Not a Resolution Post

It’s that time of year, you know, the one where stores get stormed to buy gifts for ungrateful children.  It’s the time to let your hair down, eat and drink a little extra in the name of holiday cheer.  It’s time to reflect on the past year, and it’s ups and downs, rights wrongs, wins and losses, success and failures.  It’s time to make that list of resolutions that will last until mid January, until falling off the end of the Earth.

I’ve never been one to make a list of new year resolutions.  In my world, goals are set at any place and time, as relying on a time of year to bring inspiration denies the spontaneity of inspiration.  As far as reflection, sure, I’ll take a minute to look back at the events of the year and cherish them for a minute.  However, I’m an introspective man so revisiting that stuff is not an extensive process.  Be that as it may, over the entirety of 2013, there was one major theme that keeps rearing it’s head:  self acceptance.

From the beginning, I’ve always been pushed to be a certain way.  Of course, I don’t take kindly to that sort of thing, but it becomes an epidemic when seeking validation of oneself from external sources.  That sort of thing, I believe stems from being the identified patient in a family that cares as best they can.  See, I was always the ‘crazy’ one, stuck in therapy starting in the seventh grade, and continuing late into my teens.  It didn’t help.  I wasn’t honest with the therapists nor myself.  The reason behind that?  I was unable to accept myself during that time.  See, self acceptance isn’t being apathetic to ones place in life and just accepting it.  It’s more about being able accept oneself for all ones faults, talents, dislikes and desires, and keep ones eye on the prize.

One example I can provide from this year is the entire debacle with my former employer.  It was blatantly obvious I was unhappy and stagnate.  I wanted to learn more, and made efforts in my spare time to do so, but opportunities for advancement were given to other people instead of me.  The reasons behind this were, more than likely, personal, as I think my former friend / supervisor / bandmate, didn’t want to be seen as playing favorites.  Instead of accepting the way I felt and the reasons behind it, I decided to get angry and vindictive.  I shut down, stopped talking to him, and others.  I was bummed the fuck out, but channeled that to anger directed both externally and internally.  Then I was terminated and during the period prior to my unemployment being approved, I was really fucking down on myself.  Instead, I faked it, but for a cat like me, so adept at self destruction, that combination is a dangerous one.  Had I focused on self acceptance, acknowledging my depression and tendencies, I think that those 2.5 months would have been a lot more productive.

However, I’m not going to kick my own ass about that because it’s clear to me that I need to accept my actions during that period and move on.  A little while back,  Ace tweeted a link to a cracked article about three types of regret that can destroy you.  He pointed at #2 “Regret for what you didn’t do.”  It seems that “regret for what you did” and “regret for what you didn’t do” run parallel to each other, as one beget’s the other in many instances.  Regret is fine when used a tool to move forward.  I even mentioned it in this comment a while ago.  That said, without self acceptance, it can turn into a weapon of mass self destruction.

Another way I’ve come to recognize this process during the past year has been with people in my life.  To step out of my comfort zone, and try to counteract my introverted nature, I’ve forced myself to try to expand my social circle outside of my close friends.  This entails putting myself out there, dealing with small talk, and all around uncomfortable shit.  What I found is, as I got to know these new folks, I realized we didn’t see eye to eye, on hardly anything.  My first thought was, “what can I do to be more like-able to this dude?” That fleeting thought was quickly replaced by “no fuck that.”  By accepting myself, who I am, my convictions, I knew that this person wasn’t going be on my “best of” list.  I’m doing my shit, why do I need to try to get anyone to like me?  If they don’t, their loss.

It’s always been clear to me that self acceptance is essential to a healthy self, but I don’t think, even now, I’ve realized all of it’s applications.  The one thing that has been burned directly into my brain, is it is a daily practice.  No one will be able to do it for me, but it does help to have supportive friends.  Just like the other day, I was riffing with an old friend of mine, and I was expounding on my frustrations of trying to get other musicians to play my material and ideas the way I think best.  My buddy said “Don’t let that shit bug you, you just keep playing what you think we need to hear.”

He’s goddamn right.

Advertisements

Rojo’s Album of the Year: Man Man – On Oni Pond

This is my first album review.  I listen to enough music to write on ton of groups, but there are few new works that inspire any of that.  However, I plan on writing more on music in the future as it is my major passion and I am quite opinionated about it.  That said, this is my pick for album of the year.  The band is a group from Philidelphia, named Man Man.  The album, which was released at the end of summer is called On Oni Pond.  Until two years ago, I had never heard of the group.  Shortly after I moved to Sacramento, my good friend said he was rolling through to see a band and wanted to crash at my pad.  Of course he could, though he did leave his girls monstrous bra on my couch.  Bastard.

