anyone who would give me the time of the day, anyone who would make me feel something new. And I found a lot of newness, I had moments of beautiful self discovery and devastating self loathing. Then one night I was literally high off my ass, standing on the rooftop of an scuzzy apartment complex somewhere in East LA looking over the cityscape and asking myself, out loud, “what next?” There had to be more to this life than parties and alcohol every weekend with people whom I barely knew, people who didn’t care anything about me.
And so I took a step back. I reevaluated everything. More so, I closely examined my relationships with my friends and my family. I made some tough decisions to cut some people out. Not because they were bad people, but because they were an integral part of my life that I was so desperate to leave behind. Once they were gone, I could breathe easier. I started hitting the gym in a more serious capacity, which gave me more life than I ever could’ve imagined just because for once, I was doing it for my own pleasure.
Then came the blow that changed everything. I was being laid off from my gig working for Microsoft. Suddenly the world opened up in a way I didn’t think was possible. I started considering all of the options I had. Do I say in California? Do I move to LA? Do I move up north?
Which is where this blog comes in. I’m 4 months away from not having a job (I’ve been actively searching for work in an attempt to stave off unemployment because nobody wants that shit less than me), which means I’ve got 4 months to make some pretty big decisions. I’ve already made one somewhat major one in that I’m studying to get my Personal Training cert as a fall back. But from there, I just want to chronicle the next year of my life. I want to chronicle the journey of a 25 year old man who is always struggling to be a better person than I was before.
It’s December 1st, 2013.
This is my adventure in improvement. Enjoy.
Release Date: April 9th, 2013
1. Fast In My Car
3. Grow Up
5. Interlude: Moving On
6. Ain’t It Fun
7. Part II
8. Last Hope
9. Still Into You
11. Interlude: Holiday
13. Hate To See Your Heart Break
14. (One of Those) Crazy Girls
15. Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore
16. Be Alone
It’s been almost 4 years since Paramore’s last album, 2009’s “Brand New Eyes”, and since then a lot has changed with Hayley and the boys. For one, 2 of the bands co-founders, Josh and Zac Farro unceremoniously left the group under rather bitter circumstances (some of which we’ll get to later in this review), Hayley had a nude photo leak scandal (like all the good young Hollywood types do) and there have been a couple of other things I can’t recall at this exact moment, but that’s beside the point. Here we are, with a new (and rather long winded) Paramore record that, after listening to, either a die hard Paramore fan will absolutely love or absolutely hate.
Album number 4, the aptly self-titled “Paramore,” clocks in at a whopping 17 tracks (14 actual songs and 3 interludes) with subjects that range from love to subtly speaking about the aforementioned departure of their former group members and everything in between. Needless to say, it’s their most experimental and adventurous effort to date (especially if you include the mostly terrible “Single’s Club” releases from 2011-2012) . The new sounds are mostly owed to the fact that they opted to work with producer, Justin Meldal-Johnsen (he’s apparently had a hand in creating the brilliant Neon Trees “Picture Show” album) and without the ultra-Christian influence of the Farro brothers in their songwriting, it’s allowed them to really jump head first into mature (and sometimes angry) subject matters lyrically. But even with everything new, it’s held together perfectly by the ballsy, beautiful vocals of Hayley Williams (whose voice, I swear, only gets better with every release).
But even with all that’s great, it’s hard to find pure perfection with an album that’s bloated with 17 songs.
The album kicks off with one of the more classic “Paramore” sounding songs on the album, “Fast In My Car”, which is obviously Hayley’s (and her main songwriting collaborator on this album, Taylor York’s) way of speaking about the aftermath of their former band members initially leaving and the circumstances surrounding it. “Been through the ring a couple of times, I came out callous and cruel, And my two friends know this very well because they went through it too” Hayley sings in her usual gorgeous mezzo soprano. It’s a theme that’s brought up a couple of times throughout the record, especially in the sparse interludes. Next is the albums perfect first single, “Now”, that could attribute itself to being about the turmoil the group has gone through in the last 4 years, or simply being an anthem to the disenfranchised youth that makes up a good chunk of their fan base. “Grow Up” and “Daydreaming” are the songs on the album that really signal the beginning of change in the group’s sound.
