Posts Tagged ‘love’

No Preamble: Never Shout Never “Recycled Youth” (Volume 1) Review

March 2, 2015

This album is part one of a three-part set of releases. I write this on the eve of the record’s release. Follow this link to tune in alongside my commentary.

On the Brightside: Harking back to the animated music video several years back, its hard to swallow this rendition of the previously chipper tune. There isn’t much to complain about in regards to this track aside from the fact that the original version exists. And, at the risk of sounding overly nostalgic, there is just a disconnect between the timbre of Christopher Drew’s vocals and the tone of the instrumentation (most notably the violin). I enjoy the evolution of NSN but I’d argue this intro to be the weakest track on this record. Yet, this assessment is not a barrier-to-entry for most other tracks on Recycled Youth. 6/10

Sacreligious: I didn’t expect much from this track; this song always reeked of semi-commitment. In re-recording this, the band bears down on the melody and adds previously-nonexistent depth to an already familiar track. This song’s structure flows more openly in Recycled Youth. The occasional guitar pauses, the choir-esque floating harmonies, and the picking pattern across the chord progressions all contribute to a much more palatable version than the original. Of course, I don’t condemn the original. But if we’re picking between the original and the revision (?), the recycled version fares better. 7/10

Love is our Weapon: Track 3 is a genuine transition between the original and RY, unlike many others on here. Great flow. Good alterations. It feels organic. Drew’s vocals are at their best in conjunction with other harmonies–Again, Drew’s altered singing style has its weak elements. This song’s theme and instrumental march almost demand the harmonies/layers. 8/10

Black Hole/Liar Liar:  If I remember correctly, this came as a B-side on the Summer EP and I wouldn’t have expected this (great) song to make it onto this album. That aside, I couldn’t be happier that it did. The original will always maintain a special place in my music library, but this recycled version just feels right. The surf-guitar tones really chill down the song, and the light kick drum spruces up the lack of high energy. Didn’t expect Drew to hit the high notes, but he rocked it out quite splendidly. The guitar solo and light chorus at the end really wrapped it up nicely. 10/10

Robot: This track is nothing short of the conclusion to a musical. It feels less angsty than the original, which has its strengths and weaknesses. With just a touch more of piano (lead vs. rhythm), I think this recycled version would be impenetrable. Amazing bridge and instrumental. In fact, I almost wish the bridge/instrumental ended the song. Other than for the sake of mirroring the original, the final chorus serves no genuine purpose. Near miss with this track. It was almost amazing, but not quite. 8/10

Here Goes Nothing: Thinking back, I only now realize that this is the third version of this song I now own. There was the myspace demo in 2007(?), followed by the Yippee EP rerecording. For whatever reason, the older tracks seem to translate much better into these new versions. As I’ve noted, Drew’s voice and singing style have altered considerably in the intermediary period between the original and recycled version. I have never met a NSN fan who doesn’t point to the Yippee EP as NSN’s golden age (and I have to say its hard to disagree, despite loving each succeeding release). There is something trance-y going on in this, perhaps because the kick/hi-hat placements sound like something straight out of Fruity Loops. Definitely a highlight track on this record. 10/10

Sweet Perfection: Again, what a great rendition. If it weren’t for the fact that I already loved the original version, this might have sold me. Luckily the amazing harmonicas were kept, accented with a little more vibe than the original. The peppered surf-guitar sounds like something that would appear in the Hawaii special of The Brady Bunch. The chorus harmonies in this version really buttress the otherwise meandering tone of this track. Great, silly ending. 9/10

Trance-Like Getaway: These final two tracks had more to live up to than the other seven combined. Off the bat, the whistling and harmonica so wonders to set the stage. I’m a little disappointed at the lack of overpowering Time Travel-esque harmonies; a lot of the vocal layers have been cut out. In a way, I can see how this would have (more or less) been the original growth of this song. There is something more authentic about the way this song progresses than the original. Yet, the bridge fizzles out in a way that the original completely succeeded in accomplishing. There is a feeling of release and relief at the end of the cyclical buildup and, in this version, that aspect is lost. 7/10

Lost at Sea: Time Travel holds a place in my heart that is unmatched by very few records. This is the definitive song off that record, in my mind, and, that being said, I will critique from a position of assuming you understand that I love this song. The “recycled” version begins in a way that is so great that the remainder of the song nearly fails to accomplish that same level of emotion. The harmonies are mixed in a way that feels fresh, open, and independent of the rest of this song. The verses just do nothing to bolster the impact of the choruses. There needs to be more than one looping acoustic guitar for such a heavy-handed track as this. And then, what? A couple plucks on the acoustic just end the song (and the record)? Hmm. Hard not to furrow my brow at this lackluster rendition. 8/10

Overall: 73/90. This record has its strengths across the board. I’ve never seen an artist go down this route of reinterpreting, “recycling,” one’s past recordings. It’s both a treat for fans and an opportunity to bring consonance to the ever-evolving style of music NSN produces. While some of these songs are bogged down by comparison, this album stands quite well on its own. I highly anticipate volumes two and three in the near future.

