Contributor Round Table Interview: Part II

Published: May 22, 2023

Welcome to the second edition of Sputnikmusic’s very special round table interview featuring the site’s Contributors! In this multi-participant discussion, the team shall face several serious and humorous questions to give them the opportunity to let them shine and introduce themselves. However, instead of throwing questions towards each other this time around, garas volunteered to be the host of this interview. We hope you’ll enjoy it!

[Part I: 2022] // [Part II: 2023]

garas: Hello everyone, it’s garas here! In the latest promotion event several new people were blessed with the opportunity to become members of the Contributor team. So, let’s start with the most important question you all are probably wondering about:

1a) What is your favourite caffeine source (if there is any), and 1b) also, who the hell are you?

Just to give an example: I love espresso con panna the most. Also, I’m garas, AKA Gary the Grumpy, the local dungeon synth/black metal enthusiast in the team. Otherwise, just a regular metalhead from Hungary who loves cats and fantasy books and games a lot.

The MoC looking sufficiently grumpy.

fogza: I’m currently in love with milk replacements, so my go-to is the coconut milk latte, or as they call it at Pret: the coco latte. I’m fogza, your regular indie fan and traditional song format enthusiast, originally from South Africa but now residing in the UK.

ashcrash9: I’ve never cared for coffee, rarely bother with caffeinated varieties of tea, and recently found out I was allergic to chocolate, so all of those are off the table. Before that last revelation, some sort of creamy (see: not Hershey’s) milk chocolate bar would’ve been my go-to. Anyway, I’m ashcrash from the northeast U.S., the latest ascended disciple of the musical gospel this site has come to know as Sowing-core.

norma: Favorite caffeine source is Yerba mate for the clean buzz. I’m norm(a), your favorite eight-sided shape. I like all kinds of music and I like writing and I probably like you, too. If I’m not sleeping or working, I’m cooking, gaming, biking, headbanging, dancing, talking. Probably breathing as well. No, definitely breathing.

BitterJalapenoJr: Aside from being unable to kick the daily Monster habit for the past 18 years, I am very partial to a Vietnamese iced coffee, which uses condensed milk instead of regular milk or cream.  I’m Mark, a jalapeno who happens to be extremely bitter.  In reality, I’m an easy-going, non-confrontational Scotsman who loves his girlfriend, his cat, music of all kinds and the most tasteless lager he can find.  The craft beer revolution can fuck off.

Teal: I really hate to be that guy, but I drink G-Fuel for my caffeine source these days. No, I am not sponsored — and no, I have not seen any drastic improvement to my pedestrian 0.82 K/D on COD. In my former life, I used to spoon feed Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals into a Blender Bottle with ice cubes and water and chugged that on my way to work, but that ended up being way too acidic for my system. So now, I enjoy a half or whole scoop of Peach Rings or Raspberry Lemonade G-Fuel instead like the classy, sophisticated Chad that I am. Anyways, I am Teal — named after a prominent color worn by my favorite baseball team.

“Florida Marlins” by Ben+Sam is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

DadKungFu: If I want to get any writing done, I have to get up at 5AM to do it, so caffeine is the essential fuel of my life on sputnik. Usually black coffee from a French press — well-worn and stodgy is the way I like to do things. Also I am DadKungFu, reviewer of neglected classics and forgotten bastards, username courtesy of my status as a father and a kung-fu flick obsession that ran its course some years ago but lives on through this clunky moniker.

PumpBoffBag: Black coffee, I’m a simple man. I think I’ve become immune to caffeine over the years, so I just drink it for taste, which makes no sense because it tastes disgusting. Hi, I’m Pump. Major bookworm, film lover, theatre-goer, parent-disappointer, over-the-hill skateboarder and general liability from sunny old England. Obviously I’m also a big fan of having my eardrums stimulated. Catch me landing face first at Southbank on my free days.

InfernalDeity: I recently discovered Yerba mate and that is now my preferred method of caffeine intake. I’m David, AKA InfernalDeity, a Cuban-American who is a bookworm and metal lover. I really do enjoy all genres of music, but metal really just sunk its teeth in me.

Manatea: My favorite caffeine source is my Nespresso machine, which pours me a lungo every morning from the variety of pods that I go through great lengths to research until I give up and get some Peet’s pods on Amazon. I’m Mike, AKA Manatea. My username was inspired by my sister, who has a tea reference in her gamertag (she actually forced me to make this account). I’m a first generation American (Israeli parents) and was born, raised and currently still live in sunny, beautiful (read: smoggy, awful) Los Angeles. The only reason I’m still here is because of 1) my wife, 2) my work, and 3) tacos. I primarily pursue music that has roots in hardcore or metal, but I also listen to a lot of other stuff. Otherwise, I like working, reading, playing drums, and pursuing other artistic endeavors.

Odal: I am not above energy drinks in a pinch, but I lean towards black coffee most days. When I am more consistent at the gym, I’ll push myself to see through time with some pre-workout in a Sonic the Hedgehog shaker cup because I am still six years old at heart. My username is inspired by the song of the same name off of Agalloch’s The Mantle, which was my absolute favorite album for the longest time. It’s not my favorite song from them by any means, but I thought it rolled off the tongue for an online persona well enough. I’ve been a user of sputnik since 2006, but lurked most of the time. I try to keep as open of a mind as possible with any art, but I lean towards more pop and indie these days.

Crxmateo: Well, unlike everyone else here apparently, I’m the rare person that literally doesn’t drink caffeine — like, I literally cannot remember the last time I had any caffeinated beverage. Anyway, I’m Mateo: a guitarist, graphic designer, and of course, a writer. I’ve been a part of Sputnik since 2019 (when my good friend Tyman put me onto this lovely site), and have on and off been writing reviews for several years. I love being able to recognize the creativity and artistry in music and I have a passion for discovering and supporting new and underground artists.

Koris: Coffee is where it’s at for me, although I do enjoy an energy drink or glass of iced tea now and then. I’m Brendan, and my username is taken from an old obscure Playstation game called Jade Cocoon (although there’s a character with the same name in Mass Effect as well!); I’m a musician, poet, sailor, and snobby progressive rock aficionado. I also have a YouTube channel in the works, so stay tuned for that!

2) Is the Contributor title important to you at all?

ashcrash9: Every minute of every day, all across the world, people post things on the internet that will have zero impact on anybody who comes across them, if anyone outside their immediate social bubble even does. That seasoned writers saw my work and thought “This deserves some sort of elevated distinction and should be seen by more people” is flattering. I’d be shouting at the void regardless, but being labeled a professional void-shouter has a different ring to it, ya know? Warms the heart a bit.

norma: Not really. That isn’t to say I’m not honored to be a contrib, but what I appreciate the most about being a contributor is being part of a community of writers that support each other.

