no context just vibes vol 1: we're losing recipes

no context just vibes vol 1: we're losing recipes

Greetings earthlings. I'm working on a consistent kind of newsletter format for the blog in addition to just plain blogging. Something that won't clutter yr inboxes too severely, mostly a recap of recent posts, but with a bit of freestyle content and "news you can use."

Here's a format I'd like to try out in a "newsletter exclusive" way—I get a lot of music sent to my inbox, and I do try to listen to as much of it as I can. When I really like the music and think it'd be good for the blog, I immediately go into Media Mode and engage in a flurry of context-giving research, looking into the artist, where they're from, the scenario in which they wrote and recorded their music, the vibe of the press release / EPK...the aesthetic on their social media...the details of their prior musical releases....their collaborators and enemies...creating a violently swirling cloud of information and many open browser tabs.

I need to do this in order to blog! And it's great most of the time. I don't know if you can tell, but I care very deeply about getting things right. Critical or emotional reactions are all my own, but they better have a nice foundation of facts to go along with it. Musicians put a lot of work into what they do, and it can't be fun to do all that work and then have some foolish blogger get a name or date wrong, so when I do f*ck that stuff up, oh it's awful.

But in this newsletter I think it'd be fun to check out some stuff that hits my inbox, try to listen it with no context at all, and do a freestyle bloggette based on how that music makes me feel. This is also inspired by Terry Nguyễn's excellent suite of fictional shorts inspired by Hana Vu's Romanticism in No Bells, which reminded me that music writing does not have to fit into a Christgauan review configuration to be great. I love limitations (see: constantly creating 'content verticals' for the blog) but I also love some space to get my freak on. So! no context just vibes begins, we'll see how it goes.

no context just vibes: Frank Lenz, "Azidoazide"

Azidoazide, by Frank Lenz
from the album Blending In

My favorite phrase to repeat ad nauseum right now is "we're losing recipes." "We're losing recipes," to me, is a jab at the apparently precipitous decay in quality of certain products over time: romantic comedies, clothing available at the mall, chunk-based ice creams. You could accuse me of wallowing in nostalgia, but you can't deny that certain elements of our contemporary lifestyle have been found lacking as of late. The lighting in television shows. The structural integrity of couch pillows. The size of fun-sized candy bars, less and less fun with each passing year.

Maybe it's the smoky wistfulness, the sitting-around-the-campfire quality of this song, but it makes me nostalgic for a time in recent history when there was plenty of a certain kind of movie, a movie that I fear we're forgetting how to make: a troubled guy, just trying to make a decent go of it. Simple stories, smallish dramas, soundtracked by songs just like this. A man moves home to New Jersey. A man drives through California wine country. A man tries very hard to forget his ex-girlfriend. 2004! I am missing a particular slice of 2004.

TikTokers speak of main character energy—rhinestone necklaces, long leather jackets, bottles of bubbly wine. But what if we channeled the energy of the main characters of indie movies from 2004? These are not glamorous people. They are bedraggled, harried, antisocial and depressed. Yet they still have access to the number one necessity for main characters worldwide: a plane, train or automobile from which they can look out the window and think about life, and plan on making better choices next time. 'Cause it’s all right / I think I'm getting better / Yeah it’s all right and I’m doing fine.

They tried to keep 2004 going into the next year, by the way, but it did not work. 2005 was another year entirely. Cameron Crowe thought he could 2004 his way into 2005 when he made the film Elizabethtown, about a shoe marketer who creates a sneaker that fails so catastrophically, it causes him to contemplate suicide.

Today, of course, this sneaker would go gangbusters. I have probably seen some shoes that look like this. When I went to Coachella in 2022, I was sitting in some shade between sets and, because I was on the ground, I noticed a young man's sneakers—they kind of defy description, but it looked like he was wearing patio furniture on his feet. I asked him where they were from and he said they were Yeezys, naturally.

2005 was another year. There were at least two different psychological thrillers set on commercial airlines. Batman came back and this time he was a very gloomy man/bat. We couldn't indulge in quirk-forward problems like we used to. Maybe we should start again? "My life is a movie" and the movie is Sideways starring Paul Giamatti.

Okay now a little context. "Azioazide" is a song on Frank Lenz's new EP Blending In. Lenz has played with Richard Swift, Starflyer 59, Damien Jurado, The Weepies, and Pedro The Lion among others; the EP is "Written, Recorded, Mixed, Mastered, Played, and Sung" all by Lenz. Give it a listen!

catchin' up: Iffin

I last chatted with Mira Tsarina from Iffin for her "I Enjoy Music (Stoned)" feature, in which she went deep on a certain My Bloody Valentine classic...

Iffin picks apart the layers of ‘Loveless’
Woweeeee it’s day 4 of I Enjoy Music (Stoned), aka a weed-themed week where I am publishing interviews with musicians about their THC-infused listening habits. Yesterday I talked to Maneka’s Devin McKnight about the special suitability of Future to high listening, why it’s fun to be so stoned you are

...she also teased an EP which is now out! HOMAGE TO CATATONIA (PICARO TWO) is lush and dramatic and sounds extremely timeless to me. Genre-wise I simply cannot define it. Mira herself calls it "brittle pop" and "functional punk" which I love...I'm mulling..."dive bar cabaret"? "psychedelish"? She also published some wonderful words about the release on her Substack which u should check out.

5 track album

what happened on I Enjoy Music recently

Link aggregation time.

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Savor a recap of the festival with the best lineup of 2024...

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