An introduction

First of all, let me start with this: thank you for reading. I’m very passionate about this topic and I’m so excited to start blogging about it!

The purpose of this blog is to discuss, analyze, and recommend music to fellow listeners. As I mention on this blog’s homepage, I want to open a dialogue about the quality songs, albums, and artists that get me through life, in the hopes that they might do the same for you. Music has incredible power and value; I want to highlight it in a productive, easy-to-read manner and share it with as many people as possible.

In my humble opinion, my particular “musical journey” if you will, puts me in what I believe to be a good, unique spot to talk about this, which is part of the reason why I wanted to start this project. I’ve approached music from many of its different angles, from being a casual listener, to a student, to a creator of music.

From a very young age, I was exposed to great music thanks primarily to my mom, who enjoys folk, Americana, soft rock, and anything acoustic. The first song I ever remember hearing was “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay – and there’s a reason this memory has stuck with me for so long, despite the fact that I don’t listen to much Coldplay anymore. It’s because of what the song made me feel back then; that enchanting piano loop and Chris Martin’s soft vocals calmed me and made me feel safe. It was a feeling I couldn’t explain – all I knew was that it was real. This happened for a few other tracks in my early youth: “Closer to Fine” by The Indigo Girls and “The Only Exception” by Paramore are two that immediately come to mind (and I still listen to those, to this day).

From the age of eleven to the age of maybe fourteen, I got an hour or so of virtually unsupervised computer access on the family PC every day since I would be the first to come home from school. I spent every bit of that hour on YouTube. It was this way that I discovered a lot of the sounds that appealed to me personally, and not just to my parents or the radio. It was soaring pop choruses, real drums, gritty voices, distorted guitars, and introspective lyrics, but most of all: the “alternative” scene, defined by the inherent coolness of doing everything that the mainstream doesn’t like. You could call it the punk mentality too (although I wasn’t listening to much punk yet).

I fell completely in love with it. My favourite artists became those who did things differently, like Marianas Trench, Lorde, early Imagine Dragons, and Skrillex. Each belonged to a different subgenre (electropop rock, minimalist alt pop, stomp-and-holler indie rock, and dubstep), but all were doing things that were “alternative” to an extent. Their material was frowned upon at first by some, but notice how each of these was then copied by dozens in the early 2010s. I had a weird knack for finding these sounds and people only months before they blew up and became global trends – this is especially odd if you consider the fact that my primary search mechanism was typing these artists’ names in the YouTube search bar, then trying every letter of the alphabet until a song title I didn’t recognize came up in the suggestions (clearly, this was before the time of YouTube’s semi-refined algorithms).

For about eight years starting a bit before this time, I was also fortunate enough to have my parents enroll me in acoustic and electric guitar lessons once per week. The three teachers I had over the course of that time all exposed me to even more music; classic rock, psychedelic rock, country, jazz, alternative rock, a bit of punk, and flamenco guitar music. I was clueless to the fact that few kids my age had such a wide musical palette; my mom still tells the story of when ten-year-old me came home from school annoyed that none of my friends knew who Jimi Hendrix, Billy Talent, and Sum 41 were.

These awesome teachers also taught me music theory. While I’ve forgotten much of the details, I’ve always loved being able to read sheet music. Their lessons about chord and song structure as well as harmony have stuck with me in a more intuitive way; I’d like to think I have decent pitch perception and a passable singing voice because of it, as well as a good understanding of what goes into making music.

I hit a bit of a dark patch in my life in my mid and late teens, and my music transitioned with me. Suddenly indie and light alternative stuff didn’t really cut it anymore, because I was sad and angry and confused, and my music didn’t really reflect that. I always joke that I hit my emo/scene phase a bit late; My Chemical Romance had already long broken up by the time I got through their whole discography. Along with them, the likes of A Day To Remember, The Color Morale, and Rise Against filled my playlists.

I’ve been asked a lot why I listen to sad music when I’m already sad. “Doesn’t that make the problem worse?” And my answer is, generally, no. When you’re sad, do you look for someone to cheerfully tell you that it’s going to be fine and not to worry, or do you look for someone to listen to your struggles, acknowledge that it sucks, and empathize?

I’d say the latter for many people, including myself.

I found refuge in the next several years in a lot of sadder and more aggressive music, so to speak, not necessarily because I always felt that way, but because my feelings were (and are) often so complex to me that the relatively upbeat sound and lyricism of my old stuff didn’t always resonate anymore. As life goes on, new things happen involving novel, complicated feelings, and as the type of person who internalizes everything, I wanted (and still do) an ever-evolving soundtrack to my life and mind. This is not a dig at any of the artists I mentioned earlier, because I still listen to and love lots of their music (I still know every lyric to Marianas Trench’s entire “Ever After” album – don’t test me). I outgrew some of the stuff I listened to and made place for other things, sure, but I also didn’t simply throw my old tastes out the door.

I delved into lots of punk-related stuff, starting with radio-friendly, somewhat angsty emo pop and power pop like Paramore, All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! At The Disco, and slowly got into heavier stuff, adding more music with unclean vocals than the bit I already knew. I wound up really enjoying lots of easycore and lighter, electronics-driven metalcore (Crown the Empire, Issues, etc.).

