Frontman Sam Harris discusses the autobiographical concept behind X Ambassadors’ debut album VHS and its hit single “Renegades,” how a love of film influences his music, what it’s like co-writing for Rihanna, and why endurance is the key to success.
Last week, I got a chance to chat extensively with a personal hero of mine, Butch Walker. We talked about Butch’s new album, Afraid of Ghosts, including how the recent loss of his father inspired a new direction for his music, why he decided to have Ryan Adams produce the disc, and why his trademark sarcasm and upbeat songwriting is nowhere to be found. We also touched upon Walker’s back catalog, the woeful reasons why no one should be expecting to find Letters on vinyl anytime soon, whether or not The Black Widows will be making music again in the future, and why Butch’s protege Jake Sinclair took over most of the production duties on the new Fall Out Boy LP.
For Christmas I got a few Amazon gift cards, and because these things apparently just burn a hole in my mind — I decided to buy myself a couple presents with them.
One of those was the Logitech UE Mini-Boom.
The problem I was trying to solve was how to give myself a very easy way to listen to podcasts while in the shower / getting ready in the bathroom. The rest of my place has speakers where I can be anywhere and hear them with clarity; however, the bathroom (especially with the shower running) drowns out almost all of the sound. So, I wanted something I could easily listen to while in the shower or shaving. And how’s this device solve that problem? With flying colors.
You’ve mentioned several websites that have become staples in my morning Feedly reading. I was wondering if you had plans for a “Recommendation Post” like your technology one—a post that culls together a list of your essential morning reading for news on tech, art, pop-culture, etc. Personally, I’d find something like that invaluable.
Thanks for the compliment! Here’s a rundown of websites and authors I read practically every day (most of these I subscribe to via RSS, some of them I browse). I’ll try and keep this updated when new things get added into my daily routine.
Podcasts have become one of my favorite ways to pass the time. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites and these span a variety of fields and interests. I’ll keep this list updated on a regular basis. I think there’s an argument to be made that I’ve received a better education from subscribing to podcasts than I did in school.
I wrote about Elevation Labs’ “Headphone Anchor” when they were doing their Kickstarter campaign. Last week my order showed up. Since my new computer came last week as well, I decided it was a good time to clean out my office and work on decluttering. I installed the new headphone anchor under my desk and so far it’s been brilliant. I love having my headphones at arms reach without them sitting out on the desk. The anchor’s adhesive feels strong and secure but I used two tiny screws to double down on security. If you’ve got a home office and are looking for a good, simple, solution to storing your headphones — I’d definitely recommend picking one up.
About one minute into the lead track, front-woman Laura Jane Grace snarls, “you want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress, you want them to see you like they see every other girl, they just see a faggot, they’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick” … and the gauntlet is thrown down. What Against Me!’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, offers is a mixture of attitude and bravado that pulls together an emotion, weight, and gravitas that I’ve felt missing from music for a while. The lyrics contain something actually worth saying and while the sing-a-long choruses may get stuck in your head, there’s an underlying message that expels itself in a way unique to music — one that travels from head to heart and leads to rumination long after the guitars and drums dissipate.
In a recently aired episode of the AP.net podcast I go on a (way-to-long) rant about genres and the labels we put on bands. The heart of the argument is ‘fuck labels and fuck genres’ because it’s all a mess. We waste time sitting around saying, “Is this pop-punk, or pop-punk, or pop-punk?” The whole thing is a classification system that no one agrees on, no one abides by, and it becomes a cluster-fuck when trying to talk about bands or describe a sound to someone. In fact, sometimes I think we spend more time arguing about genres than the music itself. Some genres have turned into four-letter words and used as a means to demean and dismiss bands almost as a personal affront. I hate it and I’m unsure if there’s a bigger offender than “pop-punk.”
I think my biggest draw to music is the emotion it pulls from me when listening to a great song. That feeling where you experience the song with the entirety of your being. Everything fades away and all that matters in that moment is the space between notes, ears, and heart. Copeland’s upcoming album, Ixora, embodies everything I search for in music.
This review was written in 2013 and originally published on AbsolutePunk.net. It has been very minimally edited before being republished.
I believe that each time we select an album out of the ether and push play, it says something not just to us, but about us. It becomes a reflection of that instant and transcends into both a personal and social entity simultaneously. It is this duality of frozen moments, between headphones and shared experiences, that helps define why we listen. We listen to be touched. We find comfort in intimate moments alone with songs, and we tie memories with the best of friends to the soundtracks of our nights. The songs that have stayed with me the longest are the ones that exist forever between these two realities: the ones that I suffer with and the ones that I share.
2014 ended up being one of my favorite years for music in a long while. It just seemed like every few weeks there was a new album to dive into and experience. There were times where it felt overwhelming, as if there was so much to listen to I felt ashamed I couldn’t give each album the time it deserved. But, here we are at the end of the year, and here we are tasked with trying to put numbers to the madness. I’ve done my best to put my favorite albums of the year in some kind of order … I hope you find as much to enjoy here as I have.
“Has it really been 10 years?”
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot this fall, because the autumn of 2004 was one of the most important seasons of my life. It was my most paramount musically formative stage. I’d always loved music, even leading up to that season: listening to the radio, making cassette tape copies of my brother’s CDs, playing the piano, jamming the few albums I owned repeatedly in the afternoons after school, downloading tracks off Limewire and making mix CDs. But I never fully understood the impact a song or album could have on my life until the fall of 2004. Until Futures.