Saturday, February 26, 2011

review- mogwai- 'hardcore will never die, but you will' Take TWO

I felt that I had to rewrite this review as I realised that I’d broken my cardinal rule of album review writing- always listen to a record at least three times before sitting down to write about it. My theory is that my favourite records over the years have occasionally been the types of albums that don’t pull you in instantly on the first or even the second listen. Deerhunter’s ‘Halcyon Digest’ was like this, My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Isn’t Anything,’ Cocteau Twins’ ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’- all records I love to death and all records that I didn’t get at all the first two times I listened to them. I’d have to say that ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, but you Will’ is like this too. While it still isn’t among my favourite Mogwai records, I’d at least place it in line with ‘Rock Action’- it’s reaching for new territory, succeeding most of the time but definitely with a few missteps along the way.

My third listen was a bit of a revelation- which is what often happens with records like this and thus the reason for the ‘three spins’ minimum rule. If whatever’s hiding in there doesn’t jump out at you after three listens it’s either not there or you weren’t meant to hear it. Basically I think that the lead-off track is brilliant and belongs in the class with all of the great Mogwai lead-off tracks (Mogwai are particularly adept at choosing a lead-off track- I’m beginning to think that they must deliberately work on these lead-off tracks specifically to BE lead-off tracks). ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ is still objectionable to me, but mainly only because of the vocals- I feel like if it were just an instrumental I would like it more. ‘Rano Pano’ is a track I’ve warmed up to- it sounds loping and bizarre to me now, but also the evidence of the band not taking themselves too seriously and simply having a good time. ‘Death Rays’ revealed itself to me, as did ‘How to be a Werewolf.’ I found that the excellent ‘Letters to the Metro’ had always been one of my favourite tracks on here but suffered from being sandwiched between my two least-favourite tracks (I still find ‘San Pedro’ and ‘George Thatcher Square Death Party’ to be a buzz-kill and the victim of annoying vocals respectively).

I’m still a huge fan of the final three songs on the album, which I actually find to be stronger since they are essentially the moody tracks on a very ‘up’ sounding album for Mogwai. I’m so enamored of this album that I am definitely going to buy it on vinyl now and I might even reconsider the prospect of going to see them play at the Metro. In their overall canon I wouldn’t rate this album as one of my favourites- although I also don’t really have a list. This is probably as close as they’re likely to come to making an album as perfectly sequenced and fresh-sounding as ‘Happy Songs for Happy People’- which also took several listens for me to grasp how great it was. I'm not afraid to come out and admit when I'm wrong about something. *ding*

review- dum dum girls at the empty bottle- 2/24/11

(photo by dave knapik)

Life has a way of being just a touch ironic on its own sometimes. I got an email the day of the show from polyvinyl informing me that the download link for the new Vivian Girls release ‘Share the Joy’ was now active, so I downloaded it without much thought and Stefanie and I listened to it in the car on the way down to the Empty Bottle to see the elusive Dum Dum Girls (a band who circumstances have forced me to miss live twice now). It wasn’t until we were rounding a corner while looking for a parking space right outside the Empty Bottle- I suddenly felt self-conscious and turned the volume down at the sight of all of the hipster-types smoking outside. The specter of the onslaught of girl-group and reverb-drenched female bands looms kind of large over a band like Dum Dum Girls. There are times when the saturation is a bit much and I hadn’t given it much thought until that moment.

We arrived at about 10:30 or so, just in time to catch Brooklyn’s MINKS. I have to admit that I didn’t like them at all from the get-go. They mumbled and sleep-walked their way through their set exactly the way that one would expect a bunch of hipster cutouts from Brooklyn to at their first show in boring old Chicago. The skinny, female singer stood front and center not moving much playing a tambourine when she wasn’t singing along with the cataclysmically bored frontman who seems to think that ripping off ’17 seconds’-era Cure song structures and the Strokes with some of the mumbliest vocals I’ve ever heard is a stylistic choice. He even managed to sound snotty and bitchy when saying ‘thank you’ after every song. My favourite moment: someone in the crowd yelled, ‘Eat something!’ at the emaciated singer. The aforementioned frontman’s icy response- ‘We’re going to eat you if you’re not careful!’ Touché! The drummer even played that standard Laurence Tolhurst circa 1979 and 80 drumbeat during EVERY song. I’d say that MINKS’ set was pretty much the polar opposite of seeing Wild Nothing. They should probably have that skinny singer taking up the lion’s share of the vocals rather than standing front and center looking self-conscious and exposed- her singing at least didn’t sound bored and she had too nice of a voice for her to just stand there for the whole set looking like she didn't have enough to do.

The changeover between bands took an inordinate amount of time considering that MINKS had used all of Dum Dum Girls’ amps and drums. Somehow it still took over thirty minutes for the stage technician to get everything sounding just right. Even given all of that once they were up on stage and the house music was killed we watched the band awkwardly twiddle with amps and move things around for a good five minutes. This is often a bit of a pet-peeve of mine having played many shows myself as it just makes me wonder why anyone bothers with a tech of any kind at a place like the Empty Bottle? Every time I've been at a show where the band brings a tech this happens- the tech spends forever getting everything just right and then the band comes onstage and the guitars aren't loud enough or the vocal mic starts feeding back. Or it plays out like a ridiculous charade so that the crowd won't get pissed that they're being forced to wait an hour inbetween bands because the tech goes out every five minutes to tune the guitars. In this case once the music started all was forgiven as they did sound fantastic, although Dee Dee’s guitar was pretty much inaudible. When she was playing it by herself you could hear it kind of faintly while hearing the picking sound on the strings. Dee Dee’s singing was front and center and strong as were the harmonies traded off between all of the other players. I found it fascinating the way they had parsed out the harmonies amongst the bass player, lead guitarist and drummer and how they would very sparingly use three or four part harmonies. Those vocal harmonies are what carries those fantastic songs, which is what makes a quiet guitar a minor gripe. I also thought that Dee Dee was a great frontwoman- she was very enthusiastic and emphatic but not over-affected and her delivery was spot on.

The set started with their excellent cover of ‘Play With Fire’ by the Rolling Stones and was culled mostly from ‘I Will Be’ and they played at least three of the four tracks from ‘He Gets Me High’ (which I still haven’t gotten in the mail yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to hearing), all of which were excellent and showing some very promising musical evolution. It also sounds to me like the live band were more invested in the newer songs as their parts came alive on these songs in a way that they sometimes didn’t on those that were bringing Dee Dee’s solo 4-track recordings to life. The only pre-‘I Will Be’ song that they played was ‘Catholicked,’ which was kind of a shame as I would’ve liked to have heard a few more songs from that era. They also played what they said was a brand new song that they had just learned that morning which came off beautifully.

