I Am Thirty Three Today // Here’s The Smashing Pumpkins

Today is my birthday, and in celebration I’m sharing the incredible stop-motion video for The Smashing Pumpkins‘ timeless love song, Thirty Three. It’s not just one of my favorite tunes of all time, but one of the best videos from my childhood.

and for a moment I lose myself
wrapped up in the pleasures of the world

The band was already huge at the time, but when the double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness dropped in 1995, it was like a massive bomb clearing away the last remnants of grunge. The Smashing Pumpkins may have broken through in the age of Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but their sound was always deeply indebted to the heavy metal of Black Sabbath and the narcotized psychedelia of early Pink Floyd. There was no direct connection to the understated rage of indie punk or college rock; instead they thrived on bombast, taking excess as a Platonic ideal.

A two-plus hour juggernaut was just what was needed to launch the band into the stratosphere. The album veered from brutal noise to the most delicately poisoned acoustic ballads, with massive stretches of unabashed pop and hard edged psychedelic rock in between. It was practically my entire life in 7th grade. As a 13 year old, I’d play one disc, then the other, rotating in my little boombox all night long at points. It was a sound world to live inside and I made it my own.


The Smashing Pumpkins are the one band that’s been with me longest, the only one that’s survived a fandom stretching well over two decades. I was into bands before them, and I’ve grown to love many artists even more over the years, but they’re the one musical remnant from my childhood that I’m thankful to have never let go. It’s wild to think that when I first heard this song, I couldn’t fathom being 33 years old. Now here I am, an Actual Adult, relishing in the sounds that swelled my heart so long ago.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I live out a never ending quest for The Next Thing, the weirdest and newest sounds, the greatest adventures possible in music. Yet anyone who knows me personally is well aware of my penchant for radiant nostalgia, that hormonal impulse to shout along to the lyrics that tattooed my youth. It’s no shame to indulge in the past, especially when my pleasures are anything but guilty.

I hope you can appreciate the corny grandeur and earnest wonder of this song as much as I do. It’s a real pleasure to find myself at this age feeling as youthful as I’ve ever been. This is an affirmation that I will never let that optimistic outlook die.  I’m excited for what’s next.

Roy Orbison “In Dreams”

In dreams, you’re mine
all of the time.

There are a handful of beloved pop songs that somehow fill me with the most profoundly dark imagery, contrary to their buoyant reputation. In Dreams is one of those songs, a lifelong favorite and classic radio staple that shakes me to my core every time it plays.

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Walking With Jesus

I had a conversation with a friend today about Christian music and why it mostly bothers the hell out of me. (ha) I realized it’s that sense of overt politeness, the way it’s crafted – an official Christian musician seems to have all rough edges sanded off, as pious as a politician tries to look – that takes away any depth and feeling in the lyrics or music itself. It lacks almost anything that I could normally grasp as enjoyable.

Then I thought, you know what? I love a lot of artists who are either Christian themselves, make music about Christ-like ideals, or simply use the forms of traditional Christian music as a foundation for their own thing. Spiritualized does the latter, employing the language of early blues and gospel to speak directly to my soul.

Here’s the band playing a timeless live staple, Walking With Jesus.

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Tame Impala – Yes I’m Changing

They say people never change / but that’s bullshit; they do

Tame Impala‘s new album Currents is flat out fantastic. You can hear the synth-laden psych rock epic before it’s officially released or stick with the official singles for a couple weeks.

Or you can check out one of the best tracks from the album right now. It’s a deep cut called Yes I’m Changing, and it gives me some serious feels.

Edit: found a new video centered on the gorgeous Audrey Horne of Twin Peaks!

The backing synth pads remind me of Avalon-era Roxy Music, while the hum-worthy bassline is one of those timeless earworms that dives through pop music history, from girl groups to modern hip-hop. The lyrics evoke that goosebump-raising, optimistic-yet-spiritually-heavy yearning that the Beach Boys perfected with Pet Sounds, almost 50 years ago. The couplet posted at the top of this page, obvious as it is, puts a chill down my spine when heard in the context of this tune.


I’ll probably share more about this album once it’s released, but in the meantime, remember that you can still preorder it right from the band!

Kendrick Lamar’s arresting new video: Alright

Watch this right now. Just do it. You don’t need to thank me.

If you want to see an artist at the peak of his powers absolutely nailing the zeitgeist, click play.

Kendrick Lamar dropped To Pimp A Butterfly just a couple months ago, and it’s already one of my favorite albums of all time.

The brazen mixture of politically, socially, and psychologically aware lyrics with an incredibly nuanced and evolved delivery; the dark and deeply funky production, shot through with an entire jazz band’s worth of all-star live players; the live-wire theatricality of the entire endeavor… all of these parts coalesce as Lamar’s ambition and talent meet in in the stratosphere.

It’s both incredibly audacious and earnest to a fault. The album feels embarrassingly personal at times, the rapper spilling his demons in a drunken crying jag. At the same time, everything’s wrapped in a sense of universal struggle, the intrinsic knowledge that we’re all in this together. There’s no wonder that it’s proven as divisive as it is beloved.

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Arca – Xen

This sounds like towering columns of shattered light, the kind of futuristic timbres that I associate with crystalline sky cathedrals in some imagined Final Fantasy game.

Arca‘s constructions remind me of the fierce creativity that bursts from the most surprising Aphex Twin singles. I don’t mean to put him on the same level; this music simply conjures that same joyful sense of surprise that only a handful of artists seem capable of. Surprise isn’t everything, but it makes a huge impression here. You haven’t heard anything quite like this before.

The music video for the title track cements that nascent Aphex Twin connection in my mind. If you’re a fan of I Care Because You Do or the Rubber Johnny video, you’re going to love this. You also know exactly what I mean about cementing the connection.

Here’s a favorite track of mine, halfway between the relaxed and spastic-laser-beam ends of the album:

The album itself is buttoned together by a sweeping sense of narrative and pacing, with slow dreams buffering the sharp edged experiments and deep bass explorations. It’s far more than an intriguing experiment; it’s lived in, thoughtful electronic storytelling.

You’ll probably find this cutting through your mind, if you’re a fan of the alien architecture of Oneohtrix Point Never, the neon contrast footwork of DJ Rashad, the depth charge techno of Andy Stott, the weird end of Warp‘s catalog, or even Kanye West. Seriously: Arca helped craft his ear shattering album Yeezus.


This was the first album I discovered well into 2015 that I might have included on my best of the year list. You can buy Xen via links on Arca’s Soundcloud page, or listen free on spotify right now.

Vote Today: November 4, 2014

For US based readers and listeners: I just thought I’d drop a friendly reminder that, however fucked our so-called democracy has become, voting still matters. It’s not only important to voice your opinion where it counts (as opposed to the internet); it’s important to exercise your primary duty as an informed citizen. One reason so many asshole Republicans get into office is that my generation lets old, cynical, fearful people dominate the polls. That is something that could change.

Since this is a music blog, I’m also sharing a song that I’ve probably listened to 40+ times this year.

Sandwell District’s Feed Forward collection is probably the best and dark techno release of the past decade. I can, and have, felt lost in this music for days at a time. Keep this playing as you brave your local polling station.


If you need help with the local issues and candidates, as well as the location of your local station, go here: https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/

Thank you, friends!