Tag Archive | "Two Cents"

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Recent Obsession: The A.V. Undercover Series

Posted on 01 June 2013 by Mylynda Guthrie

I’ve been passionately (er, obsessively) sharing The A.V. Club’s YouTube channel with everyone and anyone lately – specifically, their great A.V. Undercover series. It may be old news to many, given that the most recent videos were posted seven months ago, but I was just recently turned on to the series by a pal (thank you, Dani France!).

Sometime in between hours spent being alternately impressed by (Punch Brothers) and amused by (GWAR) the featured performers with my husband, and sharing video links to various friends’ Facebook walls, I remembered “duh, I AM THE EDITOR OF A MUSIC BLOG AND CAN THEREFORE SHARE THIS WITH EVERYONE AT ONCE.” Woops.


Justin Townes Earle doing his best Springsteen.


The A.V. Undercover series features amazingly talented musicians like Trampled by Turtles and Shearwater doing rad covers. In most of the videos, they are covering other cool, but generally more famous, artists; however, roughly one quarter of the covers are popular hits of the 1980s. As each clip’s intro explains, the A.V. Club collects a list of songs based on their readers votes, and then invites artists in to cover their song of choice in “the little round room.” There’s nary a bad cover to be found in either the 2011 or 2012 playlists, but several of the renditions are especially awe-inspiring. I’ve included a few of my esteemed choices below, but I definitely suggest you get yourself over to the A.V. Club’s YouTube channelto pick and share your own favorites.


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Two Cents Presents: Second Annual Fashionably Late Gift Post!

Posted on 22 December 2011 by Mylynda Guthrie

Last year I wrote a blog post detailing neat gift ideas a mere 10 days before Christmas, because well….that’s when I was buying Christmas gifts. I adore gift hunting and giving, and I’m admittedly cocky about my ability to bestow a unique gift perfectly tailored to the personality and interests of the giftee (true story: I gave my friend Cassie this dinosaur muffin pan today and she unabashedly flipped over it in the middle of Caribou coffee – ergo, I rock). However, I am completely horrible about waiting to the last minute to go shopping for gifts – and I feel that if you’re going to give someone their gift late, it sure as hell better one up all the gifts they received on time.

So here we are, three and a half shopping days before Christmas, and all I’ve purchased is the aforementioned dino muffin pan and some delightfully weird art for my husband.  If you, like me, are still hunting for that perfect gift that’s really going to send your pal/family member/significant other over the edge, providing you the warm holiday buzz that bringing others happiness yields, then scroll down and find some inspiration! With the help of Amber Valentine, I’ve compiled another list of truly awesome gifts for the eclectic, eccentric, and intrinsically hip people in your life that will help you to belatedly bestow holiday joy in style.

-Mylynda Guthrie

Amber’s Picks

The world’s best Canadian indie rock charity has a hoodie that’s
perfect for any banjo loving hipster. Support a good cause in style!

Yellowbird Project Hoodie

For the indie rock fan who has everything, give the gift of new music
all year round with a Daytrotter membership! And if you’re a
cheapskate, you can spring for a one month membership for your pals.
It’s only $2!

Daytrotter Membership

Almost everyone has an iphone these days but me, right? Well, since I
can’t enjoy these sweet classic rock phone covers, you should gift
them to the biggest Beatles and Bowie fans in your life, respectively.

Urban Outfitters Bowie iPhone Case

From the Ramones to Tupac to Kiss, Funko has something for everyone in
their line of Pop figurines. I don’t know about you, but I think these
would be just the thing to spice up any boring desk top.


Wilco coffee mugs!

Wilco Coffee Mugs
Perfect to drink your Wilco coffee out of!

Kanye West’s twitter is one of the more meme-worthy things to happen
on the internet since the advent of social networking. What living
room is complete until they have a little bit of Kanye’s trademark
egotistical witticisms hand stitched and framed on the wall?

Supervelma Etsy Shop

Another hand crafted etsy gem are these cookies that feature one of
the best characters on television, Ron Swanson from NBC’s indie-tastic
Parks & Rec. I mean, the show did name drop Neutral Milk Hotel twice
so it’s obviously got cred.

