Should I talk about the contrast of distorted guitars and choral vocals? Should I talk about the way each song sounds like a ceremony? Should I talk about themes of exploration and obsession and communion? Should I talk about how, perhaps, Hilly Eye have claimed history for themselves?
Amy Klein left Titus Andronicus in 2011, and I tried not to think about Titus Andronicus when I listened to Reasons to Live for the first time. I tried not to think about The Monitor. I tried not to think about driving an hour for a show in October. I tried not to think about moshing and sweating and grinning like crazy and watching a friend crowd surf for the first time and throwing my arms around strangers to sing “Four Score and Seven.”
On I-95, Charlottesville is 344 miles from Brooklyn. Six hours and seven minutes. Six hours and seven minutes in current traffic.
I don’t know enough about riot grrrl. I was only 3 when Bikini Kill released Pussy Whipped, and I was listening to Jimmy Eat World when Sleater-Kinney released One Beat.
Should I listen to more riot grrrl?
Do we always have to talk about riot grrrl?
I think the punk band I’ve been in for over a year has broken up, even though I finally know how to almost play bass.
Reasons to Live sounds like old summer afternoons. Thirteen years ago? Fourteen years ago? I liked wandering, following narrow trails through the woods. I liked looking for circular clearings. Spots for forts. I’d tie a ribbon between low branches if I could. To keep out strangers.
In “January,” Amy Klein sings, “if I’m alive, then you’re alive.” In 1979, somewhere near Stanwood, WA, Francesca Woodman photographed two girls standing in tall grass. They’re wearing loose dresses, and their hair hangs over their faces. Perhaps they’re whispering, perhaps they’re meditating. I like to think that Reasons to Live tells their story. An escape ritual. A rewriting.
Some nights, when I can’t fall asleep, I think about someone who likes the mountains, who took me to a place where rocks jut out over little houses and narrow roads that wind through trees, a place where you can watch the sky change colors as the sun goes down. Someone who shared cigarettes with me on a fire escape or a tiny wooden porch on nights so cold we could feel the wind through our coats. Someone who talked about music and meditation. Someone who, at 3 AM, asked to have a record back.
I hate the feeling of giving records back.
Can I just unpack my coffee cups and notebooks and photos and sweaters in a city where I don’t know anyone?
01. Way Back When
02. Jersey City
03. American Rail
05. Double Dutch
10. Jacob’s Ladder