BitterJalapenoJr: I wasn’t expecting to make the cut, so I was thrilled to get the title as it’s very encouraging to know that respected members of the community appreciate what I’ve written thus far.  However, the enjoyment of writing about music always comes first and foremost before any titles.

Teal: Yes, the title is important to me simply out of respect for the site itself. It’s an honor to be recognized as a contributor to anything worthwhile. I have discovered many wonderful bands thanks to the efforts of past and present users, contributors, and staff members of Sputnikmusic. I simply wanted to return the favor to the community in hopes that others might stumble upon one of my reviews and find a band that sparks something within them as well.

DadKungFu: Contributor is a title that had always lurked in the back of my hopes and dreams since I first joined this site. Having my work on the site be deemed worthy of official acknowledgement is a very nice feeling, but I worry that it gives my opinions some kind of authority that I feel like they don’t really deserve. But if I write something about an album that someone might not have otherwise heard, and they go to it and get something deep out of it, I’d say the time spent writing about that album was well spent. If the contrib title was a part of what convinced that person to check that album out, then I’d say I’m glad I have it.

PumpBoffBag: It’s kind of crazy to me still when I think about my terrible initial reviews on this site as a teen and contrast it with where I am now (it’s especially amusing to look back on them now that they have a big ol’ contributor stamp slapped on ’em). I only stuck at it because writing is something that really fulfills me, and I knew that my ability would improve if I was getting criticism from an unfiltered internet audience. My promotion to contributor demands a massive ‘thank you’ to the good community of Sputnik, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point. To me it feels like an incredible validation of my efforts so far and inspires me to want to do better every day, and I’m hugely appreciative for the opportunity to be counted amongst so many amazing writers.

InfernalDeity: That’s a hard question to answer. I think I would have to say that the title itself isn’t why I applied. I applied to enjoy a deeper connection with the sputnik community. It’s always nice to be recognized so I can’t say that the title isn’t satisfying, but honestly it’s not the main reason why I applied. I really just wanted to speak to more people who have similar music taste and a love for writing.

Manatea: Definitely is important to me. I really didn’t think I would get the promotion in the first place, so that was a nice surprise in itself. I know this is meant to be humorous and all, but I’ve spent years convincing myself that I’m not a good writer, so to receive an acknowledgement that I actually can write from people I consider to be stellar writers is pretty damned cool.

Odal: The Contributor title is a little important to me, if only because it gives some sort of signpost that my writing has improved over time and can act as some sort of justification for spending so much of my life on this site and elsewhere engaged in musical discourse. Sputnik is a very cool site and its community is something that I have always loved. I am proud to be a part of this community and the contributing team.

Crxmateo: What Manatea and Odal said, cuz I couldn’t say it any better than they did. But for real, I’m totally embarrassed by my early reviews and greatly appreciate being recognized as being a great writer — and it’s nice having an actual “bookmark” of how far I’ve come with review writing and how much better I have gotten thus far at it. The promotion came as a total surprise, so I’m just honored I was even considered in the first place.

Koris: In all honesty, the staff and contrib tags don’t matter to me nearly as much as they used to. I do enjoy having a title on the site, but the love of writing and sense of community are what really keep me coming back to the site time and time again. Plus, reviewing genuinely gives me a dopamine rush — especially when I’m feeling particularly inspired.

fogza: Embarrassing confession: when I first signed up for Sput I secretly wanted to be recognised as a good writer and was convinced I was amazing. I left when I didn’t seem to be making an impact at all. For some reason, I came back and then really started to understand why this place is special. I was also content to just write for the love of it — this time from a place of proper humility. I’m very proud and very surprised to be a contributor.

garas: I have an experimental question for you all:

3) You’re on a first date. The other person disses your favourite artist/album. How would you react?

Koris: Eh, I wouldn’t mind it that much. Besides, if I had all the same tastes and interests as the person I was dating, things would quickly get boring; I think there’s at least some merit in the old phrase “Opposites attract.” Now, if he or she got legitimately rude or disrespectful about it, that’s when I’d have a problem.

Odal: As someone who was formally a pretty big Kanye fan, this question is hardly a thought experiment. That being said, I don’t really put a lot of importance on a potential partner needing to share the same interests and fandom as me. In fact, I think it’s often a good idea for two people to diversify a bit. It would only be a turn off if they were clearly turned off. With everything that I enjoy, I can take plenty of playful ribbing because I like digging into my entertainment’s flaws and criticisms and coming out the other end with a newfound appreciation for, well, my appreciation of it. This may be a defense mechanism though because one of my favorite bands is also Coheed and Cambria.

InfernalDeity: I really don’t mind. I just need a partner who is open to going to shows with me and tolerating some of the music I play in the car. My current girlfriend has gone to various concerts with me, some of them extremely heavy, and she finds certain songs (at least portions of them) to be enjoyable. We saw Judas Priest, 200 Stab Wounds, and Sepultura together and she seemed to find something enjoyable in all of them. The only bands she listens to by herself, though, are Judas Priest and Ghost. It also helps that she plays guitar, so she could appreciate the talent that is displayed at those shows. Showing interest in your partner’s hobbies is an important love language, and I think if you really care about that person, you should make the effort to show interest in the things that matter most to them.

PumpBoffBag: Eh, it is what it is. Some people just don’t like things, and, as with all forms of art, there are always going to be detractors as well as admirers. My partner isn’t a fan of a lot of my favourite bands, and that’s okay. I think being able to see past your own elitism is a superpower when you’re obsessively interested in a particular field of creativity, like music. Realistically though, I’d excuse myself to go to the bathroom and climb out of the window.

DadKungFu: I’d be happy someone has enough personality to openly disagree with a stranger on a first date and I’d justify my love for Nyan Cat 10 Hours HD 1080p as best I could while taking on whatever critiques she might have and reworking my own assessment of the album. I love certain artists/albums, but I’d be pretty ossified as a personality if I let someone else’s disagreement rattle me. Loving shout-out to Mrs. KungFu, who’s completely willing to pop in while I’m listening to Natural Snow Buildings and tell me it sounds like an Ambien overdose.

Teal: I’d probably laugh it off in the moment, but it’d sting a little internally. Was the diss flirty or malicious? Delivery is key. I don’t expect anyone to like my favorite artist or album, but there’s almost nothing better than connecting with someone over a song, an album, or an artist, so that would be a bummer. For example, if Kacey Musgraves or Sam Hunt made her happy, I would be interested in hearing her favorite songs and gaining a better understanding of what she liked and where my music tastes lined up with hers.

