This one is different — lots of loud guitars and yelling and hooks — so even if my last couple weird and sad did nothing for you, this one might. Also, these songs are super old, like me. Two of them are from my college days and from my old band Verbatim.
A couple weeks ago I was wrapping up the record and I said to Aileen, “It’s kind of silly that I work so hard on this. It’s not like a lot of people will listen to it.” And she reminded me that that’s not why I make music, and also that’s it’s unfair to expect people to care or even really get into the music if it’s just thrown at them without any context. As usual, she was right, so here’s where I’m at with these four songs.
“Cigarette and Ash” is about how creepy debutante balls can be, and how the object captured in the male gaze isn’t the same as the actual person. My old collaborator Christian, who helped put the song together like ten years ago, sings harmonies on it. The guitar solo at the end was a happy accident.
I stole the heart of “Virginity” from a friend. His throwaway line went something like “I’ve been searching for something that will make you beautiful to me.” I thought that was such a comically horrible thing for a person to say, so I had to write a song about the kind of person who would say that. To be clear: this is a very unhealthy attitude to have about sex. I wrote this in 2002 or 2003, when I wanted our band Verbatim to sound like Jawbox with heavy and present drums and what the dweebs used to call “angular” guitar riffs. Instead it just sounds like an early 2000s mall-punk band circling 495. I still love this stupid, evil pop song.
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Keg” is a very mid-2000’s song title. The tune itself is about a lonely guy at a house party, what he sees and thinks and hears before things get fuzzy and everyone starts dancing and the loneliness bleeds away. I stole a line from Pedro the Lion here (“Sing like the angel you know you’ll never be”), but the “I love the silence inside of me” line is one of my favorites. This is the only song of the record that isn’t all-hooks-all-the-time, so it might take a few listens to grow on you, but I think it’s a strong one.
“Do It Alone” is the record’s youngest song at like 11 years old. It’s a chuggy little rock anthem. Its message is plainly said in its final line. My friend and collaborator Christian again adds more harmonies here, and it’s so good to work with someone else on a song like this. The guitar solo was me aping what he and I used to do when we’d play guitar together — a bit of an early Smashing Pumpkins vibe with counterpoint. This song had to be placed at the opposite side of the record from “Cigarette and Ash” because they’re so similar musically. I probably shouldn’t even say that here.
I had some time off last week, so I made a music video for “Virginity.” It’s freaky.
I used an application called EbSynth to generate the rotoscope-style effects, plus some fun WebGL applications for particle and mesh effects. A bunch of the animations were me redrawing dance scenes from Twin Peaks, which I think resonates with some of the unhealthy attitudes about sex expressed in the song. To be honest, I do worry a bit about how bombastic that song is in how depicts a nasty perspective, so I wanted the on-screen imagery to reinforce the tone that’s maybe too latent in the song itself.
The music video uses the same color scheme as the album art, which is just me idly redrawing a scene from the 1989 Nintendo propaganda movie, The Wizard. Around the time I was writing these songs, I would watch an old VHS copy of the movie with my friends while we drank boxed wine, back when drinking boxed wine wasn’t even ironically cool.
Finally, the title “Year of Miracles” is a loose translation of Annus Mirabilis, also a poem by John Dryden about a year that actually sucked quite a bit.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the record.
My earlier work is also streaming:
And here’s a Spotify playlist with all of them in chronological order.
Thanks a bunch.
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