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Last Active 01-01-70 12:00 am
Joined 01-01-70

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05.17.24 Sowing's Eras Tour 01.14.24 For The Meds & FAQ v. 2024
12.22.23 Sowing's 2023 11.30.23 Best User Reviews: November 2023
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15 Years of Time Questionably Spent

Also known as Sowing's Neverending Sputnik Story.
The Sound of Madness

I joined Sputnik in 2008 after lurking for two years. I read a lot of Chan's reviews and found the humor around the site to be one of the most engaging aspects of the community, even if the general attitude towards newcomers was cold, abrasive, and unwelcoming. I was obsessed with Shinedown at the time, so I decided to make The Sound of Madness my very first review. I had a pretty even keel back then and gave it 3.5 stars. The first comment I got on the entire site was from user "ilikemusicthatsucks" who told me that my review was unnecessary and that I should just leave forever.

It took me until the Autumn of 2009 to contribute something again, which was a 3 star review of Thrice's Beggars (which I now love). I expressed my initial disappointment with the album, citing that its strongest traits were its lyrics but that it was lacking musically/experimentally. I was pleased with some of the agreeable feedback I got - particularly about the review itself - aside from user redsparrow who claimed that my username gave me away as a Brand New zealot who was merely trying to lower the average for Thrice in order to (somehow?) benefit the upcoming release of Brand New's Daisy. I got into a heated exchange with AtavanHalen that same month in a Panic! At the Disco - "Pretty. Odd." thread about whether or not it was Beatles worship (he said it wasn't, I said it was) and I ended up getting frustrated at his dismissive tone and took some time off from the site again. In hindsight, I had pretty thin skin and wasn't at all accustomed to internet/forum culture.
3The Republic of Wolves

2010 was when things really came together. I found myself spending a lot of time at my personal computer writing lesson plans, and Sputnik became a pleasant and often needed distraction. I fell in love with the website and its userbase, most typically interacting with users like tiesthatbind, irving, deviant, waior, xenophanes, romulus, gyromania, greg84, lakes, jethro, nagrarok, xtoxin, pizzamachine, atavanhalen (ironically), daveyboy, and probably many, many more. In all my time here, 2010 was hands down the most fun I had simply because there were no obligations, I was just dicking around and shit-posting while learning about artists and entire genres that I didn't even know existed. Also, I somehow contributed 76 reviews that year; it felt like I was always writing something. I applied for contributor in the Spring and missed the cut, but then one random Fall day Jom shoutboxed me that I was a contrib, and lo and behold I was.
4The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)

2011 was mostly a continuation of 2010's no-fucks-given spree of joking around and forging online friendships, but I did try to rein it in slightly while honing my craft, because - especially back then - being a contributor carried with it a certain level of clout/swagger/professionalism. I still did dumb stuff and posted a lot of comments that I probably shouldn't have, but I was admittedly pretty immature back then. Over the course of 2011, I got a job in the city, moved out of my parents' house, and got my very first apartment. I definitely went through some hard and very often lonely times - which led to me contributing reviews at another large clip (79) while continuing many of the friendships I'd forged in 2010. There were certainly additional folks who I saw an uptick in talks with, like tyrael and Willie (who was ever-prevalent back then). I didn't apply for staff but suddenly got promoted one random November night, as part of a huge shake-up.
Southern Air

2012 got off to an abysmal start for me personally. My gf broke things off to move out of state, and the woman I'd been hopelessly in love with for 6-plus years (my current wife, oddly enough) was in a long-term committed relationship. I honestly hated my life from Jan-May of 2012, and I spent a lot of that time drinking too much while putting myself in poor situations. I felt like my output on the site reflected that, and some of it was downright cringeworthy and has since been deleted, thank god. I eventually started to feel less sorry for myself, and I had turned things around by the summer of 2012. This was around the time of my "Southern Air" review, which remains one of my personal favorites because I felt like I was writing about both the music and my own life (the week that album dropped, I started dating my wife). Summer/Fall of 2012 were great, and it was the first time I remember conversing with stand-up folks like atari, talons, project, toondude, nash, and lifeasachipmunk.
6Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

2013 was something of a lost year for me in terms of my role on Sputnik. I had my first "real" teaching job which included a 95 minute commute (each way!) along with endless paperwork and unruly kids who all were subject to some form of official behavioral discipline (most were expelled from their respective school districts). I was stressed beyond belief for basically all of 2013, so reviews came few and far between. I ended up asking to be slid over to the emeritus role once I proposed to my wife and she said yes, figuring that Sputnik would be a closed chapter in my life that I'd rarely, if ever, revisit. I fully intended for my "Ocean Avenue Acoustic" review to be my last one on this site, but as I'd find out several more times, one does not simply walk away from this place.

I spent the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 as an emeritus, only occasionally stopping by to review something. The comments were always very warm and welcoming, which made me miss this place - but I simply lacked the time to have a consistent presence. That changed when summer vacation rolled around, and gravity brought me back to Sputnik to review The Antlers' "Familiars". From there, I kept on writing all summer long and eventually asked if I could return to the regular staff. This was around the time I started to spend more time conversing with users like feather, brostep, hogan, rowan, yuli, etc. (I'm trying not to be too exhaustive because I know I'm going to forget so many important people anyway). I changed career paths in the autumn of 2014 and that really carved out a lot more time for me. Overall, 2014 was one of my favorite years on Sputnik because I felt like the time spent away from this place rejuvenated my passion for music and writing.
8Sufjan Stevens
Carrie and Lowell