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Hatred & Love: The Cultural Politics of Emotion

February 25, 2015

I am generally not a fan of sociology, anthropology, psychology, and similar forms of “soft” science. I am certainly not against their existence–they can be useful–but I also see the problematic elements of such disciplines. That aside, I am reading Sara Ahmed’s book The Cultural Politics of Emotion. It is saturated with these sorts of analytics, drawing on the usual suspects: Marx, Freud, and the like. For those of you who have not read this book, I do recommend it. It’s clearly written and develops in a way that I, as a philosopher, don’t furrow my brow at too much.

Ahmed’s second chapter in this book is devoted to “The Organisation of Hate.” She draws a distinction between the way love and hate manifest in ourselves, and how, “Because we love, we hate, and this hate is what brings us together.” (43). I’m willing to grant the connection of causation between love and hate and I’m surprised that I agree with this assertion. When we refer to hatred it is almost definitely in the context of negativity. Yet, when I see a forest ripped down for another shopping center, I do feel genuine hatred. It’s not necessarily a hatred directed at anyone, but, rather, a hatred based out of love for something that has been threatened or lost. But Ahmed’s model seems to resist hatred. I wonder if she would grant that hatred can be a good thing (at times) or if it is always destructive? There isn’t much more development on this point in her chapter, as she moves on to the “Affective Economies” of emotion.

Yet, Ahmed expands in the section of “Hated Bodies,” how, “Hate is an intense emotion; it involves a feeling of ‘againstness’ that is always, in the phenomenological sense, intentional. Hate is always hatred of something or somebody, although that something or somebody does not necessarily pre-exist the emotion.” (49). This seems to contradict my example of the surge of hatred I feel at the sight of deforestation. Hatred, when based out of love, seems almost helpful. It is because of hatred that I write this post. It is because of hatred that I actively try to prevent such measures of senseless destruction to our native forests. Of course I could always aim my hatred onto the object of a person, construction company, or governmental department. This just seems unhelpful in the larger scheme of things, only because I know that very few people involved in such “development projects” as this don’t have a vendetta against nature. Most of these (usually male) workers are in need of money, contracts, employment in general. How can I hate those who have the same goal as me? It is not the people I fixate as my objects of hatred; it is the act itself to which I direct my emotion.

As I distinguish between people and acts as objects of hatred, so do I embolden this gap in the case of religion. Bluntly put, I genuinely hate religion. But–and this is an important caveat–I do not hate religious people. My qualms with Sam Harris aside, he takes good measure to distinguish between criticizing “religious ideas” rather than “religious people.” It is not helpful to demonize people in general, but, rather, the acts they perform. I don’t think anyone gets out of bed thinking, “I’m evil.” That sounds absurd.

We’d be wise to be conscious about the interplay between the objects of hatred we choose. This is true especially in politics. Every morning when I’m on the treadmill, I casually watch the competing headlines of CNN and FOX. Lately, ISIS has been in the headlines almost every single day. If ISIS is quiet, President Obama is under scrutiny. I find this to be curious in both cases. Regarding ISIS, I can understand how easily the transition between hatred of acts and hatred of people emerges. This line is blurred so cleanly that it’s practically effaced. The American people are being fed objects to project their hatred onto; this is dangerously irresponsible on behalf of news media. And President Obama is always referred to as the object for political action. In other words, it is “the Obama Administration” or, worse, “Obama” who we refer to as our government. In reality, as most people (I think) understand, there is an entire system of government of hundreds, rather, thousands of people in power. If Obama had the power we say he has, this country would certainly look different and we wouldn’t be paying hundreds of representatives. Returning to Ahmed’s discussion of hatred and love, this object-hatred is fallacious at best. We don’t want the news media to select our objects of hatred. We want to be the source of our own emotions (which Ahmed’s critique of emotion would reject), and it is prudent to be careful about the objects we allow ourselves to feel emotion towards.

So in thinking about the relationship between love and hatred, I think it’s not an unfair claim to find both emotions useful–contingent upon each other, in fact. Hatred can be a powerful fuel, one which is rather more renewable than fossil fuels. We just have to be careful how we use the fuel in question. Is it ever okay to love or hate people? I’d be surprised if anyone (at this point) didn’t think to themselves, “Of course it’s okay!” Well, I don’t know. I think we can love selectively. I think love is something to be channeled. When used recklessly, I think love can be dangerous, in fact. I’ve seen emotion, under the guise of “love,” tear people apart. Love is valuable. Love is near the pinnacle of important emotions a human can cultivate. (Curiosity, I’d argue is at the top.) But, like everything, too much is too much. Love is a virtue, but it can just as easily turn into a vice. And as we think of hatred as a vice, by extension, it certainly can be turned into a virtue. Perhaps Ahmed will disagree with me on this point but I see no reason to abandon something so useful.