BitterJalapenoJr: I like to think I wouldn’t be bothered but I’d possibly react differently if presented with that situation in reality. Being quite an outwardly passive gentleman, perhaps I would laugh off their remarks while my soul slowly corroded away internally. Joking aside, having a similar musical taste can certainly help a relationship blossom but differing musical tastes shouldn’t be a deal breaker unless one or both were incredibly stubborn.

norma: Lick my fork and put it in their ice water. Just kidding — I don’t know that I’d care all that much, but I usually find it interesting to hear why someone likes something that I don’t (provided they’re being genuine about it), so I’d probably just encourage that bit of the chat for a while and then change the subject once it’s run its course.

ashcrash9: I’ve always been of the opinion that romantic partners should have at least some interests in common, but those needn’t be musical in nature, so as long as they don’t give each other shit for art that brings them personal meaning, it’s all good. If someone goes for the jugular on date one, especially if it’s unprovoked, there are chemistry issues that matters of taste won’t resolve. But I digress; I’d shrug the remark off, finish the date as politely as I can to keep up appearances, then forever ghost the person, while giving my favorite album of all time, Clarity by Jimmy Eat World, plenty of attention, pulling one excuse from another…

Manatea: So… this actually kind of happened in real life on my first date with my now wife. She asked me why I listened to metal and told me how much she hates it and thinks it shouldn’t exist. I don’t remember what I said, but we’ve been married for close to eight years now, so I guess it worked out. I still haven’t gotten her to like metal, though, just like she hasn’t gotten me to quit smoking.

fogza: I’d probably say that’s OK, eat a quarter of a breadstick, wave it about and mention that ‘Artist X’ captures of the essence of longing in their seminal third album. and if you don’t recognise they’re one of the best songwriters of their generation then that’s not a big deal, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just that you mentioned you like Damien Rice and he’s fairly ordinary with his one good song that resonated with the only movie I liked Natalie Portman in… but whatever.

Crxmateo: Well, I’d ask them: “Do you like Huey Lewis and The News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. In ’87, Huey released this, Fore!, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip to be Square”, a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself. HEY, PAUL!” — but, nah, I would probably just rant defensively about how good they are and make some really pretentious statement about how game changing an alt rock band that plays four chord songs from the early 2000s is. I’d also resort to making snarky comments about their favorite artist, even if I liked said artist. Fun times.

garas: Let’s talk about listening habits. I compiled multiple questions here, but please keep your answers short due to the audience’s relatively short attention span:

4) Do you listen to music on physical formats or just streams/digital versions?
How much music do you consume weekly?
Do you choose music matching your momentary mood or there is no connection between them?

norma: I have a reasonably large collection of vinyl that I enjoy interacting with at least monthly. Small collection of tapes with no tape player at the moment. And some CDs. I love physical media and consider myself a collector, but also spend a lot of time streaming on YouTube Music. Some days I listen to music almost all day at work, others I don’t, it just depends on how busy I am and what I’m busy with. When I do, it’s mostly metal, house & techno, or hip-hop to keep the work day movin’. Other days, I need drone/ambient to survive the fluorescent lights at the office. Or if it’s a Friday I’m jammin’ disco and soul and r&b. It all depends! So my mood does have to do with it I suppose, but that’s contingent on the particular machine cog grinding me that day.

DadKungFu: I listen to a good deal of classical music, which can sometimes be harder to find online when you’re looking for a specific/newer recording. My local used bookstore has a used vinyl section that only charges .50 for a record on Fridays since they have an incredibly quick turnaround of the kind of vinyl that doesn’t show up in the trendier record stores, a good chunk of that being classical. So being able to plunk down $10 to $20 for 20-40 albums at a time, some of them absolutely classic recordings in surprisingly great shape, has both scratched my itch for mindless consumption and been an incredibly deep education into classical music since the back of each album features what is basically an essay about each piece. For everything else, I’ll usually download — my vinyl collection has already taken up most of my shelf space, and I’m not really working with the kind of budget to keep buying physical media on the reg.

ashcrash9: For years, I collected and still own CDs, but never indulged in a record player or vinyl. Alas, nearly all the music I listen to these days is digital. How much and what I consume depends on my mood; on days off, I’ll usually marathon a bunch of new releases in quick succession and circle back around to ones I enjoyed on first listen within a week or two. If I want to throw something on but don’t want to actively think about digesting it, I’ll revert back to a trusted classic (these are also ideal while commuting or traveling). And sometimes I just get hankerings for one specific artist or album; best to let that urge ride itself out instead of forcing myself to hear other projects. Everything gets its due eventually.

InfernalDeity: So I primarily listen to music in two formats: lossless and vinyl. I’ve been an audiosnob for a number of years now and spend an ungodly amount of money, which I don’t have, on audio gear. I listen to music for hours on end to the point that I’m concerned about my hearing.

fogza: I’m not really fussy about the format anymore. I used to have lots of CDs, but honestly, I stopped using them — I’m pretty sure I would have been the same with a big vinyl collection. I liked watching other people put vinyl on, but I didn’t like doing it myself. I hated cassettes; over time, I’ve grown to hate how much volume physical media occupies. I probably listen to about 4 hours a day, depending on how demanding my work is — sometimes I can be on autopilot, sometimes not. I seldom listen to music once I’m home, unless I wake up early and it’s quiet — then I’ll put headphones on.

Koris: Growing up, this was my process of purchasing music: buying the physical CD from the local record store (usually from a place called Mad Platter, or Amoeba if I was visiting LA), listening to it in the car, bringing it home and uploading it to iTunes, and then putting it on my iPod. Since then, I’ve largely cut back on expanding my CD collection — however, I’ll still go to Amoeba from time to time so I can buy albums in bulk. I believe I spent over $200 there during my last visit! I consume at least a good 4 hours of music per day, so I suppose that amounts to an average of at least 28 hours a week. And yeah, my preferences absolutely coincide with my mood; for instance, I’ve recently been jamming H.E.R.’s self-titled compilation a lot because of how it helps me wind down at night.

Goody got it! (via /u/scaredshirtless, Imgur)

PumpBoffBag: I live my life with my earbuds in, so streaming for me all the way. I collect vinyls, but I’m very selective about what I buy, so I have a nice library of favourites and live recordings but very little that I’ve bought on a whim. I have a huge amount of CDs I collected as a teen, but those are more vestigial at this point than anything else. Hoping for a similar resurgence that vinyl had so I can cash in, otherwise I’ll be dashing them at heads when society crumbles. You can’t even buy a potato peeler in the UK without a background check, so those CDs may just come in handy one day. I tend to choose my music based on mood, and being open to all genres facilitates that, but I try to balance favourites with new/undiscovered stuff as much as I can because I hate the idea that something truly great has slipped my attention, and I wouldn’t want to miss out.

