Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No one really knows who they are, maybe we never do.

I have been following the musical career of James A. Goodson for quite some time. In his early years, this was by default, for the fates had destined us to occupy the same bedroom. Shared clothes (when we were young enough for that to be socially acceptable), shared space, shared recreational accessories (although Barbie was never allowed to date GI Joe), but not always shared taste in music. I watched his preferences morph from only the soundtrack to A New Hope, on repeat, all day long (I admit I also shared this niche obsession for John William’s musical masterpiece) to Green Day’s Dookie, which upon discovery I swiftly swiped and then ratted him out, a decision I fear he might still hold a slight grudge about to this day. Putting that minor incident aside, I did not deter the rest of his musical career one iota. Certainly, the classic Moulin Rouge vs. The Misfits battle never did cease (Teenagers should never share rooms, ever), I watched him pluck his first bass with interest and was only a tiny bit grateful that I’d moved out by the time he got the drum set. I dragged friends along to his shows, all my friends who were not really into punk music, and took many pictures, gaining the extremely useful skill of capturing the artist in question in mid flight off his amp, legs striking a dramatic pose. I wished I could be so cool. 

But this is not about me.  Weird, I know. This is about Hold Tight!, and their new album called Blizzard of '96. It tells the story of young boys figuring out how to grow up, who they are and what they are doing. And let me tell you, it's rad. '96 perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be that age, to be 18 going on whatever, realizing your own mortality and trying not to mess up too bad. It's a slice of life, a slice that most people wish they could forget, but the same slice that matters the most, which makes it suck so much while it's slicing. Being a teenager isn't the best. You're young, but too afraid of growing old to appreciate it, you're free but too worried about what's next to see it. You feel like you can do anything, but know you 'should' be doing something else. For those of you who weren't blessed with any practical career path, for those of you who always wanted to do something out on a limb, being a teenager can suck sometimes. But as '96 says, 'it sucks sometimes, but I know it could be worse.' 

However, while '96 paints this dire scene of youth with simplicity, clarity and beauty, ('we were invincible, that slowly burning summer') it also conjures something entirely different. This album doesn't make you want to slit your wrists, it makes you want to DO something. Everything that makes life hard in '96 is tinged with hope, friendship and even love. Puke, I know, but it's true. These songs are about figuring things out, but not being alone in the meantime. There is not a solitary moment in the entire album. To me, the whole message is that as long as you have your friends, as long as you're surrounded by people you love you and get it, everything will all be alright in the end. You can't help but be happy listening to this album, or at least I can't. If you're young, it speaks directly to you, if you're a bit older, it reminds you how far you've come and how much further you still have to go. If you're even older still, I hope it will remind you of that piece of you that will always be there, trapped in indecision and insecurity, because I've always believed that our past selves never leave us. They stick around, watching you form new identities and world views, chillin' in the back of your mind and waiting for that moment when you need them. Because you will.
The album opens and closes with these words: 'this is a secret, for when you need it.' And it's true. The entire album is a secret, for everyone who's a little lost, who's a little unsure, who feels afraid, and I for one really needed it.

I tried to describe to my friend how '96 makes me feel, and I said that I didn't know if I just really, really loved it, or if it was partially how intensely proud I am of my little brother for making something that touched me so powerfully. He said, 'does it really matter?' He's right, it doesn't matter. It's art, and art makes me happy. Sometimes I can't say why, but in this case I know why. Because it's really fucking good.

I'm starting to gush so I'll stop. You can download all their sounds for free at the links at the top, but you can also buy them, which I'd recommend. Go forth and get good music. 

xoxo Maria xoxo

1 comment:

dolores said...

*tear*....and he's holding Dino! xoxo