Second records are incredibly difficult. Let’s just say that from the get go. One of the reasons they’re tricky is because for a large number of popular bands, this is their chance to prove that they are able to follow up their first record and cement their place in the modern music landscape. Some bands make second records that match the debut records(Interpol’s “Antics,” LCD Soundsystem “Sounds of Silver). Others totally blow away their predecessor (Tool’s “Aenima” and Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea). but for every second release that nails its delivery, there are a million more that never seem to take off. This article won’t be a list of the best second releases, but more of a brief conversation about why some records stick and others don’t.
First off, technically, you have your entire life to write your first album. All these feelings float around in my body and soul, and over time those opinions, thoughts, hopes and fears bleed into what becomes your artistic calling card. This is important. Sure you can evolve and grow and some of your opinions can change, but those first pieces and that first album come from a truer place that many of the follow up records. That’s not to say the later thoughts aren’t important, but in that early stage an artist hasn’t truly felt what it’s like to be part of a well known group or performance entity. The business side of it hasn’t fully taken effect. Sometimes you’re lucky and you become more honest and true to yourself, but in my life i haven’t seen an overabundance of evidence to suggest that.
By the time the second record needs to be made, if you’re successful, you have lawyers, managers, fucking clothing handlers who are there to help you, but also to help you to be more accessible to the growing eye of the public. All of that is nonsense and bullshit. Like why is there someone around telling people what cool clothes the band should wear when they go on stage. Its really lame. I digress though.
My point is, once the second record comes around, expectations are high, for everyone. Whether it’s your team of monkeys handling you, or the fans who felt as though you were talking only to them on your first album, people are excited. And with excitement comes expectations. Will the album sound too much or too different from the debut? Or worse, will it be so bad that people will wonder why they ever liked you in the first place(Looking at you Awolnation). But in the end, music is art for everyone, but most importantly its for the people making it. Also just remember that for every bad second album, comes an album that not only changes your original ideas of the band, but makes you appreciate how much they’ve changed.
Take for instant MGMT and Passion Pit. both bands had very good, very popular first albums. Then, and this mainly goes for MGMT, the band decides to change their sound to fit in with where they are in their lives at the moment. For the record I really loved both of these bands sophomore records(“Congratulations” and “Gossamer”) They were both quite good, and even though the bands were getting pretty big, neither album really hit the mark commercially speaking. Whether or not it’s because the albums weren’t as good as their first records is up for debate(Like or dislike is a matter of opinion) or the tide had turned that quickly, we may never know. But to come to a conclusion, second records are way more difficult to make and produce than debut records, so maybe we should be more focused on whether it draws us in, as opposed to liking only if it reminds us of the first times we heard a band or artist. Thanks for reading!
As some of you know, and most likely don’t, this past week I went to my eight consecutive National Stuttering Conference. Since 2009 it’s ranked among the most special places and experiences in my life, and this year in Atlanta was no different. Except it was different. I’m gonna talk about the conference, but it was different in a sense because of the myriad of troubles currently facing our country, which I was somewhat successful in avoiding and forgetting.
The conference started Wednesday, with my arriving on Tuesday. The hotel looked awesome, but as the conference began, sad news came trickling in. Actually it’s not accurate to say it was trickling. More like hemorrhaging. Nearly instantly news came around that Clinton wouldn’t be indicted, which I mean, ok, no surprise there, but another valuable lesson in the study of “If you’re rich you’ll escape consequence.” This bothers me for a number of reasons, most of all that during this entire ordeal she’s gone to no effort to express anything other than unwavering innocence, which isn’t even remotely accurate. She’s a liar, and the FBI knows it; but let’s be frank, when the Attorney General is meeting with her husband while a major investigation is going on, you can clearly see this is going to be ignored and she’ll be fine.
This affects me because of the state of our country. One on side we have Clinton, who lies with every breath she takes, and on the other side we have a man that could literally ruin things for our country. Both are massively unappealing, Trump bothers me so immensely that I’m frightened. But therein lies the issue. I’m torn on the fact that yes, he’s a bigot and a sexist, that he married an immigrant while trying to ban anything that isn’t native born, and that he’s generally full of shit. But all of that bothers me less than what I’m about to say. He openly makes fun of and mocks people with special needs. I’ve pleaded with both of my parents, or felt as though I have, about how that directly affects not only people who struggle everyday because of their limitations, but my own struggles with stuttering. Despite this being blatantly obvious, they brush it aside and proclaim ‘Well he’s better than her.” I’m torn on this because I love my parents, but they come off as massive hypocrites in this section. For years they watched and shared in my struggle to become at peace with my stutter, and while they’ve taken up for me time and time again, I genuinely don’t understand the rationale of supporting someone who goes after someone with special needs, even if it’s minimal, because I’M A PERSON WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.This will likely cause a rift with them, but I must be honest to myself and express my disappointment in them, and in mankind as a whole for allowing our world to become so off the rails crazy.
Then we have the shootings, two in a matter of hours, both obviously including a black man and a white officer. The one is MN is clearly murder, but I’m more bothered by the fact that the Baton Rouge shooting happened where my sister and brother-in-law live. Thankfully they aren’t in Baton Rouge proper, but being only minutes away still has me concerned for their safety. Again I’m torn on this because I know police officers, and one in particular is among my favorite people I’ve ever met. Some of these men are good people, just trying to help, but obviously all of them aren’t. We’re all people just trying to do what we think is best. I can’t imagine losing this friend to a crime, as it seems almost certain less rational people are going to start killing cops as a payback of shorts. Let me also say that was one of my early thoughts after this new string of violence. Of course I don’t think police should be murdered, especially when it’s impossible to know whether they’re one of the good ones just trying to protect and serve. I’m worried for my friend, but I’m also worried at the rapid speed it sometimes appears that certain members of the Force approach things with the “shoot first; ask questions later” frame of mind. It reminds me very much of the speed at which Catholic Priests rape children and devout Catholics turn an eye and everyone just forgets until the next one, and the next one. These feelings played into my thoughts on the NSA conference because on Friday we as an organization were affected, in our safe place, by a mostly peaceful protest literally right outside our hotel. For a brief moment we weren’t shielded from the world by the love of people who struggle with stuttering everyday, but instead we’re witnessing the anger and resentment millions of people feel at the rate that people are being killed not only by cops, but by many other different types of hate. I feel like our country is on the precipice of unbridled chaos, and I’m genuinely concerned, but I have no idea how to fix it, or even stop it. I fear the worst is yet to come.
But, for now, I can try my best to focus on doing the best I can in my life, to be a good person, and to take the lessons I’ve learned from my friends at the National Stuttering Association, and remember to trust my feelings, my thoughts, to remember that I’m not alone, and of course, to always Stutter Beautifully.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
Are you looking for the old Wordpress blog posts?