Teal: Yes, I own plenty of CDs from my younger years and dozens of vinyl since it became all the rage. I almost bought a portable CD player recently because I love the ritual of picking an album and committing to it for a while. I primarily stream music via Spotify though. I listened to 43,587 minutes of music on Spotify last year. That equates to 726 hours or a little more than 30 days of listening. Not bad, I suppose? Pathetic, maybe? I am a mood listener. I listen to whatever moves me emotionally at the time. One day it might be Demi Lovato’s “Come Together”. The next day, it might be Hate Eternal’s “Sons of Darkness”.

Odal: In my younger and more formative years, I cared about getting CDs and the occasional vinyl. I lost a good majority of my collection when moving out of my college town, and made peace with the fact that I just don’t really care anymore. Streaming is the most convenient for me. As much as I’d love to house a physical library, it’s just not really financially or spatially feasible. This mindset is almost necessary for me because I do listen to tons of music each week, typically making it a point to listen to several new albums every Friday and the entirety of my Discover Weekly every Saturdayish. My mood doesn’t really dictate what I choose listen to unless I am really sad or looking for something heavy while at the gym.

Crxmateo: I have a small collection of CDs that I’d get as a kid before streaming became a thing, but I pretty much exclusively stream albums. I love the nostalgia of physical albums, but at the end of the day, I can’t afford them financially. I also primarily listen to music when I’m out of the house or on my computer, so it’s just more convenient for me to stream. I definitely don’t listen to as much music as I did a couple years ago in high school, but back then I was averaging at least 100 streams a day. Now? I maybe hit 40 on a good day. As far as how my mood affects my listening preferences, I am the kind of person to drown my emotions with music that matches them (for example depressive music when depressed). As far as genre, though, it’s really random — whatever I just happen to decide what it is that I want to listen to gets the nod.

Manatea: I listen in streaming exclusively at this point. I had a growing CD collection until I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of nineteen and lost the whole thing. Now I don’t have time or space to build a new one. I try to listen to at least one to two new albums every week, but otherwise I wind down with an hour or so of music every night. I would definitely say I choose music that matches my momentary mood, but my attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, so I end up just switching genres a lot during listening sessions.

BitterJalapenoJr: I built up a respectable collection of CDs from the mid ’90s to the late ’00s, but this was brought to an abrupt halt in 2009 when I subscribed to Spotify. I was gripped by the sheer convenience and accessibility of it. The only physical media I have purchased since has been for completionist fanboy reasons although I rarely listen in physical format now. I probably manage to enjoy between 12-20 hours of listening per week, which is a massive reduction of the lofty numbers I was achieving when working remotely during the lengthy Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland. I was getting about 9 hours of headphone time a day just while at my home office desk. This also coincided with starting to get active on music review sites, which for some reason I had never done before. My mood can have a significant impact on what genres I choose. If I’ve had a terribly stressful day at work, I seek the rage of sludge and hardcore. If feeling upbeat, I seek the nostalgia of skate punk. For contemplative drives at night, post-rock or IDM reign supreme (apologies for that utterly predictable last section).

[So much for keeping these answers on the short side! –Ed.]

5) How is your objectivity %?
Are you satisfied with this measurement number?
Should it be replaced with something else? Is it relevant at all?

DadKungFu: I’m at 80% maybe? The objectivity score was more of a concern for me when I first started out, but shit, who’s got time to listen to something they don’t like for the sake of balancing out some metric for objectivity that’s ironically pretty arbitrary?

The objectivity rating was devised while listening to Natural Snow Buildings.

fogza: I don’t really understand it — I feel like it’s designed to reward hate listening and bad decision making. That’s not to say I’m above hate listening; I did rate the new Meghan Trainor. It should really work on how you rate within certain genres or longer bodies of work. Sometimes I see people’s ratings and I’m like, “There’s no way this act released eight albums and they’re all 5s. Oh, wait, they released an EP and that was only a 4.5? But at least I gave all those records I didn’t listen to a 1.” Definitely objective.

Crxmateo: My objectivity score is 85%. I have no idea what that means or how objectivity scores are calculated. I rate every album I listen to and give it the rating that feels right with the enjoyment (or lack thereof) that I felt listening to it. I don’t really think it’s relevant because I am still not entirely sure what it is after several years on the site and it’s not really ever brought up on the site itself.

BitterJalapenoJr: I presently have 71%, but it really means nothing to me; in fact, I wasn’t aware of it ’til a good 6 months after joining Sputnik in 2021. I feel that if one was seeking to purely increase their objectivity score, they would either be intentionally rating music they don’t like or are likely to be distorting their genuine opinions to achieve it.

Teal: I am sitting at 76%. I don’t really care about my objectivity rating and I do not believe it’s particularly relevant, either. I believe if anyone considers writing a review, it usually concerns an album they’re enthusiastic about. I am the same way. I would much rather spend time trying to convince the world why an album is great than why an album is disappointing. That said, there is a difference between unhinged, gushing hyperbole and well-articulated praise.

PumpBoffBag: It’s sat at 87% which is good, I guess? I don’t get it really. I mean, I try to be as objective as possible, but that’s such an impossible task when individual appreciation of something differs from an assessment of quality. I’ll always try to be more objective than not, but sometimes things just hit that much harder for personal reasons, and I don’t think that should be ignored when rating something. I have very few 5s and very few 1s though, so I like to think I’m somewhat thorough in assessing things…

Odal: I had to look this up: 78%. I’m honestly surprised it’s this high given that I am pretty bad about actually rating albums unless I review them and that most of my ratings have been over the years when I skewed more heavy. That being said, I think that number holds about true to what I would imagine it would be because I dip my toes in a lot of different waters. It’s not the biggest deal to me either way, though.

norma: Around 70%; cool piece of data but I haven’t paid attention to it for myself or others for a while. Much more interested in what you’ve been listening to and why!

InfernalDeity: I think I am currently sitting at 70%. Honestly, if I could write reviews without giving a number rating, I totally would. I think when people see anything below a 4, they think it’s not worth their time and that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Honestly, even if you see a 4.5, it may be an album you find to be dog shit. There have been so many albums that I have missed out on for years because they got bad reviews, only to later discover that I thoroughly enjoy them. I also struggle with the idea of judging an album as its own release without comparing it to the band’s previous efforts. Is there a right or wrong way of rating an album? Who knows.

ashcrash9: I’d like to say I’ve never given a second glance to the objectivity rating, but for a while now, mine’s been at 68% and it would be very nice if the math worked out precisely one percent more positively. Either way, it’s just a number, and I can understand a person’s taste and rating habits much more thoroughly by actually looking through their ratings instead. There’s little practical use for the objectivity score. Macman should come back and right this mess.

