Week 156 // Thanks for the Chaos

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From a hug to an atom bomb
And all the ways we give our thoughts away
And I suppose it ain’t nothing wrong
If you could make your point either way

Is that the trouble with getting on?
The human part that you can never break
That from a shrug to a sad song
There’s certain things that you can never say

And I’m wondering maybe
If there’s a wire or a wave that we’re steady on
And it’s driving us crazy

And on the other side of the breach
A place that you ain’t sure you wanna go
But just the sheer fact you can’t reach…
What’s over there?
By God, you’ve got to know

And you’re dying
Just maybe there’s a wire or a wave
That you’re steady on

And the truth that you gave me
Is just part of a truth we’re all getting wrong

And an idea worth saving
Is just doomed by the page
That it’s written on
And it’s driving us crazy

Thanks for the deceit
And thanks for the honesty
And thanks for the disease
And pray for the remedy
And thank you for the chaos
‘Cause it burns in my memory
And thank you for your kindness
And even your hostility

And we’re dreaming
That maybe there’s a wire or a wave
That we’re steady on

And it’s driving us crazy
There ain’t a kiss or a bomb we can write upon

And a notion worth saving’s
Just as swift as a thought
And it’s up and gone
And it’s driving me crazy

Notes
Milestone! Today marks the third anniversary of Mount Everest and I am excited! This year, I think I’ve come up with some of my most memorable tunes, and I have had a lot of help. Alex Selby, Brooklyn Fraser, Miguel Williams, and Tamarinda Figueroa all participated in awesome collaborations, not to mention Everest’s biggest collaboration yet which included Nick, Tama, Brenna, Miguel, Alex, Julia, Rob, Dave, Ben, Celia, Joseph, Holly, Clio, and Becca. Thank you so much to my collaborators for helping make this site possible. Also, there is no way to express my gratitude to my friends and family for the support they’ve given me, particularly my parents who really do believe in this project, and have from the start! If I’ve left out any collaborators, or significant contributors, I apologize. A year is a long time, and I always find myself scratching my head trying to make sure I’ve remembered everyone. The point is that if you’ve been to this site and listened to even a single song, I am eternally grateful to you. In celebration of that gratitude, I’m putting up a big collection of songs for FREE DOWNLOAD! Yes! It’s called From a Hug to an Atom Bomb, and it collects all of year-three’s “best of” songs which were determined scientifically by me. Enjoy it and share it with your friends. It looks like this (click the artwork to download):

This week’s song is a direct follow-up to last week’s (and astute listeners might notice that last week’s refrain, and this week’s first verse are musically identical — except this one is made of robots). If you remember, last week I meditated upon the unavoidable isolation of individual human beings, and the lengths that we go to in attempting to express ourselves. A particular passage in last week’s notes struck me as getting the point across better than the song itself, so I’ll repeat it here: “No matter how intimate the relationships we cultivate, our minds are our own, and any attempt at communication is a mediated struggle against the barrier of our individuality. Every human endeavor from a hug to an atom bomb somehow reflects this reality.” That last part became the jumping-off point for this song. The word at play is solipsism. Think about it as the opposite of telepathy. Each mind is a closed environment. Nothing gets in or out without first being somehow mediated.

I really wanted to get at the inadequacy of our modes of transmission. We’re always looking for better ones, as if wires and radio waves can somehow bring one mind any closer to another. Ultimately it is a struggle for immortality. If we can somehow get the ideas out of our heads, and accurately reproduce them someplace, then we’ll never really die. Tell a friend? What if they don’t understand? Write it down? What if there’s a fire? Blog about it? Not even close. This song looks at the entire breadth of human expression and bemoans it’s inadequacy. A hug can’t say it, and a bomb can’t say it. But hugs and bombs can say quite a lot, even if they can’t say everything. That’s pretty huge when you consider what it means people can mean to one another. Most of this song takes the perspective that this solipsistic nature of mankind is “driving us crazy,” (maybe it’s the reason for so many bombs…) but there is a tiny moment of conversion at the very end. After all, I can really only know for sure if it’s driving “me” crazy. Maybe somebody out there is at peace with these concepts, and they’re just trying to find the right way to tell us what they know, in a way that we’ll understand. Tricky stuff.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
This sub-project is on hold for this week. It made more sense to me to attempt a classic tricked out Everest song for the third anniversary.
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that, it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 155 // Some Kind of Hope

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You get carried away
Your hands are bleeding
And what can you say?

