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School is dead, long live school

1:55 is a weekly newsletter for Patreon Gatekeepers.

Next week is the final episode of Homework Month, a themed collection of episodes designed to answer the question “what is homework?” and “are you even punk, really?” As intoxicating as these debates have been, we’re ready to move into a bright future (actually kind of dark) in the great month of October. Ghosts? Goblins? Zombies with no conscience? Who knows what awaits you as fall tightens its grip around your throat (or, maybe reverse, Dan Aykryod-style). 

Let’s go.

El Michels Affair “Bring Da Ruckus”

Sam: Because my big discovery last newsletter was a collection of relatively recent and exceedingly vibey David Bowie covers, this week I’m travelling back to the ancient year 2009 for this vibey-ass collection of Wu-Tang covers. Pretending to know about the nuances of hip-hop history is bad enough, but faking a knowledge of the Wu-Tang extended universe is a line a dare not cross. I will say that this whole album, Enter the 37th Chamber, absolutely slaps jazz-style and reminds me of working as a “labbie” in college (loaning audio out to first years) and listening to “Bring Da Ruckus” on a constant loop because it felt cool, except I’m old now.

Josiah: I feel like there are a hundred reasons I’m not qualified to articulate why, but Wu-Tang Clan has felt increasingly like the domain of dorky “cool” lanyard dads and swaggy barber-shop-with-dog-treats gentrifiers for a long ass time. In fact, maybe it can be traced back to this Medeski, Martin & Wood-style normie compilation. But the problem is it sounds really good. Maybe I need to get a manbun.

Alien Boy “Dear Nora”

Sam: “What if Modern Baseball weren’t annoying and just played like they were My Bloody Valentine?” is a question many have asked, but only brave Alien Boy have the answer: it’s sick. I really liked Sleeping Lessons, Alien Boy’s 2018 full-length, but I didn’t return to it much. This whole album feels like a major step up in terms of embracing the things (that I think) they do well (because I like them) - perfect pop-punk hooks drenched in meme-worthy amounts of noisey squalor that can’t hide how these are essentially Fearless Records-ass songs. Rocks.

Josiah: Yeah this is very sick and rockin’ and dare I say more Zwan than MBV (meaning: great hooky pop and not milk-breathed record store lurker energy [which is also cool]). Also respect to Alien Boy for calling the song “Dear Nora,” which may or may not be a nod to the legendary Pacific Northwest sadcore group of the same name.

Bug Incision @ Dadge’s backyard (full set)

Josiah: Wahhh I guess I gotta start checking out new music again if we’re going to do this stupid newsletter. But fortunately for this week there are enough new things to talk about from within the Hughes family. Our home production suite (a.k.a. family computer) was put to major use when Sara was asked to edit this enormous Bug Incision set for Sled Island’s drive-in movie festival thingie that I still don’t really understand. Anyway, our house was immersed in these 44 minutes of staticky bliss from Chris Dadge, Chad VanGaalen, Scott “Monty” Munro and Lydia Pineau for over a week, and I fell in love with it. The music is definitely far fuckin’ out there, but Sara’s edit lends it a further sense of structure that allows you to be welcomed in to the project before being fully lost. Also I’m really happy that its inclusion in the newsletter means Sam has to watch the whole thing.

Sam: This shit is wild. I uh did watch the whole thing and I think I’m enrolled in OCAD now. Before I even read Josiah’s part I was like “damn this editing is sick I love that it’s not just a few locked off cameras” but now it just looks like I’m an ass-kiss (fair, true). I wonder what people are really thinking when they perform like this, and is it funny or no. 

Jane Trash “TV Rash”

Josiah: I’m also realizing the newsletter’s power for pure self-indulgence. My dear friend Jane Trash also contributed to the Sled Island thingie, and made an incredible paper puppet show that pulled three tunes from Pre Nup’s (perennially underrated if I do say so myself) Oh Well and turned them into some sort of loose narrative that is making me realize the album was kind of a concept album about how the narrator was a piece of shit. Anyway, there’s something so surreal about seeing a purple paper puppet with a swanging dick sing your own songs back to you, particularly when the set pieces have so many references to a forgotten recent history from your life: Good Luck Bar, Grown-Ups tapes, stacks of MRR, the Friendo LP. I’m getting old. 

Sam: This is quite beautiful and compelling and unique and the whole time I was just thinking, is that Josiah’s dick.

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