July Music Challenge

Week 27 – Tuesday 2nd July – Monday 8th July

Nine Inch Nails – the downward spiral

I vaguely remember this album from 5th of 6th grade.  Not that I ever listened to it, but I knew of people that were and I was vaguely aware of its existence. Right or wrong, it feels that old to me, and starting to listen to those few songs I did know kind of felt like meeting up with an old grade school friend and finding out which of our mutual acquaintances died of an opioid overdose.

But listening to this led to my thinking: “Holy shit, this is from the 90’s?” Considering what I did remember from that time period music wise, and having an idea of the music that came afterwards, this certainly stands out as influential. However, the individual songs teeter from enjoyable to cacophonic so wildly that it seemed impossible that I would never really put this album on my phone to just have it ready to listen to.

And then, on some relisten to this album the lyrics really hit me. Holy shit, is this what people my age were listening to when I was in elementary school? It suddenly made sense why my mother was so against this type of music growing up (this was one of the respects in which my mother was a little conservative with me and my brother growing up1 ). But what remained weird was that there were parents who were OK with their kids listening to this music. I know this because the memory rabbit hole took me kicking and screaming to that time on the elementary school bus one morning where the first girl whom I figured had a crush on me invited me to her house to listen to this album, and I mostly sat around nervously thinking ‘WHAT NEXT?!?!?’ and ‘WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?’

I was an awkward child and now I have a drinking problem.


Week 28 – Tuesday 9th July – Monday 15th July

Type O Negative – October Rust

I like to think about evolution. I’ve gotten to the point where I can look at a bird and think to myself “Yep, that’s a fucking dinosaur. Makes sense.” I just see it.

Memetically, the same forces are at work culturally when we talk about something like music1. You can sort of look most modern music and trace lines of lineage from older music. So if ‘birds’ is the answr to the question ‘where did the dinosaurs go’, then ‘Type O Negative’ is the answer to ‘whatever happened to all that Hair Metal from the 70s and 80s?’

I’m not sure if that’s an insult, and let’s face it neither do you.

Until you look at their picture, then you think they look like 70s hair metal after it had a bad break up with Marilyn Manson and still kind of brings him up in conversation far too often, even on dates. And this was the weird discrepancy I noticed at first. From the name alone I was expecting shouty screamy angry music from dudes dressed in black and wearing all the chains of a plantation ghost. But while a google search kind of shows me that that is what they look like, that really isn’t there sound. I found this to be weird. In that I don’t like the angry music I remember from the 90s, this was actually an improvement. I kind of even enjoyed listening to this.

But a week later and it was all largely forgotten.

Week 29 – Tuesday 16th July – Monday 22nd July

Of monsters and men – My Head is An Animal

Last years I asked people for recommendations on albums to listen to. But I also went through my hard drive looking for things that I had downloaded and never listened to. This album falls into the later category. Many years ago, a friend called it the best album of that year, and I simply never got around to giving it a shot. So I put it on the list, and without any planning I actually met up with the friend who recommended it to me the very week I was listening to it. I just kind of worked out that way.

I love it when live gives you these little coincidences.

Sometimes I think that being 100% fair to the things you encounter in life if impossible. I wanted to like this album, truly, But I don’t think I could. This album came out the year before my life started to fall apart, but I was only really introduced to it after things started going south for me, and they went south fast. Those songs that I knew because this album was getting a decent amount of radio play are all associated with failure, breakups, and homeless shelters. Not really fair to this album.

I do like it, I think. I like the folk aesthetic. I like the narrative nature of many of the songs. I like that not only can I hear that they aren’t native English speakers, but that hear and there I can pinpoint the fact that they are Icelandic specifically. But I don’t like how much it reminds me of another folk album from 2011/2012 by a different non native English speaking group for some god damn reason singing in English, that I was listening to a whole hell of a lot as my life while my life was falling apart.

I hate it when live gives you these little coincidences.


Week 30 – Tuesday 23rd July – Monday 30th July

Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell

This is the first time I found myself annoyed at the whole ‘I’ and ‘II’ thing. The same buddy that recommended ‘Led Zepplin III’ also recommended this ‘bat out of Hell’, but when the download finished I found myself with two albums, ‘Bat out of Hell I’ and ‘Bat out of Hell II’, with no idea which I was meant to listen to.

God damn it.

This month was busy as fuck, so I just listened to ‘Bat out of Hell I’ and was done with it. But I later found out that the second album is technically called “Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell”, so I guess that settles the confusion.

Anyway. Um… what? I look at the cover of this album and I have some pretty clear expectations of what this album should sound like, and I was pretty saddened that the album was nothing like this1. I was expecting music about slaying demons on a motorcycle or something, not these repurposed love songs. A lot of the songs used a style of piano playing that I cannot stand, and which remind me of what you would encounter in a salon of the old west. Not really what I am looking for in my music. I really didn’t enjoy much of any of this, not even the weird creepy interlude between the first and the second track.

Epic disappointment: my imagination was better


1My mother was a bit of an overblown aesthete. She refused to watch the Austin Powers movies because the character of Austin Powers was ‘so god damned ugly’, despite my protests that ‘THAT’S THE GOD DAMNED POINT!’. As far as music went, he was disapproving of pretty much everything in the 90’s, but disapproved of nothing more than the ‘White Zombie’ t-shirt my brother wore all throughout early high school, and which he pinned to his bedroom wall one he had outgrown it. She at some point in the history of this shirt tried to hide it in a storage unit under the stairs, and it took my brother all of five minutes to find. When she was confronted about this she took the ‘deny till you die’ strategy, and twenty years before the Trump administration she attempted a rewriting of history that would have made Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabbe Sanders swoon with delight.  0/10 not the best parenting strategy ever.


1Yes, I am using these words correctly. This is exactly how the word ‘meme’ was meant to be spoken about. And fuck you.


1I know what you are thinking: “But M**, don’t you know that you aren’t meant to judge things by their cover. This is actually dumb. No one believes it, and this is pretty obvious by just asking yourself how you would react to the guy walking down the street with LSD tattooed on their forehead (fun fact, on one of my first days of high school me and my older brother ran into a person matching this exact description on our walk to school. I judged the man immediately, forgoing this book/cover conventional wisdom, instead opting to be very concerned about the fact that he greeted my brother and ignored me. Should I have given him a chance?), or perhaps some kind of a racist slur. I also have a memory of way back when in kindergarten or some such where the idea of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ was first introduced to me, and then perhaps an hour later the teacher showing us a new book that would be read to us in class. We were first shown the cover, told to try and guess what the book would be about based on some clues we had from looking at the cover, then trying to ‘judge’ whether we would like the book or not. Three cheers for the American education system I guess.


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