Whippedbakeshop Etsy Shop


Mylynda’s Picks

I started going to Modcloth.com for the clothes, but I stayed for the whimsical home accessories.

These classic yet unconventional mugs come with an owl, fox….or shark. Amazing.

Beau-tea-ful Surprise Mug in Owl

I also lust for Modcloth’s carefully plucked collection of DIY craft books, like this all-encompassing book of indie-inspired crafts from Jo Waterhouse.

Indie Craft book


Antique frames can cost a pretty penny, but this tin frame from Anthropologie can be had for $28.

Weathered Tin Frame


These chalkboard skulls from Etsy seller iamhome come in a variety of colors, but in my home we live by the mantra “when in doubt, paint it flat black.”

iamhome on Etsy

Dinner and a Murder has several kits for hosting a murder mystery party, as well as costumes, music, and game packs available for instant download to help you throw a New Year’s Eve party that no one will soon forget.

Dinner and a Murder

Print media is not dead. Gift a magazine subscription the easy way – pay online and have it sent straight to their home. I like the element of surprise in giving magazine subscriptions, and getting an unsolicited issue of AMP is so much better than ValuPak coupons for new gutters and fruit baskets.


AMP magazine                                         Filter Magazine


As ThinkGeek writes in their description “First the spirit inhabits the skull, then it inhabits you.”

Doomed Crystal Shotglass








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Two Cents Presents: How 45 seconds with my radio forced me to face my music snobbery

Posted on 02 April 2011 by Mylynda Guthrie

I walked to my car at 4:51 a.m. today, hunched and shivering against the persevering Ohio winter wind. I cleared just enough space in the windshield’s lacy frost to make out the familiar corners and stops on my daily route, and gently encouraged my car to accelerate towards work. I was idling at the day’s first red light when the silence hit me…I had forgotten my cds.

“Well, I guess I can turn on the radio,” I thought. After all, there were still millions of people listening to radio stations every day – so listening to popular radio for the remaining 8 minutes of my drive shouldn’t have been torturous.”You’re not that condescending, Mylynda!” I proclaimed, and hit the dial.

Ah, wrong!

I have somehow absorbed enough of the current state of pop-culture to recognize Katy Perry’s voice, so it registered immediately that I was hearing the kitschy star. I listened in sleepy bemusement to an electronically tweaked melody about her wanting to be kissed by an alien and infected with his poison and shot with his supersonic lasers, but the real turn for the worse came when a then-unidentified-male voice chimed in with the following:

“I know a bar out in Mars
Where they driving spaceships instead of cars
Cop a prada space suit about the stars
Getting stupid hah straight up out the jars
Pockets on shrek, rockets on deck
Tell me whats next? Alien sex.
Imma disrobe you
Then Imma probe you
See I abducted you
So I tell you what to do”

I hit the dial again. Silence became decidedly golden.
There was a lot for me to be shocked by in that 15 seconds. “Imma disrobe you, then Imma probe you.” Really? Who wrote this crap? Later I got online and searched the song, which confirmed that it was indeed Katy Perry and that the unidentified rapper with the simplistic yet shocking lyrics was none other than Kanye West. For a split second I was confused, because I know a lot of respectable people and publications that hail Kanye’s consistent artistic intelligence. I also learned that the video just came out yesterday, March 31st, and that it already had over 2 million views and counting on YouTube. It’s hard for me to justify exactly why, but I felt pretty chafed by the entirety of it even though it had/has nothing to do with me and I had every freedom to do exactly as I did: turn it off.
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This post isn’t the first time I’ve tried to write out why I embrace indie music, and why mainstream media just tends to rub me the wrong way. Again, it has nothing to do with me, but I guess it just disturbs me to think of this darling little tween singing “tell me what’s next? Alien sex!” in to her hairbrush. And I don’t even have kids! I’m still working on being a grown-up myself. Whatever the reasons, I just can’t help it – I absolutely hate that song. I hate that people are already listening to it and enjoying it, and I hate that it will continue to line the pockets of Capitol execs. And most of all…I hated that Perry singing “Kiss me, Ki-Ki-Kiss me”  was stuck in my head all night. There is really nothing to that song. The lyrics – hers, too -are ridiculous. What really saves it from being rubbish is the beat, which is admittedly catchy in itself.

