Sometimes I think the best and worst decision I’ve ever made was to become an obsessive music nerd, but what do I really have to show for it? A few hundred records dating from the sixties all the way up to today, three massive CD booklets, two terabyte hard-drives full of everything from top 40 pop to all but forgotten black metal cassette rips, and thousands of dollars in lost savings in the form of ticket stubs. I don’t regret a single second of it. But I must admit, being constantly inundated with new and unknown media almost every waking hour be it in the form of Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, emails, or friends texting me about what new records have leaked has done considerable damage to the way that I take in new music. It used to be you bought a record and over the course of hours, days, and weeks it would blossom and grow. That first impression was important but even the most off putting records usually revealed some sort of secret, even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy them right away. Hell, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was a 4 year endeavor for me to finally see its genius. Now, though, I just don’t have the time to wait. It’s unfortunate and I hate it. Now those slow burners get tossed by the wayside. If it doesn’t hit immediately I move on to something else that does. Rarely does an album ever slowly matriculate into what it was intended to be by it’s creator. In a way that’s probably why I was so attached to Deafheaven’s latest record. Sunbather was immediate. Yes, it evolved into something deeper over time, but that initial listen was a vortex. It was powerful from the get go.
Where am I going with this? Well, music is such a mood thing. What doesn’t connect in one mindset has a strong rapport with another. I think in the way that many of us have an endless supply of records for us to choose, each tailor made for whatever we’re feeling at this very second, we forget to revisit those slow burners and those initial disappointments. Something dismissed months ago can reveal itself to be just what we need. Right now I am currently enraptured by The National’s Trouble Will Find Me. When the album was released I was in a better place. The things that I always wanted were finally all coming together and I had no need for Matt Berninger’s depressing baritone, but as Achebe said, things fall apart. Now what I once hated only a few months ago is everything that I need. If I would have just fallen back to the normal slump of familiar recordings I would have missed out on something that now feels as naturally a part of me as much as my own blood. It’s the most rewarding music re-discovery I’ve had in years. After I bought the record I poured over the liner notes just like I used to do when I was a kid, constantly reading and rereading each lyric as it pours out through my headphones. It demanded my attention, and for the first time in a long time I gave in. It’s an experience I miss. I just have to remind myself from time to time to slow down.