From there, it feels like we almost jump into the 2nd act of the album with the first of three interludes, “I’m Moving On,” in which Hayley sings (with nothing more than a ukalale backing her) that she’s pretty much over the pettiness surrounding the Farro brothers departure. Then we go into one of the stand out tracks on the album, “Ain’t It Fun?” which has an almost gospel feel to it (one of the many fresh sounding songs on “Paramore”). “Don’t go crying to your mama, cuz you’re on your own in the real world” Hayley sings soulfully with a southern choir backing her up. But from there, there’s a bit of fuckery that I can’t get around with the track “Part II.” It’s a sequel of sorts to “Let The Flames Begin” from 2007’s “Riot!” album. It almost seems like a lazy rehash lyrically, especially considering the first verse of the song is almost entirely it’s predecessor’s first verse word for word. It’s only saving grace seems to be the hook and manic instrumentals throughout. Once that song is (abruptly) over, we get another stand out track in “Last Hope” and then go into the albums 2nd single, the dancey, and very peppy “Still Into You.”
Then there’s “Anklebitiers”. The only song on the album that I can’t decide if I really like or if I really hate. As a passing track, it fits with the old school Paramore sound. But when you really listen to it, it ends up taking you back to what seems like a angry Farro bros aimed track. And after the 1st interlude, it seems a bit out of place to me. But I digress…
We enter to act 3 of the “Paramore” experience with the 2nd interlude, “Holiday”, where once again Hayley mentions moving on, but not from the drama of the Farro Bros, but from the hustle and bustle of life in general. “Proof”, which I consider another stand out track (although it may be hit or miss with others) begins with a driving guitar riff that Hayley follows with a heartbreaking verse about the distance between her and a loved one (which I’m assuming is about her current relationship with Chad Gilbert, the lead guitarist for New Found Glory when they’re out on tour). “Hate To See Your Heart Break” is a sappy track that tries to follow the same formula as “The Only Exception” but misses the mark by about 150 feet.
“(One Of Those) Crazy Girls” was one of those songs that when I first heard it, I had to replay it over and over again. Not only because it’s just a catchy tune and because it’s a complete and absolute departure from their songwriting style, but because of the narrative of the song. It’s literally a story from beginning to end, told beautifully from the perspective of an obsessed (and almost deranged) lover who wants nothing more than her suitor to feel the same way she does about him. I want to geek so much more about this song for reasons that I can’t explain, so I’ll just move on…
As we go into the 4th and final act of “Paramore”, we are treated to a 3rd and final interlude, “I’m Not Angry Anymore” where Hayley sings “I’m not angry, I’m not totally angry, I’m not all that angry anymore.” A sign that maybe she’s not completely over things, but she’s working on it. “Be Alone” is another classic Paramore track that doesn’t add or subtract from the overall feel of the album, which means I could do without it. Finally, we hit the final track “Future”, which feels like a song that the entire previous 16 tracks have been building up to. It’s a hopeful ode to bigger and better things and leaving the negative behind. It’s literally the only song that just has the 3 regular members, Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Jeremy Davis,in it for the first 3 minutes of the song and it’s so odd and wonderful that it keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting another track but knowing you have to wait for the next album.
IN SUMMATION: I am absolutely in love with this album and truly believe it was worth the 4 years of waiting. Sure, there may have been a couple of songs that I could’ve done without and I wish they left the interludes on the cutting room floor, but within the context of the album, I suppose it made sense. Hayley and the boys have definitely honed their songwriting skills to cater to a broader audience. And while sonically, it’s their most incohesive set to date, I do respect their moxie and the need to do something different, love or hate it.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Stand Out Tracks: Fast In My Car, Ain’t It Fun, Now, (One of Those) Crazy Girls)
Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour
Download This Shit!: Up All Night, Hands Are Clever, Sanctuary
Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
Download This Shit!: Brand New Me, Fire We Make, 101
The Black Keys – El Camino
Download This Shit!: Lonely Boy, Sister, Mind Eraser
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
Download This Shit!: Gorilla, When I Was Your Man, Natalie
The Cab – Symphony Soldier
Download This Shit!: Angel With A Shotgun, Temporary Bliss, Lovesick Fool
Childish Gambino – Royalty Mixtape
Download This Shit!: Download the entire mixtape as it is available for free on his website http://iamdonald.com/childishgambino/
The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