Apparently I AM A TOTAL MUSIC SNOB. How did this happen? I was raised by parents who didn’t even listen to classic stuff like the golden oldies or Bob Dylan; my mom’s favorite band is Journey and my dad listens to every popular song on radio and television from the ’70s to today…I don’t think I have actually ever seen him in possession of an album. My brother was in to what my dad was in to, then he was in to rap, then he was in to Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional (because I was…aww, those were the golden years), and now he swears by techno. He thinks it’s the effing bees’ knees, and there is no telling him otherwise.

I wouldn’t rather bleed out my ears then hear my preferred genres like I know some metalheads or classical enthusiasts would, but I still think most popular music today is completely awful. Once in a while though something I love crosses over and I can’t help feeling possessive and sad for its departure into megastardom. For instance, I became enamored with Mumford & Sons when I stumbled on a great performance from Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current’s YouTube channel. I eagerly played it for my alt-bluegrass loving betrothed, and we downloaded the album, listening to it all night long and dancing around our living room. Not two weeks later, Mumford & Sons played the Grammys and now they’re all over the place. A 40-something business woman who is usually a complete snot to me while ordering her “skinny vanilla latte, NO foam, seriously no foam” picked it up the other day, letting me know she “loved this new band” and telling me I should listen to it. I didn’t know whether to feel happy for her that a little bit of wonderful had crept in to her life and now her cd player, or reproachful.

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However, I guess cliches go all ways. It’s not often you hear a Belle and Sebastian fan hailing Swingin’ Utters or an Iron and Wine enthusiast praising the genius of Stormtroopers of Death.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, to be honest. I’m sure I could go on forever and we could run in circles in the comments thread as well over which genre is best or why popular music is so overwhelmingly popular, and what is wrong with society today. Or we could wax about how we should be worrying about earthquakes and oil spills and poverty and not fighting over music – one of the only things that is supposedly universally binding – and I do agree with all that to some degree. This is an evergreen topic explored by many people, and there’s really no conclusion because music is subjective. I want to say I’m a true appreciator of music and art, and that I can see the value in any music and appreciate it for what it is, and what the artist was going for. I want to say that I’m not a snob.

But I just can’t help it. I hate that anyone could love that stupid song.

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Two Cents Presents: Listen, Or I’ll Forget You – A Constructive Disadvantage

Posted on 09 March 2011 by Mylynda Guthrie

Listen, Or I’ll Forget You: A Constructive Disadvantage

by Zak Freed

There was always something there…  and in such a way that where even the everyday, common and predictable operations from her would introduce some sort of endearing liveliness into my corpse with more soul than an entire legion of angels could ever hope to imbue me with, even in their most assertive moments of trying.

Inspiration would saturate me on all fronts from every dynamistic movement made and I always knew exactly where it came from; her stories consistently meshed right into mine – with a flow heavier than the worst of any woman on earth – and I could taste that disgusting tension from miles away, like a hypersensitive apocalypse of a storm approaching the quaint shore at my side. A constant stream of lightning bolts striking while proper modes and theories behind them would melt around a spontaneously picked tempo, leaving my heart to vomit all over the gritty tape that was spinning in the background. What beauty! What luscious waves of light! She swallowed me whole and knew that she had.

“This one’s for you” was a phrase that would often ride the current into most tunes, splashing about with the extraordinarily influential vibe that was always present behind it. The whiskey in my left hand would shape provocative motions in sight of the cigarette in my right while I’d make myself very openly dedicated to arranging emotional points for the siren… the focus, the muse:

A lambent and sometimes leather-clad blackbird creature of sorts that would slither up the back of my chair to nest itself into my shoulder for optimal control over the movements of my upper limbs around whatever instrument happened to be in my lap at the time. She would chirp bad news into my ear more than often, but always had words of hope to follow up with, you know… and I’d hate to think of anything bad ever befalling her, but I don’t think that she’s able to get hurt. Even still, she would let me know of the protection that sounds, in general, would provide her with – and how necessary they really were.

