· By Sam Goblin

Finding the Balance with Sam Goblin

For me, spending a lot of time immersed in the process of writing music often means that I don’t listen as widely or as intentionally as I’d like. The balance between making and consuming music is a funny one, because although I spend more time in my everyday life swaddled in noise than not, some part of me worries that if I’m too singularly focused on what I’m listening to I might rip it off unintentionally. Like many people, I’m also often using music as a backdrop or mortar for the cracks in the days rather than something I’m fully focused on.

I’d really like to knock that shit off this year. Music is a difficult thing to do at every step of the process, and I’d like to be able to give it the time and fullness of attention it deserves. I don’t want to contribute to the overarching pattern of trivializing music. This is humankind’s greatest export as far as I’m concerned and it’d be a shame to have it reduced to wallpaper for orthodontist offices. Part of this will ideally include seeking out more physical media, which is something I haven’t been great about historically. Also, I usually find that the things you rip off are usually not really within your control. I’m more likely to realize that I’ve lifted a riff from some P.O.D. song I haven’t heard since I was 11 than anything I’m currently infatuated with. No P.O.D. though, apologies to the People of Delaware.

At any rate, here are some songs I’ve been listening to recently that are well worth your time, attention, and money. Mine, too.

XTC - "Your Dictionary"

What can you say? They have more perfect songs in their catalog than any other band I can think of. This is exactly the kind of song I’m always trying to write. I also love when people spell shit in songs for some reason.

IceColdBishop - "Candlelight"

This record is some of the most potent stuff I’ve heard in the last couple years. This song in particular I could just listen to on loop forever. Something in his tone and the way he plays with the word candlelight is genuinely chilling. Incredible rapper, can’t wait to hear more from him.

Nina Nastasia - "You Can Take Your Time"

Nina is my favorite songwriter of all time, but somehow I only got deep into this album recently. This song is so fucking gorgeous—one of my favorites of hers which is really saying something. Saying, “Don’t fuck up” in the context of such a gorgeous and heartfelt song always cracks me up.

Rorshach - "In the Year of Our Lord"

This album rips. Some of the coolest guitar playing out there. In terms of hardcore stuff I tend to gravitate toward the skronkier edges of the genre, and this record really nails that sound in my opinion. Charles Maggio sounds like the most horrifying boss of all time telling you the same thing for the 50th time, fucking rules.

Spit Shine - "Hangman"

My old coworker put me onto Benjamin Tod, whose records are totally amazing. I went down the rabbit hole a little bit and found this band he used to be in, and I think their music is only available on youtube at this point? It’s scary stuff, made even scarier if you read about the band’s history. Profoundly bleak but really beautiful, too.

Beauty Pill - "I’m Just Going to Close my Eyes for a Second"

In a scene full of bands I adore, Beauty Pill is the DC band that’s closest to my heart. They have this slanted-in-just-the-right-way sense of melody that’s completely unique to Chad Clark’s songwriting, and I love the way each of their songs is its own little ecosystem. This is exactly the time of year to take this one on a drive at night with the windows down, so get on it.

Taking Meds - "Sucks to Be Me"

Big fan of this band, I think Terrible News From Wonderful Men is one of the best guitar records of the last decade. The stuff they’ve done since then is amazing too, but this era of the band is so directly up my alley it really isn’t even fair. Like many of their songs, there’s a sense of humor in here that somehow only bolsters how much it rips.

Gladie - "Born Yesterday"

I love both versions of this song so much that I learned to play it and cover it by myself in the privacy of my room all the time. I think the lyrics are incredible, gives me chills everytime.

Giants Chair - "Mother Sister Brother Lover"

I loved this band when I was younger and have been going back to them a lot. Their reunion record (shout out to Spartan) is also excellent. Listening to it and then returning to their earlier records kind of puts things in context, and frames them more as just an incredible rock and roll band with lots of heart. Also, my favorite guitar tone of any band, ever.