“It starts with a beautifully recorded chord on acoustic guitar for a while before the singing starts. And I really liked how it goes on for long enough that it ushers you into a new place. You forget the world you were in before you started listening to the album.”
That’s Phil Elverum in a recent NPR interview, describing the opening moments of a song from Red House Painters’ 1996 album Songs For A Blue Guitar by way of also describing the opening moments of two of his own albums. The first, It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water, was released 20 years ago today. The second, Microphones In 2020, arrived last month. All three begin with rhythmic, overlapping guitar tracks but otherwise diverge from each other in execution. On the Red House Painters song in question (Elverum doesn’t mention it by name, but based on its multi-tracking and intro length I’m guessing it’s “Revelation Big Sur“), the “while before the singing starts” is 32 seconds. On “the Pull,” the older of the two Elverum entries, it’s a minute and 14 seconds. On Microphones In 2020, it’s seven minutes and 40 seconds, a time-warping eternity of continuous, unchanged strumming.
The simple act of elongating a repetitive instrumental intro may seem too basic to illustrate where Elverum’s taken his music over the course of his career, but it’s just the sort of humbly bold move that’s made him a two-decade fixture in experimental indie music. He began the Microphones in 1996 as a sound experiment, dinking around with outdated recording equipment until he stumbled into transcendence. The exact moment that happened is up for debate — 1999’s Don’t Wake Me Up has some truly breathtaking moments — but for my money, it’s the aforementioned “the Pull,” an earth-shattering song that announces the arrival of a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
The lengthening of that Red House Painters intro is an integral part of “the Pull”‘s alchemy, but it’s not even the most arresting thing about the song’s opening seconds. The “Revelation Big Sur” guitar tracks may playfully overlap, but Elverum goes a step further and hard-pans them left and right so that they dance between the ears if heard on headphones. This feels like a direct result of the late nights he spent fiddling with beat-up recording equipment as a teenager, and the first moment in his discography where that formerly directionless experimentation yields something beyond “kid with a chemistry set” charm. It’s still a trick, but it’s one that inhabits its surroundings and blooms into a capital-S Song, rather than distracting from Elverum’s rapid improvement as a writer.
As Elverum sings very on-brand lyrics that wrap earnest, youthful horniness in layers of poetry about being outside in the Pacific Northwest, the guitars sporadically slow and drop out of the mix, leaving space for the delicate vocal harmonies that persist throughout the record. The song could easily end along with the lyrics — letting “When you breathed in I felt the pull” hang in the air as an unresolved come-on — but one lonely guitar note persists, and then something completely unexpected happens: A booming drum fill gives way to an unmistakably black-metal-influenced coda. If you’re familiar with Elverum’s discography, what with its in-the-red noise assaults and Xasthur namedrops, you know this flirtation with metal’s most evil-sounding subgenre isn’t out of character, but “the Pull” is the very first instance of it. A soft-spoken apostle of K Records, The House That Twee Built, is just about the last person you’d associate with black metal’s grisly stereotypes, but for the second time in one song, here’s Elverum taking still-recognizable influences and developing a unique palette of sounds.
Elverum was brought into the K Records fold via Beat Happening guitarist and fellow Anacortes, Washington native Bret Lunsford. According to 2012 label retrospective Love Rock Revolution, Lunsford urged label founder and bandmate Calvin Johnson to turn a teenaged Elverum loose in K’s Olympia studio, Dub Narcotic: “You should open your doors to this guy. He’ll be runnin’ the place in no time.” Johnson had a tough time convincing many artists on his roster to record at the unprofessional, makeshift space, but said of Elverum, “He didn’t have the attitude that this wasn’t a real studio. He was more like, ‘Hey, this is fun.’” What followed, as described by the book’s author, Mark Baumgarten, “set a new precedent for the label.”
