Why

Younger Than Yesterday is an album that I’ve always found curious in The Byrds discography. While Fifth Dimension shifts the focus from folk rock to psychedelic, I’ve always felt that Younger Than Yesterday is their true transition album because it has a little bit of everything they ever did.

Some of the tracks on here can truly be described as experimental, particularly in incorporating sitars, reverse playback, and extraterrestrial imagery. The folk rock is still there, including the token Dylan cover, and there are some throwbacks to the British Invasion. Looking ahead, this is the first time they begin to throw in some country and the songwriting has become more mature, causing some of the songs to have a darker, more mysterious tone. The two follow-up albums are the high marks for The Byrds, but this one showed that they were still relevant in the midst of the rapidly changing times.

(Source: Spotify)

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This is one of the strangest albums I’ve listened to, and you know that’s bound to happen when one of the main influences is the work of John Zorn. Chemical Marriage is probably one of the more tame songs, focusing on space age pop, but the rest of the album is filled with heavy metal, jazz, musique concrete, Italian music, and more sound effects than you can hope to ask for. All from a band that’s supposed to specialize in funk metal.

I’ve only listened to this album 2 or 3 times, but that’s enough to put it near the top as one of the most memorable in my collection.

(Source: Spotify)

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Today I visited the Harn museum in Gainesville and they had what is possibly their best temporary exhibit during my time here at the University of Florida. It’s an exhibit of woodcuts from the Edo period in Japan showcasing the landscapes and stories associated with the 55 stations of the Tokaido Road. It includes works from three artists from the Utagawa school including the works below by Utagawa Hiroshige and Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

What I also found extremely interesting is the inclusion of the series by modern artist Sekino Jun’ichiro. It depicts life at the stations as it exists during post-WWII Japan. Above are two examples of his work that depict the stone bridge and concrete highways that replaced the wooden bridge in Tokyo as well as the colorful festival contrasted with the somber background.

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After going home, I spent about an hour looking at life as depicted in the traditional Japanese style, emphasizing flatness, the simplification of color variations, and the clear outlining of figures, all which come together to bring serenity and balance. The exhibition helped me understand the Japanese art tradition better, why it inspired so many French & Dutch painters in the late 19th century, and how it’s developed into the animation that is so unique to the Land of the Rising Sun.

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Today’s a classic throwback to Stevie Wonder’s last of his legendary album series. Songs in the Key of Life is a double album that attempts to capture life as he knows it from all angles and the result is his most varied and arguably most ambitious work.

This album is tricky to tack down - about a third of the songs are some of his most accessible and successful singles, some others carry further his distinctive funk style, and others try to capture emotion through his voice and his gospel choir. There might be one or two songs that don’t settle as well as I would like, but on the whole this album never fails to satisfy and ranks among my favorites from the 70’s.

… And of course I have to give Stevie a special shout out for all the groundbreaking work he did in incorporating synthesizers as the lead instrument in his soul and funk songs. Contemporary R&B as pioneered since Michael Jackson to the soul-induced rap of Kanye West have much to owe to this man.

(Source: Spotify)

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Convertible Balloon

This album by Wavves came out a few years ago and it just recently made its way back into my ears. The song above is probably their trippiest, the rest of the stuff is either mellow or really energetic.

Whenever I hear this album I think of freshmen getting high in a college dorm - the feeling of being invincible, like nothing can touch you, yet still having the whole world ahead of you waiting for the picking. The exhilaration on this album is only marred by the personality flaws purposely exposed by the singer, often in frantic, childlike yells. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but obviously I considered it memorable enough to bring it back up. This might seem like a trend of weed albums, but I promise more sober stuff to come.

(Source: Spotify)

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I’ve been wanting to post songs/albums of the day on facebook, but I realize nobody really gives a shit on there. So here we are, with tumblr calling me back once again for family-friendly reasons. Mac Demarco has been putting stuff out for a couple of years now, but I still see him as a newer artist because I feel like he’s still more unknown than what I would expect, especially for how accessible his music is.

His stuff is really chill and laid back, and sometimes it’s really fun too. (Does anyone else think he sings like John Lennon?) Plenty of guitar licks, perfect for stoned days, and just generally enjoyable. Hope to hear more from him in the future.