They played for almost an hour and did one encore, which was their interesting take on ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ by the Smiths. All in all the set was very solid and they didn’t go overboard with the theatrics, which I often find annoying. When you have great songs and you're presenting them in a heartfelt, enthusiastic way theatrics become more of a distraction than an enhancement. I’d call it a symptom of having come of music listening age during a time when bands didn’t feel the need to bother with much in the way of stage theatrics. Matching outfits and guitars is an aesthetic I can get behind, though.

A lot of outside influences were working their magic to distract us from the music while we were there- it was a sold-out crowd and, as often happens, Stefanie operated as a magnet for drunk, annoying people- we were all the way in the back and a group of people much younger than us decided that they had to dance around bumping into us all night all the while posing in contrived tableaux with hamm’s cans in their hands frozen in mid-drink for facebook-bound photos. One of them has Stefanie’s middle finger in it as they bumped into her three times and ignored her ‘Do you mind?’ after this aforementioned third time. One of them did eventually apologize. A friend of mine and I were talking about how she prefers going to metal shows because people know how to behave themselves and not be obnoxious, whereas with indie shows these days you get a lot of this kind of behavior- I suppose that people think that being there means you need to take picture after picture of you with your drunk friends texting and tweeting the entire night away hopelessly oblivious to those around you. There’s a little music going on, too, folks. I suppose I was due for an experience like this as the other two recent shows I’ve been to have been refreshingly free of this kind of stuff (and they were both indie shows).

Also the Dum Dum Girls will have to bear, yet again, the unfortunate position of being compared to the Vivian Girls as Stefanie and I couldn’t help but do so as we were listening to the rest of the 'Share the Joy' on the way home. The two are comparable, but ultimately going about their respective musical aesthetic in very different ways- the Vivian Girls are very infused a no-bullshit punk approach- you can hear them struggling with guitar parts, hitting the occasional bum note and a good deal of shamelessly out-of-key singing but the fact remains that they are playing these brilliantly written and heartfelt songs that are a fantastic cocktail of punk, girl-groups and the occasional Jesus and Mary Chain feedbacky-scuzzfest. Dum Dum Girls are a sleeker affair with their matching black skirts and tights, guitars and disciplined harmonies. A lot of what they suffer from live is the fact that they are a band that came into existence to bring one person’s recordings to life whereas the Vivian Girls have always existed as a band. Here’s hoping that Dum Dum Girls continue to evolve as a band rather than just as a group of hired hands to bring solo recordings to life onstage.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

review- mogwai- 'hardcore will never die, but you will'

Mogwai- ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, but you Will’

Let me preface this entry by saying that this is the first time I’ve ever been disappointed by a Mogwai record. A lot of people have criticized the combination of ‘Mr. Beast’ and ‘The Hawk is Howling’ as basically being the same album. I could see this point- if you listen to a playlist constructed from each track side by side the two albums’ respective tracklists were put together in an identical way- ‘Auto-Rock’ and ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,’ then ‘Glasgow Megasnake’ and ‘Batcat’ and so on and so forth. The similarities are undeniable, but to me the two albums are coming from a different enough place that the similarities to me are moot. In my mind ‘Mr. Beast’ is ‘Young Team’ to ‘The Hawk is Howling’s ‘Come on Die Young.’ The first two proper Mogwai releases were mining very similar territory as well, but few were brash enough to call ‘foul’ for that. It was for this reason that before I heard ‘Rock Action’ I was concerned that Mogwai would become a one-trick pony. They certainly could’ve and gone on to plenty of acclaim, acceptance and fortune (i.e. Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Rós), but they didn’t- ‘Rock Action,’ while definitely sagging in the middle from uneven-ness, pushed the band’s signature sound effortlessly into unexplored and rich territory. ‘Happy Songs for Happy People’ did this again, but more effortlessly and ‘Mr. Beast’ and ‘The Hawk is Howling’ continued to satisfy while fulfilling further mining of new ground (I’m sorry, but ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’ is unlike anything that the band had ever attempted before and was executed with an aplomb and passion that few bands as far into their careers are capable of). ‘Special Moves’ pushed my undying devotion for Mogwai to unimagined heights. They could even pull off something as tired, risky and oftentimes pointless as a live record. It actually CAPTURED the visceral experience of witnessing them live (something I’d always assumed would be impossible)- it seemed like Mogwai could do no wrong. Then my friend from work walked in one day and handed me a copy of ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, but you Will’ (a record I was excited to death about hearing) and said, ‘I don’t know about this one- it’s awfully poppy.’

I’ve only attempted two listens so far. I had already heard ‘Rano Pano’ before- I remember feeling concerned when it ended up being the most lackluster 45 I’d picked up in a long time. ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ to me is the biggest offender- while I wasn’t wild about hearing Mogwai attempt a Kraftwerk/Stereolab-type song I was beginning to get with it until that most obnoxious vocoder started in. I actually find its presence on ‘Hunted by a Freak’ and ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ perfectly valid as a textural choice that added something to the proceedings. Here it just seemed hackneyed, pointless and irritating. From there ‘Rano Pano’ sounds like the idiotic younger sibling of ‘Glasgow Megasnake’ and ‘Batcat’ and in the rest I found little to distinguish from one track to the next until the final three tracks- which is the only part of the album that I feel is worth the time spent listening to it. They’re all so good that it almost punctuates my disappointment with the album as a whole as it seems evidence to me of what they COULD’VE done on the rest of the album if they hadn’t been busy cooking up something sunnier and poppier sounding. 'How to Be a Werewolf' even has the pop-leanings of the earlier tracks, but manages to pull them off without sounding labored-over and contrived. I don’t even have an objection to their poppier side- ‘The Sun Smells too Loud’ is one of my favourites on ‘The Hawk is Howling’- here it just sounds like a band playing up to a forced idea of what they should be doing. They've always managed to sound invigorated, passionate and serious about what they were doing, but that spark seems to be missing for much of the beginning part of the record. The plethora of positive reviews are truly baffling to me. I will continue to listen to the record on the off chance that I warm up to it, but it just seems to me to reek of half-heartedness and has all the trappings of a forced artistic about-face.

