Look what the cat dragged in! That's right, it's the Listen Up, Nerds Newsletter.
- The Newsletter will now be weekly and it'll be these posts, for the most part. There will be essays and thinkpieces and interviews, but those won't be part of regular programming.
- I'm accepting submissions for these weekly recap posts. I cannot promise you that you will make it into the newsletter immediately, but I can promise that I will listen to whatever you send me. If I think it's good, I can guarantee you will reach a number of people looking for an excuse to support good art.
Send submissions to: email@example.com
- I'm back. No, but for real, the Listen Up, Nerds Newsletter has been a little inconsistent as of late but I just spent the month getting my life together. It's still not together but I'm getting there, thanks so much for asking. A lot of the writing I've done for the past couple of months hasn't exactly been Newsletter Material, because it's not news. It's personal essay material, mostly about living in and leaving New York. I'll collect it and publish it as a zine soon.
Listen Up, Nerds
Laurel Halo - Atlas - 2023 has been a tremendous year for ambient music. I asked my twitter followers if this has been the best year in recent memory, and the answer was a resounding, "Yes." The one qualification I received is that it's been a particularly big year for big names rather than big breakouts. I think my followers on this newsletter skew towards the noisier side of things, but if you're going to listen to one ambient record this year, make it this one. Play it on big speakers and feel like the guy in the Maxell commercial
Tomb Mold - The Enduring Spirit - The first time I heard Tomb Mold, I was in my car on my way to find proof of alien life. That's not a euphemism, I was driving from Great Sand Dunes National Park in Center, CO, to the UFO Watchtower nearby. It was a bit of a bust, but it was December 2020. When I arrived, I didn't know if I should even be there and I turned the car around. The most alien thing we saw that day was the long lines of black sand at the dunes, created when lightning strikes magnetite deposits in the mountains nearby. Natural erosion of these deposits brings the magnetic sand to the dunes, where the wind creates whisps and smoke trails of sand in the dunes like an alien craft scraped the surface of our earth. But no, it's somehow more beautiful when you know it's natural. The same can be said for The Enduring Spirit, Tomb Mold's newest full length. The Torontonian trio traverses new sonic territory and leans fully into their death metal roots, incorporating jazzier tones and more impressive drumming than ever. There are other contemporary death metal bands whose music implies an interplanetary force could pull the listener out of their seat as if their riffs were a tractor beam cast down in a cornfield, but Tomb Mold's music is focused on the human condition. The Enduring Spirit is a death metal record about death that compels the listener to live. What could be more alien than that?
Blue Dolphin - Robert's Lafitte - Named after Galveston's oldest gay bar, the oldest gay bar in Texas, this collection of songs from the Texas punk/psych/noise/pop/whatever band is the culmination of their 2016 output, which was tape-only until now. I'm not sure it isn't ahead of its time today. It sounds like nothing else I've heard this year and the amateurish yet clearly constructed chaos is something to behold. Lo-fi live-recorded punk rock is a treasure, a blessing. It's something that this culture will always have to hold and to hang on to as everything falls apart. Take a listen to "Ida," if you're on the fence about these descriptions and you'll be a believer.
Puddle Splasher - The Open Door Of Pain Ignored - Alt/indie from New Jersey that punches above its weight when compared to other bands in the same genre. It's a dreamy, stoned record that's like a softer True Widow album. I think it's a little long, but tapping in and out of it doesn't hurt. This sounds the way most of my summer felt: Listless, barely alive, and rainy but interrupted by these brilliant moments where the sun clears out every cloud. Check it out if slowcore/new shoegaze is your thing.
Watch It, Nerds
Duel (1971) - Part of Criterion's '70s Car Movies collection, Duel is Spielberg's first full-length movie, and what a debut it is. Modern car movies rely much less on the cunning of the driver and focus on aftermarket add-ons or gadgets so outlandish the audience refuses to suspend its disbelief. This isn't a movie about cars as much as it is about survival, class warfare, and masculinity. It's suspenseful and gripping in ways that made-for-TV movies could never be today. Also the main character orders a cold cheese sandwich on rye at a diner, which is one of the more disturbing elements of the story. I hope I didn't spoil anything for you.