Thoughts upon the occasion of releasing a record

A few things to check out in this week’s paper: Film critic Jon Kiefer surveys the aftermath of blockbuster season, I take a look at Sally Gabori‘s work at the Kluge-Ruhe, as well as Lady Gaga, and Coogan Brennan reviews the first two Chamber Music Festival concerts. And onward.

Lest you think I write about the arts but make none, a disclosure: I make music.

Here is the deal. I’m not thinking clearly today, a day that I’ve been awaiting for something like a decade: I have recorded an album, and it comes out today. I’m not going to tell you what my new record is called or where you can buy it—don’t want to abuse my inestimable powers as a blogger, y’know?—but this seems like a good opportunity to reflect upon how it feels to have a piece of myself kicking around the Internet and subject to the kind of broad, faceless Internet scrutiny that I so casually offer here.

This album: I recorded 11 songs sometimes with friends, but mostly by myself. Recording it was a drawn out, loose process that I fit in between my time at work here, traveling, watching other shows, doing laundry and a host of other things. So it feels strange for the open-ended creative period to be punctuated with a very definite moment—the release date, today—and for listeners receive in 45 minutes what, for me, was countless hours of work, some fun, some not.

The potential for failure lurks in that disconnect: Are the ideas too much in my head, or are they faithfully expressed in song? Beyond that, are the ideas any good? Many of you know, it can drive you mad. To that end, here are five horrible things that can happen to an album upon its release.

  • No one will like the album.
  • Everyone will like the album, which calls into question said album’s value as art.
  • No one will care about the album. (Different from not liking it, and the most likely option.)
  • Everybody will like the album and download it illegally.
  • I will be sued for subconsciously lifting melodies from the Chiffons.

Not to get too carried away. Nobody’s alone in such fears in a town like Charlottesville. Two examples: Power poppers We Are Star Children release their new one, Love to the Wicked, in exactly one week, September 20. And the Invisible Hand release their Chris Keup-recorded debut record in early November with a big show in town, which hasn’t yet been announced. Those two releases come to mind; post more on the comments below if you’ve got ’em.

If you have a book coming out, if it’s opening night, if you’ve got a big gig, a gallery opening, album release, or anything at all—how are you feeling?

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