I Might Not Still Have My Youth, But I’m Young

The Youth and Young has released my favorite EP of 2013. The Scottish 7-piece has, for some unknown reason, received very little fanfare in the US and I’ll do my small part in hopes that they get the recognition they deserve for it. It’s going to be difficult for them to escape the comparison to Frightened Rabbit because of the epic, anthemic tunes and the Scottish connection, but here they display a versatility that is surprising for a band just over a year old. Their self-titled effort features 6 tracks (including the eponymous lead track) that range from very good to holy wow.

I knew I was in love with the music three-quarters of the way through the third track, Blanket, as emotions disguised as instruments crashed through the lovely boy-girl duet. It might be the love song of the year. I go back and forth as to whether Blanket or The Colour Upstream is my favorite track as I listen. The refrain of The Colour Upstream has stuck with me ever since I first heard it in late October:

If we all raise up, take a stand for once in our lives, we can make a start, all the non-believers are left far behind.

Your mood can dictate how you interpret those lines. On one hand, there’s something beautifully optimistic about it; on another, it’s hopeless dreaming. It’s capturing the dichotomy of love (at least as I see it).

And that’s the song they leave you on. Make of it what you will, but above all, enjoy it as you do.

Like them on Facebook and make sure to get their EP on Bandcamp.

My Father and I Almost Drove To The Moon

Over the course of 17 years, my father and I put 236,097 miles on a little old Civic. My dad put a lot of miles on commuting back and forth to work. I put most of my life’s miles on it.

I sold it last week.

It was a lot of miles and memories.

I’m just sitting here and I’m thinking about some of the trips. With or without selling it, I would be in a sentimental and nostalgic mood this week. Yet, I feel even more so now. I took so many drives in that car. They could be short like chauffeuring my grandma to library. They could be long…like chauffeuring my grandma to library. There were so many trips.

There have been countless times that I just went for a drive to clear my head or to run away for a weekend afternoon. The Civic was my only companion for a lot of them. She had to listen to my horrendous vocals singing along to some song on the radio. She took a little abuse over the course of the miles, but she kept going and never let me down. In fact, she never broke down, even if I did.

That Civic was my church when I came back to Denver two Januaries ago. I would go for a drive pretending I was still taking my grandma with me because I missed her so much. It was silly and foolish and my way of coping. Looking back, it’s easy for me to see that the Civic was more than a car to me. It was a part of me as a young man.

It seems crazy to have been attached to a collection of metal and rubber. And rationally, it is, but over time, you can become so attached that you don’t think of life without. I don’t hold onto the idea of youth because I want to stay young forever (I probably have more interests of a 60 year-old anyways), but it seems more and more, things are slipping away and then they are gone. I don’t know if it’s going to be anywhere as good. It might not be and that scares me.

I guess I should choose a song to attach to this post. I’m going to simply put up the song that I listened the most yesterday–the Band Perry’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” It sort of fits. If you don’t like mainstream country, I won’t be offended if you skip listening.

I should add that the moon is 238,900 miles away from Earth. It seems like it’s within a nice long drive tonight.

Valley Maker – “The Mission”

I think about many different things and sometimes these thoughts are a playground of dreams and idealism or a ticket to a great adventure that I could not otherwise afford. My thoughts are a way to tie together all the miles and the journeys and the stories. It’s a vast, threaded web that doesn’t always make sense and it’s wound upon itself by the haphazard loom of fate and choice. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which one is the one affecting you.

When you move far away from home, you attach to things. Anything that will keep at least one thread to home strong. It can be something like holding onto a shirt that you know you should throw away. It can be a simple action like putting on glove that your grandma gave you when you clean up broken glass because you know she’ll watch over you and protect you. It’s a quick chat with the stranger wearing an O’s cap. It’s a longer conversation with a friend to calm you down.

Sometimes I feel like when you live you so far away, it’s harder to figure what you’re doing. You’re doing it on your own. It’s not always easy; it’s trying to figure out the mission and who it’s with. Once I figure it all out, I’ll let you all in.

Valley Maker is Austin Crane. He is originally from South Carolina and now is in Seattle. You should buy his most recent album, Yes I Know I’ve Loved This World, on Bandcamp and like him on Facebook.

Wooden Shjips – “These Shadows”

During the play of this song, I can relax…..really relax. I go into a different contemplative mode that fosters ease and calm. What songs do that for you? As we enter one of the most anxiety driven stressful times of the year, it satisfies me immensely when I can find a song that can put me in a zone and a quiet place.

Wooden Shjips has been around for awhile. They are based in San Francisco and their start was in 2006. They are known for their psychedelic rock with its minimalist and simplistic sound. Even though Back To Land is their fourth album, every track seems so comfortable and calm, never seeming forced. The music is carefully and purposely meant to create a mood of peacefulness with no expected musical hooks or quick chord changes.

The song I feature today,”These Shadows,” is a favorite of mine on this album. The intensity of hearing each strum of the guitar on this acoustic version puts a sweet, slow burning fire of warmth in my heart. Beautiful. I have tried with some aggravation to listen and determine the words to the song, but somehow even the hazy pronunciations add to the beauty and mystique of the song. The words suggest to me the moon rising as the day is ending with shadows. There is a calm accepting of this continual motion and time driven inevitability. Moving on and moving forward, into the night.

Check out the album, like their Facebook page, and join me in my moment of relaxation, perfect for daydreaming and wonder.