Archive for January, 2013

8:14 (86)

Posted in eight fourteen with tags on January 28, 2013 by darryl zero

I had something of a breakthrough the other day when I realized that, despite the fact that I was feeling incredibly down and sullen, the reason why I was feeling so down and sullen was that I was feeling something again.

Not in that general “well, I realize I need to do something now” kind of way, the going through the motions I go put myself through when I go to work; now, I actually was, in fact, feeling.  That realization, coupled with the fact that I knew I was actually going somewhere with my artistic endeavors, led me to realize I was actually doing okay, that I’d gathered the disparate threads of me and pulled myself back into myself.  That I had, as I would later call it for the sake of brevity, found myself again.

It was a good feeling, knowing that I was actually doing okay by myself, even if I was here in Iowa, and the empty lonely feeling wasn’t me being empty so much as me being unfulfilled.  That’s in a good way, I suppose, although there are some bad aspects to it that do require some attention.

But still, I’m content with how I feel about myself as a writer, about myself as  a person, about myself as a singer and thinker, and about myself as a friend.  I’ve confirmed completely that I have some of the greatest people I could ever ask for as close as the other end of a telephone, and it makes me feel better.  Knowing that I can actually be of use to someone just be being myself is a liberating feeling; knowing I can actually be of use to myself is a breakthrough I hadn’t counted on while living here.  Feeling good in such a weird spot was…confusing.  Still is.

There is the other thing of where I’m at emotionally–that I’m lonely and exactly why that is–that is a tale for less-public forums.

a moment to think or just speak or just type in which you invade, the serenity of my misery you invade.  the want is a want, no more than that, but the kind of want that reminds me of exactly why I want in the first place, and I wish you could feel this, but I’m terrified you don’t want to, so that’s why this will be kept here.

Time’s up.


a dialogue.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2013 by darryl zero

Zero’s Body: “Let’s stay in bed all day.”

Zero: “No can do.”

Zero’s Body: “why the fuck not?”

Zero: “Stuff to do.”

Zero’s Body: “Say what? You mean that gym bullshit? Or baking cookies for those ungrateful sods you work with? Remember our 20s?  Remember when we used to take girls home and fuck them all day the next day?”

Zero: “That never happened.”

Zero’s Body: “Yes it did!”

Zero: “Name one of them.”

Zero’s Body: “uh….”

Zero: “That’s what I thought.”

Zero’s Body: “What did you expect?  You’re the brains of this outfit.”

Zero: “Whatever.  Where are our gym clothes?”

Zero’s Body: “ERIN!”

Zero: “Maybe a couple times. And we all know how well that turned out.”

Zero’s Body: “Maybe if you weren’t such a fucking little girl, it’d have turned out better.”

Zero: “Maybe if you’d stop acting like our father’s body, we’d have the balls to get out of bed–”

Zero’s Body: “Excuse me?  I didn’t hear you complaining when we put on twenty-five pounds of muscle mass in less than six months.”

Zero: “yeah, because you were so motivated to do that.”

Zero’s Body: “…Fuck you.”

Zero: “That’s what I thought.”

[a beat.]

Zero’s Body: “I’m just lonely.”

Zero: “Yeah. Me, too.”

8:14 (85)

Posted in eight fourteen with tags on January 19, 2013 by darryl zero

I’ve had a couple different, separate moments of absolute contentment in the past week, for reasons I have yet to understand.  That I had one of them on the birthday of one of my old high school classmates–fuck it–that I had one of them on Carmen’s birthday feels simultaneously fitting and criminal.

To say that I miss Carmen all the time or outright would be to overstate the nature of our relationship.  We went to church together in high school, we knew each other in that smiling passing way that people who see each other all the time by default know each other, and we more-or-less disappeared off of one another’s respective radars until ten years after we graduated.

And then I realize that pretty much describes the nature of my relationship with my family and it makes me understand why I feel the way I do.

I tried to get over to see her the year she died.  I was headed from Portland to Iowa with my then-girlfriend, and we were set to pass through SLC, where Carmen was living at the time.  She kinda brushed me off, which was okay–she made mention of having stuff to do, and it was around 4th of July weekend, so I didn’t think much of it.  Months later, she hanged herself.

I’m past the stage of “damn, she must have been so sad,” but I still get that jolt every time I scroll past a picture on facebook that she commented on or, even worse, when facebook tells me it’s her birthday.  Because the world is a sad, cruel place, and even the luckiest of us feel alone, or that life is meaningless.  It’s standard operating procedure for first world assholes to realize after the fact that something should have been done, and that maybe we should have made more of an effort.

