Howdy! This is the triumphant return of the Listen Up, Nerds Newsletter. I know that you were all waiting with bated breath. I'm going to be interviewing people in this newsletter now. For the most part, I'm asking them for a playlist of some of their favorite songs and then we chat about the playlist. I post the playlist here for your consumption, and we all have a good time. Does that sound good to you? It sounds good to me, so let's get into it.
Miranda Reinert is a writer, zine publisher, music critic, podcast host, and general delight of a person based in Philadelphia, PA. She writes one of my favorite blogs, Step One Of A Plan, and her love for music is an inspiration to anyone who wants to write a newsletter or blog or what have you. You don't have to be the best when you start. You just have to start.
"I have a business degree, so I didn't write. I wrote one lengthy paper in college and it was about Jawbreaker."
- Miranda, on her background in writing
Step One is about life and our emotional connections to the music we love, or sometimes it's about Self Defense Family records, and sometimes it's about social media evolving and that's the point. It's about whatever she wants it to be about and the connection is that it's by her. It's still cohesive and engaging, but it's not a media company, and that's the point. DIY isn't just about booking shows and putting out records, it's about covering scenes and yelling about what nobody else is yelling about. Here are some selections from the interview intercut with some of the songs on Miranda's playlist that we talk about. Links to the playlist are at the bottom of the page.
LUN: Are you having a Hard Girls Summer?
MR: Of course I am! Shinobu Spring, Hard Girl Summer. We're listening to Sign of the Dune. We're making our friends listen to Sign of the Dune. They're not enjoying it.
Is Sign of the Dune your number one Hard Girls song?
It's a good question. Probably. That and "Deep Gulch". "Sign of the Dune" is the one that I named my blog after. So in that regard, it holds a special place for me. So it's one or two, probably number one or number two, depending on the day.
I think seeing as many people care about Hard Girls now is still... I don't want to say it's shocking because I think they've always been one of the sickest bands, but I do think it's really funny that it took off the way it has.
Yeah, I'm interested in it. I feel like I talk about Hard Girls all the time, and I feel like I can kind of get away with talking about Hard Girls all the time because people kind of aren't talking about Hard Girls all the time. 'Cause why would you be talking about it? But, it is interesting to see some people a little younger than I am (talk about it). I got into Hard Girls because a guy that I dated was friends with people who were older than him. You hang out with people who got their life changed by Chris Gethard and they're 27 or whatever.
I'm friends with a lot of those people.
I was too, for a period. So that's how I got introduced to Hard Girls initially. It's interesting. It is like a world of music that to me, I feel more associated with people who are a little bit older than I am, because everyone I knew, whoever really liked that stuff was always like, I'd be 23, and by far still the youngest person at a Menzingers show. It feels like there's an age where that would stop, But in talking about Hard Girls online all the time, now I know that there are people who are younger than me who like Hard Girls.
Why this song of all the Self Defense Family songs?
Why this song? I love this song, dude, I don't know. I think like, it was first, when I was like first like really trying to get into this band, which like wasn't that long ago. I remember when (Have You Considered) Punk Music came out and I remember listening to it then and kind of being like, "Okay, this is what this is. Whatever." But when I was trying to get into Self Defense a few years ago it was for real. I listened to a bunch of the singles because a friend of mine who I knew liked them said, "Oh, listen to like the singles and you'll kind of get what it is and if you're going to like it." And then I listened to Try Me, and this song is the one that immediately stuck with me. I think it still is representative of what I like about that band or a type of song by them that I tend to really like, which is very methodical, cyclical, almost repetition-based. I like a lot of those songs, they have a few of those songs and I tend to enjoy them. So I think it's a type of song that they play that I really like. But I feel like immediately that was the one that I latched on to.
I remember driving to Pittsburgh a few years ago from Philly and I listened to it while I was driving through the stressful part of Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, that I don't like driving through. I was listening to the song on repeat and I listened to it for 45 minutes, so it's really lodged itself into my brain. But I just like it. It's almost meditative to me. I remember getting to Pittsburgh and I rated all the stuff that I listened to in the car for my newsletter. I was talking about Dingo Fence and Eli (Enis, cohost of Endless Scroll with Reinert) said, "This is the most tense song you could possibly choose to be the song that you wanted to listen to in the car. It just like doesn't make any sense."
No, I'm with you in that it's like very meditative. I like those kind of songs in general. I like the kind of vulgar krautrock thing that's going on here.
Between this and "The Bomber Will Always Get Through," they have two really plodding songs that are tense, but there's something calming about knowing what's coming next, even though it's like–
Drilling into your brain. It is like a calming effect no matter what the context is.
You got me to listen to my first 1975 song ever.
It's "Menswear." I don't know anything about this band. I know how Matty Healy looks and I kind of have just like figured everything out based on how he looks. I was right in how they sounded based on how he looks. Is this like an emblematic thing of the other 1975 songs? Because it sounds like a weird song for them.