And again later on
You can’t believe it
You done something wrong…
Oh God

And I know what the future brings
Such fast and shocking things
Such love and death we’re fed
Defying everything we’ve ever done or said…
God

And down on the ground
There’s constant motion
You can’t hear a sound

And if you fall to your knees
And kiss the sidewalk
In this you’ll believe

And I know what the future says
We’ll live then lay to rest
We’ll strive to once express
The truth we hold inside as counterweight
As ballast in our lives
Tragic this community of isolated minds
Beautiful and always reaching

Notes
Human beings are pretty predictable. If you want to know what the future holds, look to the past. It is likely that in the future, human beings will struggle with themselves and one another. They will wage campaigns that will do harm, and interests will subvert movements that will seek to balance the scales. Little by little though, they will chip away at injustice, seeking an apex that they will likely never reach. They will look for solace in intricate personal lives, loving each other, hating each other, bringing out the best and worst in each other, and all the while each one will be truly separated from the rest. I think that all of human struggle can be traced to the ultimate isolation that we inevitably face. No matter how intimate the relationships we cultivate, our minds are our own, and any attempt at communication is a mediated struggle against the barrier of our individuality. Every human endeavor from a hug to an atom bomb somehow reflects this reality. I think this is why we think about God, whether or not you think God is really there. God is an expression of our collective desperation to know that somebody in the cosmos can truly know us from the inside. God understands our motivations in a way we cannot express. When we are bad, God knows why. When our words are inadequate, God reads our intent. It is no wonder that such a figure can command legions. In the mean time, we’ll live out our lives, sure of only the thoughts in our heads, pushing against a barrier that we can never move. But the really beautiful part is how hard we push; how badly we want to reach each other. Therein lies some kind of hope.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that, it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 153 // Lessons

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If you couldn’t ever learn to love
It’s ‘cause you couldn’t ever
Learn to love yourself
You should have known
You should have known
The only comfort in this world derives
From meaning all the truth you sell
And I suppose
And I suppose you think
You know know a thing or two
Of common things
Of things like common sense
And am I right?
And am I right to think
That you revolve around
A slowing concept of your innocence
I think you might
It’s time for this lesson to start
Carve these words into the pit of your heart:
Goodness knows your’re good enough
If you think you know a thing about it
Just consider that’s the way you always thought
When you were young
When you were younger all the things you’d learn
Would soon enough become the the things that you forgot
And you’d become
An older if not wiser if unkinder unsurprised reminder
Of the things you’d lost
You should have known
You should have known there’s something deep inside you
That you’d recognize and thrives at any cost
And I suppose
It’s time for this lesson to start
Carve these words into the pit of your heart:
Goodness knows your’re good enough

Notes
Hey gang. This week I’m picking my subproject up again after doing a little something else with some friends last week. If you don’t know about my subproject, basically I’m writing a song using only one instrument until I’ve written one using each instrument that I’ve got. This week I’m using my synthesizer, which immediately dawned on me is a total copout. The synthesizer is capable of creating individual voices so numerous, I might as well have had access to infinite instruments this week. But the idea is to embrace the unique capabilities of an instrument, and that is what I have tried to do. I certainly couldn’t have made this song on a mandolin.

The tune is a bit of a pep-talk for anybody who feels out of touch with their best self. A lot of times I find myself pining for previous incarnations of my being, for times when I was just better. This song attempts to mine the ambiguity of memory, and the flexibility of our self perception. The ultimate take-away is a bit cheesy, but important nonetheless: you’re good enough.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that, it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 152 // Nice Things For David

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Nice Things For David (times one-dillion)

Notes
We have families that we choose, and I’ve chosen extremely well. At a reunion of one such family, we cooked up this tune. Amidst the annual emotional bear-hug that is our Skidfamily Reunion, people began to give things to Dave. Dave was sitting to rest his legs during a short hike, and people began to present him with natural objects, trinkets, and tributes. Before too long, Dave was enveloped in small tokens of his friends’ affection, and he even had a new pet (a grasshopper). A new game called “Nice Things For David” had been spontaneously created, and it was beautifully emblematic of the spirit of the weekend. We were there to give our love in as great a quantity as we could muster. We were there to be absolutely enveloped in it. A lot of people played on this song, and a lot more people played on it by virtue of their loving presence at a truly great event. In no particular order you are hearing Nick, Tama, Brenna, Miguel, Alex, Julia, Rob, Dave, Jesse, Ben, Celia, Joseph, Holly, Clio, and Becca. Thanks everyone!

