5. 2017 Fall

This is where eras start to pack more punch. As you can see, there are 9 releases here. Because I was now a college student and not a high school student, eras were now mostly defined by my semesters. Curiously, all of the titles came first. The name “Sugar” came to me in a dream. It kind of embarrasses me now but I can’t really explain why. The bass at the beginning (and for most of the next album) is just a guitar pitch-shifted by my Zoom multi-FX because I didn’t bring my bass on campus when I first moved in. “Tiddles the Pastor” was the first song I wrote on campus. I could explain where the title came from, but I think it’s funnier if I leave some mystique attached. The name “Demotion” also came to me in a dream. Same dream, actually. I’d dreamt that Guided By Voices had played two new songs to open a show, and those two were the songs.

This originally had a different name and cover. The cover was the bathtub in my dorm floor bathroom that everyone was forbidden to use. Then, a few days before the album came out, my friend Cece took a picture of me holding an unidentified object by a lake and that became the cover. “Under the Flickering Light” is one of three songs I recorded parts for in TCNJ’s recording studio. I remember being super happy with it when I first recorded it, but now it almost feels generic. I think “Stereo Butterfly” is good, I’m proud of that one. This was when I discovered The Conet Project and ended up sampling it a few times over the course of the album. The decision to put two shoegaze tracks together was certainly an interesting one. “Positively James McNew” is my favorite from this album. It’s one of my only earnest love songs I’ve ever written, and while I do identify as aromantic, the sentiment behind this song rings true some days. “Curtain Call” and “Strings Pulling Wings” are the other two songs to have parts recorded in TCNJ’s recording studio. “Machine” probably could have been the closing track but it would have been pretty sleepy as one. I think it’s the most GBV-sounding song on the album. “Golden Lovely” was an old song that found a new life here. In hindsight, I probably could have beared to save it a little longer for a more fitting album.

This was made as an EP. These aren’t outtakes. “Behind The Wall” is a solid enough opener. “Don’t Call The Ocean” was supposed to be the hit. It’s still a great song, and over the years that stealthy key change bothers me less. “Drained” was good enough to get re-recorded down the line. “Routine To Break” has the Mellotron intro because what was originally in that spot was deemed “un-releaseable” for some reason. I was really proud of this at the time. Now, less so.

I forget why this exists. It’s three outtakes and two Big Dipper covers. “King of the Scene” was supposed to be the hit on Mirror Universe, but after performing it live, I thought it was too mean-spirited and cut it. “Roasted Empire” was recorded at home rather than school. It may have also been a Stereo Butterfly outtake rather than a Mirror Universe outtake. I don’t remember. “Ron Klaus Wrecked His House” was recorded at home before moving to college.

This was going to be called At The End Of The Whirled, until it wasn’t. The cover was taken in the basement of my dorm building. To my ears, this album is what Stereo Butterfly might have sounded like if I’d put more thought into what I wanted out of my makeshift dorm studio. “T6 Fight Song” was about my garbage roommate. “The Scene Is Dead” was an inversion of the outtake “King of the Scene”, as a response to how bad I felt about the first. “Vanity Flight” was the last song I finished, and although I think it came out okay, I really didn’t take care of that vocal track. This and “Dead Memorial” both borrow from an old song called “Drive By”. I realize I’m leaving a pretty meaty gap here, but “Forest Nightwalk” was massive when I made it and it holds up (enough to be re-recorded for another album, a rare Hello Whirled feat). I used that song to put together my first proper music video.

These 6 songs were supposed to be used for the next album, but I thought they went well together so I released them as an EP, leaving behind 1 unfinished song for the next album. Many of the songs here are old songs getting re-recorded here. “Slowly” was written in 2015, and previously released in 2016. This version was my most-streamed song on Spotify for almost 2 years, for reasons I still do not know. I always forget “Under the Urge” is on here. It’s a good song I wrote in 2015 that just didn’t end up anywhere until this point. “Life Is Shit” was written during the Mirror Universe sessions so I don’t really know why it didn’t get recorded for that album. “Royal Church On High” has its roots in a school project that I repurposed for Hello Whirled.

Oops I made another album. I hadn’t intended for the last album of 2017 to be finished so quickly. I recorded most of this in under a week, at home and at school. “The Chance To Run Free” uses a percussion loop from an un-remembered source. “Rusty Engagements” is another song I think could be re-recorded and it would hit a lot harder. The bell outro on “Gone From The Film” was added to make the album 30 minutes long. “Mistake Today” was completely improvised in one take. “Love Stands” is this album’s masterpiece. “Dead Skin Ocean” is a mix of odd time signatures and alternate tunings, but don’t mistake it for math rock because it’s not. The drum part at the end was written earlier in 2017 but unused until this point. I think it was reused in 2020 but I don’t remember. “Dust Might” is this album’s other masterpiece. The lyrics were taken from a Tin Can Laughter song called “Mountain Time”. “Zoom 85” was a carry-over from Chariots & Candles. It was first written in 2016. The new version has drums that fall off the beat, which is always lovely as we all know. This probably didn’t need to be an album. Trim the fat and it’s a nice EP.

This is a full, unedited little show I did in December 2017. One of my professors brought her daughter to the show so I had to cut the profanity quickly (thankfully, after the first “fuck” in “Beauty of the Centuries”) since she was a minor and I didn’t want to be a bad example. I had to borrow my friend Jake’s guitar because I broke 2 strings on my own and couldn’t use it to play these songs. This show adds credence to the idea that I should be able to perform well live, since my vocals on here are pretty good. “Love Stands” and “Marina’s Voyage” are easily the standouts here.

I know why this exists but it doesn’t really serve that great a purpose. I felt weird going through December 2017 without releasing anything new, so I took all these acoustic things I’d recorded previously whilst bored, threw together a new (and not very written) song called “The Wrong Audience”, and released it as a last hurrah of 2017.

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