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, K was a crucial purveyor of fresh sounds and DIY politics with dozens of eclectic classics to its name. It would be unfair to say that the label stagnated in the late ‘90s — acts as diverse and/or high profile as Modest Mouse, post-hardcore bands Lync and Karp, Corin Tucker side project Cadallaca, and Ian Svevnonius’ Make-Up all released projects on K from ‘97 to ‘99 — but many of its flagship acts had either broken up or departed, and longtime co-owner Candice Pederson sold her shares to Johnson in 1999. Of the bands still on the roster that didn’t opt for more professional recording locales, those that did log time at Dub Narcotic did little to reinvent the label’s lo-fi recording aesthetic. Enter Elverum.
“The equipment Phil was working with was not much better than it had been for the records that Calvin recorded,” wrote Baumgarten. “But the young musician had managed to master those supposed limitations, creating an album [Don’t Wake Me Up] that was praised for its production rather than accepted despite it.”
The Microphones’ full-length debut is clearly a product of Elverum treating the studio, to borrow a Brian Wilson-ism (whose “Good Vibrations” the album briefly covers), as an instrument of its own. Outdated organs, dubiously functioning tape machines, blown-out amps, and beat-up drum kits aren’t the standard arsenal of a canonical “studio wizard,” but Elverum corralled the equipment by meeting it on its own terms and not treating the whole experience like a practice run preceding a jump to shinier surroundings. Fittingly, Don’t Wake Me Up sounds like a wide-eyed kid given free reign in a room full of audio toys. A more brittle, charcoal-etched version of the paisley playfulness that the Elephant 6 collective was laying down concurrently, the album jumps around between songs and sketches, frequently interrupting its clear melodicism with cacophony, and vice-versa. It’s a fascinating, groundbreaking K release, but it doesn’t quite hang together.
One year later, It Was Hot further solidified Elverum’s sound, sacrificing none of its predecessor’s roughshod charm while corralling its wilder impulses into more purposeful statements. As is abundantly clear on “the Pull,” there are still neck-snapping transitions between light and dark, soft and heavy, but each part’s more well-defined in relation to the other. Its centerpiece, the 11-minute epic “the Glow,” effortlessly flows from acoustic singer-songwriter territory to a cappella Pet Sounds vocal harmonies and back in its first two minutes before Elverum lets his production chops take the reins. Don’t Wake Me Up’s noisy, atonal passages are still all over this album, but they seem less random because Elverum unleashes them like forces of nature, whether they’re composed of instruments, effects, or field recordings (see: interludes titled “Drums,” “Breeze,” “Organs”). On “the Glow,” a foggy beach breeze of a sound collage — organ drones, feedback, woody creaks — blows us into the next movement.
The next voice we hear belongs to Mirah, the K-signed singer-songwriter whose Elverum-produced debut album was released just three months prior. The Blow’s Khaela Maricich also pops up throughout the album, lending credence to Elverum’s liner notes assertion that, “Of the Microphones albums, this is the one that comes closest to resembling ‘collaboration.’” Maricich and Karl Blau, another Anacortes-based K affiliate, have co-writing credits on a few songs, and Blau and Jason Wall are even credited with some instrumentation, a rarity among otherwise Elverum-dominated Microphones albums. So despite It Was Hot’s more methodical sound, it’s also got a shaggy co-op vibe that borders on twee, making it the most quintessentially (or even stereotypically) “K Records” album Elverum’s ever made.
But this is still very much The Phil Show, and as “the Glow” moves into its second half, he lets loose, showing off his skill as a freewheeling, fill-happy drummer in front of a roiling backdrop of studio textures that make for another hypnotically engaging ride. Don’t Wake Me Up-era Elverum might’ve abruptly cut things off just as they were getting into full swing, but instead we get (surprise!) some continuity, returning to the foggy breeze of effects that initially preceded Mirah’s vocals. The song’s narrative loosely tracks Elverum as he’s lured from snowy hills by a glow that leads him into the ocean and drags him under, and he plumbs his finest lyrics from the depths of the song’s conclusion: “On the cold dark ocean floor/ I felt warmth from behind a door/ I asked to come inside/ And the glow replied.” Again, it’s not hard to decode the lusty messages inside of those earthen metaphors, but the imagery is sharp, mystical, and charming. As in the aforementioned interludes, we see natural phenomena represented both as characters and as sound — the glow’s “reply” comes immediately in the form of a clarion organ chord that juts out from the noise to conclude the song.