But, on the other hand, I believe (and always have) that the right to choose when one goes out is something we can’t begrudge anyone.  I don’t care if I live or die.  I choose to live…shit, I don’t even know or care why anymore, but I do, but I refuse to hold it against Carmen (or my other high school classmate that took her life in 2012) that she wanted to leave.  I still miss her, though, and I still wish I could have been able to build on the connection we’d reestablished on a couple of cold nights in Iowa when we both were back for whatever fucking reason.

So maybe the warmth and comfort stems from knowing I knew Carmen, and knowing that she was a kind, funny, sweet young woman once, and that every moment with everyone you meet can be so fucking great.

Time’s up.

in which i take a moment to describe a moment.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2013 by darryl zero

I was in my car, on my lunch break, listening to Eleni Mandell’s Miracle of Five, more specifically “Dear Friend,” and the song itself reminded me of so many different things I’ve felt about so many different people over the years, and thinking about all of them made me happy as a boy.

which ought not require explanation

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2013 by darryl zero

There’s a common misconception that I say whatever the fuck is on my mind.  When you factor into account everything about which I think and everything I say, I’d hazard a guess that my ratio of thoughts : words is virtually identical to that of those around me.

Or maybe that’s just me being egotistical.

Darryl Zero’s Albums of the Year – 2012

Posted in best of lists with tags , on January 9, 2013 by darryl zero

10) Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

It’s fucking Converge.  They refuse to die, and they refuse to stop kicking ass.  Kurt Ballou’s guitar continues to stay up front for this album, although Jacob Bannon actually pulls out some new tricks for this album (the chorus of “Coral Blue” comes to mind).  Converge has pretty much put out a constant stream of artistic touchstones since Jane Doe, so it’s important to know how good this album is within the context of that.

9) Whirr – Pipe Dreams

While we’re all killing time waiting for Kevin Shields to finally put out the new My Bloody Valentine album (2013, he says), his legion of lesser imitators continues to put out records (although his greater imitator–Tim Lash–has kept Glifted conspicuously silent).  Pleasantly, Whirr managed to keep interesting with Pipe Dreams.  Leaning heavily on the Cocteau Twins-esque idea of keeping the beautiful vocals obscured by projecting them from the other end of a very long tunnel, the band wisely avoids the shoegaze 101 mistake of trying to be My Bloody Valentine and instead takes a more Stratford 4/jangle-pop sloppy approach, to considerably pleasant effect.

8) Conan – Monnos

Liverpool’s Conan dropped an anvil on the latter part of the 2012 spring.  Monnos is a dense, simmering kettle of beauty-from-agony, and the low end–oh, the low end.  Guitars sound low as basses, and the bass is earbud-destroyingly intense.  Somewhere in there, the voices–both gritty and melodic–float about, and the din is this gorgeously sludgy mass of punishment.

7) Public Enemy – Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp

While Public Enemy never really went anywhere, per se–before they took a five-year-hiatus back in 2007, they’d been on a pretty steady “every other year” album clip–their triumphant return in 2012 with two solid albums was a welcome respite from the rampant coonery all over Black music airwaves.  The time off not only allowed some of the more embarrassing Flavor Flav antics to fade from public memory (allowing the rest of us to remember that he was, actually, a surprisingly articulate cat), it also allowed Chuck to take stock of the ever-changing world around him and do what he does best–observe.  The end result: two albums of PE’s best, most smoldering work since the Terminator X days.

6) Oddisee – People Hear What They See

Oddisee’s Rock Creek Park blew up last year, elevating the producer/MC from industry “it producer to something on the verge of household name.  Despite an online screed in which he bristled at the term “underrated,” the adjective is easily the best way to describe one of the most talented hip hop artists since Jeru the Damaja.  People Hear What They See was part of the usual constant stream of work from the DC-based artist, finding him refining his soulful craft quite nicely.

5) Death Grips – No Love Deep Web

What is there to say about No Love Deep Web that hasn’t already been said?  If you know anything about the band, you probably know that the album was released as their second album of 2012, for free, by the band, and effectively killed their relationship with Epic.  Which is a shame, because not only is No Love Deep Web a fantastic album, it also showed the band as one of the first to truly embrace how to stay relevant and how to stay on top in the iPod, downloading generation: don’t give your fans a chance to relax or grow complacent.  While not as much of a game-changer as 2012’s first Death Grips album (see below), it still is a tightly-focused, hyper-aggressive burst of mind-blowing freakiness, and the most edge-pushing album to hit mainstream music since Atari Teenage Riot.