Download This Shit!: C’est la mort, I’ve Got This Friend, Dance Me To The End Of Love
Daley – Alone Together EP
Download This Shit!: Alone Together, Remember Me, Blame The World
Ed Sheeran – +
Download This Shit!: The A Team, Small Bump, Lego House
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Download This Shit!: Pink Matter, Sweet Life, Pyramids
Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
Download This Shit!: We All Try, Songs For Women, American Wedding
Friendly Fires- Pala
Download This Shit: Live Those Days Tonight, Pala, Chimes
JoJo – Agape
Download This Shit!: Take The Canyon, Billions, Andre
Kendrick Lemar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Download This Shit!: Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe, Poetic Justice, good kid
Kids of 88 – Sugarpills
Download This Shit!: Ribbons of Light, Just A Little Bit, SQRL
Lupe Fiasco – LASERS
Download This Shit!: Words I Never Said, I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now, State Run Radio
Maclemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Download This Shit!: Same Love, Neon Cathedral, Cowboy Boots
Melanie Fiona – The MF Life
Download This Shit!: Wrong Side Of A Love Song, Break Down These Walls, Watch Me Work
Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
Download This Shit!: Adorn, Don’t Look Back, Pussy Is Mine
Mumford and Sons – Babel
Download This Shit!: I Will Wait, Babel, Ghosts We Knew
MuteMath – Odd Soul
Download This Shit!: Odd Soul, Allies, Equals
Walk The Moon – Walk The Moon.
Download This Shit!: Lisa Baby, Anna Sun, Shiver Shiver
It goes without saying that The Beastie Boys are pioneers of the hip-hop genre. 3 white, Jewish boys from the east coast took rap and turned it upside down with their silly, yet very relevant songs that became the theme for the 80s, 90s and 00s.
Today, the Beastie Boys lost one of their own. Adam Yauch, AKA MCA, lost his 3 year battle with Cancer at the very young age of 47. With this news, millions of people, including myself, have given their condolences and good wishes to the Yauch family as well as the remaining Beastie Boys members. This blog post isn’t necessarily just about Yauch’s death, but about the death of celebrities in general and how the public tends to deal with these “tragedies.”
Have you ever noticed that when a celebrity dies, people start coming out of the woodwork saying how great that particular person was, or how much they loved this movie they did or that album they made? But prior to their untimely demise, they never mentioned or gave that celebrity the time of day? It’s happened a lot, especially as of late (Whitney Houston passed away back in February and the most recent, Dick Clark, died 2 weeks ago). It’s human nature to feel bad when anyone passes away, but it’s the worst when someone pretends as if they gave two shits when that person was alive. With that being said, I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the biggest Beastie Boy fan.
Sure, I owned an album or two (Namely “Hello, Nasty” because “Intergalactic” was my SHIT!), and I’ve bought a song here and there from iTunes (Sabotage, Girls, Paul Revere, You Gotta Fight…), but if I were to sit here and tell you that I loved Beastie Boys from the jump and that I owned all of their records and I cried uncontrollably at the news, I’d be a dirty whore liar. However, it doesn’t mean that Yauch’s death didn’t hurt my heart. Of course, the death of anyone takes away my breath temporarily, but after 2 seconds, I’m over it (I’m cold-bleeded as such). It’s only when someone dies of something as unfair as cancer do I really feel something.
More often than not, we hear the death of someone famous due to some type of substance abuse (the aforementioned Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, etc) or violent acts (2pac and Biggie being the most famous examples of some). Sure, these things are sad to hear. And if you’re a fan, they’re devastating. No one deserves to go out in either fashion, but when you think about it, a simple lifestyle change could make a world of difference in terms of the fate that these people eventually met. Most of these celebrities more or less have the world in the palm of their hands and they choose to throw away these amazing opportunities in the name of a good time or their pride and honor. It’s hard not to feel like you’re hopping on a bandwagon when you show some sign of disappointment at hearing these types of stories.
On the other hand, there are the Aaliyah’s, the Princess Diana’s, the Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez’s, the Patrick Swayze’s and Adam Yauch’s of the celebrity universe. People who, at the height and prime of their careers, are suddenly taken away (via car accidents, plane crashes, cancer). These are deaths that I consider real tragedies. These are the death’s that I don’t mind being accused of jumping the bandwagon. These are the deaths that keep me up at night and remind me how in an instant, life can be snuffed. From those who deserve it and those who don’t. From those who are young and those who are old. From those who have so much more to offer to the world, whether the impact is big or small. They are the true losses.