It is a weird song. So my favorite 1975 songs are their songs that sound sort of similar to this one, which is, and there's a handful of them, but they are very much not the typical style. I feel like, "What does the 1975 sound like?" It's not this. This is my favorite 1975 song. I think on all of their records or most of their records, they do sort of like a quieter, much simpler sort of song where Matty Healy is kind of just like talking through a story. I think they have a song called "The Ballad of Me and My Brain" that I really like off their second record. That's sort of a similar vibe. Or, on the new record, the Christmas song that's on it, I think is kind of similar. But where it's like much more pared back and low-key.
So now that we've landed on two outliers of songs, what else on here is like an outlier song? Are you drawn to the outlier of each band? Like "I may like this band, but what I really like is the kind of atypical song from them." Do you find yourself in that pocket a lot?
I don't know if I would say I find it a lot, but I do find myself compelled when a band does something that's a little bit left of typical form. I put "Hospital Vespers" on this playlist, which, on Reconstruction Site, it's one part of a three-song passage where it's more like a poem than it is a song. But I think what that adds to the record is what makes a record one that I'll really– I don't know, that feels more memorable. I'll definitely go back to it. And I think that makes an impact for that reason. For a little while, I had like a real issue with, a real petty issue with Turnstile's last album. Because on the four-song EP that they put out before it, "No Surprise" went into "Mystery," and "No Surprise" felt like an intro. And then it's in a totally different spot on (Glow On). And it bothered the hell out of me that it went from being something that was cool, that it was sort of paired next to "Mystery" felt like a cool moment, and was then taken totally out of its context and put into a worse position. I had a real problem with this two years ago. I'm into the weird slow song on the new Militarie Gun record. I think that's cool. I think it's cool to infuse a song that's not really a song, especially. And "Hospital Vespers" is kind of that. The song is not really a song, but I think it is emblematic of what John K. Samson is good at doing, which is painting a scene, a true vignette, a moment.
I like when there are songs I don't like on albums. I think that variety sort of comes with that, an attempt at changing sounds. Because I think there is like something interesting to find within a song that is sort of atypical for a band or for an artist. or at least that is atypical for the record that they're writing.
I think you can give value to the rest of everything around what they choose to experiment with.
Right, like I think what is atypical sometimes like says more about like what the band is trying to do and be than the songs that are singles or could be singles.
Are you a big John K. Samson person?
For sure. Absolutely. I love John K. Samson. I think he's a great writer. I don't know.
I know a lot of people who have nerded out about him for a while. I've always, I've liked the Weakerthans. It's not like my favorite band in the world, but I'm not going to turn it off. I was always really interested in the John K. Samson songs on Propagandhi records. I love "Anchorless." I love all of that stuff where it's like, "John gets one. Let's give John one."
Have you seen, I think it's a Dan Ozzi tweet? Hold on, I'm gonna read it to you. It's really important to me.
Yeah, John gets one! He's the Ringo Starr of Propagandhi.
We end off with "Broke Bitch" by Tiny Meat Gang. I'm familiar with Cody Ko's work as a Viner.. Part of me was like, "Why is this on here?" But also I know that so much of what you do and what you write about, social media consumption feeds into it I think for sure. I know I'm saying [derogatory tone] "Why are you putting this song in here?" But I'm also like [curious tone] "Why is this song here? What about "Broke Bitch" by Tiny Meat Gang is so important?"
Okay. Yeah. So this song haunts me. It's on here because it's constantly in my head. It's there all the time. Do I think it's a good song? No. Do I think that you should listen to it? No, but it is it plagues me. And that's not to say that I don't like the song. That's not really the point. The point is that I don't have a choice. It's just there. Tiny Meat Gang is a comedic rap project about guys who are short, pretty much. I think Cody Ko and the other guy in it, Noel Miller, are interesting people as YouTubers. They have this really big podcast that's also called Tiny Meat Gang, which I think says everything about what this is. I think comedians want to be musicians but they can't be. And when they try to be musicians, they do something like this. But I really like Noel Miller. I think he's funnier than Cody Ko is. I think he's more talented than Cody Ko in all aspects, his parts of the song are way better than Cody Ko's, i's more interesting than Cody's – But it haunts me. The song plagues me. It's constantly in my head, and I don't even know like why. I heard it, yeah, like years ago, since like 2017 or whatever, the song has been just like, it's up here. It's really, it's not becoming, but it is, it's there. It's present.
It's like, if you're in a conversation with me and I haven't said anything for a little while, this song is playing in my head. It's really bad.
I just wanted to talk about it 'cause I was like, "this song is fucking always in my head." And I was like, you know what? I think that's a relevant part of listening to music. Because there's like the stuff that you like Love and hold dearest. And then there's like the stuff that you like and you listen to a lot. And then there's the stuff that you like and you don't listen to as much. And then there's the stuff that is just a part of your life. "Broke Bitch" by Tiny Meat Gang is a part of my life.