With everything said, there are still so many things that I wish she would have spoken up more about; good or bad. What a shame, to have to ask the “What if?” questions after such invigorating experiences have already been digested.

2011 Dailies: February, Selected Works by Zunk B-Sides

You’ve almost done it all, though – somehow – and you’ll do it all again in a different way here pretty soon. Keep sinking your teeth into me… continue to let me know what it is to feel so dreadfully cursed  from your spells that I can’t even think straight. Let me understand, without a word said, that I’m still able to stab you in the chest while you do the same to me for nothing more than the gruesome, comedic value that will sonorously circumvent it.

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Two Cents Presents Evil Don’t Look Like Anything: An Examination Of Modern Murder Ballads

Posted on 27 January 2011 by Mylynda Guthrie

– by Amber Valentine

I remember the first time I heard a modern murder ballad. Being raised on a fairly steady diet of classic country growing up, I was entirely familiar with songs that dealt with death at a young age and by second grade, I was telling pals that I’d shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, a proclamation which none of my peers found as funny as I did. When I developed my own musical taste, murder ballads fell off my radar as tunes dealing with matters of the heart became more prevalent in my life. Then I discovered Okkervil River.

I have a ridiculous, intense love for Will Sheff and his band of Austinites. It’s the type of love that affects my life on a daily basis, a love so intense that I’ve been known to present my friends with Okkervil River mix cds whilst wearing my Okkervil River hoodie as part of my constant championing of the band. I listen to Okkervil River every day and my face lights up like a child’s when they’re mentioned in passing by one of my friends. I even slip vague references to the band’s lyrics into every day conversation. Given these facts, it’s strange for me to think that a time existed not all that many years ago when I hadn’t so much as heard the band but it’s true: In 2004, I had nary a clue what or where Okkervil River was and the name Will Sheff meant nothing to me. Upon the release of the band’s triumphant Black Sheep Boy album, that changed and I subsequently immersed myself in the band’s back catalog, including the album Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See. On a whole, Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See was not as immediately hook-laden as the albums that followed it in Okkervil River’s discography and while the disc has grown very near and dear to my heart in very many ways, I wasn’t as impressed upon my first listen of the disc as I was with Black Sheep Boy. That is, however, until “Westfall”. “Westfall”, the fifth track on Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See, starts with hushed guitar and gentle mandolin. When Sheff’s vocals come in, they’re more composed and subdued than we’ve previously heard on tracks like “Lady Liberty” and “For Real”, where Sheff’s unhinged quality takes a featured spot to create the band’s urgent sound. So, when Sheff explains, as the true nature of the song begins to make itself audible, “When I killer her, it was so easy that I wanted to kill her again”, it’s so shocking that it’s enough to affect you physically. The first time I heard “Westfall”, the realism of Sheff’s storytelling had me rapt with attentiveness and, when the song climaxes with Sheff’s admission of murder, a wave of nausea overtook me. I’d never heard anything as shockingly affecting as “Westfall” before. And, thus, I began my love affair with modern murder ballads.

Westfall – Okkervil River


But what is it about songs about killing that I’ve taken such a shine to? I’ve never killed anyone and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the majority of people who love murder ballads as much as I do haven’t either. In fact, I’m so sensitive to matters of life and death that I once cried when I killed a moth (Laughable but true). I can’t even imagine a scenario in which I would kill someone, even in a matter of life and death, as the prospect of murder is so frightening to me. I’m haunted enough by events in my past and less than respectable things that I’ve done. To add taking a human life to that list sounds nightmarish. So why is it that nothing enthralls me as much as Will Sheff luring an innocent co-ed into a forest and bludgeoning her to death? I feel as if this all comes down to morals. Murder ballads, as a subgenre of music (folk in particular), deal with subject matter that few other songs touch on. They let people examine the inherit morality (or lack thereof) in human beings. Most everything in life comes down to a question about one of three things: Love, God, and morality. I found David Bazan‘s harrowing loss of faith album, Curse Your Branches, a remarkably interesting take on “breaking up with God” and The Good Life‘s heartbreakingly honest Album of The Year forced me to take a hard look at the damage I was doing to my then-boyfriend in the relationship I was in when it came out. When the power of music is exploited in it’s entirety, it makes the listener examine their own life, and the morality touched upon in murder ballad is no exception to this. Chances are you’ll never kill anyone but through songs like “Mariner’s Revenge Song” by The Decemberists, you start to understand a fraction of the terror you might feel were the situation to ever arise and The Decemberists and Okkervil River aren’t the only bands taking the kitsch out of murder ballads.

