They’re here, it’s happening, they sound great.

As I’ve previously expressed, Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006) is perhaps one of the finest albums in my rotation; each track cuts and bleeds and I adore them all, individually and as a collected work.

Without delving too deeply into Brand New history (which is long and dramatic), in the recording process for The Devil and God, nine of their demos for their album leaked out to the internet. Fans nicknamed the songs included in the leak as Fight Off Your Demons, and gave each track a name to facilitate discussion and reference. Upset at the leak, Brand New went on to scrap the demos; some were refashioned for the eventual album release (“Untitled 06,” nicknamed “Mamas,” became “Luca,” and “Untitled 08,” nicknamed “Yeah,” became “Sowing Season”), others later appeared as b-sides (“Untitled 03” became “aloC-acoC”/”Brothers”) or singles (“Untitled 07” became “(Fork and Knife)”). The remaining tracks, however, remained exclusively in their unmastered, unmixed, lossy leaked version: fantastic, but difficult to enjoy even for non-audiophiles. (more…)

As the year closes, naturally I must compile experiences and interests from the period into data and statistics.

Okay, maybe I’m not being quite that heartless, but last.fm sure makes it easy to indulge that desire. I scrobble (almost) all of my music to last.fm as I enjoy having a record of my listening habits for both reference and analysis. This year I finally found a solid app to do so from my phone, too, though my scrobbles lack what I listen to at work, which is a lot, as well as about half the year of listening on my phone. Therefore, as we head into 2016, I’d like to look back on what I listened to the most in 2015 (not necessarily my favorite releases from the year — my musical discovery process is best described as ‘stumbling across things years after release’). (more…)

I have been a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series since before it was a series at all; enticed by the appearance of Disney characters, my sisters and I broke in our PlayStation 2 with the original Kingdom Hearts not long after its 2002 release. Between me, at 8 years of age, and my sisters at 10, we were rather pitiful at the game, and it’d take me another two years to finally complete it (and subsequently, become obsessed). I’ve spent the ten years since consuming every piece of Kingdom Hearts news and media available, and eventually, running one of the oldest and biggest Kingdom Hearts sites on the internet. My adolescent years have become inextricably tied to these games. I’ve gone through the ringer with the series, followed its many plot twists, turns, and holes, waited — patiently and impatiently — for each new title. I’ve attempted, with varying levels of success, to decipher the wayward and needlessly complicated plot. I do a weekly podcast that is (theoretically) focused on the series.

Having thus established my cred as a Kingdom Hearts fan, I’ve got beef. I’m routinely surprised to find many within the fandom claim that the English lyrics to the first game’s iconic theme song are, like the plot of the series as of Dream Drop Distance, complete nonsense. Therefore I’d like to take another stab at dissecting the lyrics and larger meaning behind Utada Hikaru’s “Simple & Clean.”

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