2014-2015 was a very interesting period of time because it's when I feel like the fundamental core of the userbase shifted from the old guard to newer writers with promise, like rowan, johnnyonthespot, explosiveoranges, and cometodaddy. I was re-ingrained in Sput-life, reviewing frequently but for healthier reasons and with a better head on my shoulders. It was a bit of an odd sensation being one of the veteran staffers rather than a new kid on the block. Sure, klap and daveyboy were still around, but most of the guys I "grew up reading" were gone. I don't want to say that the site was dying, but there was definitely less activity. The conversations that did occur, however, were generally nicer and more mellow/welcoming than they were when I first joined. The community may have been shrinking, at least slightly, but at its core were good people.
9Jimmy Eat World
Integrity Blues

By January 2016, I had asked to become a moderator as one of the existing ones had IRL issues to attend to. I probably wasn't ready, because despite being very familiar with the ins and outs of the site, I wasn't very good at dealing with the fact that there was actually very little I could change about this place. I also wasn't great at dealing with a lot of the trolling and other nonsense that occurs, partially because I was too nice and wanted to see the best in everyone (a trait that got me burned a few times -- don't worry, I've learned ;-) ). I once again flirted with retirement, ever-tempted by the opportunity for a storybook ending (in this case, bowing out at the same time as Yellowcard), but as usual, that lasted a few weeks before I recanted and found myself back in the saddle. I remember meeting users like boney, doof, freddie (now slex), minty, dinosaurjones, onionbubs, and many more around this time.
10Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

I feel like I may have peaked as a writer somewhere between 2017 and 2019. I was far removed from the wide-eyed newcomer trying to impress staff that I was when I arrived in '08. That said, I certainly learned from reading their material and had years upon years to mold those skills into a voice that was distinctly my own. I don't remember there being a ton of fresh blood for the userbase in 2017, but I do recall verdant's (I think he used to be called landdiving or something) reviews being something of a revelation. 2017 was also a crazy good year for new music - arguably the best in my 14 years here - with Manchester Orchestra, Gang of Youths, Brand New, Fleet Foxes, and Lorde all dropping stone-cold classics within the span of a few summer months.

By 2018, I was pretty bored with reviewing well-known artists so I made the decision to put a heavy emphasis on "under the radar" releases. It was a lot of fun, and helped bring to light bands like All The Luck In The World, Tomberlin, and Allelic. I remember being pretty excited when chan returned to review The Wonder Years, because he was one of my primary inspirations for joining the site back in 2006-2008. Also, despite both of them being around for a long time, I remember this being the first time I consistently conversed with johnnyofthewell and letsgofishing -- thanks in large part to our shared love of mwY's [Untitled] LP. There was a significant injection of new talent that year; folks like dewi, blush, and gonz - while probably around longer - really started to surface as forces to be reckoned with on the writing front. I'll also always remember 2018 as the year that I realized that all of zakalwe's opinions are not awful - after all, he 5'd Ben Howard's Noonday Dream!
12Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell!

2019 was my poptimism year. For some reason, every pop album I heard that year sounded great, which worked out well because a lot of artists I enjoy shifted in a decidedly mainstream direction. This led to a lot more encounters with luci, who introduced me to a lot of wonderful pop and electronic music over the course of 2019. My first son was also born this year, which I believe further influenced my already overly-optimistic view on most music. I'll of course always look back fondly at 2019 as one of the last normal years of my life.
13Honey Harper

Ah, the era of Covid-19. What a strange experience it was to be trapped in my house for the better part of 2020. For whatever reason, the increased isolation really turned me on to country music, as I discovered artists like Honey Harper, Orville Peck, Jason Isbell, Zach Bryan, and Ruston Kelly. As a result, I inevitably got to know the site's main country connoisseurs better, particularly boney, doof, atari, dmathias, and chan. 2020, despite being a horrible year for so many reasons, was also a very calming and surreal one. I spent so much time with music because there was nothing else to do. I tallied 84 reviews somehow, and raced to the 500 review milestone where I once again vowed to stop writing and focus strictly on moderating - another lie, because now I'm a couple of reviews away from 600. 2020 will always be one of my most memorable years both IRL and on Sput - not only because of how strange it was, but also because of how it granted me unprecedented time with family.

By this point in the list we're pretty much cruising right into the present. As of 2021-2022, the site's userbase has reached a nice equilibrium. There's still plenty of old-timers from around the time I joined or earlier, but every "sput era" along the way has seen some people stick around, and every year there's a small handful of promising new users that emerge. This place might not be as bustling as it was in the late 00's and early 10's, but it still retains a certain charm -- and quite possibly a warmer/more accepting atmosphere than at any prior point in the site's decades-spanning history. As someone who has seen nearly half of his life at least partially involved in this community, I wanted to thank all of you for your role in building and maintaining this place. May Sputnik continue to provide music and memories for years to come!
15Domestic Terminal
All The Stories Left To Tell

2022 was memorable for a lot of reasons, but what stuck with me the most was spending most of my summer jamming a Sputnik user-created piece that would become my AOTY; a first for me. I also turned my focus largely away from self-created content in an effort to do something community-oriented. Some of those ideas persisted (Best User Reviews of the Month), some naturally ran their course (Sputnik Musician Interviews) while others fizzled out (Sputnik Singles). A lot of great new writers emerged in 2022, many of whom became contributors, which is an exciting development for me because it somewhat validates what I'm doing here (and honestly, need to get back to doing more of). 2023 was a watershed moment in the site's history with the shuttering of the forums and loss of critical functions/data (despite what my profile currently says, this is NOT my 53rd anniversary), but I'm trying to remain hopeful that better days lie ahead of us...and of course they do, because Yellowcard reunited!
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