Songs that deal with death are many, but most don’t examine the soul shattering event of actually taking a life. That’s what differentiates a “song about death” from a “murder ballad”. While John Vanderslice‘s “I’ll Never Live Up To You” tackles living with loss, the death in the song wasn’t at the hands of the tune’s narrator. San-Fran-by-way-of-Texas duo Agent Ribbons have a habit of tackling macabre subject matter more often than not but this is always done so in a tongue-in-cheek (and surprisingly seductive) manner and is never played for chills. Songs about morbid subject matter litter aren’t rare but instead of dealing with “morality”, these songs seem to deal with “mortality”. Interesting, yes, but not nearly as compelling as lyrics like “Climb into my arms with blood on your clothes” (Okkervil River’s “A Glow”).

Murder ballads pepper the modern indie scene with The Decemberists trying their hand at slaughtering the innocent on a number of their tracks, perhaps most notably on The Hazards of Love‘s main single, “The Rake’s Song”. “The Rake’s Song” finds Colin Meloy committing infanticide until he’s “living so easy and free” and confessing that, despite the fact that he’s poisoned and drowned his own children, he sleeps remarkably easy at night. Canada’s Timber Timbre have built their entire career on ghost stories and homicide, as evident on the band’s latest, self titled release, an album that touches on such bone chilling topics as grave robbing and necrophilia (“Lay Down In The Tall Grass”) and the electric chair (“We’ll Find Out”). The fact that Timber Timbre‘s dark subject matter is chased with a macabre romanticism makes the sexually deviant behavior Taylor Kirk mentions in passing have a strange allure to it that doesn’t exactly seem wrong. Arizona folk punk duwo Andrew Jackson Jihad‘s People Who Eat People Are The Luckiest People features “Bad, Bad Things”, a track that finds songwriter Sean Bonette brutally killing an entire family and surmising the events in the songs closing lines: “If I don’t go to hell when I die, I might go to heaven… But probably not.”

Perhaps the most remarkable modern murder ballad this side of “Westfall” is Fronteir Ruckus‘s brilliant “The Back-Lot World”, off the Michigan band’s full length debut, The Orion Songbook, sets it tone early on with the spooky quaver of a saw, coupled with the ungapping prose of Matt Milia’s lyrics, sung with a hushed manner that’s vaguely reminiscent of a sinner in a confessional, admitting their wrong-doings. By the time that Milia reveals “I killed a woman, she had it comin'”, you understand the gravity of the scenes that Milia has described earlier, from the “cooling rain clouds coming” to the “ghost-filled brimming field” that serve as an aching grey background for the mundane beauty of Milia’s storytelling.

Murder ballads in modern music are nothing new, per se. It’s not a budding trend like “lit rock” was a few years back or “chillwave” was in ’09. I don’t expect Pitchfork or Hipster Runoff to write about murder ballads because the fact of the matter is that murder ballads never went anywhere. From their inception in 1700’s English folk songs to “goth rock” artists like Rasputina, murder has always been a subject matter touched upon for dramatic storytelling. The way murder ballads are being tackled now, however, in the modern indie scene, is something different that I’ve taken quite a shine to. When I listen to music, I want to be affected. I want to feel something. For me, love songs are old hat, something I feel like I’ve heard before. Plus, I’ve loved and I’ve lost. But I’ve never killed a man. Hearing a song sung by a narrator that has, however, opens up my mind to horrific new possibilities that it may never think of without prodding. The low stakes involved when discussing heartbreak have dissipated in murder ballads. People recovering from heartache. More compelling are the risks involved when it comes to ending a life and the dramatics of this are darkly fascinating. When Meloy sings that the titular Shankill butchers “used to be just like me and you, they used to be sweet little boys, but something went horribly askew: Now killing is their only source of joy” and Sheff kills his ex-girlfriend’s new lover in “A Glow”, the unearthly allure of murder ballads is fantastically palpable.

