...OK, let's not get carried away here. I'm not swan diving into the deep end. I'm still the kid that likes to dip his toes in by the steps while hanging onto the handrail for dear life. I want, nay, need to stay grounded as the metamorphosis gets underway. I decided I had to do two things first. They are: discover something classic that I'd always overlooked and sample something new that I've never tried. These two activities coupled together would summarizing my current outlook on things. And would help me ease into this new chapter. You know, holding onto the past while reaching for the future...some psychobabble like that.
Anyway, reading a classic novel seemed like a realistic way to check off part one of my to-do list. It shouldn't take too long and I might discover some hidden truths about the world or even myself along the way. So I read The Catcher In The Rye. A classic indeed. Some terrible movie hinted at the idea that serial killers and assassins always have a copy of this book with them when carrying out their business. I hate the lousy movies. But I've never read it before. I really haven't. Mostly because not reading it seemed like something Holden Caulfield would do. So, when given the choice in high school, I read something awful like Ethan Frome or Wuthering Heights or some other depressing book instead that nobody wants to read and was decidedly NOT The Catcher in the Rye. If you were there, you'd know how good it felt. But now after reading it, I'm worried I'll feel like a phony because I'll get all the inside jokes from the novel the sorry goddamn forty-something morons sprinkle into conversation to make themselves feel better about being forty - like they're original ideas or something. I worry a lot. But, this seemed like as good a time as any to read it. It really did. I've told you before, I'm crazy.
After the success of discovering a classic, I moved on to the sampling something new bit. Again, I'm not hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro or eating "Flatliner" buffalo wings or sleeping with anyone's sister or anything like that. I'm a simple man. I have simple interests. I like sports, music, and beer. I have a long and boring sports history (and drinking history for that matter) and I've already waxed poetic about my beer affinity in this space so I ruled those two areas out pretty quickly. But my musical journey has been a relatively short dalliance thus far. The truth is, I look like one of those empty souls just thumbing their way through Foo Fighter hits on the iPod waiting for the next Pearl Jam documentary or Smashing Pumpkins re-issue (both of which were released in 2011 and were phenomenal, but Nevermind that). But I'm a tad more complex than that. I appreciate artists doing whatever it is they do; as long as they do it really fucking well. So, I decided to go the musical route for part two of the list.
True to form, in stepping forward I've stumbled into what was yet again. The Shins released a new album on Tuesday. The Shins have been around for 11 years. But it's their first new release in nearly 5. You see, the band has been going through some changes of its own. Originator James Mercer started anew since kicking out every other member of the band a little while back to embrace a new chapter in his life. The result is somewhat fascinating. It's a unique and refreshing collection of tunes that sounds exactly like....The Shins. The pheaux-falsetto voice is still there, the keyboards, the sliding to and from notes with each catching chorus, and the nearly unintelligible lyrics that made them indie darlings a decade ago. The catch with the Shins is that they write simple pop music. And let me be clear here, I hate pop music. But, the melodies are so complex and lyrics so sharp that it doesn't feel like pop music when you listen to it. It feels like something you've heard before but can't quite figure out where. There's a mix of nostalgia and hope in their songs. There are moments that you find yourself relating to a song that you have no business relating to or saying "Yeah, I used to think that" or "Hey, I did the same thing" knowing full well you probably never did anything close to it or thought anything like it in the least. But you wish like hell you did or hope that you someday will. Mercer has saluted the classical version of himself while hoping the future undiscoverd version works out just as well.
I better get back to work now. Did I tell you I started a new job too?