Koris: Hehe… 69%. And I wouldn’t have it any other way ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Manatea: I think it’s at 77%, which I don’t totally understand because there’s a lot of “-core” in my pie chart. My sentiments regarding use of the word “objectivity” mirrors the others here in that “objectivity” has nothing to do with enjoying music. Although I do love the occasional hate listen to be able to say mean things about it on sputnik. I guess it provides elitism street cred? I don’t know.

garas: Halfway through — time for some rapid-fire quick shots in the form of a six-pack for Question 6:

6a) Name an album you’d erase from history!

norma: Kanye West’s Donda 2. It just didn’t need to happen.

InfernalDeity: Probably The Endless River. It just didn’t need to exist.

fogza: Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.

Teal: Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Everyone bloviates about this album and I just don’t understand. The band name is obnoxious. The spelling of ‘airplane’ in the album title is pretentious from a band hailing from Louisiana. The second song on the album is titled, “King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3”. The album artwork makes me uncomfortable. Plus, I just want to stir the pot.

Manatea: That one album by All Time Low that is so bad I consciously programmed myself to forget everything about it, including its title. Y’all know which one I’m talking about.

PumpBoffBag: Cryptopsy’s The Unspoken King. Seriously, why? It ruins their backcatalogue and then they resumed with their self-titled like nothing happened. I remember, but I really wish I didn’t.

ashcrash9: Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy. Imagine how many fire LPs dredg could’ve kept dropping if the fallout from this disaster didn’t effectively end their career. “They’re working on new material,” I hear you say. Bull. They’ve been “working on new material” for a decade, man. It ain’t surfacing. It’s over, and Chuckles killed it.

BitterJalapenoJr: Green Day’s Father of all Motherfuckers. The final nail in the coffin of a long-deceased legend.

Crxmateo: Evolve by Imagine Dragons destroyed all of my favorite childhood rock bands in the mid 2010s and none of them have ever been the same since. Good riddance (98 times, one for every time “thunder” is mentioned in that one song).

Koris: The Wall by Nostalgia Critic. I was a massive ThatGuyWithTheGlasses/Channel Awesome fan growing up, so the downfall of the whole brand has been pretty tragic for me. But Doug’s review of Pink Floyd’s The Wall was the straw that broke the camel’s back for even his most ardent defenders, and the covers album he released alongside it was equally godawful. It still blows my mind that Corey Taylor and Rob Scallon were willing to be involved in that whole trainwreck.

Odal: Agalloch are not my favorite band anymore, but I really wish that The Serpent and The Sphere did not happen. The band had a fairly spotless discography before then, and it was a very limp way for them to go out. Rather than find a new angle for their sound, it was just sort of everything they had done before, only worse.

DadKungFu: Amor Fati baby, keep ’em all, it’s all beautiful, even Luke Bryan’s canned ass.

6b) Name the most underrated record of all time!

PumpBoffBag: Difficult, but The Return by Sampa The Great is definitely up there — hugely overlooked and underrated record. I’d say go check the review out, but it’s just an essay on why I’d make sweet love to the album, so just listen to it and tell me I’m right afterwards instead.

BitterJalapenoJr: I’ll go for Dinosaur Jr.’s Without a Sound.  It seems to get mediocre reports across the board but it’s one of my favourites.

norma: I don’t know, but I think King Crimson’s Beat is super underrated. You put one… little pop song on a prog album… and everyone loses their minds!!!!

DadKungFu: Gonna follow the octagon with the King Crimson plug and say that Islands stands with some of their best material of that time period and is absolutely gripping and theatrical in a way that deserves much better than its current 3.5 sput rating.

Odal: Not underrated, per se, but underappreciated: Pretty Years by Cymbals Eat Guitars. It sort of boggles my mind that this album isn’t considered a classic in the grander musicsphere. So many other bands have been propped up as harbingers of Real Music by doing the whole “Bruce Springsteen, but modern” thing, but that praise and recognition somehow didn’t make its way towards this gem of a record. Every song hits such dizzying heights with a lot of different vibes and storytelling that shines even brighter than its music does. Just try and tell me the saxophone on “Wish” doesn’t whip ass! One of my all-time favorite records.

ashcrash9: I know Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns has a small and vocal contingent of appreciators, myself included, but the backlash that album gets continues to baffle me. Its production has aged tremendously and sounds uniquely fresh now that the landscape of early 2010s pop (which I’d argue it outdid and superseded even then) has been replaced by newer trends. It’ll forever go down as the most ambitious thing the band attempted, if nothing else. I respect the hell out of it.

Crxmateo: Linkin Park’s The Hunting Party and Switchfoot’s Oh! Gravity albums get endlessly ranked low amongst their fanbases and forgotten amongst the respective mainstream records in their discographies. I loved both of them growing up and still to this day don’t understand the lack of discussion and lack of respect either one gets. They go hard. Underoath’s Ø record is also WILDLY overlooked simply cuz Aaron isn’t on it. It too goes hard.

Manatea: I have no fucking clue. Seriously though, underrated? Uhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay, ready for my bonkers, stupid, gonna get me a lot of hate messages answer? Lost in the Sound of Separation by Underoath. Yeah, yeah, I know that Define the Great Line is their masterpiece and all, but I truly think that the qualities Lost did have were overlooked by the fact that it was a follow up to Define the Great Line. Record still jams hard.

Teal: The Ataris’ Welcome the Night. God forbid a punk rock band try something new. Four years off the heels of cult classic, So Long, Astoria, Kris Roe added a cellist and an instrumentalist to the band and steered the songwriting into much darker and dramatic territory. Most fans still haven’t recovered from the severe whiplash due to the drastic change in musical direction, but I fondly remember listening to the album, appreciating all of the stylistic risks Roe took, and wondering why fans of the band could not accept the album for what it was.

InfernalDeity: Ladoga by Olhava. This record should get the same amount of love the Wolves in The Throne Room, Alcest, Deafheaven, and Agalloch get.

Koris: Of all time? It’s difficult to narrow this down to just one… but I guess if I had to pick, I’d have to go with an album I just reviewed recently: The Crossing by Ilenkus. The record is absolutely crazy, switching between Dillinger-esque mathcore, sludge metal, progressive metal, and even some dense post-black metal passages. That, and it has one of the best music videos of all time; the singer goes into an unsuspecting crowd of people and just starts screaming the song in question… no lip-syncing. Anyway, I really wish the band got more attention than they did, but unfortunately they broke up last year.

fogza: Oh my god, the pressure… let’s just say Dirt Floor. Hell, anything by Chris Whitley.