-Amber Valentine

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Feeling Warm Inside The Swarms Of Hell: Rediscovering Michigan With Frontier Ruckus

Posted on 20 December 2010 by Mylynda Guthrie

- by Amber Valentine

I was made to love Frontier Ruckus. I didn’t know it and neither did the band but if there was one group that was tailor made to appeal to my better nature, it was Frontier Ruckus.

I stumbled across them earlier this year, in a press release, and took a chance on downloading their sophomore cd, Deadmalls & Nightfalls. It struck me right away how special the album was and within days, I found myself gushing about it’s beauty to all of my friends, insisting they listen to the disc by using the tag line “It’s like a Black Sheep Boy era Okkervil River that’s even more heavily influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel but with a Ben Kweller sort of twist to the vocals.” Thankfully, as my social circle consists mostly of indie kids like myself, these comparisons were met with nods of recognition and high expectations. Personally, it makes me nervous to hear anything compared to my beloved Okkervil River and the near-holy Neutral Milk Hotel, so comparing anyone to these two bands myself obviously means serious business. Few bands are as near and dear to my heart as Will Sheff’s Austin based Okkervil River and Jeff Mangum’s thoroughly affecting Neutral Milk Hotel but these Frontier Ruckus kids more than live up to the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves by drawing from these groups as influence.

From my first listen, I was taken with lyricist Matthew Milia’s lyrics. Wordy, tricky, and requiring multiple listens to decode thoroughly, Milia makes such indie rock wordsmiths as Sheff and Meloy proud with his poeticisms. It’s something that’s hard to ignore from the opening lines of “Nerves of the Nightmind”, a song that includes such enchanting words as “Getting to know you lash by dark lash, the beds where you sleep and the floors where you crash” and “The dampness of sweat is the sweetest recording”. As a backdrop to these seductive lines, wrought with longing and moodiness, are David Jones’ masterful banjo and an ensnaring web of horns and keyboards, the wonderful production of which never overpowers which is no small feat, considering how many elements are at play on “Nerves of the Nightmind”.

The album seamlessly works together as one cohesive work of art, each song transitioning so perfectly to the next that, while the twelve tracks of Deadmalls & Nightfalls do work as stand alone gems, it seems a shame to listen to “Springterror” without listening to “Ringbearer” and while “Silverfishes”, with it’s searing bitterness and dark overtones, sounds beautiful on it’s own, listen to it after the aforementioned “Ringbearer” and it’s charm is magnified infinitely.

Milia sings songs that are evocative of twilight in autumn. There’s an inherint sadness to Deadmalls & Nightfalls, no doubt due in part to Milia’s mournful croon and lyrics like “If I knew which part of me was wax, I would try to truncate it.” What exactly it was about Frontier Ruckus’ album that appealed to me so, however, I couldn’t put my finger on. That is, until I spent some time living with it. When I got to know Deadmalls & Nightfalls better, that was when I really fell in love.

Frontier Ruckus formed in Orion Township, Michigan. For reference, I grew up approximately forty two minutes from Orion, according to Google maps, deep in the suburbs surrounding Detroit so when Matt Milia sings “I shot down Telegraph with a hot laugh as we cruised through through the sinews” (“Silverfishes”), not only do I know what road he’s talking about but I know the exact feeling of flying down Telegraph, late at night, en route to a party somewhere near Detroit, the black of night tinged with neon lights and the road marred with gas stations and Michigan Lefts. The references sneak up on you, permeating the songs with their presence but never going so far as to make their presence glaringly obvious. This fact makes certain that Deadmalls & Nightfalls has an appeal that’s across the board and I’ve got friends in such far reaching corners of the country as New Hampshire and Seattle that cherish Frontier Ruckus’s masterpiece as much as I do. What I doubt, however, is that this album means as much to them as it does to me.