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
Due to a love-tastic explosion of friends, this sub-project is on hold for this week.
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that, it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 150 // River Song 2

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Waiting down by the river
And now the bank is rising
You feel your shoes fill up with water

An honest introspective
A kinder disposition
Somehow your feet are getting hotter

And say what you think for once

I see the situation
I read the constitution
I glean the changes in the weather

I hold my wishes tightly
I let my options falter
As if they’d ever get together

And say what you think
‘Fore the water’s o’er the brink
Just say what you think for once

And everyone is moving
Atop the current rising
It swept them out into the ocean

A craft of true construction
A good and trusted vessel
And now they’re clinging to a notion

And there atop the crest of
A mighty swell it hits you
That you are bound to live forever

Out past a vague horizon
The solid ground beneath it
You put it all into a letter

So say what you think
‘Fore the water’s o’er the brink
Just say what you think
God is shiftless memory
Yes, say what you think
Cast your beauty, hold it deep
Oh say what you think for once

Notes
This is the 150th Mount Everest song! Wow! I’m reserving my ritualistic self-congratulatory retrospective for this website’s three year anniversary which is a mere six weeks away, but it would feel strange to let this particular milestone pass without so much as a mention. So now I’ve mentioned it!

This is a hard song to explain. Last week was weird, and ugly, and beautiful, and hard, for a multitude of reasons. Weeks with such pronounced highs and lows can give people the impression that they live at the whim of the universe. Conditions conspire and nobody’s got everything under control. It’s like standing in a river that is at one moment gentle, and at the next washing you out to sea. Living under such fickle conditions, you begin to appreciate a straightforward approach, hence this song’s advice to “say what you think for once”. The best advice I ever got from a mentor was “cut the bullshit” (said in frustration). It’s still my advice to myself and everyone else. It is perhaps the only remedy for living in a universe that holds all of the cards.

I limited myself to just electric guitar this week. I wanted it to be fuzzy and a little bit raw. I’m pretty sure it is.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that, it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 148 // Nothing Ever Goes To Plan

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Nothing nothing nothing
Nothing ever really goes to plan
Nothing nothing nothing nothing

Nothing nothing nothing
Nothing ever really goes to plan
Nothing nothing nothing nothing
Nothing

And say that you woke
At the moment I’d left
With smoke in your engine
And plans that you’d kept

And everyone I know is like
It’s a solitary song
‘Cause a different situation’s
Gonna carry you along
Losing sleep out in the desert
With the sand against your skin
And then high above the structure
The predicament you’re in

And God save the artist
And bless his mistake
And God free the lovers
To keep that they make

And I suppose that if we live
We’ll recognize the day
And if we crash to Earth
And breath should fail
We’ll find another way

‘Cause Nothing nothing nothing
Nothing ever ever goes to plan
Nothing nothing nothing nothing

And say you’ve been weary
Through all of the night
And morning is coming
to bring what it might

Notes
Nothing ever goes to plan. This is about as true as it gets. So since I’m ever in pursuit of truth, I wrote a song about it. We spend so much time planning our lives. We bother with the minutia, we come up with contingencies, we sweat the details, we look to the future, and then we do something else. Almost always. Sometimes what you do resembles the plan quite a lot, but living is way more contingent upon improvising well then on executing precisely. This song is a pastiche of various experiences and plans that I’ve thrown away over the years. I won’t get into the particulars, because that isn’t really the point. The point is to distill the experience of living off book, to capture its kinetic reality. The end passage describes tossing and turning all night only to realize that whether you rest or not, the morning is coming. The world is indifferent to our plan. It has its own, and it is going to trump ours. The morning isn’t meant to be seen as a looming villain, so much as an unavoidable reality. The steady march of time is really the only reliable variable in any of our plans. Pretty much everything else is up for grabs.

Everything that you hear on this track, save for the vocals, was played on a steal string acoustic guitar. Attempting to put a bit more drive behind the song, I was pleased to find what a potent percussion instrument my guitar can be. Return next week to find out what I do with only a banjo!

