An interesting thing happened to my perception of music over time. If you were to go back to my heyday on this website – let’s say 2010-2012 just for argument’s sake – everything changed my life. That heartfelt guitar solo. The lyric about overcoming depression. The slow burner that paralleled my own rage boiling beneath the surface. Everything was so relatable. Every moment within the music mattered.
Now, I can barely feel it.
The music plays, and I can discern (certainly to a debatable extent among some of you) the quality albums from the poor ones. Occasionally I’ll get wrapped up in a moment, but then that moment passes and I move on to the next one. Gone are the days where an album would imprint itself upon my life; there’s no Southern Air that defines my marriage the way that pop-punk slice of summer originally did for my most meaningful relationship. There is no The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me that makes me question my faith in 2020. I’ve tried in vain to find an album to emotionally attach to the birth of my son, but I keep coming up empty-handed. Maybe I’m burned out, or maybe I’m just getting way too old for this shit.
I was listening to Band of Horses for the first time in…uh, maybe eight years…tonight, and I got a shiver up my spine during “The Funeral”. Not the figure of speech – a real, actual spine-tingling sensation that extended from my back up to my neck that caused my hairs to stand on-end. That gross image notwithstanding, I miss that feeling – and I got it from a band I haven’t even paid any attention to for damn close to a decade.
My mortality crosses my mind a lot for someone who is, relatively speaking, still very young. I think about the existential aspect of it of course, but then there’s all the dumb stuff: what random items laying around my house is some stranger going to find and wonder what I was doing with my life? Oh god, will someone delete my internet search history? A lot of it is humorous and anecdotal, but I do often wonder when the last time I’ll listen to an artist is. My library can be measured in terabytes. Had I not been in a particularly nostalgic mood, would I have ever heard “The Funeral” again? At some point, we’ve all heard a song for the last time. It’s something to think about.
Since thinking is something I can’t help but overdo, I spent about an hour before writing this article taking a trip down memory lane. The cool thing about iTunes besides the fact that it’s practically vintage at this point is that it stores your music chronologically. For the first time I can remember, I looked back at my entire library just for the sake of evaluating my musical timeline. I encountered so many wonderful releases that I used to hail in reviews: 2019 – Low Roar’s Ross. 2018 – Shakey Graves’ Can’t Wake Up. 2017 – Benjamin Clementine’s I Tell a Fly. 2016 – Racing Glaciers’ Caught In The Strange. This continued all the way back until the beginning of my musical library in 2006 (Annuals’ Be He Me, for those who care). The unifying theme? I’ve barely listened to any of them.
As I’d scroll through, I’d stop to let a song play and then keep scrolling. I could barely finish a single track before I’d encounter yet another song/album that I just had to hear again because it’s been years – and then I realized that’s how I’ve been approaching music since at least 2015. It’s been an onslaught of new material; a thirst for staying current that could never possibly be quenched. This week alone I reviewed four albums, and all I could think of was a way to fit reviewing the new Anchor & Braille into my schedule. I love writing, and reviews are my passion. But it’s not always about being on the cutting edge. Sometimes, as hard as it can be to slow yourself down, it’s just about living in the moment and taking it all in. That’s something I haven’t done in a decade – possibly longer – and I intend to start caring about music again. That’s why I’ll be taking an indefinite hiatus from reviewing after my 500th submission.
To be clear, this isn’t a retirement announcement – I’m still going to be here in all the same capacities and functions, probably abusing the hell out of the blog to satisfy my writing fix – the output just won’t be in the form of reviews. The itch to get reviews out on a regular basis has gotten in the way of my ability to naturally absorb, break down, and remember music. I’m tired of taking up the front page in what has got to appear to others as a vanity complex. I’m tired of spending hours writing reviews that I don’t even read myself more than a few times before they cycle out of sight and mind. The time has come for me to evolve. Where that will take me is uncertain, although I do know that it will be for the best. I have enough projects to keep me occupied, and I expect to let that creativity unfurl following the punctuation of my active reviewing career. If and when I do return with an album review, I expect it to be a rarer occurrence – one that will hopefully be full of the passion and zest for life that I used to extract from music all the time, back when it meant the world to me. I hope it’s still possible for me to relate to music like that. If so, I can’t wait to share that feeling again.