Even with all of this being as it is I find it difficult to be too hard on them- they did have an amazing seven album run (eight if you count ‘Special Moves’) and that’s nothing to sneeze at. That said I’m probably not going to shell out $27 to see them at the Metro in April. There are too many other shows coming through town that month that I’m more excited to see.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

wild nothing- lincoln hall 2.18.11

another friday night show worthy of sleep deprivation- the perfect combination of shameless 80's nostalgia, jangly beauty, reverb-soaked dream-pop and some beautiful, melodic songs- wild nothing, the essential solo project of jack tatum. new order-style basslines, guitars that bounce between smiths-esque jangle, lush-style (as in the criminally underrated 90's band) strumming and occasionally my bloody valentine-spun background textural drones with some cure/depeche mode type keyboard lines.
i again left my house at around 10:30 so as to avoid the opening bands as a co-worker of mine told me that abe vigoda were awful (wow, he was not lying). i used the tail-end of their set to stake out the perfect spot in lincoln hall- which i finally found. one that allows for the type of perfect live sound that only seems possible there as well as a wealth of personal space. i'm not telling you where it is- that's how much i liked it. fortunately i only had to endure 20 or so minutes of abe vigoda and their hipster haircuts, strained caterwauling, pink miami vice shirts and bizarrely misguided machismo posturing amongst a din of cheesy sounding synths and upchuck reflex-inspiring melodrama. surprisingly they weren't the worst opening band i've ever seen. a group at the front seemed quite enthusiastic so i was hoping that maybe after they played a portion of the sold out crowd would leave.
wild nothing set up all of their own equipment very quickly, left us waiting for a considerate amount of time and started their set with a very no-bullshit reading of 'your rabbit feet' off of the 'golden haze' ep. this song is probably their most smiths-sounding song and i've never liked it much, but live i found it to be much more impressive. i was interested to hear how the songs would sound with a full band that weren't present on the recordings and this was the first of many songs that i'd never thought much of in their recorded form but enjoyed quite a bit live. tatum's voice was very assured and clear with just the right amount of reverb and without a suffocating sense of affectation- something i admire greatly in any singer. this song really set the tone for the entire night for me- no bullshit, we're just here to play the songs and play them with real passion and enthusiasm, not a bunch of posturing and bravado. kind of like the opposite of when we went to see crocodiles at the empty bottle (with the exception of that bands' rhythm section). from there over the course of the evening they went through about half of 'gemini' (maybe more)- which has revealed itself to be one of my favourite albums of last year- a shame i didn't own it when i put together my list as it's now one of my most frequently played records at work and at home- and two more tracks from 'golden haze' (including my absolute favourite- 'vultures like lovers' and the title track). the biggest surprise of the night and the exact moment that they won my heart completely happened midway through the set when tatum announced 'we're going to play a really short one that's also a cover,' counted it off to the other band members (it's always the mark of a true bandleader when the guitarist is the one counting the songs off and not the drummer- this is what also happened when i saw elliott smith) and the band launched into a beautifully faithful reading of 'velocity girl'- possibly the best primal scream song and b-side ever. just different enough to make it blend effortlessly with their own songs and just faithful enough to grant it the amount of reverence that it deserves. i don't think very many in the crowd besides me really got it, but i did and it was much appreciated. i was singing along and the people beside me looked completely baffled.
i was so enthralled and won over by the live takes of my least favourite 'gemini' tracks (i.e. 'confirmation,' 'bored games,' 'witching hour') that i didn't even notice until later that they had omitted my favourite section of the record- 'pessimist' and 'o, lilac.' it didn't really matter- one of my favourite features of many a cure show that i have witnessed and/or heard on a bootleg was when a live reading of an album track that i don't care for pushes the song into a context that makes me understand its aim and purpose better and winning me over completely in the process. i almost enjoy this more than when a band plays all of my favourite songs- i admire their ability to win me over with their songs that i had previously considered lackluster.
all told it was a fantastic evening. it's so refreshing to see a band that has garnered a lot of attention with a minimum of posturing and affectation. i think of it as a victory of an underdog. i'm on pins and needles to hear what they do next. the only bummer of the night was that i'd brought money to buy their 'cloudbusting' 7" as i was dying to hear their take on one of my favourite kate bush songs and i couldn't find it at the merch table.

Friday, February 18, 2011

no longer a place to talk to the shadows

now that i know who's reading this thing i can't write frankly in it any more. i knew i should've just kept the more florid entries in a paper journal. kind of a shame because i really felt like i was free here. my name isn't even on the profile. also, now my friends can't read about what i'm up to and how i'm feeling, which is actually important to them. oh well, watch this-

Friday, February 11, 2011

diary 2.11.11- snowed in

as the blizzard of 2011 raged outside i sat at the computer making this mix which i'd been dreaming up since the middle of january. sadly, the first version completely fell on its face during the beginning portion, so it took about 10 days to redo. the end has always been pitch-perfect. pretty much the perfect carbon copy of how i've been feeling these days, i'm afraid.

song- artist- album

1. saltwater- beach house- 'beach house'
2. terrarium- atlas sound- 'bedroom databank vol. 4'
3. power glove- white mystery- 'hozak records comp.'
4. radiation- disappears- tour ep
5. start to dreaming- wooden shjips- 'loose lips' 7"
6. rain on- woods- 'songs of shame'
7. nightingale- low- 'c'mon'
8. light shadows- tamaryn- 'mild confusion' 7"
9. big louise- scott walker- scott 3
10. i agree- thee oh sees- 'grave blockers'
11. blinding- florence and the machine- 'lungs'
12. echo's answer- the broadcast- 'the noise made by people'
13. pessimist- wild nothing- 'gemini'
14. thank you space expert- mogwai- 'the hawk is howling'
15. odyssey and oracle- grimble grumble- 'grimble grumble'
16. with you- jessica bailiff- 'feels like home'
17. i'll let nothing separate us- otis redding- 'love man'

review- low- 'c'mon'