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

Sub-Project
I’m working through my arsenal of instruments, featuring only one per week until I’ve written a song on each one. After that it’s back to business as usual. Feel free to prolong this project by buying me more instruments.

melodica, banjo, tenor ukelele, guitalele, nylon stringed acoustic guitar, steel stringed acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, and human voice.

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Week 146 // White Hot Room

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Toss you away
Feeling like the sole survivor
Laying in wait:
Interloper coming to find you
And you’re none the wiser

It’s down to you
Do you have to see to believe it?
Why can’t you move?
Truth: You’ve got a million reasons
You built a shrine to the street light

And it’s alright
You never meant to hide away
For the duration
It takes a certain kind
To recognize the trap
In expectation
And it wears at your patience

You’re in a white hot room
And if it burns right into you
You get gone
And it’s the truth you’re waiting on
You said right
And did wrong
For so long

Try and take your worst mistake
And just release it
Then contend that you can mend
‘Till you believe it
Your best kept secret

You’re in a white hot room
And if it burns right into you
You get gone
And it’s the truth you’re waiting on
You said right
And did wrong
For so long

Notes
This song is about waiting and waiting and waiting for a second chance that you know is coming, and all the while trying to convince yourself that you deserve it. This week I’m starting school, and it has been a pretty long time. For the majority of the last year, this week has been on my mind in one way or another. Deciding to go back, testing, securing recommendations, writing essay after essay, applying, evaluating, making a decision, finding a place to live, moving my life, and all the while waiting, and waiting, and waiting; it has been a strange year. Graduate school is a second chance for me. For one reason or another — perhaps mistakes I’ve made, or opportunities I’ve missed — I’m not yet where I want to be, and what I’m doing now is my way of wresting one more chance from the fates. It was months ago that I knew that I’d have my chance, but the waiting since then has drawn out a voice inside me that is skeptical that I’ve earned it. Waiting can be like being trapped in a room with only doubts as your company, and this song is an attempt to silence those doubts. One way or another, the waiting is through, I’m leaving that room, and I’m taking my second chance.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 144 // Bump Ba Bump

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I’ve heard it’s all the rage
For us sensitive hearts
Being so fascinated by the moon

Because the light blots out the stars

But it’s so filled with life
So what can I say?
It fills up unforgiving features
In uncompromising ways

And there’s a line that’s drawn
Across so many maps
That you dare not cross
But when you see them hang the lights above the town
Your heart it nearly stops
Then it goes like this:

Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
Your heart it goes like this
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
You heart it goes just like
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
Your heart it goes just like this

And day to day
You’re counting the weeds
In the sidewalk cracks
And the tiny trees
That weave their ways
To find the sunlight on their backs

And you’re just like them
You got to look for the sun
Then what you do is wait
And if anyone can thrive most anywhere
Your heart may nearly break
And it goes like:

Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
Your heart it goes like this
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
You heart it goes just like
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump
Your heart it goes just like this
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump bump bump
Bump ba bump ba bump bump bump bump bump

Notes
I’m a few weeks into life in New York where I said I’d never live. While I’m amazed at how much I like it, there are undoubtedly things about it that I struggle to accept. First and foremost is the limited access to the natural world. As a demonstration of this struggle, I’ll confide that I am in fact writing this not from New York, but from New Hampshire, which is forested just about the right amount by my estimation. Outside there are stars. In the field there are critters. In the woods there are bears. Et Cetera. Being as-of-yet unsettled, and bouncing back and forth from one planet to another for the past few weeks, I have had an opportunity to reflect on what a place like New York has to offer somebody like me, who can’t imagine life without trees. To begin with, there are a ton of trees in New York, and not just in parks. They line streets and avenues, and they adorn rooftops and patios, but my favorite ones are the trees that subversively push their way up through cracks in the sidewalks. They don’t last long, because they aren’t part of the plan, but they are an assertion of life’s power. Still being rather unsatisfied by the flora of my new city, I began to ponder: there aren’t enough trees, so what does a city have a lot of? The answer is of course people. People are like trees in so many ways. They are perplexing and captivating natural objects, and they too are subversively unpredictable. This song is about life in the city, by which I don’t mean living in a city. I mean the phenomenon of life and its true abundance in the city. Us country folk can be pretty pretentious to believe that we have a monopoly on nature. It just isn’t the case.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 142 // On Being (or) The Beginning of the World

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Get on your feet
It’s time you come to recognize
The hour that wakes
To paint the world in red and blue
And standing there
The moment catches in your eye
And like a knock at the door
An elegant truth it comes to you:

