I still do, but I used to too.
Since leaving Substream 2014 and hanging up my column at AltPress soon after, I haven't done much writing about music. I've talked about it on podcasts, written the odd post about Mansions or The Beths, and got deep into planning a new outlet to do more of just that, but I've been mostly celibate from the practice. This week, an old pal called me out of retirement.
After I stopped writing about music and the industry around it for money, I tried finding ways to write just for me. Music talk was at the core of Variable Bitrate, my interview podcast. I started Discography.fm as an outlet for writing about music I liked too, but that hasn't seen a whole lot of action beyond a few CD ripping tutorials and thoughts on archiving music that might otherwise be lost in the streaming age.
My friend Harley and I started planning a successor to his Crocodiles newsletter. We wrote out a solid plan and a few pilot issues. There were even a few guest writers and an illustrator lined up to get things going. But life got busy and suddenly it felt less and less like a sustainable project.
My not-online friend Tyler asked me and our mutual buddy Jared to commit to an exercise of writing something short about new albums we found to accompany our regular group chat shares. At the time, I had just relegated my project with Harley to the grave and I responded with more cynicism than the suggestion deserved. I felt and still feel bad about that, but the notion of writing about music—or anything really—often feels like an unfair ask of me. I've been burnt on the practice so often and found joy out of it so rarely. I love music and I love writing. Despite a pretty drastic career change, "writer" still what my subconscious tells me that I am when I permit myself to think existentially for more than two seconds.
So when Andy Maroon asked me to fill in for Pat Haynes this week for their Hope You Like It newsletter, I hesitated. Thing is, I love their writing. Both of them. I was Mind Equals Blown's biggest fan (RIP). Honored at the opportunity, and despite this being a ridiculously hectic time to do so, I had no choice but to commit.
The premise of the newsletter is that the authors send the eachother, weekly, an album they've never heard before. An intro is written for the album they assign, and a response is written in return. It's a solid format that they dress up with playful jabs and taunts during the editing process. Here's the rub: Andy is a metal guy and Pat likes pretty much everything in comparison.
In that way I think I make a good stand-in. I can find something to appreciate in just about anything. So when Andy sent me Exoplanet by The Contortionist with the added context of it being one of his all-time favorite records, I knew I had to reply in kind. It was only natural to send him a top-pick of my own, Jeff Buckley's Grace.
I appeared on Pat's old Oasis podcast years ago, but haven't had the chance to work with Andy since the MEB days. I was excited to throw him something way out of his comfort zone, but confident there would be something on there for him to love. Given what he wrote, I consider the exercise a success. If Andy ever leaves on paternity leave, I hope Pat gives me the chance to take a shot at him.
Is this the best music writing I've ever published? No it's not, but this was meant to be fun and I've got a lot of rust on these fingers. Still, for its brevity, I think its a fine effort. I'd like to think that someday I'll revisit that newsletter idea of my own. In the meantime, check out Vol. LIX of Hope You Like It and give the guys a subscription.