i pre-ordered low's newest record 'c'mon' yesterday. if you order directly from sub pop you are linked to a stream of the whole thing, which was enough to motivate me to do so. i've been very excited about the prospect of this newest low album as it's being billed as sort of a 'return to form' type of record. i bought 'the great destroyer' and loved about half of it, while the other half i wasn't so happy with- most of which i chalked up to dave fridmann's production style, which really doesn't suit a band like low at all in my opinion. as far as 'drums and guns' goes i only heard a few of the tracks from it as i hated the way they sounded and couldn't bring myself to buy it. i even saw them play at the metro in 2007 and several of the 'drums and guns' songs that they played were quite good live but also completely different from their weird arrangements on the record (again, i blame mr. fridmann). i'd all but given up on low, in fact, since it seemed that alan sparhawk was having more success with retribution gospel choir and was most likely more excited about that particular project. gradually the pull of low began anew with a little gem of a four song ep entitled 'live at eindhoven'- a little nugget from what sounds like a whopper of a show to witness where low played in a church (probably the most appropriate of venues to witness them in, to be honest) backed by a choir. even 'monkey' sounds amazing, which has never been one of my favorite low tracks. not long after news dropped of this newest low record, 'c'mon,' which was recorded in the same church that 2002's excellent 'trust' was recorded in. thus it's being billed as a return to form record, which isn't entirely the truth.
my first impressions of 'c'mon' are that the band took the ideas that they were trying to introduce on 'trust' and 'the great destroyer' and synthesized them in a way that works beautifully. those two records i felt were always infused with a bit of an awkward foray into poppier territory for the band unlike anything else they'd attempted before. the earliest indication of this would be 'dinosaur act' from 2000's high-water mark for the kranky years, 'things we lost in the fire.' i've always felt that 'trust' suffered from the 'first record released after the career highlight' syndrome. it was the first record they recorded on their own and came right on the heels of their fruitful collaboration with steve albini, who gave them their two best sounding records. the production on 'trust' sounds a bit slap-dash at times and you can hear the band figuring things out as they go along. it makes for some incredibly stirring moments, but the record occasionally hiccups in its transitions from the incredibly stripped-down tracks like 'in the drugs,' to the obviously pop-leaning 'last snowstorm of the year' and the joyful, hooky, bombastic 'canada' (probably the best of all hard-rocking low songs) all sitting alongside long-form 'classic' low-sounding tracks like the beautiful '(that's how you sing) amazing grace' and the more abstract-sounding 'shots and ladders.' with 'the great destroyer' this awkward poppy inclination manifests itself a bit more assuredly on tracks like 'broadway, so many people,' but falls on its face on songs like 'monkey' or 'california'- mainly the casualties of fridmann's style of production. bombast and noisy layering doesn't work so well for the type of delicate melodies that low works with. 'c'mon' has much more in the way of poppy moments, but they are pulled off with a great deal more confidence. 'try to sleep' is the most perfect and obvious choice for a single, but there are plenty of other moments on the record that mine similar, shimmering melodic content and do so much more successfully than anything on 'the great destroyer.'
the structure of the record is sort of a peaks and valleys approach- a poppy, driving song is paired with an elegant, beautiful song. this structure reaches its zenith near the end of the record with the combination of the jaw-droppingly beautiful 'nightingale' and the record's sole slow-burner 'nothing but heart' into the stark closing track 'something's turning over.' 'nothing but heart' is sort of the key to the entire record- it begins with dirty guitars and sparhawk's raw-sounding voice (it seems as though he recorded all of his vocals while he had a cold) building into a fairly standard low rocker and blooms into a beautiful hooky singalong that finds the band utlizing their recording space to achieve a nice build-up and comedown. the track is eight minutes long, but never feels it even for a second.
basically this 'return to form' record is anything but. this is the sound of low using what they know how to do best to achieve something they've been reaching for over the course of their last two records. in the process of succeeding in this endeavor this record is also infused with a feeling of rejuvination and inspiration that's rare to hear in a band this far into their career. they came dangerously close to complete burn-out, but managed to pull themselves out of it and stake another high watermark in the process. i can't wait to hear how these songs sound live.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the gory details- recording blog: recording 'field of flowers'

i just finished the final part on 'field of flowers' and did the last mix yesterday and i've been thinking a lot about the incredibly intense and tumultuous time spent recording the majority of it last summer. what i'm referring to is the four months that brandon spent in the band which somehow ended up flipping the whole thing upside down. back in april of last year we had just released 'all hope is blind' on vinyl and we'd already begun playing out with our strings trio and it was working out quite remarkably. stefanie and i met brandon through a friend of ours from the lorna's laces days. we made plans for him to come by and 'jam.' i don't really 'jam'- i usually try to teach potential new bandmates my songs and see if something works out and he came over under the auspices that i was going to try and build a giant band soon and it wouldn't hurt to start trying to get this accomplished- i taught him one song that had been around for a while and only demoed entitled 'sunny day' which i wrote during the starbucks days (i can remember walking around in the spring of 2006 in our old neighborhood listening to the electric prunes first album and envisioning the song). the other song i taught him i had just recorded, which was called 'blind for you.' it was so new that it didn't even have that title yet. it went reasonably well, but took about three or four hours for me to teach him two three chord songs and there was an incident where he asked me why he didn't get creative control over what he would be playing on these songs.
at the end of the month we moved into our new apartment in old irving park and recorded the majority of the songs over the next series of months.