6c) Name your least favourite vocalist!

ashcrash9: I am forced to bear the same EP’s worth of The Human League singles at least 5 times a week thanks to my retail job’s store radio playlist, and oh, what I would give to never be subjected to those “DON’T YOU WANT ME? OOOOOOH!”s ever again…

BitterJalapenoJr: Dan Smith (Bastille) — vocals comparable to a piece of wilted lettuce.

Teal: Einar Solberg from Leprous. He sings like Justin Hawkins from The Darkness but without the campiness and I can’t stand it.

PumpBoffBag: It’s a dead heat between Adam Levine and Passenger. They aggravate me in ways very few others do.

Odal: The guy from The Fray. Not even gonna bother to learn his name.

Manatea: Mika. “Everybody’s gonna love today” — until they’re carving their ears off in agony.

DadKungFu: I shudder with disgust whenever I hear the Weenie Hut Jr.’s alumnus from The Lumineers.

InfernalDeity: Dagon.

norma: Travis Scott.

fogza: Frank Oz.

Crxmateo: Whoever sang “Dance Monkey”. I don’t remember her name and don’t care to Google it.

Koris: What Mateo said (and her name is Tones and I). A dishonorable mention would be Matt Bellamy from Muse, as his voice almost single-handedly destroys his band for me.

6d) Name the best series ever!

fogza: Twin Peaks: The Return.

DadKungFu: Lonesome Dove.

ashcrash9: The 2004 World Series (“ash, that’s not what that question means”). And? Did I fucking stutter?

norma: Trailer Park Boys. If you don’t agree, frig off.

BitterJalapenoJr: Peep Show (original UK version).

Koris: Not sure if I can pick one, but Daria, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Breaking Bad, and Attack on Titan would all be in the running.

PumpBoffBag: Six Feet Under, nothing else even comes close. That’s the gold standard to me and I’m still waiting for it to be even approached in quality by another show.

InfernalDeity: South Park.

Teal: Celebrity Deathmatch, South Park, or Wonder Showzen.

Manatea: Solid tie between Scrubs and MXC. I’ve never been much of a TV watcher, though. Haven’t really watched it in like fifteen years.

Odal: Tough to say. Bojack Horseman, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, and The Wire have all sort of rotated in and out of my top spot but they all comprise my top tier.

Crxmateo: This is hard — I don’t watch a lot of TV and all my favorite franchises are being run into the ground (thanks, Disney). If I had to choose one, though — probably Psych. Such an underrated comedy show.

6e) Name the worst time period of human history!

Odal: This is an impossible question.

norma: Uhhh, anything before indoor plumbing existed. Streets must’a been filthy, no fun at all.

Teal: 2016-present. Social media has given everyone a platform to voice their opinions for better or worse. Everyone’s attached to their cellphones (including me). Everyone’s fighting with everyone about everything. Attention spans have been drastically shortened. Everyone seems stressed and anxious these days. I feel like life was much simpler before our present day. Maybe so, maybe not.

BitterJalapenoJr: Probably Eurasia during The Black Death.

InfernalDeity: I’m with BitterJalapeno.

Koris: Yeah, I’m probably gonna have to go with BitterJalapeno’s answer on this one.

Crxmateo: My paranoia makes me think this question is bait. Gonna have to go with WWII on this one.

fogza: This is a weird question depending on where you are geographically. I’m just going to say any time prior to 1970.

ashcrash9: I’m with fogza here, as much as this answer could vary by time and place, the world was still pretty inhospitable until remarkably recently. Sure, wealth inequality is nuts and climate change is a-comin’, but at least now we (mostly) know how diseases work and you won’t lose most of your children before maturity from preventable causes. Put another way, anytime before the late 20th century can miss me; mankind was derpin’ instead of djentin’.

DadKungFu: WWII was industrialized slaughter on a global scale, so for sheer human misery, probably then. At least folks during the Black Plague died with the hope of heaven in a way that doesn’t really exist as deeply in the 20th century. That mindset had to be some consolation at least.

Manatea: I’m gonna go with DadKungFu on the WWII thing. Although all of the above answers are pretty logical and accurate. I dunno… if I recall correctly, car accidents are still the number two cause of death in America after old age so we’re pretty fucked as it is.

PumpBoffBag: In terms of a specific time/place, Ancient Rome under Caligula would have definitely sucked — dude was tapped. The whole of history before my birthdate would also be a valid answer.

6f) Name a fact that probably no one would guess about you!

Odal: I was once #9 in the world for Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” in Rock Band.

Koris: I performed at the LA House of Blues before it closed down! I was the bassist and backing vocalist of a punk band called Static in the Skies (very Hot Topic-ish name, I know); for the concert itself, I was wearing an Alice in Chains t-shirt, a leather jacket, and a fedora… m’lady.

Teal: My dad and I came in second place for a Best Chest Hair Competition on a cruise ship. I tried twerking (away from my dad) to nab first place, but the winner was an old man who knew how to shake his hips.

BitterJalapenoJr: I’m a massive foodie who is willing to travel to other countries purely to visit Michelin starred restaurants although I’m certainly no food snob. Each of these trips would be incomplete without a visit to McDonald’s to sample the foreign burgers/other products unavailable in the UK. Americans are lucky to have buffalo and ranch dips — we’re stuck with fucking ketchup and barbecue with disgusting options of curry or sweet ‘n’ sour (which is neither sweet nor sour).

ashcrash9: Despite knowing next to nothing about cars or automotive technology, I’m an avid motorsports fan, especially NASCAR, the much-maligned and even more misunderstood form of it popular in my corner of the globe. Fell in love with it as a kid thanks to racing video games and was unfazed by its cultural baggage. Never fell out of love with it. I casually keep up with Indycar and Formula One as well.

norma: I’m naturally athletic and enjoy playing basketball quite a bit. Not winning any championships anytime soon, but I’d probably surprise you in a game of pickup.

fogza: I used to be addicted to arcade games and that’s where the first part of my username comes from — it’s like a call sign when you got a high score and you could only punch three letters in.

DadKungFu: I teach Sunday School (really).

PumpBoffBag: I used to moonlight as a honeytrapper, attempting to pick up women whose partners suspected of being unfaithful.

Trapper, not badger?

InfernalDeity: That I’m a metalhead. I’m a real clean-cut looking guy, so that would probably be the last thing somebody would guess.

Manatea: I’ve been using the strongest pomade I could find to slick my hair back for such a long time that people legitimately don’t know I have curly hair anymore. Always comes as a shock (also, I’m similar to InfernalDeity in that I’m far too clean-cut to be a metalhead).