Moving back to Michigan, to me, was like admitting defeat. I had worked very hard for very many years to get out of the state, which was marred with the bad memories and worse experiences of my youth. Coming back was a distinct step backwards so far as I was concerned and every day spent in my homestate was a reminder that I’d failed at being a self-sufficient writer. I was just one of the countless casualties of living in the technological age but the fact that I wasn’t alone in my unemployment didn’t make things any easier, nor did my return to my homestate. My plan was to spend a few months in Michigan, to get my bearings straight and find another writing job. It was a longer process than I’d initially thought and it was depressing to find myself living in the same area I spent my formative years, identical to how I remembered it but so different at the same time. The record store I used to frequent? It was now a Jimmy John’s. The book stores and coffee shops and parks had all been knocked down and paved over, to make way for Barnes and Nobles, Starbucks, and strip malls. The jarring changes were just as heartbreaking to me as the fact that, despite these differences, these suburbs were still the same suburbs I loathed in middle school. And here I was, walking their streets once more, more than ten years after I first decided that after I completed my education, I was ditching the mitten for Chicago. It was in the midst of this dull depression about the sad state of my locale that Deadmalls & Nightfalls came into my life. And it was perfect.

Not only does Deadmalls & Nightfalls perfectly encapsulate the grey ache that mars the dull landscape of Detroit, but it also exposes the beauty that can be found in mid-Michigan, from “Sylvan Lake and in between, perpetually like Halloween” to “the billboard dentist from White Lake to East Lansing”. I might have expected Frontier Ruckus to soundtrack my sadness when I first discovered them but what I didn’t expect was for them to help me fall in love with Michigan for the first time. Despite the vast majority of my 26 years having been spent with the great lakes and college towns of Michigan as the backdrop to my existence, I’d never felt anything but disdain for my homestate. Soon, however, I found myself putting down roots in Ann Arbor, falling in love with the streets I’d walked down hundreds of times before but never truly taken in, all the while experiencing the same slew of emotions that Milia expresses so deftly on Deadmalls & Nightfalls. My emotional connection to the album was only magnified by the fact that I found myself frequenting Pontiac, the “heart of darkness” that Milia sings about on “Pontiac, The Nightbrink” and riding the same highways daily that are described during accounts of Milia’s trips to Ontario and Chicago.

Pontiac, the Nightbrink

I’ve been living with Deadmalls & Nightfalls for the greater part of six months now and, just like how Milia himself is desperately clamoring to get to know the object of his intrigue in “Nerves of the Nightmind”, the more I discover about the album, the more it means to me. With Deadmalls & Nightfalls, Milia has made a Salinger-esque ode to his homestate, the audible equivalent of “To Esme; With Love and Squalor”. Deadmalls & Nightfalls is just as much a love letter to Michigan and it’s residents as it is a man reminiscing about the sadness that he can’t just shake while he’s in his homestate and from start to finish, with Deadmalls & Nightfalls, Frontier Ruckus has created the ubiquitous soundtrack for time spent in the Great Lakes state.

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Our 100th Post!

Posted on 17 December 2010 by Mylynda Guthrie

Let me preface this post by admitting that I am a very sentimental person. I cry at movies, I am touched when customers tell me their stories at work, and I get emotionally attached to music. I care a lot about the people in my life, and the things we experience together, and the places we’ve been, and the fruits of the achievements I’ve worked for on my own, and so on and so forth. So, when I got online yesterday to write a post about Bright Eyes’ new album and saw that it would be the 100th IndieCollege.com item, I felt that our centenary post could not be frivoled away on Conor Oberst (though, he also has a place in my heart). Instead, I would like to share some thoughts with whomever thankfully takes the time to read our site.

About three years ago, I was going through a pretty disorderly and seemingly purposeless period. It had not been long since I  moved away from my fairly sheltered suburban upbringing in the Twin Cities of Minnesota to an apartment in San Diego with my childhood cohort. We were both dealing with heartbreak, various tough decisions, struggles to balance our new lives with school and work, and consequential bouts of going out a little too much. After some troubling medical news, I got a traveling itch, and suddenly wanted very badly to get away from basically every responsiblity that I held. Desires and opportunity gelled when an old and dear friend offered me a seat to tag along on his band’s tour. I pitched a piece to a small ‘zine about what it’s like to be a completely independent, self-funded band on a cross-country jaunt, and a few weeks later I was off to Chicago to join the band (formerly Where Astronauts Go To Hide, currently Holyoke). I won’t say that it was the most fun I ever had, because I learned quickly that I could not run away from my issues easily. However, we had some interesting experiences and met some genuinely amazing, giving people and I got to see many states I otherwise likely would have never visited.

