There is a Happy Land

August 4, 2007

I’ve no significant “news” to document here, so I’ll go on discussing something I’ve thought about a few times.

A few months or so before summer rolled around, I was still listening to my same old music as always, afraid to/lazy to dabble in new material, for it would be likely that 90% of what I would hear would be mediocre at best.  “Mediocre” being that the music doesn’t stick to me right away.  This picky attitude towards music (also shared by another area of my life) is very much a burden.  But paired along side laziness and it becomes a disease.  A disease which, up until now, I’ve been too lazy (that adjective again) to cure.  I reached my motivation to finally pack-up my camp I’ve set here in “rock” music and start trekking towards a more unusual territory (relative to me of course).  Now that I’ve set up my stupid analogy, we can continue.  After all, what’s a good narration of a history without an analogy?  A better one probably?

Going back now, circa age three or four, to some random night that I remember for some reason where my dad and I are driving somewhere in his old maroonish pickup truck.  The tape deck is loaded with my favorite cassette–my only cassette probably.  It was black and had a white sticker on it with the track list and was loaded with Cantonese pop hits by stars such as Leon and Aaron, whose last names I forgot.  But that’s not all I forgot.  Unfortunately for me, I no longer remember how those songs went.  But back then, that was all I played.  So much in fact that I jammed the tape deck in my dad’s truck quite a bit.  Where that golden tape is today?  I don’t know.  I remember I tried looking for it when I was six or so, feeling nostalgic and all.

Then, a year or so later, I was no longer venturing through the Cantonese Hits territory with father.  It was my sister that showed me around.  Another moment in my childhood that I remember for some odd reason, was also in an automobile.  My family and I were in our Oldsmobile about to hit the on-ramp, while our radio was tuned in on Kiis FM.  The song that came up was by Selena called something I don’t remember.  This portion of my musical history is one that I’m not exactly proud of, but I’m not exactly ashamed of it either.  I suppose though, that it’s a step towards the right direction from my past adventure with my dad.  It was Kiis FM for awhile, with no distinct border that I crossed to get into the next portion of my journey.  The sister’s guidance eventually became influenced by my cousins on my mother’s side, and so it was like that for a few months.  At first it was more pop hits by artists like Paula Abdul, and Paul Young (ahaha) that my female cousin listened to when we would visit her house; we visted very often.  But my oldest male cousin was in high school then, and he moved to a different beat.  At this point, it seems as though I was being guided northeastward, towards the tundra of rock music.  I heard bands like R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Duran Duran, and Pearl Jam play from my cousin’s radio/boombox and it really stuck to me.  For a while that was mostly what I listened to and where I stayed.  Until I stopped visiting my cousins on my mom’s side, and started hanging around my cousins on my dad’s side.  By this time, I was around 8 or 9 was forced to go back westward.  I was too young to remember the goodness in 90’s rock music until it was too late, and so I dropped it all together and moved forward.  Luckily for me, I would pick it up again later on.

So around ’96, hanging out at my cousin’s house became really routine.  My cousin would always play basketball and listen to rap and hip-hop music.  Being the impressionable adolescent child that I was, it wasn’t very long until it rubbed off on me.  Eventually I was into the whole rap scene and such.  But it was funny because while I was there, I didn’t observe closely at the details of the music, i.e. the lyrics.  So while rappers would be talking about fornicating or “holding it down in their hoods”, all that stuff was way over me.  I spent a few years here listening to 2pac, Nas, Bone Thugz, and the sort and watched as more rappers came in.  I started to wander a bit, towards the outskirts of elementary rap and into the radioed material.  I listened for mostly rap, but I also came across some rock music too.

It was around ’00 or ’01 when I was once again guided eastward back to where I was once so comfortable.  My cousin took a vacation from rap and ventured into rock for a bit, and brought back a souvenir for me.  He started singing (terribly, but on purpose I think… I hope) Drive by Incubus.  I overlooked it at first, but then it came back again on the radio, and I saw luscious land.  It was then that I said goodbye to rap and wandered in to rock again.  It was starting to change from what I last remembered it to be.  I seem to have forgotten the first exact genre I visited when I was little, so I just accepted whatever I was in at the time.  After the Drive phenomenon gave up a little, Linkin Park made a scene.  And I followed.  It was new to me, but it reminded me of everything up until now.  It had a hint of rock music and a twist of rap.  I was up to my knees with rock in eighth grade.  During the same time, I had a friend who was Mr. Rapper Freestyler guy.  From what I remember, he wasn’t too fond of his visit to rock.  But I showed him around, and I like to think that I turned him into Mr. Indie Guy today.