That at the beginning
When we were all the same
When we were all just
Particles and protons
With seven syllable names
When the whole wide world
Was just a glimmer
In its momma’s eye
Well we couldn’t have known back then
One day we could come alive

‘Cause it’s a powerful process
Of collision and coincidence
And it takes a long long long time

And this is the way it works:
Atoms are pulling and pushing apart
Being’s an intricate violent art
And it takes a long long long time

So some thousands of years ago
There was this human child
And she looked just like you
And she laughed like me
And I can’t explain
Was she a child of God?
Or just stardust?
Well, I can’t decide
But what I know
Is that we’ve had the same exact stuff
Running through our veins

And through an ice age
And through hurricanes
Let’s set the record straight
The very Earth has ground itself apart around us
And she still remains
And from my woods in New England
To a New York City stage
I’ve seen a million kinds of people
And each one of them feels the same exact way

‘Cause of this meaningful movement
of carbon and compassion
And it takes a long long long time

Atoms are pulling and pushing apart
Being’s an intricate violent art
Buildings are climbing and falling away
Mountains are growing with nothing to say
And it takes a long long long time

Notes
So if you’ve listened to more than five of my songs, you probably know that I have an artistic/academic fascination with the end of the world. It probably comes from reading too many comic books (impossible!), and you don’t have to look any further back than last week to find a song about it on this website. But today I’m expanding my horizons. I’m pretty sure I have yet to write a song about the beginning of the world, and this week that is exactly what I have done. Perhaps it is inspired by the personal new beginning that I embarked upon as I moved into my new apartment in Brooklyn this weekend. My mind has been filled with thoughts about the long arc of the universe, the unfathomable scale of time, the immortality and ancient origins of the matter and energy that compose our very bodies, the slow crawl of evolution and geological progress, the buzzing activity in our atoms, and the interconnectedness of each and every human being and living creature ever to walk the Earth. This might seem like too lofty a subject for a three minute song, but I attempt to address it with a quaint and provincial awe that mirrors my perception of my new surroundings in New York City. I also made up the most intricate bass patterns of my career for this song. They might be seen to represent the ordered disorder of activity on an atomic scale, or perhaps I just wanted to get a little funky for the beginning of the world since I slapped my bass for the first time in years last week for the apocalypse.

One final note: you have my sincerest apologies for the tardiness of this song. I had a technological meltdown, and after hours of futilely attempting to record vocals with a built-in laptop microphone, I broke down and took a trip to Guitar Center to support the economy in the spirit of finishing this song without it sounding like it was recorded inside a vacuum cleaner.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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Week 141 // How The End Begins

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See here:
The basement where you’ve hid for months
All stagnant in your clothes
Is bound to finish off what’s left of you
If you don’t up and go

But can you afford to be like that?
Can you afford to say exactly what you mean?
Yeah, can you afford to think
Exactly what you think?

And on the road you’ll just find piles of cars
As far as the eye can see
And you ain’t brave enough to look inside
And face them, seriously
The air you breathe
It has it out for you
It itches on your skin
And in the night is when it comes to you:
This is how the end begins

But you shouldn’t have to think like that
You shouldn’t have to weigh all the courage in your bones
You could just fix on a feeling like it’s home
That’s how you should get to think

But can you afford to be like that?
Can you afford to say exactly what you mean?
Yeah, can you afford to think
Exactly what you think?

Notes
A couple of weeks ago I got a visit from Alex Selby, and his amazing greater swiss mountain dog, Bear. In between hiking and water-sports, we managed to crank out one of the weirdest Mount Everest tunes ever. Selby has graced several of these tunes over the years, but seldom has this website unleashed his true potential. For the most part, we’ve made pretty acoustic songs together. They are songs that I love, but listening to them you would never know the truth: Alex Selby can wail. He can wail really really hard. So on this song we agreed that it was high time for him to cut loose, and cut loose he did. The last third of this song is a guitar solo that is going melt your face. As for everything that comes before that, we’ve built a dark and groovy soundscape that belongs on the edge of the precipice. In that spirit, I’ve written another (I know, another!) song about the end of the world. I know I do this a lot, but it has been a few months, and when you hear the song you will understand. The end of the world is the only thing this song could have been about.

Here’s hoping your Monday doesn’t totally suck.
~M.E.

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