'cut from marble'- this song was written at some point in early 2010, i can't really remember when, but i would guess some time after christmas of 2009. it was recorded mostly in our apartment in edgewater before brandon even came along. i wanted to have a 12-string guitar on the track, but didn't have one so what i did was build a guide track out of four acoustic guitar parts- two that were doubled standard chord formations and then two more that would approximate the chords being played on a high-strung acoustic guitar (basically a six-string guitar that would be strung with the higher strings that would be placed on a 12-string guitar). i bounced those down to one track and added the vocals- the main verse vocals were done on a harmonica mic and the chorus vocals were done clean with a beta57 and a ksm27. i tried adding reverb to them and doubling, but didn't feel that they ever needed either. there are very few pristine clean vocals on any of our songs and i felt that it might be a good time to give that aesthetic a shot since we'd done damn near everything else and i was comfortable with how my vocal sounded in such a raw state. the vocals were bounced down to one track and then i added the guitars- one was an electric with reverb and the ronsound trem-o-matic, which was an effect that i'd gotten for christmas. it was a custom-shop effect made to approximate the 'repeater' effect which could be found on most vox guitars that were made in the late 60s. around this time i was lusting after a vox ultrasonic xii that i found at chicago music exchange priced at a very prohibitive $2400. the other guitar was done in the standard way for a dense reverse-reverbed and distorted guitar- two fender amps pointed towards each other and miked in five different spots and at excessive volume. stefanie added her drum part- which comes in during the second verse rather than after the chorus as it does in the final mix- i wasn't entirely sure of the arrangement that i was going to use so i kind had everything started at once figuring i could figure out the arrangement through the mixing process- which isn't something i normally do. we even recorded the strings in the old edgewater apartment, possibly in february of 2010. we tried to get them all together at the same time, but never succeeded at that until we'd gotten into the new apartment in old irving park. what ended up happening was that two of them showed up at the same time and then the third had to overdub their part later. i had the strings playing throughout the entire song as i didn't know where i wanted them to come in yet.
what i ended up settling on during what i thought was the first final mix (which is what's up on our myspace page right now) is what i've gone back to since the end of all of this brandon nonsense. after we moved and started having more success getting all three of the strings players together in one room i found that they did, indeed, play much better when they were all together and it was also possible to use only one mic and get a very nice, clean, ambient and more compressed sound- a bonus attribute to something that was much, much easier than doing them one at a time or in seperate batches. once i discovered this we did the strings again in this manner and i was much happier with how the strings sounded- it was much clearer and more together. by this point brandon was ensconced in the band and i'd used some extra money that i'd intended to save towards that aforementioned vox 12-string i found a much cheaper and similar baldwin 12-string guitar that i could afford and ended up buying that. trying to get a good sound with it in my recording setup was getting difficult and i ended up trying to use it on the recording since the live arrangement we worked out involved brandon playing the chords of the song on the chorus and the third verse. we'd tried a live arrangement where he played the arpeggiated chords with the trem-o-matic that make up the verse, but when we were playing it at the empty bottle the song fell to pieces in the middle so we worked out an arrangement where i was able to play that part and brandon strummed the chords to fill things out a bit more and that worked better when we played the song at mortville in may. once i had the 12-string and had figured out how to record the sound of it decently i had brandon record the chords as he did when we played it live and then mixed that version as the final version and was very happy with it. the current final mix does not have this 12-string played by him in it because now that he's gone we have no one to play that part and it seems sort of pointless now, so it's out.

'i am'- this is an old song that was written in portland in 2004 or 2005. i was never able to come up with lyrics for it until my back was against the wall and i just needed something to sing over the instrumental that i made around the time of 'cut from marble' at our apartment in edgewater. the first version was me playing along with a click track, but when we had stefanie add her drum part it, again, sounded stiff so we redid it live together. this made sense since it had been intended to go on 'all hope is blind' but wasn't begun in time to be considered. plus it was a bit different from the other songs aesthetically, although it does have that icy minimalism that the rest of the record has. once we did the song live i sang a scratch vocal until stefanie could sub in hers and also added the second electric guitar and the strings were recorded at the apartment in edgewater. we were happy enough with them not to bother redoing them. brandon asked if he could redo the rhythm guitar part, as that was one of his parts when we played it live and i would've let him but there was no way to sub in that original guitar that i'd played live along with stefanie. plus it sounded so perfect. stefanie finally added her vocal once we were in the new apartment. she sang with the reverb from my old fender princeton amp, which is how we used to record all of the reverb for all of the vocals on the first three shalloboi records.

'you're a vision'- this song was intended for 'chinese blue.' it formed from absolutely nothing- an experiment where i tried the sonic boom method of recording guitars. i figured out a nice, minimal and semi-melodic chord progression on my fender jaguar and then laid that down direct into the recorder- probably through a tube preamp to warm up the sound a bit. once that was done i got an idea for another melodic guitar, laid that down and then got another idea and so on until i had about four guitar tracks and a spontaneously developed arrangement for a song that didn't exist yet. the song languished on the shelf for a long time until one day i happened to find it and realised that i had intended to try adding effects to the guitars later. i began to add the really dense reverb to two of the guitars, then a few of the others i sent the signal through my amp and some effects and re-recorded them that way. once i was done the inputs on the 8-track were finished and i had a nice instrumental which i did a mix of and listened to on my ipod. one day i was bored at work and lyrics started to come to me, just two verses with dovetailing melodic patterns. i recorded a clean vocal and then had a problem of space as i was getting more ideas of instruments to add- drums, strings, keyboards, etc. what i then did was try to use the elliott smith method of recording as i had two tascam 8-tracks at this time and dumped the mix of those guitars onto the first two inputs of another tape in stereo (i'd had to pan all of the guitars to make things somewhat distinguishable) and then i tried to sync the two up so that the one vocal part i had recorded could be doubled, which didn't work at all. what i did next was try to record that original vocal onto the new tape so that they would match up just enough that they would be doubled, as they sounded so nice when they were in sync, but not have to double it later. what ended up happening was about six or seven tries in i had a version where the vocal starts out perfectly synched and falls slowly out of sync and it caused an ever-evolving slow delay effect which i then decided i liked and kept. once i had transferred the parts to another tape and had five extra inputs i added a drum part and a keyboard part. i don't normally like keyboards that much, but next door at the apartment in edgewater they had unearthed this beautiful analog hammond organ with footpedals and a small leslie speaker and i started to use that on some of my recordings including this particular one. it was always an adventure going over there to record- i'm not sure how i ever got anything finished when i went over there. the final piece were the strings- the first run-through was recorded during that first session- which i believe was katelyn and aleksa recorded together and then chris added later- at our apartment in edgewater. this one was the other of those three that we redid together at the apartment in old irving park. not sure why we never redid the strings for 'i am.' one thing about that second take of these songs is that brandon wanted to come over while we were recording- which i had tried to prevent since i didn't want it to be a social visit and there would be nothing for him to do. he ended up coming over and inviting his mom over, who was in town that weekend. we ended up having a hell of a time getting things started as everyone showed up, started drinking and chit-chatting and, of course, i had to put it all to a halt so that we could record. because of this the strings on 'cut from marble' and 'you're a vision' have a certain weird, feisty energy to them. i suppose i can give brandon credit for getting the three of them all excited and hopped up before recording, which is normally a bit more solemn and serious. this string arrangement in particular i remember as quite nice and soaring as opposed to the old version, which sounded a bit wooden.

'dried blooms...'- old, old song. intended for 'down to sleep.' it's built around a bunch of simple, repeating patterns in the style of 'lazer guided melodies' spiritualized. i have an old loop loaded in the sampler with them all. we were going to try to flesh it out that way and there is a recorded version of it done this way. when it didn't work i tried it out again one day when i was bored at home in the edgewater apartment. after an hour i had recorded the song. not sure what i used as a guide track, but the whole thing flowed so nicely and was done so quickly. even the drum part was easy for me to play (although there is a mistake in there). the vocal was supposed to be redone, but never was and the strings part was done live in the old irving park apartment. it'd probably be a good song to play live, but there are so many others that are so much higher of a priority that it's just never panned out.

