And this is what I get for asking for critiques from strangers. ANR Factory has called Secret Cigarettes "Emotively Sludgy Lo-Fi." Which is a descriptive way of saying the reviewer didn't like it. Which is ok. I paid them to review it. They had to say something that didn't sound like they were tearing it apart but still got across that they thought it was deeply flawed and probably not worth their time. This is also ok.
Its been a small minority of folks who've ever really gotten my songs, and the songs on Red Flags are maybe the hardest to get that I've released. They're one hundred percent confessional and honest ("complete lack of lyrical restraint")... they represent a journey through my own pitiful and I'm learning all-too-ordinary struggle through addiction, ending with coming into the rooms of a 12 step program and really trying to listen.
I recorded the bed tracks at the same time as White Flags, which is a different ball of wax. I then completed building the songs on top of mostly drums and bass in my apartment in Seattle. Maybe I should have left it at that.
As a collection of songs, they're not my strongest. Its also terribly frightening to put such a personal journey out to the world.
Still, I learned to feel and relate to the world through other people's songs. People who felt small and objectively uninteresting things about themselves that spoke to struggles I had as a young person, a teenager, a twenty something, and now a thirty something.
Secret Cigarettes doesn't maybe make sense outside of the Red Flags composition... which itself doesn't totally make sense without White Flags. Maybe neither of them make sense unless you know me and the journey I've been through in the past many years.
But this journey isn't one that is unique to me. As much as I'd love to be able to claim a unique voice -- something special. Addiction and depression are struggles more and more folks are finding themselves stuck in and looking for ways out of. This is a small tiny way that I share my story. So maybe I shouldn't send it to critics. Maybe it's not appropriate to share it with coworkers. It certainly isn't my best sounding record or my best musicianship.
Its a story I lived.
And honestly. "Emotively Sludgy Lo-Fi" could describe Oh Comely by Neutral Milk Hotel. Or Always Crush Me by Guided by Voices. Or really almost all of Bakesale by Sebadoh. I'm not saying anything I've written sounds like those or is even in the same ballpark as those. But its not so bad. Thanks Amelia Vandergast, for giving it a listen.