Out of the (Musical) Slump

I’ve been going through a bit of a musical slump lately, trying to get excited about the music that’s been coming my way (and there’s been a lot of it). This week, it feels like the slump has been lifting, due in large part to the two shows that I went to. There’s something about getting out from your apartment, from underneath those headphones, and experiencing music with a bunch of other people amidst the sweat and the smoke.

Earlier this week, I caught Damien Jurado and Rosie Thomas, which I’ve already mentioned. What I haven’t mentioned is how much more impactful their music feels now. I’ve been listening to Jurado’s excellent Ghost of David (his best album, IMHO) in my car, and there have been times when I’ve almost had to pull over so I can regain my composure after songs like “Medication” and “Tonight I Will Retire”.

Thomas’ latest, Only With Laughter Can You Win has been like a balm to my soul. It feels like a much more substantial album than her last, and some of her lyrics just hit me where I live (“How am I to live this life when the only certainty/Is that death is waiting for me at the end?/And every day that passes I know time is running out/And I fear that I may fail the life I’ve been given”). I love the gratefulness and humility that permeates her music, and it gives her lyrics so much more weight and beauty.

Last night saw the slump take another blow, as well. I went down to Knickerbocker’s last night for the release part of Tie These Hands and Mr. 1986’s new split. I was in an odd mood during the first part of the show, so I just wasn’t able to fully engage the first two acts (though I started warming during the final songs of Call In Call Out’s set, and I’m eager to see them again soon).

By the time Tie These Hands got going, I was really jazzed to be there. Although it seems like Tie These Hands play all the freakin’ time, I don’t get out to see them too much. Which means that every time I see them, it feels new and fresh. Or maybe it’s because their newer songs feel so much more accomplished and mature. Although the Sunny Day Real Estate influence can still be felt, they’ve begun moving past the whole emo/Deep Elm bit. The new stuff feels much rawer and more aggressive, while still containing a lot of the pretty, intricate melodies that I think drew a lot of people to them in the first place.

(By the way, Tie These Hands are going on tour next week, so be sure to check them out if they come to the area. They’re all fine young fellows, and I’m sure they’d appreciate places to stay and whatnot.)

And what can I say about Mr. 1986 except they abso-freakin’-lutely destroyed. Sure, they fall into the whole Godspeed/Mogwai/Explosions In The Sky camp, but they do it so well and with such intensity that they shred through any comparisons. There were moments in their set that I’m convinced were absolutely transcendent (and I mean that in the theological sense, and not just as hyperbole), and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen an entire venue get knocked on their butts.

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