'curve'- another reasonably old song that was intended for 'chinese blue.' this version was just intended as a demo- done in a day at the edgewater apartment, complete with a scratch vocal from myself. if i'm not mistaken the beta57 was used on pretty much every instrument, except for the drums. once we'd gotten to the old irving park apartment i added the strings (a very relaxed and productive session) and the 12-string guitar, which replaced an old guitar part that i had never been that happy with. stefanie did her vocal last i believe. i tried to have brandon play the 12-string guitar part, but he was unable to do so and gave up. beautiful song and we really should start playing it live soon.

'all gone'- ancient song intended for 'chinese blue.' we played this song at the davey's uptown acoustic show right after christmas of 2006. there's an old version of this song called 'everyone is gone' where i had multi-tracked the drums (and they somehow still manage to sound crappy). this was done one day at the apartment in old irving park- i doubled the acoustic guitar, doubled the main vocal and then doubled the harmony leaving enough room for a few experiments with reverb. what i settled on was what i call the 'lee hazlewood trick.' this involves running the vocals through reverb and then adding delay onto the reverb afterwards. it's the best approximation of the amazing, natural reverbs i'd get in the stairwell at the apartment in edgewater, but i try to use this effect somewhat sparingly. once the tape was loaded up i did a sub-mix and ran it into the other 8-track so that i could add more tracks. i added a droning bowed guitar looped through one of my delay pedals and run through a dense reverb and then added two low bowed guitar parts, bouncing them onto one track. i also had brandon add a reverse-reverbed 12-string guitar part that i hadn't been able to get laid down properly myself. this is the only guitar part that he contributed that is remaining. the strings were recorded during the same relaxed session as 'curve' as well as several acoustic demos that i recorded to show to my sister (we were playing the music at her wedding). the drums we re-recorded time and time and time again- i think they were redone about three or four times. i kept trying to get a good sound out of a disengaged snare drum (which we'd done for an 'all hope is blind' outtake of the title track and stefanie had been able to get effortlessly) and could never get one that survived the transition to the ipod (which is how i test out all of my mixes- ipods sound so shitty that if you can get the song to sound good on one of those it'll sound great on anything). it would always sound muddy and quiet and i could never get enough treble mixed onto since i'd used a maraca and it would just end up sounding deafening. i even tried to have stefanie do it, but she wasn't able to play along with the acoustic guitar guide tracks i'd used as the song's foundation. i finally recorded a decent sounding set of drums a few days ago and believe i finally have a final mix that achieves what i'm after- it sounds like a floating city. very beautiful.

'breathe'- this is a pretty new song that achieves several things i've been chasing for eons now it seems. i wrote the lyrics for this song while i was riding my bike home from a particularly stressful day at work (i often get a touch into the suicidal and hopeless mentality when i'm at work). it was like a paranoid, suicidal nursery rhyme. the first sian alice group single is my favourite of theirs ever and i've been dying to do something similar in my own way ever since i heard it back in 2008. it's a two-part song called 'nightsong' and it's structured such that the first part works as a somewhat straightforward song with lyrics and a few minimal chord changes- sort of a hazy, drumless beautiful song. the second part of the song is a single chord extension of the first part. 'glasslands' was also attempting this sort of a structure, but not as successfully as 'breathe.' 'breathe' is seperated into two parts- the first is a familiar sort of shalloboi song structure- reverse-reverbed, big sounding droning/melodic guitar part that expands as the song goes on- starting out quiet and with tremolo and gaining momentum and larger chord structure over drones, doubled drum part, vocal part doubled 10 times in the style of most of the vocals on 'down to sleep,' and then it adds some more melodic elements- most notably a bona-fide lead guitar part which has sort of a spiritualized-styled melody at the beginning and then a noisy ascending pattern that uses the wonderful sweep of the colorsound wah. the strings sort of foreshadowed the types of arrangements i would have to start relying on once chris left after i'd fired brandon. i didn't even have to bother with any transposition of any sort for this song- i had the viola playing a very mid-range melody that was in close harmony with what the cello was playing. a typical 'all hope is blind' arrangement was built around inverted harmonies between the violin and viola (which has all had to be transposed wayyyyy down to be played on a cello) while the cello filled the function of the missing bass or filling in melodically when the guitar is particularly drony (as on a song like 'christmas song, pt. iii). what ended up happening was that the mid-range was brought out much more leaving the melodic guitar part and the violin (which is playing some very high, lonely-sounding notes in harmony with what the guitar is doing) with a lot of their own space. because of this it was an incredibly easy song to mix and hasn't varied much at all from that original first mix. i played the drum parts and it was my first successful attempt at recording drums in the new music room (which is completely different in sound from the apartment in edgewater). the first part was done with a click track. in terms of this actual guitar part it came from an improvised jam that we had one night after a particularly productive practice, which was aleksa's idea. i told them to play in G and the semi-melodic chords that i made up that night ended up forming the structure for this song. i'd already had the songs sitting in my little pocket notebook for a few months and they fit together quite nicely. i'd intended the lyrics to be used for something minimal a la 'windsong' off of 'all hope is blind.'
the second part is kind of a completely different animal, although based melodically on the first part and built in a similar way. when mixing both parts i have the advantage of the option to separate them completely or have the bleed into each other which will be perfect for putting the two parts on separate sides of a 7" or into one long digital file (which is what's up on our myspace page right now). the second part is different rhythmically from the first part and it's built around the trem-o-matic. i wanted to do something similar to 'how does it feel?'/'repeater' by spacemen 3 as well as spectrums beautiful extension of their cover of 'walking and falling' by laurie anderson (which is on the 'war sucks' ep and is titled 'over and over'). it ended up sounding a bit like 'feel so sad' by spiritualized as well. i tried to play the guitar part with the trem-o-matic along with a click track but it really wouldn't work so well for me- the rhythm of the trem-o-matic kept getting out of sync with the click track so i tried doing the rhythm guitar by itself. i was worried that i wouldn't be able to play the drums along with it when the time came, but as i added parts the rhythm of that trem-o-matic was so strong and clear that it was impossible to get off track. the drums were incredibly easy to sync up with it. i was so emboldened by it that i did two drum parts (which i hadn't originally planned on). the fender bass vi makes a few appearances here as i'd been talking about selling it again- this happens a lot because i rarely use it. what ends up happening is i use it and it makes me never want to sell it. on this particular occasion i didn't use any effects on it, instead just playing it through the fender twin completely clean resulting in some nice, clear, cutting notes. the melodies were made up on the spot and were designed to work in opposition to each other. the repeating melody of the viola during the first part is repeated and embellished by the cello at the end of the song during the wind-up and wind down. no vocals. there was a second, distorted rhythm guitar added later on in accordance with the way that the track would be performed live (should that ever happen- stefanie and i have played through the whole thing ourselves once before- hopefully we can get it together at some point soon). i tried to teach brandon the melodic parts of this song, but we only got as far as the first half of the song. we even rehearsed it together without the strings and he was never quite able to master the rhythm of the melody and it would throw both me and stefanie off once i tried to start singing the words. a shame as i was going to have him re-record the part. this was around the time of the show at cole's in august (which ended up being his last show). we were trying to get the song ready to be played there, but it just never came together.

