Weekend Recap: the lovely outdoors

With every passing day I become more and more happy that we made the move out of the city and into the ‘burbs.  I know our house isn’t in the most desirable part of town, and there’s a lack of kids Henry’s age that live near us… but it’s only a 3-minute drive to get to the nearest park, and any time we go to a playground we end up meeting parents with kids around his age, and in any case it’s just nice to be able to do things again.  Something in me has changed since we moved; I’m not paralyzed with the same sort of anxiety that made it so difficult to leave the house back when we lived in the city, and so we as a family can go out and do stuff that we couldn’t necessarily do as easily (or as willingly) before.

I don’t know if it’s my memory that’s shot, or if it’s simply that I keep thinking I’ve written something here but didn’t (you should know that even if I’m not posting here every day, I usually spend have a “new post” tab open for most of my available computer time, and more often than not I’ll trash whatever it is I’ve written) but in any event please forgive me if I’ve already said this:  Spofity’s personalized “Discover Weekly” playlist has turned me on to more good music since it started than I can possibly hope to count.

As a musician, I suppose I ought to be more conflicted about using Spotify as my primary music service.  I used to spend between $600-$1000 a year on new music; now I spend $120/year for my monthly subscription.  I know that the artists earn a tiny, tiny fraction on each stream instead of what they’d get in a straight-up album purchase, and that Spotify’s equity disbursements are not actually doled out the way they ought to be (i.e., you’d think that the artist you listen to gets paid based on what you stream, but instead “Spotify doesn’t pay on a “per song stream” model, exactly: the total royalty pie is split among all rights holders based on the percentage of total Spotify streams their songs garner“, and this royalty rate is not necessarily split equally between artists and the labels, and it’s certainly more favorable to big artists instead of indie bands), and if I wanted to make any money from my album, I’d rather people bought it outright than stream it.  Of course, at this point in my life – approaching 40, with a wife and a child and a mortgage and a day job I can’t realistically quit to go on tour, especially since I can’t pay a band and nobody wants to see a 40-year-old man with social anxiety on tour – I’d simply be happy if people listened to it, and I know that if I put “Untrue Songs” on Spotify, a great many more people would listen to it.  That album sold enough for me to recover my sunk costs and get a few cups of coffee afterwards, but I’m not sure anyone else bothered to track it down besides those initial sales.

Regardless – that’s not even the point.  The point of this section is that Spotify’s algorithms are better at finding good music than I was prepared to give them credit for.  I now look forward to each Monday’s playlist refresh, and I’ve even started a separate playlist with my favorites because there’s at least 4-5 songs in each week’s list that are keepers.

I bring this up also because some of the stuff I’ve been listening to has been so fucking good that it’s causing me to rethink my own music-making approach.  Like I said a few weeks ago – I have a bit of a creative inertia problem; when I’m rolling, I can’t be stopped… but when I stop, I stop, and it takes me forever to get moving again.  Sure, I could blame some of that on the move, but we’re all moved in now, and all my stuff is set up, and yet I’m still not quite back in the swing of things.  That said, there’s three albums that I’ve discovered this week that are fucking my brain up – in a really good way – and I’m back to wishing I had more available hours in the day.

Maybe I need to find a collaborator.  When I can’t get my shit together on my own, it’s often useful to have someone else to bounce ideas off of, and to feed on that collaborative energy to make something brand new.  There was a music festival in town last weekend, and it was some of the first live music I’ve seen in… years?… and the bands were quite good, and now I’ve got an itch to play with other people again.  This is usually a good sign that my creative gears are starting to turn again, so even if I don’t end up starting a new band, I’m hopeful that at the very least I’ll start writing new music again (or at least finishing the stuff I recorded earlier this year).

I’m already about 1000 words into this Metal Gear Solid V piece and I’ve only put, like, 6-7 hours into the game itself.  I can’t say much about the piece – or the game, for that matter – but I can say that I do not hate it, and indeed there are parts of it that I quite like – not the least of which is the ability to play one mission and then turn the game off without dealing with a 45-minute unskippable cutscene.

That said, I do find that I need to cleanse the palate every once in a while, and so I’m very glad to have Forza 6 in my life again.  I’d been a Forza loyalist through the first 4 installments, and then I fell madly in love with the Horizon offshoots, and didn’t really feel bad about skipping out on Forza 5 since I had other stuff on my plate at the time.

I’m not a car enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination; I own a car out of necessity and it’s a hand-me-down at that.  I like driving games for the same reason I like golf games – they’re usually very pretty, they require minimal focus, and the feeling of executing something well is just rewarding enough to keep on going.  This is a way of saying that I don’t come to Forza for the cars as much as I come for the tracks.  The first 3 or 4 Forza games reused a lot of the same tracks, so much so that I’d sometimes think I’d put the wrong disc in the tray.  Forza 6 feels a lot more fresh in this respect; the tracks aren’t the same old, same old.  Indeed, some of the tracks remind me of other games I haven’t thought about in a while – there’s a track in Prague that reminds me of Project Gotham Racing for some reason, and some of the new rain/fog effects make me think of DiRT.  (We need a new DiRT game, by the way.)

Author: Jeremy Voss

Musician, wanna-be writer, suburban husband and father. I'll occasionally tweet from @couchshouts. You can find me on XBL, PSN and Steam as JervoNYC.

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