At any rate, I youtubed up some of their songs and agreed to go.  Thank goodness to betsy I did.  These cats were wild.  Their stage setup was unique as I am used to seeing the 2-3 guitar players in front and the drummer in back.  Instead their ivory player and lead singer, Honus Honus, sits perpendicular to the audience.  The drummer, Pow Pow, faces Honus directly.  They sit at the front of the stage, while the other three band members stand behind them.  They use a wide range of instrumentation, many switching up instruments mid song.  You have to see it to believe it.  I was blown away by their live show.  They came on stage and rocked the house without saying anything to the crowd.  For having two seated musicians, the show was incredibly engergetic and one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed.  They were as tight as Donald Trumps butt hole and had obtained a fan for life.

On Oni Pond was released in September on Anti Records.  The album starts out with a short gloomy instrumental named “Oni Swan” which sets the theme of the album.  “Oni Swan” ramps up and leads directly into the upbeat jam “Pink Wonton.”

“And our hearts are cunning
(Like a lizard in the sun)
When they want something
(Like poison, pink wonton)”

“End Boss”, the third track on the album, is a laid back funky groove with a supported by a group of horns and what sounds to me as a marimba.

“if you won’t reinvent yourself
you can’t circumvent your hell”

There is no easy way to describe the bands style other than eclectic, as exemplified on their fourth track “Head On.”  You can view the video on the top of this post.  The jam is a catchy, doo wop feeling jam.  Once it gets in your head, you can’t help but sing it the rest of the day.

“And I need new skin for this old skeleton of mine
Cause this one that I’m in has let me down once again over time”

After that, the band takes you in a totally different direction with their dub styled groove “King Shiv.”  This is a jam that just makes you want to nod your head.  Even the dubstep styled breakdown is done with tact and precision.  I’m not a fan of dubstep whatsoever, but I feel like the utilization of certain elements can really add to a song and “King Shiv” is a great example.

“Loot My Body” is another upbeat catchy jam.  It’s also hilarious.

“Feel free loot my body
Just take whatever you want
But please don’t start a band”

The following jam throws yet another turn in the stylistic approach to the album with an acoustic song named “Deep Cover.”

“Deep cover
Is not a place it’s a state of mind
To have your heart go incognito
And hide away for a while”

“Pyramids” is another funky groove with heavy marimba.

“I know just what you are
It’s not a Burmese pony
It’s not a dying death wish
Or a child that’s raised by Kony”

Although difficult to choose just one song, “Sparks” would be my favorite groove on the album.  It’s another jam that touches on a doo wop style.  I was listening to it last night and it made me think of Ace at 80proofOinomancy.  In particular, I thought of this post.

“Paul’s Grotesque” is a slinky jam with Honus throwing his bedroom voice, or “I’m going to lock on you my basement voice” into the mix.

“She squeeze the honey bottle
On an over-ripe tomato
Don’t care when all the ants go
Right up her skirt”

“Fang’s” is another favorite of mine. Pow Pow lays down a mean drum riff that has a latin flavor to it.  Yet another catchy groove on an album that already caught me red handed in admiration.

“When she was young she held a fantasy
Of being the female Steve McQueen
Careening an ancient motorcycle
Through the throngs of those she hates”

The twelfth track on the album features solely Honus singing and playing keys.  It’s feel is reminiscent of the piano riff on their jam “Piranhas” from their album Life Fantastic and reminds me of “Doo Right” off Rabit Habits.  However, “Curtains” makes me feel like it should be sung by someone tap dancing across stage with wild gestures.

“You might somehow be redeemed
Even though your heathen days are long gone
And the need to be redeemed is such a boring thing to want
Caved in, hibernating, waiting for the sun
To come along and dry you out and hang you from a cloud”

“Curtains” seems to lead perfectly into the final track on the album, “Born tight.”  The lyrics make me think of the sphere, and of emotional disconnect that seems rampant in a lot of it’s writing.

“Build a fortress up on a hill
Find a love that fits the bill
Sometimes it never will
So you burn it down and you notch the kill”

The final verse in “Born Tight”  goes

“Girls just wanna have fun, be brave.”

My skills in describing this album are lacking so I hope the music can speak for itself.  The unique style of sound is a giant burst of fresh air in a time where most music is either tepid or terrible or both.  The entire album is an ear worm and worth a play through of it’s entirety every time.  That’s a rarity these days.  Lyrically, this album is enthralling due to the familiarity of emotion in each song.  The tragic desperation with a hint of hope in each song is something that resonates deeply with me.  Honus can convey strong romantic sentimentality and still sound like a man doing so, instead of channeling some waif like emo knob.  All the men in Man Man are fantastic multi-instrumentalists.  I can’t recommend this band and this album enough to do it justice.  If they are coming through your town, do yourself a favor and catch them live.  You will not regret it.  If you dig it or don’t let me know in the comments.

~Rojo

You can pick the album up through this link and help buy me a drink.