I soon figured out that I’m probably always going to be the type to be constantly exploring new genres and finding things outside of my comfort zone, because every year my appreciation for music and its diversity of forms grows. This has me constantly on the lookout for truly unique artistry.

As of the last couple years, I’ve expanded my taste even more to include an enormous quantity of pop punk, hardcore, emo, and heavier metalcore (it’s now one of my personal favourite genres due to its versatility). These comprise much of what I listen to on a day-to-day basis. I’ve also delved into and begun to enjoy other genres I used to dislike, such as deathcore, math rock, pop, classical music, and electronic music. The latter two are thanks to my decision to minor in music for my degree; I’ve had to learn about the basic classical repertoire (the Romantic era is by far my favourite) as well as engage in electronic music composition (I loved it so much that I bought the software for myself so I could tinker away at songs even now that I’ve completed the class). I still don’t vibe with country, but I’m keeping an open mind, because that could change.

I’ve also always been fascinated with general music trivia and the inner workings of the industry – I love reading/watching band interviews to get extra insights into their songs, I enjoy going on artists’ Wikipedia pages to see who was in the band when to try and pick up on what changed sonically when that member left, I read and annotate on Genius Lyrics, and I love analyzing trends, like why things suddenly get popular or less popular, and why. I do this stuff in my free time – like I said, it’s my passion and a huge hobby, and I definitely want to bring those insights here too.

If I had to pick a favourite genre at the moment, I’d say it’s a close one between pop punk and beatdown hardcore. I’m a sucker for anything remotely emo or angsty.

Ultimately, I wanted to give you my “musical journey” in this introductory post to Sonic Astral Projections not to tout the amount of knowledge I’ve gained through my experiences, or to condescend you with how I know the names and definitions of a whole bunch of music genres (because trust me, I don’t, I get that shit confused all the time, and even if I didn’t, no one wants to hear about that anyway). That’s not the type of platform I want to run; there are enough pretentious music bloggers out there.

I hope to run an interactive, informative, and pleasant blog that makes you want to seek out art that makes you feel things and improves your life, regardless of whether that ends up being the art I recommend to you or not, all the while maybe learning something cool along the way. I simply provided my background so that you understand where I’m coming from when I make these suggestions to you (and why there’s yet another pop punk recommendation when there was one the previous week… just kidding, my goal is really to provide some diverse insight into music).

Know, however, that this insight might often come from a guitar-focused perspective with probably more than the average emphasis on and mention of alternative music.

Take that however you will.

All this to say, this is me. Welcome to Sonic. Before I leave you for now, I’ll briefly talk about the three segments I’m going to run on this blog. The first is a weekly segment and the next two will appear bi-weekly on alternating weeks, meaning you will always be getting two new posts per week.

“Miscellaneous Monday” will be different every week, and probably my least consistent segment in terms of content. I want to leave it open to discuss anything relevant in music; that could be a look at an up-and-coming artist, it could be a recommendation, it could be a discussion about something going on in the music world. The industry is constantly changing, as do my interests, so I think it’s important to have an open segment that I can use to discuss a wide range of potential topics.

This segment will be published on Mondays, will be labelled “MM” followed by the title of the post, and will probably range from medium to long.

“Heavy Hump Day” will be pretty straightforward – as you read when I talked about my musical tastes earlier, I’m into a lot of alternative/heavy music, especially lately. This type of music gets less mainstream recognition, but in my opinion is of equal or greater quality than lots of the music you might hear on the radio or on popular Spotify playlists. I want to bring this stuff to light, because I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it, and I think that many people who don’t see themselves as alternative/heavy music fans might actually be if they had suggestions on where to start. The style of this post will be an album recommendation, with some insights into the album’s history, my personal experience with it, and some guidance meant to ease readers/listeners into the heavy music scene.

This segment will be published on Wednesdays, will be labelled “HH” followed by the title, and will probably be the shortest type of post you’ll see on this blog.

“Deep Dive” will be a discussion post regarding a specific artist. With this segment, I want to provide a critical analysis of the artist in question and their music. These posts will touch on a variety of aspects, and could take the form of discography guides (how I think you should listen to this artist’s music to gain the best experience out of it), song-by-song album breakdowns, and mini-essays on what I think of this artist, for instance. This is also where you’ll see more variety in my opinions compared to “Heavy Hump Day” where I’m making a recommendation (which is very positive). Here, unless I’m making a discography guide, I’m probably going to be a bit more critical.

This segment will be published on Saturdays, will be labelled “DD” followed by the title, and will probably be the longest type of post you’ll see on this blog.

This week, we’ll be starting with a (weekly) Miscellaneous Monday post, followed by a Deep Dive on Saturday. The first Heavy Hump Day will appear the Wednesday after next.

Finally, I want to say that for any of the following segments, I am totally open to requests/recommendations from any of you readers. Feel free to reach out to me via my contact information – FYI, I monitor my Twitter more than anything else.

Thanks for reading (this was a bit long – my apologies). See you soon,

— H

Welcome to Sonic Astral Projections, Sonic for short! Please feel free to leave a comment.

Published by mcharlow

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