Crxmateo: I hate this question whenever someone asks it; I’m a pretty open book. Probably gonna have to go with the fact that I love indie music — two people just this week were shocked by this (you can tell I’m a metalhead just by my appearance most days, aside from the fact that I don’t shut up about relatively-obscure UK metalcore bands).

7) Would the real cavemen enjoy today’s cavemen riffs? Or would they enjoy something light like dream pop or something more heavy like brutal death metal? Was the Pleistocene metal?

Manatea: I think it’s unfair to pigeonhole cavemen as a generality in terms of musical taste. We then have to start asking more metaphysical questions like, “If cavemen uniformly liked caveman riffs, did they truly have free will?” What if some of them liked Japanese Breakfast while the others liked Meshuggah? What if some of them preferred Miles Davis while the others liked their post-sludge-gaze-folk-metal? I’m pretty sure different cavemen would have different tastes.

BitterJalapenoJr: I can see open-minded Mesolithic types appreciating the caveman riffs of today.  In a mad scenario where they could choose auditory delights to accompany a group hunt, I’m sure they would opt for a bit of Conan to pump them up for tackling a mammoth.

ashcrash9: If The Ocean have proved anything, it’s that metal loves cavemen more than cavemen would love metal. Cavemen are all feel; give ’em groove, give ’em compelling vocalization, give ’em something they can stomp around and grunt to. That new Young Fathers album would be a hit. God forbid, though, show them a guitar and they’d probably try violently swinging it like a club.

norma: I think riffs would absolutely terrify real cavemen. I don’t know what the Pleistocene is, exactly, and I don’t listen to enough Ocean, so I’m gonna go with the phone a friend option for this one [quickly dials Pangea‘s cell].

It’s a smol cell phone.

PumpBoffBag: I see cavemen being into something more rhythmic and consistent, like “Bongo Song”. Having said that, I reckon cavemen would vibe with Om. I think if you tried to mash out some slam riffs to cavemen they’d wrestle the guitar from your hands and bludgeon you to death with it.

InfernalDeity: Nah, I think they would like something more meditative or spiritual. Their life is brutal enough, give them some Brian Eno.

Teal: I mean, we all enter a primal state at times when certain riffs wash/crash into our ears. You don’t think cavemen would straight up unga-bunga while hearing an ignorant Knocked Loose breakdown for the first time? Hell, the yelps of Bryan Garris would probably sound reminiscent of a yowling coyote waiting for the merciful deathblow of a caveman’s club. They’d all be seeing red two-stepping in that cave.

fogza: Let’s be real: cavemen would be about percussion. Riffs would just interfere with whatever trance state you’re trying to enter by dancing to the point of dehydration, exhaustion and gold membership status.

DadKungFu: Think about the reaction of the more conservative side of society to music that’s considered comparatively mild today, like Black Sabbath. Imagine the pure sensory overload that something like Dopesmoker would be to an actual caveman. Psychotic break inducing. Real cavemen would probably be more into weepy sensitive dream pop and shoegaze and Belle & Sebastian.

Odal: I think if a caveman heard a caveman riff, they would sprint in the other direction until their heart gave out. They would have the fear of God put in them from such unnatural noises.

Koris: Pretty much what Odal said. Hell, they’d probably react to those riffs the same way 18th-century classical fans reacted to the “diabolus in musica” tritone interval.

Crxmateo: As hilarious as it would be to think cavemen would listen to brutal death metal, I’m gonna go with Odal on this one. I’m sure some would absolutely love Xavlegbmaofffassssitimiwoamndutroabcwapwaeiippohfffx — I bet it’d be like it is today where they’re mostly in line at Target ready to buy their Taylor Swift and Blackpink vinyls.

8) In terms of music, what do your instincts say: will the 2020s be better than the 2010s were? Why?

norma: This is easy — yes! — because the 2010s were pretty rough overall and the 2020s are just pure bangers so far. You know this to be true, whether you have admitted it to yourself or not is another matter.

Teal: Yes, because Deftones-core is here to stay thanks to bands like Loathe, Moodring, and Narrow Head and there appears to be a nu-metal revival in progress as well.

Crxmateo: Absolutely. The 2010s were pretty dead creatively and stylistically in the mainstream in most genres, and the 2020s have already proven to be bringing back some form of the variety that used to be mainstream. Also, as a rock and metal fan first — absolutely love the innovation happening there right now with bands like Loathe and Static Dress.

InfernalDeity: I think its going to be much better. Hip hop is becoming way more experimental and so is regular pop music. Honestly, I’m more concerned with the route metal is going to take. Once you go to the extremes, you’re inviting a lot more limitations.

Koris: Shit… it’s only been a few years and I already think the 2020s are better so far. The second half of the 2010s was particularly rough — especially in regards to what was hitting the pop charts — but the amount of experimentation and stylistic variety these days has been really refreshing to hear. Plus, as many people above have said, rock has been getting a huge boost recently. And while I don’t always like the artists that are producing said music — the MGK/Travis Barker-led pop-punk trend immediately comes to mind — I can’t deny that they’re at least serving as a gateway for the younger generation to get into rock and metal.

ashcrash9: My 2010s included the entirety of my high school and college years, the breeding ground for forming taste, so I’m inclined to lean “2010s > 2020s,” but consider the playing field as well: the last decade saw basically all the music we could ever want becoming available at our fingertips with virtually no hassle, and I’m not sure an economic revolution as sweeping as the ascendance of streaming will emerge in the 2020s. Three years in, the boundaries are basically the same, except now I’ll have less time on my hands to wade through new stuff and that new stuff will sound less fresh simply because I’ve been alive longer and exposed to more than in my youth. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, though. Every era’s got its hallmarks, and the rest of this decade will be no exception.

fogza: I’m old, I don’t think I’m attuned to the 2020s. There’s some good stuff, but I don’t know, my gut tells me it’s going to be a long ride of unfortunate vocal effects and trying to sound like you don’t care all that much while performing interpolations.

BitterJalapenoJr: Mainstream music will continue to get even blander in general, but I also think the charts are overdue the return of a more guitar-based sound which has been pretty much absent for the best part of two decades — although, as I largely ignore charts, I couldn’t care less. There’s always going to be plenty of worthwhile music (old and new) out there if you look for it in the right places.

Odal: I’ll take the coward’s way out by saying yes and no, but mostly yes. Musicians continue to evolve sounds and iterate off of what has worked in the past to bring us fresh and exciting perspectives. I think every decade has been better than the last — if we’re talking about music as a whole — and I would expect the 2020s to be no different for those who like to remain in the know and keep their ears to the ground. That being said, the continued commodification of both music and the channels in which we consume it have exposed some concerning trends in such an all-encompassing way that it has me a little weary about the culture around music in the future. We have never had more choice than we currently do now, but that does make it harder for acts to shift sounds than it used to be. You already have people calling 100 Gecs old hat. Overall, I am cautiously optimistic.

