Love in Minor Key - Introduction

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/21/13) - When Sugg Street Post co-owners Jessica Dockrey and Luke Short mentioned the position of music columnist and music reviewer, I thought, “Why not?" and threw my hat into the ring. After no one else actually submitted a sample piece, they settled on their first choice. Think of this as my informal introduction as I find my voice in this role (that is, if they intend to keep me after this disaster). On with the occasionally humorous and always over the top pretentious meandering...imagine this as the Star Wars opening crawl. It helps, or at least it does in my mind. Oh, yeah, I'm dragging my wife Lindsey along for the ride as co-writer, researcher, and proofreader.

Music: what is it? Not the textbook definition of artfully arranged sound - what is it really? The universal language? A force of nature that makes you shake your ass when you have no business doing so? An emotional outpouring? Simply notes on a page or a harmonically pleasing oscillation of string? Math? It's all those things and none of them. It's simply a matter of what angle you view the answer from. For someone like me, who is more of a somber and slow fellow, music is an emotional and physical catalyst. In general, when I'm sad, I listen to sad songs and they make me happy. When I listen to energetic and upbeat music, I bounce around the room and punch the air like I'm fighting invisible ninjas. When I hear dance music, I want to hide, unless my inhibition circuit has been compromised and my dance circuit has been engaged (in which case, please give me water and make me lie down). Happy music makes me sleepy, unless there is a bass line so funky I can't help but rock my head like an exotic bird trying to attract a mate.
That's the beauty of music. We all have different emotional responses to it - some positive and some negative. Sometimes we don't like what we hear, sometimes we do... and sometimes we do but we really can't say it in certain company. I like old-timey country and western albums by Slim Whitman and the spastic new-wave stylings of Wall of Voodoo. If that little bit of honesty doesn't disqualify me for this job, I don't know what will.

I've been accused of being a music snob in the past, and for a certain period in my mid-to-late teens, that would be an apt observation. As I've matured, my tastes have broadened, and I have turned into something that my 16-year-old self would love to ridicule (to which I would say,"'The Power of Love' by Huey Lewis and the News," leaving my 16-year-old self to slink away defeated). I've come to the realization over the years that, usually, when you first hear an album or are introduced to a new genre or sub genre by a friend or colleague, you're inclined to ignore it.  But as is usually the case after an initial “I don't care for this out of spite” phase has passed and you are ready to give the album a listen, you will usually find one song on the disc that sinks in and takes root. From then on, the album is put on repeat until the euphoria of the four or five tracks you end up loving give way to a respect for the album as a whole. You have to give an album a fair listen and a long, thorough look. If you don't give it that, you can't judge it fairly and on its merits. All art has merit even if it isn't immediately apparent. Lindsey has proven that to me many times over. If you would have asked me 10 years ago what my opinion was of traditional Romanian folks songs, you would have been met with a vacant and mildly annoyed expression. Not these days.
That's how our review process will work. We promise to always give every album a fair shake, even if we don't like it or love it in the end. We will always give it time to sink in and breathe, and maybe our praise and criticisms of the wide world of music will be fair enough that, in your exuberance and/or exasperation, you won't call us hipsters, nor chase us out of town with your pitchforks.

Our column won't always be a cut and dry music review. Occasionally, it will be our musing on a certain genre or sub-genre of music, or a criminally underrated (or even overrated) band. It will be as likely to be 20th Century Hungarian neo-classical as it is to be J-pop. We may take you on a journey through the history of trip-hop or Bela Bartok. We hope to entertain and inform with the column, and, over the coming years, we hope to learn as well. There is always new music to find and enjoy, and even some to snicker at after a few beers.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Matt & Lindsey Stewart
Photo by Jessi Smith

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