these recordings ended up being fueled by a strange, desperate kind of energy. everyone in the band was super enthusiastic and everything was very emotionally intense. it'd always been a very relaxed sort of endeavor, but all of a sudden with brandon around all of our connections took on a very intense sort of air. this would've been a positive reason to keep him around if he hadn't been so difficult to work with and such a constant energy drain for myself. by the time of the cole's show i was practicing three times as much as everyone else in the band- saturday afternoons were taken up with exhausting, three-hour long sessions where i would spent ridiculous amounts of energy trying to teach him how to play my songs or figuring out different parts for him to play when he couldn't play what i was asking of him or dealing with his moodiness. these would be followed by practices with me, him and stefanie which would be slightly better, but not by much and finally the times when the six of us would all cram into my tiny music room in the middle of the summer and play through the set for the upcoming show. we only played three shows with brandon, but preparing for those three shows was an exercise in constant exhaustion for me and the results were often that once we'd both put in all of this time and energy he would show up to play onstage and make the same mistakes he'd make the very first time we'd attempted to play the songs. by the third show i'd been beyond fed up, which was to say nothing of the pipe debacle. i don't even want to get started on that...
in september we met with brandon at new wave coffee where i returned his nintendo and he returned my sampler that he'd borrowed and we spent an hour explaining to him over and over again that he was out of the band and that it was nothing personal, we just didn't think it was working out. i'd even gone to the trouble of talking to the others ahead of time to let them know that this was what i was doing and why i had to do it and then immediately following through so that if any of them talked to him they wouldn't have to pretend like they didn't know what was about to happen. even after all of this brandon started spending a lot of time with chris and stirring the pot of discontent until chris (who had started to air his grievances more and more forcefully, even immediately after we finished our set at cole's while we were still onstage and i was tearing down my equipment) finally quit the band via facebook message after stressing to me that i would have to fire brandon face to face. it was an incredibly stressful time as we were supposed to pack up and go to kansas city to play the music at my sister's wedding and i was trying to get my arrangements for that in order as it was all new stuff that we'd never played before. during this time 'christmas song, pt. iv' had started to come together. it's like a signpost for this entire era- the first strings recording session we'd planned for that had been for all three of them to come by right after brandon had been fired and chris is the one who flaked, so with the deadline of my sister's wedding looming in about a month we'd done a bunch of recording and rehearsing without him there and within a week chris had quit. i'd also planned for brandon to come up with his own guitar part for the song. such is life, i suppose. the silver lining is that the song turned out beautifully and it ended up being merilee's first recording session with us. it's sort of like the first rickety-legged baby of this new era of the band. you can hear all of the shakiness and uncertainty but in the end it works out so beautifully.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

disappears- the empty bottle, 2.4.11

i hardly ever go to shows on friday night. i am the saturday opener at the coffee shop where i work which requires a 5:15am wake-up call. since most weekend shows don't even get started until 10pm i have to really be dying to see a band in order for me to 1) leave the house, 2) get myself to the venue, 3) stay for the whole show and 4) not be pissed that i went after slogging my way through a tiring workday on three hours of sleep. for an example of when the show isn't worth the sleep deprivation please visit the entry i wrote about the dean and britta playing galaxie 500 show in december. this entry will be an example of when i am rewarded greatly for leaving the house, especially during the lingering aftermath of the blizzard.
i spent 45 minutes digging my car out from under the snow so that i could get to the empty bottle. since there were two opening bands i elected to leave at around 10:30, figuring i'd get there at 11 with enough time to catch brain idea. when i got to the empty bottle i encountered yet another hurdle- the show was sold out and packed to the fucking gills. i am the type of person who does not enjoy crowds and i am nestled firmly in the 'jaded' category when it comes to shows. i've been going to shows regularly since i was 18 and i loathe being in a packed room having drunken strangers bumping into me constantly and invading my personal space. i found a somewhat decent spot just in time to catch brain idea's last two songs. when everyone left to go outside to smoke/get a cigarette/what have you i went to the merch table and bought myself a copy of the tour only ep that disappears are selling at their upcoming european tour and then i sussed out a spot at the best place to find one during a sold-out show at the bottle- over on the side near the stairs and the soundboard. as midnight drew nearer the area got more and more crowded. people elbowed their way in and my wonderful window of space shrank smaller and smaller. the cocktail waitress decided i was a good person to squeeze through the crowd next to (this happens frequently for some reason). my point in this rambling set-up is that going to a venue to hear a band play music is filled with these tiny, petty, annoying and constant distractions that can, at times, overpower the effect of witnessing live music. this is why it's so difficult to get me out of the house- shows where the music is able to transcend such conditions are few and far between. i'm happy to say that disappears were worth it and more. i didn't get annoyed once the entire time- and that cocktail waitress squeezed her way through right next to me at least eight times, maybe more.
i've begun to think of disappears as possibly the perfect band- they've found a way to meld the best elements of krautrock, drone, psychedelia, punk, minimalism and garage rock all into a perfectly mixed stew. they reminded me of a tighter and more stylistically varied version of wooden shjips (who i saw at another packed show at the empty bottle last september). they work their set into a constant, engaging groove in a similar way but manage to do it with more brevity and variation with a pared-down approach that seems entirely effortless. brian case rarely played more than one chord in any of the fifteen or so numbers. i think that the most he played in one song was three and even then the chord changes were used as mile-markers pointing the way to new sections in the songs. lead guitarist jonathan van herik's lines served as a melodic counterpoint to case's syncopated vocals during the instrumental sections and were a nice balance of texture and melody. when not playing a melodic line he would often lock in with the single chord drone using a combination of reverb, delay, tremolo and wah as additional instruments while damon carruesco's bass picks up enough of the melodic slack to keep things interesting but not take away from everything else that's going on. to top it all off the drums were played by interim drummer steve shelley performing faithful versions of the parts first laid down by graeme gibson. gibson's drumming has always been a thing of wonder to me- it's so perfectly balanced and metronomic without a hint of flash and it always manages to add something to the interplay already established by the others. when i first heard that shelley would be filling in for gibson it caused a bit of concern since gibson's drumming seems to be such a crucial component of their sound, but it didn't take long before i realised that it was kind of ridiculous to doubt a drummer like steve shelley.
the pace of the show was very fast- rarely was there more than a few seconds' break between songs (if even that). the band moved quickly through about fifteen songs in a little under 45 minutes. quite a feat considering that one of the songs they played was 'revisiting' (the 16-minute closer of their new album 'guider'). even a 16-minute long song with very little in the way of variation maintained a fierce momentum throughout which allowed for the subtle evolution of the song to reveal itself. it was over before i knew it. they played through a decent chunk of 'lux,' nearly all of 'guider' and four out of the five tracks that make up the aforementioned tour ep. few are the bands that can pack so much into such a small amount of time and really give you your money's worth.
now, about the tour ep. it's another impressive leap forward from what's come before just as 'guider' is an impressive leap on from 'lux.' the songs are generally slower and more sparse and it's difficult to single out any of the five songs. the last track, a cover of suicide's 'radiation,' served as their encore at the empty bottle. it built slowly from a lead guitar line and locked-groove drumbeat and evolved into a squalling burst of noise by the end when brian case shoved his guitar into the handle of the drum monitor and left the stage to let it feedback. of the three times i've seen them (first for the 'lux' release show at the bottle and second at the pritzker pavilion in millenium park) this was far and away the best. i'm always anxious to hear anything new from them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