Manatea: I don’t know! I think that every decade has its share of gems and duds, so I hope this decade has more gems than duds. I’m really hoping that some band comes along and pops the swancore bubble so that post-hardcore can be normal again though.

DadKungFu: I don’t know! I haven’t heard everything from the 2010s! AI-generated pop tunes in 2020s seems like a conceivable reality, so is the whole human endeavor of music and art collapsing in this decade? Remains to be seen, but probably not!

PumpBoffBag: Hard to say, I don’t really jive with the whole ‘music isn’t as good as it used to be’ argument that hipsters and people over a certain age seem to love, as I’m seeing great music getting released consistently still. Mainstream music has definitely nosedived, though, and the music I grew up with will always hold a special nostalgic quality for me, but I don’t think the quality of a decade can be properly assessed until the decade has passed. 2010s were great overall, and I’m hoping that the 2020s will follow suit.

garas: Another experimental, but fun thought puzzle:

9) If you could travel back in time, and you are given an opportunity to take one music-related relic with you and bring it back to the present, what would it be?
(Could be anything: an ultra rare first-press vinyl, an instrument, John Lennon’s glasses — anything!)

Koris: I’m gonna cheat and say two things, but they’ll merge during the time travel back to present: I’d love to have the combination of Brian May’s Red Special guitar and the Deacy Amp he often played/plays it through. The sound he was able to get with that combo is just so warm and rich… absolutely love it.

BitterJalapenoJr: The flaming “FUCK” from the blink-182 2001 tour in support of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.

via /u/oneupbetterthanyou on reddit

Crxmateo: THE Eddie Van Halen guitar.

PumpBoffBag: I was fully ready to say Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, but after careful deliberation, I’d like to change to the miniature Stonehenge replica from This Is Spinal Tap. Mostly so I can get my kids to dance around it whilst I pluck away at a folk melody in the background. Oh, how they danced, the children of Stone’enge…

Teal: Prince’s angel cloud guitar.

fogza: I’d probaby just steal one of Elliott Smith’s guitars, and once I got back, I’d get on my knees and hold it parallel to the floor, and just let out a sigh, and maybe cry.

InfernalDeity: Anything Jeff Buckley was working on. Absolute shame we only got one full release from him.

Manatea: Any of John Bonham’s bass drums. Seriously though, the punch on those things is nassssssstyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

norma: A drumstick of some piece of the drum kit used on D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

DadKungFu: The original score to L’Orfeo or Yamantaka Eye’s backhoe.

Odal: I want to hit the town in the Talking Heads big suit.

ashcrash9: The Popmart Tour disco lemon. Fuck knows what I’d do with it, but that kitschy abomination needs to be mine, malfunctions and all.

garas: And finally, something personal:

10) Tell us something you are excited about!

ashcrash9: In a few months I’ll be road tripping around the country for a couple weeks, visiting friends living in far-flung places and sightseeing in cities and scenery I’ve always been curious about witnessing in person. I’m a homebody by nature, but traveling isn’t necessarily getting any easier, and I don’t want to take my relative health for granted while I have it. Best to get out there while I can. And of course, I’ll have plenty of tunes old and new to drive along to while settling into my new role here as a contributor. See you around, Sputnik.

DadKungFu: The next time I visit my hometown and see my fam and friends!

Odal: I’m 31 and feel like I’m really hitting my stride in a lot of respects. I know what does and does not work for me in a way that I struggled with in my 20s. But, to be more specific, I’m really looking for to Pitchfork this year. Hell of a lineup.

Koris: I’m excited about a lot of things! I’m at a new duty station that genuinely cares a lot about me, I’m now located closer to my hometown so I can visit old friends and family, and — as I said in my intro — I just started a YouTube channel that I’ll start uploading to very soon. That, and my recent sabbatical cleared my mind up and helped me a lot with some personal issues I’ve had. The future’s looking bright!

BitterJalapenoJr: Listening to more albums, getting drunk at more gigs, reading and writing more reviews, and of course, eating more food!

Crxmateo: Honestly, just concerts at the moment. Currently, my next show is Beartooth next month and I just bought tickets to see Yellowcard on the anniversary date of Ocean Avenue’s release in Jacksonville, AKA the city that album was written about! I’m also trying to get my metal-themed brand Semper Metallum off the ground as a business eventually (shameless plug) and the entrepreneur in me gets extremely excited about side-hustles such as that. Not a ton of stuff off the top of my head, but I definitely have things to look forward to!

InfernalDeity: I’m about to graduate law school, so I’m definitely excited to explore that next chapter in my life.

Teal: The rest of baseball season, hearing the remainder of Sleep Token’s new album, and reading any butthurt comments from Neutral Milk Hotel or Leprous fans.

Manatea: Let’s see — I’m planning a trip to Israel in the coming months, so that’s exciting. Haven’t been there in ten years and my extended family has started to question if my wife actually exists, so it’ll be good to prove that I’m a decent member of the Jewish society. My sister recently got accepted to a grad school in Oregon, so I’m pretty excited for her! I don’t know, life is always exciting, I think. Anyway, nice to see you all!

fogza: I’m really excited by my new life (even though I’m entering the routine part of it), I’m starting over in a place I always dreamed I’d come back to, I’m excited to see all the shows I’ve bought tickets to, and I hope to enjoy the next year despite any hardships and obstacles. Weirdly, I’m also excited to maybe visit South Africa again as a tourist and see it with a different perspective. Maybe see somewhere else too at the end of the year; it’s possible. It’s possible.

PumpBoffBag: I’m about to become a father, which is terrifying and exciting in equal measure. Will probably be moving soon after the birth and setting up a new life somewhere with my partner, and I’m hoping to finally press ahead with my aspirations to become a tattoo artist (since COVID halted my progress some years ago) so I’m excited for whatever the future might hold. As a sidenote, since the baby is supposed to be able to hear and respond to music in utero, we’ve have been trying to play the little one new songs daily to ascertain responsiveness/prospective musical taste(!), and so far she’s responded strongest to Grimes, Jay-Z and Tool. With Grimes though, we’ve played her countless times inamongst other artists, and it doesn’t matter the time of day/night or which song, she starts kicking like a Sensei. Cool kid.

garas: And that’s all, folks! We hope you liked our little round table chat. Thanks to the brave Contributors for their participation! See you next time!

List of participants: ashcrash9, BitterJalapenoJr, Crxmateo, DadKungFu, fogza, garas (Master of Ceremonies), InfernalDeity, Koris, Manatea, normaloctagon, Odal, PumpBoffBag, Teal.

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