(Source: Spotify)

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URGGGGHHHH

My classes haven’t even started yet and I’m already stressed out. I am currently not in the payroll for the lab and I am not sure if this was on purpose or by accident. Either way, my contributions to the lab are being questioned, and it’s really hard to defend them when we just came to the conclusion that my work for the past six months has basically been pointless because our setup sucks and the data I’ve been working with is worthless. Now I’m being asked to take two days to come up with a plan for what I’m doing this year and a project that I wanna do for a PhD. I don’t even know what I want to specialize in, how am I supposed to already have a project? This is just ridiculous, if they take me off the payroll I’m not sure if I’ll be working with them, the professor is a hard-ass and none of the projects look interesting enough anymore for me to spend the next five years working on, and now I gotta do this for free when I need that time to pass my classes, apply to grad school, and hold positions for two societies. I’ve been here all summer, why does everybody wait until the fall to start to throw this crap at me?!

Butterflies in my stomach

No, I didn’t just kiss a girl, but I suddenly have that familiar feeling of excitement. I’m going to grad school, and this time I might actually end up in Berkeley, or Stanford, or Michigan, or MIT. The nine-year-old I once was had big dreams and nothing but ambition, and every self I’ve ever been, from the 12-year-old sketching accurate power plant models to the 17-year-old attending college presentations, and most of all the 21-year-old frustrated with departmental incompetence and a lack of personal direction, is overwhelmed and ecstatic by the possible realization of a life-long goal. I’m scared - of the difficulty and amount of work, of the increased independence and responsibility, of the distance from the people I love, of rejection - but most of all, I am thrilled!

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The open fields

Driving down the highway with my windows rolled down. My ears resonating from the Johnny Marr-inspired guitars shredding from my speakers. The sun bringing itself down gently behind the trees, casting shadows on the rolling miles of asphalt ahead of me. The wind coming through my window roaring at my face but all I do is yell my pronouncement of divinity back at it.

I was high.

Life couldn’t be better than at that moment; no scent more wonderful than that of cow manure; no number in existence besides 55; no grip more confident than the one on the wheel. I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference. But it wasn’t the lack of cars and strippers and abortion ads that filled my chest with helium. Both that morning equally lay. The country road was what I set my will upon, and if today played itself a thousand times, the country road is what I would desire a thousand times over.

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The teacher

Experts say that more than any other profession, teaching is what students turn to when asked about their future. This makes sense considering that for over ten years this is the profession that young people are exposed to the most, the one they get to experience firsthand. At the same time, when the students enter a more mature age, one when they are able to comprehend the responsibilities and freedoms that go along with becoming an adult, the majority turn away from education when they pick their major because it’s looked down upon, because the pay is low, or because that’s what all “those” girls study.

Tom is quite familiar with this. His own mother loves working with kids and had all the qualities to become a schoolteacher, but she wanted to prove her intelligence and drive to her parents so she decided to study electrical engineering instead. His sister, Sandra, who is only a year younger than he is, decided to study speech therapy, and has been told many times that she has the same traits as her mother. And then there’s Aish, who is studying materials science and engineering (they can’t make up their minds), but complains about it constantly, struggles with it, and makes it seem like she would be happier studying something else. One of the other options she’s considering is teaching, but growing up under Indian parents requires her to study something respectable, like medicine or engineering, even though her mother studied chemistry and is currently working at an elementary school.

And though Tom has talked to Aish about it extensively, he really isn’t one to say much, for he has become frustrated with mechanical engineering and really has no good idea with what he truly wants to do with his remaining years in the labor force. He’s thought of putting everything down and picking up music, maybe trying to get his foot in at some newspaper or magazine agency as a journalist or music critic, or even just driving around the country picking up random jobs and living for the day. But when thinking about it seriously, one of the things Tom enjoys doing most is helping others, and something he’s become decent at is explaining to others difficult concepts in a way that they can understand; it’s been a blessing to many a classmate and friend during testing season. And such it was that in a rather inopportune moment, while having a heated argument with one of his friends, it dawned upon him that like his mom, his sister, and his best friend, he’s been rejecting the idea of teaching. The argument he was having seemed to him more like a discussion now; Tom had found some inner peace realizing that he might find some joy in becoming a professor.

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