mogwai- thou has finally failed me!

dammit, the new mogwai album is sublimely disappointing. the only track that even compares to anything else they've done is the last track (which also has the best title) 'you're lionel richie.' such a shame as i'd just launched back into a mogwai love-fest after hearing 'special moves' and 'the hawk is howling' (which is a fantastic album). i'm so bummed with it that i'm not even sure i'm going to bother to buy the album on vinyl. my friend at work gave me a copy of a promo copy he got in the mail. i knew something was up when the 'rano pano' 7" didn't really grab me. i bought three or four 7"es a week or so ago and that was the only one that i wasn't that impressed with.
so there was a blizzard on tuesday evening/night and i haven't excavated my car yet- there is a nice two-foot pile of snow boxing it in (which is the same situation a majority of chicago motorists are stuck in). i didn't need to drive anywhere on wednesday or thursday, so there's been no reason to bother with it. tonight i'm going to the disappears show at the empty bottle and i simply have no option but to drive as i have to work tomorrow morning bright and early. that and since it is an old car and hasn't been started in a few days it'd probably be a good idea to drive it. the gas tank also needs some love. all in all the blizzard wasn't that bad- people have been quite good about clearing the sidewalks and roads in our neighborhood. on wednesday morning a ton of people from the neighborhood went around using their snowblowers to clear the sidewalks, which i thought was awfully nice of them. the height of the snowdrifts is gradually falling. gradually, of course and i suppose that it might be another week or so before the streets are all cleared and everything is pretty much back to normal. what was hilarious was that since the blizzard happened over groundhog day the groundhog supposedly saw its shadow, so there's supposed to be an early spring. as if such a thing exists here. HA!
listening to low right now, which is the perfect wintertime music. they have a new record coming out that looks to be quite fantastic. i'm actually planning on pre-ordering it so that i can listen to the whole thing as the first track was really great. reports are that it's more of a return to form, which is fantastic news. i didn't even bother with 'drums and guns' because everything i heard off of it i really didn't like at all. we saw them live and the songs fared much better that way, but truthfully it just didn't seem like it was worth plunking down the cash for. i blame dave fridmann- not a good choice for a producer of a band like low. he's about as subtle as a crowd of drunk teenagers. that said i've always loved what he did on 'come on die young' and pretty much everything flaming lips album he's done. not to mention 'it's a wonderful life'- the best of all sparklehorse records.
i might go on a murderous pre-ordering rampage when i get home because there are too many great records coming out in april. i'd rather just not worry about getting my hands on them at the moment. i didn't even know that the vivian girls had a new album in the works and all of a sudden i see postings about it and i figured i should pre-order the bundle that's offered for that with the 7" and it'll ship on april 1st. it's nice to see some record labels figuring out a good way to make pre-ordering more worthwhile. yay.
because there are all of these great records coming out there are also tons of great shows coming to town- disappears is tonight, wild nothing is two weeks from today, dum dum girls are coming through a week after that, godspeed in march and then an obscene amount of great shows are coming through in april- moon duo, low, black lips and vivian girls, mogwai... and then a ton that i'm forgetting. dammit, my wallet needs a break folks! we're renting a car and driving to kansas city in may!
i'm still searching for a new job- the search seems interminable and endless at this point. i must find a new job- the situation at beans is definitely coming to a close. i often suspect that they're going to fire me (it would just be typical) because as usual, for some reason, i'm not allowed to move an eyebrow without someone getting all pre-emptive and going 'what's wrong?! you're mad! don't be mad! what's with you?! you're always so pissed off!!!' plus my boss was asking me questions about how my job search is going and was surprised to hear i don't have any interviews lined up. i figured that was a bit of an alarm bell- if someone's got to go i suspect that my head will be the first on the chopping block, just because that's how those things go and they can rationalize it easily by believing that they're doing me a favor since i (to them anyway) hate the job so much. i actually don't hate the job, just a few aspects of it and most of them have to do with what a slackery environment it is and that i'm the one who ends up taking up a majority of the slack, but no one really agrees with me on that one so i suppose i'm mistaken. i also don't like making sandwiches but am frequently willing to put my hatred of this aside in order to do my part even if it is something i don't enjoy. again, all things that no one notices or sees. about 90% of what annoys me at that place i can't even begin to get into so no one really knows what i'm thinking or feeling but all thinks that they do. how am i continually getting myself into these types of situations?