One of the cities our traveling trio landed in was Salt Lake City, UT. Like in all of the other towns, frontman Joshua signed off the set with a plea for a city guide and a floor to sleep on for the night. That night the response came from the then sound guy and manager at The Outer Rim,  James Gentry (Indie College’s Creative Director and Designer Extraordinaire). James is one of those people that you just immediately like. He was (and is) so warm and witty, and we were lucky to get to have dinner in the city with him and some of his best friends. He set up some makeshift sleeping arrangements for us at his apartment, but I always had trouble falling asleep at the various strangers’ places we’d been crashing. I stayed up for quite a while after my companions fell asleep,  watching “The Office” with James and his friends and talking about ourselves. I am going to impart some information that hopefully won’t embarrass James, but I was kind of smitten with him from the first time we met. We exchanged phone numbers and spent a lot of time having lengthy text-message conversations the rest of the tour, and would go on to form a wonderful friendship by phone and email that we retain to this day despite only physically seeing eachother an estimated total of less than 48 hours over the last three years.

Anyways, the point of this is not to openly confess that I used to have a crush on James – the point is to thank him. I wasn’t doing anything that I felt passionate about at that time. I was having no luck at all finding a music magazine or blog to contribute to, and I had started to seriously doubt all of my dreams and aspirations. James found out that I liked to write and felt strongly about indie music, and he asked me if I wanted to write for the blog he had just started – IndieCollege.com. It was basically just a few short posts by himself and a friend or two at that point, but I was so excited. From the very beginning, James gave me complete creative freedom to do whatever I wanted, and last year when he told me he wanted to get serious about the site and asked me to be the Editor in Chief, I was ecstatic. Since then the site has evolved and  changed completely from what it once was, and being a part of it has been so fun and such an honor. Let me tell you guys something else: I don’t make a dime off of Indie College (or TRACER, or Radio Free Chicago). I do it purely because I love music, I love art, I love to write, and I LOVE helping musicians and artists get the attention that they deserve. The feeling I get everytime I am able to publish another post on the site is indescribable – but if I had to try, I would say that it is a very giddy and probably kind of dorky elation.

The story behind how Indie College came to be what you see today is a meaningful representation of what the indie community is all about. We are all struggling – most of us don’t have fame, or money, and we soldier on with our magazines/bands/blogs/record labels/etc. simply because we love what we do. And, whenever possible, we help each other grasp opportunities like James did for me. Take for instance the amazing site www.IndieGoGo.com. Through donations solicited by IndieGoGo, artists like Morgan Green get help paying their art school tuition, and bands like Agent Ribbons get to tour Europe with the comfort of knowing they will have a place to sleep at night. Strangers who are likely barely scraping by themselves help to raise thousands of dollars to see other artists achieve their dreams. Another example is a different chance meeting from that very same summer tour. When we got to Kansas, the venue we were supposed to play at was boarded up. Josh and his guest cellist Valerie pulled out their instruments and started practicing in the parking lot, feeling pretty beaten down by the stress of the tour. Out of nowhere, Brad appeared. The most I can tell you about Brad is that he was enigmatic, and a little eccentric. He told us that the venue owner had passed away just days before, and his sister had locked the place up indefinitely. Brad had no idea who we were, and he didn’t owe us anything. However, he invited us into his home, and he used every connection he had in Wichita to find the band somewhere else to play – and then he called up all of his friends to go to the show. It was probably the best turnout of the entire tour. He just wanted to help the band play. And that is what it is all about.

Whether you are an artist we feature or a reader, I hope you can all tell the passion that James and I have for Indie College. We thank you for your support, and I hope you will continue to read, and start interacting with us on Facebook and Twitter (because we need your suggestions and artist submissions!) over the coming year. I hope to increase our volume of posts about indie artists and introduce some new music review contributors, as well as get started with our Design section and unveil a whole area for DIY projects! I’m so pleased that we’ve reached 100 posts, and I can’t wait to post hundreds more.

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