4) High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

Matt Pike and company’s wild ride around the best producers of loud rock music stops with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at just the right time.  Ballou’s broiling mix adds an extra grit to the band’s sound last heard on 2005’s Blessed Black Wings; that, combined with one of their better concepts (that of a time-traveling, stillborn twin of Jesus Christ), turns the album into their best in years.  Pike’s guitar is as snarlingly gorgeous as ever, but Ballou’s best contribution is making Des Kensel’s drums sound overwhelmingly large.  The songwriting is top-notch, caroming from firing-on-all-cylinders post-hardcore to the stoner doom for which Pike is held as legend (see below); while not entirely a return-to-form, as the band never really fell off, the album does rejuvenate their sound.

3) The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

It’s virtually impossible to write anything new about The Mountain Goats albums; a writer as literate and aware as John Darnielle tends to inspire those that write about him to take up the challenge.  That said, there’s something about Transcendental Youth that makes even the prolific Darnielle seem like a cheapskate holding out on his listeners; in short, the album feels like there could have been at least thirty songs written for it, but the crew Goats distilled it to its essence.  Which is fine; the album is easily the band’s best since its now-decade-old(!) game-changer Tallahassee.  While all of the tMG trademarks are still there and intact, the refinement of the official lineup (Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster) has lent itself to a tightness of arrangement that makes this album a high water moment.

2) Death Grips – The Money Store

How Death Grips managed to get dropped by Epic in less than a year is hardly surprising (major labels tend to get angry when you give away what you can just as easily sell, after all); the real mystery is how the band, as viscerally non-commercial-sounding as bands get, got signed to the label in the first place.  The Money Store is a work of art treading dangerously in “classic” territory, uniting the unabashed noise-mongering of Atari Teenage Riot, Tricky’s abstract, art-rap lyricism and a bullhorn baritone delivery straight from the Chuck D playbook, only to throw it into a blender with post-2000s media overload.  The end result is as punk rock as it is hip hop, industrial, or metal.  And it’s amazing.


1) Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion

Compared to some of the other albums on this list, Cold Specks’ full-length was released this year to somewhat muted fanfare, despite appearances on Later With Jools Holland and the slew of award nominations that would follow.  Frontwoman Al Spx’s star continues to rise, however, as her music has already broken into the lucrative US licensing market (including a memorable use of the song “Lay Me Down” on the FX show Sons of Anarchy); Graceful Expulsion‘s sticking power comes partly from Spx’s charismatic voice and mostly from her gorgeous arrangements.  With healthy help from PJ Harvey producer Rob Ellis, the album is a constant stream of somber, moody, gorgeous stories, sometimes abstract, sometimes painfully clear.

8:14 (84)

Posted in eight fourteen with tags , on January 8, 2013 by darryl zero

The risk I always run when doing this to myself is making time pass by so quickly and so ineffectively that I forget to do the things that actually serve a purpose.

Lost in schedules that would break me if I would care, throwing myself completely into problems that neither have solutions nor are, at their core, any real fucking concern of mine, I spend so much time not thinking so as not to find myself filled with pure wrath at the stupidity of it all and instead find myself watching my time, my seconds, my minutes, my hours, my twenties, and now my thirties start to slip away from me.

And then I go back to the little one this weekend, little ETC, little man, little thinker, staring at the world and observing it, talking rather than shouting or crying, making the most of language even as he knows none that can be shared, the purity of his observation and emotion making even the simplest action seem stupid and needlessly complex in its triviality.  Watching Jesse and his wife with their son–Jesse’s son, my friend, lost to time and the world and a religion I cannot bring myself to embrace ever again, yet now back simply because we choose to accept each other in that way that people who have known each other forever and whose journey is more parallel than perhaps our own dogma would allow us to believe, Jesse is a father now–there is that natural want, that natural feel that, in some ways, it is definitely my time to find my way, and maybe it’s through the love of whatever–my students, my family, some person I have met or maybe someone I have yet to meet, my music, my need to escape–or maybe it’s just by being there, watching people better than I make children better than I.

I don’t mind being alone so much.  I don’t even mind feeling alone right now.  My isolation serves its purpose–allowing me to rest and minimizing the instances in which my simply-not-giving-a-fuck-about-you can’t burn its way to the surface.  My heart is dormant, knowing what it wants–knowing the feel of being functional and alive in that stupid metaphorical sense (stupid, I suppose–I’ll still live through it). My brain is trying to start, tripping over the strands of bullshit I’m quickly losing patience for.