Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Song of the Day #210 - Hop Along - Horseshoe Crabs

Woke from the dream and I was old, staring at the asscrack of dawn

Have you ever had a realization that hits like a lightning bolt? Like have you heard the story of Einstein and the theory of relativity? Apparently it just suddenly occurred to him as he was getting out of bed. I think I read something like that, at least. The best things are like that... you don't work your way up to them, they just leap at you. The idea is so good that it has to come from a distance, if any element of it was already in your life, it would have been overwhelming. This happened to me today. I was innocently browsing /mu/ when I saw an absolutely life-changing thread. The OP said this:

"emo <—> moe
three letters to love life for"

The OP image was this.

I'm not sure who discovered this, that "emo" and "moe" were spelled with the three same letters, but they ought to get the Nobel Prize. Apparently it was some Finnish anon. Thank you based Finnish anon. This changes everything. The emo thread was overrun by anime posters. People would post sad music with pictures of cute anime girls. People would post their PS Vita menu with emo covers as the backgrounds and a plethora of weeb games. I understood perfectly. What did I love about moe? The self-annihilation? The relentless sincerity? The unabashed "all-out"ness, that "live like no one's listening" quality? The outwardness of all feeling, rendering a new universe entirely in that emotional/aesthetic mode? The restorative calmness that results from exhaustion? The warmth! That warmth of infinite afternoons! Where could I find all those same qualities? Ah yes, of course, in emo music!

Sure, the specific emotions involved might skew a little different, just a little, but I have always felt the happiness of moe anime and the despair of your separation from it to be pretty tightly bound. Emo is all about separation, it's all about the belief that some satisfaction is out there, but that it's forever beyond some all-encompassing barrier, through which you can perceive only one hazy facet. Hey, just like watching anime! They sing with such modest enthusiasm, going all out with no pretense or grandeur, just trying to get their feelings across, just hoping you'll understand. It feels so much like the way moe SoL anime just wants you to experience what the characters experience, never attempting to be anything they aren't.

I could go on and on with these similarities, but I think it's something you just have to discover for yourself. It really can hit like a revelation, if you are a person extremely similar to me. Like I'm sorta joking around but I really do feel like I have a completely new understanding of the genre because of this, that a whole new aspect of it appeals to me. Before this, I liked American Football as much as the next guy, and had heard Cap'n Jazz and a few others, sure. But it always felt like an outside appreciation of musicianship rather than a real understanding of the motivating feelings... I didn't let it in. I'm not sure why, exactly, 'cause I have all sorts of intimate feelings about the music of John Darnielle and Phil Elverum and Will Oldham and such, and those guys cover a lot of the same sort of emotional material... I just felt like whatever difference emo had with them, that defining punk aggressiveness probably, was something I didn't "get". And it wasn't until today, when I realized just how appropriate this sort of music was for moping around and watching slice of life, that I "got it".

Also probably this was the first time I specifically sought out emo bands with female vocalists and wow holy moly I really like this stuff. I spent most of this afternoon digging through big recommendation lists and such. Hop Along was given a "recommended!!!" tag with three exclamation points and I gotta say they earned them. The whole album is fantastic, now suddenly a contender for my 2015 AOTY list, although my brain hasn't caught up enough to this revelation enough to understand how moemo stacks up with music I listened to in the previous phase of my life, in the "B.E." era (Before Emo) (hyperbole).

This song is a good microcosm of the appeal of the whole album... lyrically, it's like laying down in the middle of a freeway, that level of brutality. You have to suffer the personal history of unsung folk revolutionary Jackson C. Frank, told in a series of extremely personal and true anecdotes, expressed with imagery that lies in the sweet spot between poetic and evocative and straightforward and conversational, between specifically imaginable and abstractly meaningful. Truly masterful work.

And then the music, oh god! What a banger! Right from the first repetition of that truncated piano riff, you know we're in for something truly special. There's an awesome arc of increasing complexity and intensity, where instruments keep being brought in and melodies become more interwoven... it has a few moments of relent, but it only reinforces this dynamic pattern, making the re-immersion into the noiser times all the more powerful. This, of course, matches perfectly with the lyrical story... moments of calm despair before the next tragedy strikes.

Best of all, it matches with the vocals, which you should know already are the absolute best part. Frances Quinlan is an absolute beast on the mic... Now that I've heard it a couple dozen times, I'm absolutely transfixed by the restraint she shows in the opening, her melodiousness, knowing so well how crazy she'll get by the end. Doesn't it kinda remind you of when you first meet a character in some SoL show, and she's totally moe and stuff, but her personality isn't so "extreme" yet, but you can see, lurking in there, the whole emotional range, the set of jokes, the relationships, everything waiting just to burst out...

It feels nice. So now I love emo music. Feels like a miracle. And Kizumonogatari is finally coming? Is it a day of miracles? No, probably they will just announce a release date and subsequently ignore it. And probably tomorrow I will go back to Young Thug.

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