Truth is: Death sucks. Cancer sucks harder. In whatever form, serious or treatable, it’s one of the most emotionally jarring things to deal with. I’ve had my brush with it one too many times in my short 23 years here and I hope to never have to watch my family or my friends face it again. Yes, there are those like myself who have had a happy ending to the cancer saga. And then there’s the Yauch family, who when informed that the cancer was treatable 3 years ago, couldn’t have expected this outcome. It’s a true case of “results may vary.”
Part of me wishes I was a bigger fan of The Beastie Boys. That I followed everything they ever did and went to shows and bought all their records. But the other part of me is excited to discover over 25 years of what obviously is great music. It’s no secret that, unfortunately, Adam’s death will be the catalyst for many people who never listened to a Beastie Boys record before to give them a go. And whether the remaining “Boys” move forward in their careers or call it quits in solidarity with their fallen brother, they have the satisfaction that they will go down in the books as legends and will have legions of fans old, new and many more in the years to come.
Rest in peace, Adam Yauch. You are drifting on truly high plains now.
And my truly favorite…
What better way to relaunch my blog than with a story that’s been a hot topic in the news for over a month now?
Let’s start with the story:
“The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American male who was unarmed; George Zimmerman is a 28-year-old Hispanic American, who at the time of the shooting was a community watch coordinator.
Martin was walking back to a home in a gated community where he was staying when Zimmerman began following him, while contacting the Sanford Police Department to report Martin’s behavior as suspicious.Soon afterward, there was a confrontation that ended with Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin.
When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense because Martin had attacked him. According to police, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and had a wound on the back of his head. Responding officers handcuffed Zimmerman, took him into custody, and transported him to the Sanford Police Department where he was questioned by investigators. Zimmerman was eventually released without being charged because police said they did not find evidence to contradict his assertion of self-defense. The lead homicide investigator reportedly said he did not believe it was self-defense and he wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, but the state attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.” – Daniel Trotta; Rueters.com
In the subsequent weeks, there have been much speculation over what actually happened that day as well as an outcry from various groups over how the situation has been handled in the aftermath. Many consider it a case of racism on George Zimmerman’s part, while others believe it was simply a case of “wrong place, wrong time” (although I don’t know anyone personally who believes the latter). The question was asked of me by my parents of what I thought. Did I participate in wearing my hoodie in memory of Trayvon? Do I believe that racism played a part? Is the justice system not handling the case properly?
And here’s my 2 cents:
Do I think that this was a straight out case of racism? No. I believe that all these groups are more or less cashing in on the grief of Trayvon’s parents. Parents, who for all intents and purposes, have not had a chance to grieve properly due to all the media coverage. For the better part of the last 45 days, the Martin family has been exploited in order to bring spotlights to various people’s soapboxes. Not to mention interference from the Good Ol’ Rev’s Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (because even if it’s a vaguely racist situation, those two are on it like flies on dogshit).
But that’s not to say that I don’t think there was a racial component to it, because at the end of the day, I believe that EVERYONE is a little bit racist (yes, even me). I think that George Zimmerman saw this kid, who happened to be black, wearing his hoodie and was walking down the street, looking a little more “militant black man” than usual and jumped to a conclusion that most people would jump to upon seeing someone of color looking that way. And that’s not me saying that I’m painting Zimmerman as an innocent man or a good person, because at the end of the day an unarmed 17 year old boy was killed. What I AM saying is that it’s unfair to paint Zimmerman as a man who went after this kid purely off of racial profiling. I think that had Trayvon been black, white, mexican, Asian, boy or girl, Zimmerman would have reacted the same way. Yet, it’s not a secret that because Trayvon was black, the alarms in Zimmerman’s head went off a little bit louder that day.
The point I’m trying to make is not everything is so black and white, literally and figuratively. As easy as it may be to go with what you’re being force fed by the news, you have to look at this story in your own light and have your own opinion, even if it’s unpopular (like I’m sure mine is going to be). Do I think the system has fumbled the ball in this situation? Absolutely. It’s sad that it took 45 days for there to be some kind of justice served in this situation. In case you haven’t heard (because you live under a rock, in which case, get your life together, you freak), George Zimmerman turned himself in today and is being charged with 2nd degree murder. Long story short, if convicted, Zimmerman can face life in prison, which put in perspective is a small price to pay for taking a young life.