Friend of the blog, Jay, interviewed me about some songs I love for his newsletter, Listen Up, Nerds. It was fun. Jay writes great stuff and I love talking about me! Check it out and subscribe because Jay is funny and cool and living a parellel life to me in many ways. By that I mean we both write blogs and have strong opinions and are moving from our east coast cities back westward to the cities we love more.
This first topic of this newsletter sort of comes out of a question he asked me while we had that conversation. He asked if I'm drawn to songs that aren't really representative of an artist's music. It wasn't something I'd considered, but I think in a lot of ways I am and it definitely was true of many of the songs I put on the playlist I made for him. In answering him I mentioned one of the new Militarie Gun songs off their new album, Life Under the Gun, and how I think it's great. It was sort of a tangential statement to discussing "(Hospital Vespers)" by The Weakerthans, but I've been fixated on it since Jay and I talked so I want to talk about it more here.
That Militarie Gun song is called "See You Around." It's a very simple song. It doesn't sound like any other song on Life Under the Gun. There are no guitars, just repeating synth keyboard sounds behind the vocal.
It's also my favorite Ian Shelton vocal performance on the album. I like hearing him do something soft. I like the contrast of the song coming from the way he's delivering the words instead of through the instrumentation. The rest of the record finds him mostly shouting around distorted guitars. There's not a ton of range in the way he approaches his vocals on most songs– and I don't think it's necessary for the songs to be effective– so it was surprising to hear him do something so soft the first time I listened through the record.
It's the kind of song I'm drawn to often on a record. It's the kind of song that takes an album from a collection of songs I like to something more compelling and special. It's not a song that speaks to why Militarie Gun is a band you might like or dislike, but it's a song that creates depth and interest and that intangible specialness that pushes an album into something that should be approached as a piece of art when taken as a whole– as something greater than the sum of its parts.
It's the song that takes the band from something I like to something I'm compelled to hear expanded past what this album is by confirming that more variety of sounds can come from them. I think that's special.
As previously alluded to, I'm obsessed with "(Hospital Vespers)" by The Weakerthans for much the same reason. It's part of a three song triad that are written sort of like Shakespearean sonnets, but it's the best of those three. It's also the one that doesn't fully follow the formal sonnet structure. (Coincidence? Probably.) The song "(Hospital Vespers)" is not why I like The Weakerthans, but it might be why I love the band. It's definitely why I consider Reconstruction Site my favorite album of theirs.
Sometimes an album is made by the songs that don't say much about what the band does best or most notably. I think that's the point I'm trying to make here.
For what it's worth, my favorite new Militarie Gun song is "Sway Too." I think it's got the catchiest hook and I just love it. Very very cool track.
My newsletter is officially 3 years old which is crazy! It's so silly and special to write this thing. I love it so much. Here are 3 thoughts on music writing as that is, ostensibly, the thing I do:
- I think back to 2020 and people were talking about newsletters as this, like, lifeline for journalists. It was very Could Newsletters Save Journalism???? And the answer was always gonna be, broadly speaking, no. Journalism, music journalism included, needs investment that this format when run by an individual can't take on. Asking writers to take on that responsibility as individuals who don't have the resources for something like an editor was always ridiculous. Music writing can be a lot of things and some of those things lend to the individual approach more than others.
I think what I do isn't not music writing, but it's predominantly essay writing. It's about me more than it's (usually) something that slots into the typical topical music writing lane. It's the kind of thing that blogging is for, I think. It's valuable, but I think it's distinct.
- Music writers were talking recently online about how they'd like to see a Defector style site about music. That would be cool, but it's tough to believe in mostly because all these people were talking about how someone else should do it when they, the music writers, would have to be the people doing it. I don't mean to be overly cynical or speak too broadly about what music writers– a vast section of people– do or don't want to do, I just don't feel particularly inclined to believe that the vast majority of writers 10+ years older than me want to act as much as they want to lament and tell you how music writing isn't a career (when it is, notably, their career).
I concede sports writing is different. I think sports writing has more distance from the industry it is writing about than music does. Hard to imagine a sports writer who gets taken to the side of sports business in the same way a music writer can eventually be taken to, say, becoming a publicist.
Maybe there's something to sports media having a tier above the writers. Maybe there's some feeling of mutual sort of underdog interest in sports writing of the kind Defector publishes– sports writing that is not just day to day reporting on the goings on of sports teams themselves and that isn't televised conversations between tv personalities. I don't know. But I guess the reality is more that the writers at Defector wanted to do the thing, so they pooled their audiences and capitalized on the unifying factor of the shitty circumstances of G/O's Deadspin fuck up and did it.
That said, not everybody can pivot to publicist so maybe something cool will happen in the music writing space. I've already put my eggs in a physical publishing basket, but I do hope something cool happens digitally. We can't just have Stereogum, but I guess we do have Stereogum.. Who knows.
- Rolling Stone sure is weird right now, huh?
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to see photos I take and other newsletters I pop up in: @mirandareinert. This blog does have a paid option and I would so appreciate any money you would be willing to throw me! You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. As always, thanks for reading!