Thursday, February 7, 2013

Touch Keyboards Become The Teeth

     I think it was Jimmy Eat World who said that no one makes money on a split 7-inch, which is a shame. This one, featuring Pianos Become The Teeth and Touché Amoré deserves it. On this two song split, each band contributes an excellent song, with striking art direction from Touché Amoré guitarist Nick Steinhardt. The main colors are a deep blue and tan, both of which recur, in a small way, in the art for the other band. He finds urban decay photos interesting. The genre does nothing for me, so I pass over that.

     Looking over the .pdf of the layout, I think that's the birds from the "Gravity, Metaphorically" music video in the album art. Yes. Energy and thought were put into the package.

     It will not surprise you, I am sure, to hear both songs are about failing relationships. Touche's was one that was built with an expiration date in mind, apparently. "Gravity," of course, is used as a shorthand for knowing the thing you knew was coming came. "Hiding," starts out as one and then veers into avoiding people generally. The black text on tan backgrounds makes the "Hiding" lyrics hard to read without squinting.

     At four minutes, "Gravity" may as well be a double feature for Touché Amoré. I'd argue it is, actually. The first half sounds like Touché and the second half sounds like Envy. Perhaps that's a little pithy. I'm an absolute goon for Envy, and so are the Touché boys, so that's a net positive in my book.

     "Hiding," by Pianos Become The Teeth is real midtempo. It's one of the best sad bastard songs I've heard in the last couple years. I lived in Western Pennsylvania for four years. I know something about sad bastard songs. I'm struck by the lyric makes you almost miss the smell of smoke in your clothes. Like you knew the memories were bad, but you think fondly of them regardless.

     I bought the digital download for $1.50 from Deathwish, which comes with the full album art in the package. I think it's worth your time and a little bit of your money.

     A friend of mine said I should give that Pianos song a couple listens to let it click, because when it clicks, it's fantastic. He's right. "Hiding," by Pianos Become The Teeth. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Feelin' Diamonds

     "Seein' Diamonds" by Hot Water Music was one of my curse songs.

     I remember early morning / In the car on the side of the road / You said you had something to say / I crawled out with my head spinning / I covered my ears too late

     Get me talking about them long enough and I will speak about "Seein' Diamonds." I think it's my favorite song of theirs.

     I discovered it on Punk-O-Rama 9, which also featured a Motion City Soundtrack b-side called Throw Down. I think I bought it for that b-side and "Seein' Diamonds." It's worth noting, I was even more of a casual fan of Hot Water Music then, so I'm not sure I remember my reasoning. Point is: I bought it in 2004 and found it more resonant than anything else on the compilation.

     "Seein' Diamonds" is about that shock of finding out that the person you love, enough to see yourself marrying them, tells you they don't love you. The blast from the loss leaves a crater.

     The lyrics ultimately boil down to the same feeling of loss and rejection. The partner? The scene of the crash? Metaphorically? Literally? Doesn't matter. What matters is that there is something in that lover or moment that draws the singer back. I listened to it a lot in college, to the point where I described it as like heroin, which is wildly hyperbolic and likely wrong, as I've never tried heroin. The idea I was reaching for was that there's a pleasure and an amelioration by something that ultimately does terrible things to my head. "Seein' Diamonds" does that. It is what that song was made to do.

     Just returning / Felt like murder / But I couldn't stay away

     So I saw Hot Water Music on their tour with La Dispute and the Menzingers. Hot Water Music was good. They've been playing together for 20 years this year. No surprise there. It was at the bar, though, that I talked for a couple minutes with the writer of "Seein' Diamonds" (Chris Wollard) about well, "Seein' Diamonds" and his second solo record, Canyons.

     (I enjoyed Canyons because listening to it I could immediately tell what the record was about. The record is about guitar solos. There's songs and lyrics in there, but it's not about those things, those things are a vehicle for the guitar solos. And those guitar solos? Bitchin'.)

     But the conversation we had about "Seein' Diamonds" was something that now overrides or at least colors my listening to the song now. I used to listen to "Seein' Diamonds" when I was in a bad place.  But now? I listen to it thinking of the Rays cap and the massive bear hugs and the "thank you for paying attention and thank you for caring." And that makes me smile.

     It was a hard song to write, he said.

    I'm glad he wrote it. I'm glad I heard it. His pain, and how he expressed it, resonated with me. That's what music is supposed to do.

     "Seein' Diamonds" doesn't hurt the same, now. I smile too much when I put it on. It doesn't hurt so much. It's a song designed to express pain. I'm at a loss, then, when the song stops being so painful. I'm too close to the event to express coherent thoughts about that. Pat from Self Defense Family will talk about how art should express something in a way that shows the individual and now I understand what he means. I think now, of the man who, if given an opportunity will nerd the fuck out about guitars and his obvious, guileless joy at being in a band with one of the people he looked up to before he formed Hot Water Music.

     I can put a face and a set of behaviors and a personality to the song now. No. I can do more than that. I can put a person to the song now. I didn't think the song came from somewhere anonymous before, but that I knew of Chris Wollard. I knew that is was his voice on it, so I assumed he wrote it. And meeting him colors my experience of listening to the song. When that happens normally, I'm used to it, because most of the songs aren't about loss and knowing that you shouldn't go back but do. The closest I've got is Dessa's "Matches To Paper Dolls" or "Go Home," but those aren't the songs I ask her about.

     I've met Crime In Stereo, but that doesn't color "...But You Are Vast" in the same way. The connection has an incredible value. "Seein' Diamonds" is about loss, but it's hard to feel real bad when you hear it recalling that time it's author hugged you for understanding and taking it to heart. Thank you, Mr. Wollard.


     I think you can intuit which song this is. I don't believe it's gonna surprise you.

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