Fastforward to my junior year of high school.  Weezer.  That’s pretty much what I made myself into.  I remember that my initial attraction to them was from their guitar riffs; rhythm and lead were so finely sliced and layered to a certain perfection, that it made it so simple to follow along without having to even listen to the song.  Maladroit was my first Weezer CD, and it was played hundreds of times before Daniel gave me the real jems, which many know of as the Blue Album and Pinkerton.  So until then, I had Burndt Jamb on loop for a while– alas, my secret is revealed:  what’s Burndt Jamb without burndt toast?  Once I got past my riff stage, I went into the lyrics.  Afterall, Maladroit was a little lacking in that department.  Still, most of their lyrics explained, it shared emotion, it made you think, it made no sense, and it was karaoke-able.

Only a little more ground was covered by that time, but I felt like I reached the end.  Then one day while I was at Daniel’s house, he played the solo(s) from Paranoid Android by Radiohead, and I wasn’t very impressed.  My close-minded personality towards music didn’t see anything great.  I remember seeing a lot of color though, which was probably from the visuals playing on the monitor.  I don’t remember exactly.  But I listened to it again after Daniel burned me a CD with Radiohead stuff on it.  And I wish I could remember the exact moment I saw gold in the river, but I can’t.  Needless to say though, the beginning of my senior year of high school was Radioheaded.  The jazzy fills and the crunching guitars to those songs were ingenious.  And while I was ogling over my new street-pharmaceutical-like band I would listen to over and over, I slowly moved away from my old addiction to Weezer.  Just as with Weezer though, I had to have more.  I eventually got a hold of ten CDs worth of b-sides and rarities, and eventually had more than I did with Weezer.  Music was pretty much the radio (to which I began to lose much interest in) and my modest collection of music I had on my hard drive.  Then last summer, the euphoria for Radiohead began to die down like it did with Weezer.  I needed something new.  But the sad thing was I was used to binge-ing on one band, trying to listen to everything they ever created, that it seems as though my unhealthy diet caught up to me, and was now the size of a tool shed.  I wanted to move forward, but I could barely see my feet.  So I kept listening to my music, and came across some other things, but it was still not worth staying.

I was eventually forced back into rap when I started college.  It seems my suite was hip-hopper-fied, where they seem obsessed with their bass and beats, and bass beats.  I wasn’t too pleased, but it took me away from Radiohead and gave me some buffer until I was far enough away that I had nothing to listen to.  Nothing satisfied my sweet tooth.  I must mention that it was more than Radiohead that I listened to.  There were many other bands I kept hearing, but for the sake of simplicity, I just refer to this stage as Radiohead.  Eventually I took a deeper liking into Death Cab for Cutie, and from there I jumped into The Postal Service.  I then dug deeper into a band I liked a little in high school and found that they were even better now that I was desperate for something good:  Ozma.  [[Fastforward up until present time, where I claim to be packing up and leaving “rock” music.]]

I went from Ozma to a similar act called Yes Dear, and eventually made my way deeper into “Indie” territory with help from OinK.  Combined with The Postal Service, I found that most of these bands are interconnected through a member from each band.  I touched upon Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, and then made my way onto Rilo Kiley.  That was a stage in itself where I pretty much made another playlist for them to add to playlists I have of bands I listen to all the time.  So that was an improvement from my previous unanimated stage.  But it was short lived in comparison to Radiohead.  I also looked towards the south, where the 90’s music was.  I went back to see if some old bands (Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, and the like) made new stuff, but still kept a foot on the “indie” path.

Then with everything else going on in school, I began to listen to more mellow stuff like John Mayer and just instrumental jazz/western classical musical in general to mellow me out.  In the lamest sense possible, it was my kind of doobie.  And so, the distorted guitars and nail-biting solos are no longer a point of interest for me, but is still well respected nonetheless.  As of now, I’m looking towards a more clean melodious sound.  But at the same exact time, the rap exposure from my old suite has produced interest in that sort of music again.  I no longer have a guide, but I think it’s about time I put some effort into finding the next big sound.  “So, where are you right now?”  I’m still wandering, but if you were to look on a map, I would say that my location is yet to be drawn out.

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