On It Was Hot, Elverum puts elements of his music in conversation with each other — lyrics, instrumentation, production, worlds both lived and imagined — in a mesmerizing way that would become a hallmark of his work over the next 20 years. Placing himself among the forces of nature (“my misty escape,” “we rose as smoke and then as a puff of ash,” etc.) as well as mimicking those forces with studio trickery (like a lyric about a growing fire leading into the crackling noise of a vinyl record’s runout groove), he fully inhabits the album, likely a consequence of his intense inhabitation of his two primary nonhuman muses: the studio and the Pacific Northwest. Throughout his career, those meta-conversations have only grown, linking albums, re-recorded songs, and self-referential lyrics into what feels like a living, breathing discography.
After the release of It Was Hot, Elverum picked up the thread that began on the album’s longest song and, just 364 days later, wove it into the towering Glow Pt. 2, still the most beloved release of his career. Together, these albums would form the bedrock of a career into which Elverum would continue to burrow deeper, culminating (in terms of recency and career-spanning subject matter, not finality) in Microphones In 2020, the first album released under the “Microphones” banner in 17 years. Along the way, he reignited K Records and influenced many an emo indie kid. “As the new millenium wore on,” wrote Baumgarten in Love Rock Revolution, “Phil and his fellow producer-musician hybrids would make up a considerable portion of the label’s output,” citing Maricich’s the Blow among others. Outside of the Pacific Northwest bubble, lo-fi producers everywhere, as well artists as far-flung as Lil Peep and Sylvan Esso, have taken cues from Elverum. (Notably, longstanding emo fixture Tigers Jaw took their name from a Microphones lyric and bastardized It Was Hot’s “Between Your Ear And The Other Ear” for a song title of their own.)
It Was Hot lacks the vast scope and deep emotional core of its follow-up, but it’s a stunning, complex gem of an album that’s unfairly lived in the shadow of the generational masterwork that followed it, a fate similar to that of My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything, Nirvana’s Bleach, or Neutral Milk Hotel’s On Avery Island. It’s an absolute joy to don headphones and lose yourself in just about any Microphones/Mount Eerie album, but It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water is such an immersive experience that upon first listen, you forget the world you were in before you started listening to Phil Elverum.
The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.
- It saves your money
Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.
- It allows you to try several games
Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.
- It will make future gambling more profitable
Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.
Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.
3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).
It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.
However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.
With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.
Choosing the Wrong Table
Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.
First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.
Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.
Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.
When to Hit and Stand
As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.
One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.
While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.
Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.
When to Split and Double
If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.
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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.
While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.
It is not recommended to split when:
- You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
- You are dealt two 9s
- You are dealt two 5s
- The dealer holds a 10 or picture card
It is best to split when:
- You are dealt two 8s
- You are dealt two aces
- The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)
Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.
Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.
Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.
Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students
The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like.
Who Are You?
Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.
Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:
- What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
- What do you like or hate most about yourself?
- What is your greatest value in life?
- What emotions do you express easily?
- What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
- Who you want to become in five years?
- What is your major objective for next year?
- Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
- What motto do you try to live by?
- Where would you like to travel?
- If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?
Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.
Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:
- Before I came to college, I was interested in…
- When I was a child, I wanted to become…
- The best moment I remember most about high school is…
- My favorite pet is…
- The things I value most are…
- Five years from now I hope to be…
- My greatest personality trait is…
- My favorite subject at high school was…
- If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
- My greatest fear is…
- After I graduate from college, I…
The Reception Line
You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:
- Where would you like to travel?
- What motto do you try to follow?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What music do you like?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Why did you choose this college?
- What do you like about college life the most?
You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:
- Watermelon or banana?
- Sweat or bitter?
- Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
- Partying or hiking?
- Listen or speak?
- Rock or pop?
- Morning or night?
- Superman or Batman?
- Robocop or Terminator?
- Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
- Los Angeles or New York?
- Liberal or conservative?
- American football or ice hockey?
My Most Embarrassing Moment
You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.
These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.