New Music: Twin Cities – The Things You Say You Just Went Through

Will Erickson and I have been working for the last six months on refining some old Twin Cities songs and writing some new ones. The culmination of these writing sessions is our new EP “The Things You Say You Just Went Through.” Half of the EP was written with my original collaborator in Twin Cities, Josh Erickson. He wrote “Belmont Hills” for his old band The Destroyers (which I eventually played bass with), and we co-wrote “Repeated History” and “Record Sides.”

I’m excited about this new EP because I can hear a lot of my biggest influences throughout the album. Here’s some of my favorite moments:

  • I play my first guitar solo (!!!) on “Face the Facts,” and it feels as close as it can to something from “There’s Nothing Wrong with Love” era Built to Spill (Some clarification: this is based on my ability–Doug Martsch is so much better at guitar than I am. It doesn’t really come close).
  • “Black Box” is the heaviest song I’ve written. Will helped write an incredible bass part for the intro, which I had a blast playing while recording. I tried to channel Cursive and Margot and Nuclear So and Sos (at least their heavier songs) when writing this song.
  • The lead guitar in the chorus of “Record Sides” shows my attempt at writing a part by Robert Smith of The Cure. It’s really catchy. It might be catchy enough that it’s annoying. We’ll see.

As always, this album is free to download. Here’s the track list:

  1. Face the Facts
  2. Settling for Second Best
  3. Black Box
  4. Belmont Hills
  5. Repeated History
  6. Record Sides

New Class: Introduction to Human Communication

On the first day of my undergraduate degree at Wichita State University, I walked into a large lecture led by Sandy Sipes to take a general education class in communication, Comm 190: Introduction to Human Communication. I was a Secondary English Education major at the time but switched my major over to communication because I loved the class so much. Now I’m assisting Sandy in teaching the class.

As part of my duties as a teaching assistant at Wichita State University, I’ll be presenting large lectures to the 250+ student class, writing and grading exams, and supporting Sandy. While I’m only going to lecture a few times in my first semester of assisting in the course, I plan to take on more lectures every semester I assist with the class. I plan to lecture on interpersonal topics including listening and critical thinking; intercultural communication; organizational communication; small group communication; and communicating through new media.

New Class: Introduction to Public Speaking

I’m teaching every college student’s least favorite class for my first class at Wichita State University. Although I’m fully prepared for my students to hate me since I’m forcing them to speak in front of others, I’m really excited for the opportunity to teach the class.

The class is divided into two large units. First, the class will focus on learning to structure and present information in informative speeches. After the class learns some of the basics of organizing and orally presenting information, the class will shift into persuasive speaking.

As part of my preparation to teach the class, I’ve taken a two week course on pedagogy with Dr. Rick Armstrong. The class works to prepare incoming teaching assistants by providing them with skills to help students of different learning styles.

New Publication: An Argument Against Pablo Neruda

My poem “An Argument Against Pablo Neruda” was recently published in the Kudzu Literary Magazine. The poem was written while I was reading Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. Pablo Neruda writes, “Love is so short, forgetting is so long, in “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines.” The poem focuses on the mourning of memory as a person slowly forgets an old partner.

New Publication: Sunday Nights on AMC

Stepping Stones Magazines is publishing my poem “Sunday Nights on AMC.” It’s about watching Mad Men and Lost. Probably a little more than that, too. Really excited to have my first poem published!

Edit – January 2018: Stepping Stones Magazines is no longer active, so I’m reuploading the poem here. Thanks to them for the original publication.

Sunday Nights on AMC

It was a relationship built on lives
that weren’t real.
I could count the minutes we didn’t speak
over the television.
Those minutes became a part of me.

Somewhere I’d like to think that island exists.
That someone will wake up to find that everything was one gigantic dream,
and we’ll stop existing then and there.
Maybe somewhere there is some sideswiping afterlife,
some great cathedral.

For now,
the sheets are rolled down and the television on.
I’m drinking tap water, watching whatever is programmed for Sunday nights on AMC.
Someday I’ll learn to love something real.
Until then, I’ll live 22,
no.
43 minutes at a time.

New Music: Twin Cities – The Past Four Months

Twin Cities released “The Past Four Months,” our first EP in 3 years. This is the first album I’ve recorded that hasn’t been self-engineered and produced. Will and I spent a lot of time working on these songs. I think there are a lot of “We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes” era Death Cab for Cutie and American Football influences in this one.

I’m particularly proud of some of the interlocking guitar and bass on this record. Hope people enjoy it.

Supporting Artists on Spotify

My friend and I just finished recording the new Twin Cities EP, “The Past Four Months.” During that process, Will introduced me to a songwriter named Keaton Henson by showing me a video of Henson performing “Lying To You.” If you haven’t heard the song, it’s a really beautiful song about heartbreak, so it’s totally the kind of song I love. Needless to say, I was stoked to check out the entire album.

Until a month ago, I had been vehemently against Spotify because artists don’t make much money off of the site. Almost everyone knows artists are estimated to get $0.0029 per song, which is unarguably awful pay. After actually listening to Spotify, I’ve found my opinion on its usage has changed. Now, it’s my go-to spot for checking out new albums.

I bring my laptop to work with me everyday, so I can listen to music while I work. As I ran late to work one day, I forgot to grab my laptop. I’m the type of person that needs to have something going on in the background at all times, so I created a Spotify account that day. Most of the day, I listened to the same bands that are on my iTunes, and I checked out a couple of bands I had recently heard about. The majority of the new music was complete crap. I also checked out some bands that I like, but only had listened to one of their albums. At the end of the first day of Spotify, I bought “Change” by The Dismemberment Plan. I’ve loved the band for years, but I only owned “Emergency and I.”

The next day, I made the choice not to bring my laptop to work. I had the exact same music available because of Spotify, and I was (to a very, very small degree) paying artists again for albums that I bought years ago and loved. Death Cab and Kind of Like Spitting probably made a whole $0.04 off of me that day. Snowing made $5 off of me that day when I relistened to one of their EPs and decided to buy it.

Spotify’s vast library of music caused me to buy new music two days in a row, which is not something that I would normally do. For the most part, I’ve always owned the albums that I like, and I occasionally would check out a first listen on NPR. Rarely do I like any album enough to buy it. Spotify opened up a lot of music to me quickly that I would usually never check out. The bands that I don’t like make a miniscule amount of money from my listens that they would otherwise never receive. The bands I do like are getting repeated listens (maybe they’ll make a dollar off of me on Spotify), I’ll still buy their album if I like it enough. That is a chance the bands would have never had before.

Spotify Premium is the true evil of the Spotify organization. Advertisements are everywhere, and by paying $10 a month you don’t have to hear them mid-album. Is giving $10 a month to an organization that doesn’t support the artists really worth it? Instead of putting the money into Spotify, give the money to the band by buying their album on iTunes. It won’t affect you much, but you’ll be supporting bands that can always use help.

When was the last time you bought an album? If you can’t answer that, I think that is a bad sign for the arts. I realize that not everyone has the income to support buying a new album every week. If you have the money to buy an album though, buy the music you found via iTunes or Bandcamp that you first listened to on Spotify. You’ll have the album on your iPod, and you can continue to support the artist with extremely small payments via streaming.