No Trivia: My earbuds made me metal

City Paper

Last week, I lost my "good" headphones. They weren't a really nice noise-canceling pair that cost a whole lot or anything like that, just a crappy pair that I picked up at Rite Aid for like 12 bucks that nevertheless, go around the ear rather than in the ear like these stupid fucking earbuds I'm currently using because, I repeat, I lost my "good" headphones. Earbuds are indefatigably tinny and it's pretty depressing that the shitlords over at Apple have sold a whole generation on these things that make music sound like it's coming from your neighbor's upstairs apartment through a vent in the ceiling.

And the way they just rest in your ears, shoved in there but not quite stable, always about to fall out makes me so fucking nervous. I am willing to go as far as to say that a certain degree of anxiety amongst millenials has to do with the subconscious concern we all have that our earbuds might pop out at any given moment. How can we ever truly relax as a generation? Also earbuds are not made for everybody's ears. Some of us have weird or less than perfectly symmetrical ears so one falls out more than the other, all right?

An interesting byproduct of using earbuds (because I am too cheap to immediately replace my lost headphones and I'm also clearly some kind of masochist) though, is that it has has drastically changed my listening habits. Not on purpose mind you, but rather, it's because most of the stuff I am listening to a lot lately (Dean Blunt's "The Redeemer," Ed Schrader's Music Beat's "Party Jail," Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy's "1111," I Love Makonnen's self-titled EP, Terence Hannum's "Via Negativa," and Thelonious Monk's "Solo Monk") just isn't working in these damned earbuds. It all suddenly sounds smeary and cheap.

I've gravitated towards the records on my iPod that still sound good under earbud conditions, and they tend to be extreme records in one way or another. Brutal brick walls of sound type albums designed to overwhelm. For a few days, Pallbearer's "Foundations of Burden" (which sounds like riding a dragon through the backwoods of Arkansas) and Ryan Bair's "Casting Away" (which is like Van Halen's 'Eruption' if a teenager cranked it out, all relentless ejaculative energy) worked. After a few listens though, Pallbearer's screwed-up, downtuned riffing seemed sketch-like, and Bair's record, which is ultimately, an insular guitar experiment with a shit ton of personality was palpably dulled. I could hear enough to hear that I was missing a lot of things.

I was left with just two albums: Krieg's "Transient" ("Krieg," is German for "war" duh, though this tricky black metal band is from New Jersey; I love black metal for the same reasons that I love rap: it is transcendently, sincerely full of shit) and Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet's "The Abyss," a mucho macho Nietzschean noise record splayed across two discs. Then two nights ago, "The Abyss" fell out of favor. See, I was walking my dog and one earbud fell out of my ear and to the ground. When I went to scoop it up, I accidentally kicked it and then stepped on it (I was very, very stoned and when all this happened mind you), and as a result, the left earbud doesn't work at all anymore.

Listening to music through one shitty earbud has made even the fairly blunt dynamics of "The Abyss" undetectable. I can tell I am missing things, especially on the awesomely titled track 'Anger Alert,' which begins with about four minutes of static and then simmers down to pop and hiss and slowly builds back up to a burst of proggy horns and then falls back into chaos before doing it all over again for 11 minutes. I am now left with one record. Krieg's "Transient." I've aurally painted myself in a corner here. I should just go to Rite Aid and buy a new pair of headphones but for the time being, I'm perversely enjoying the limits these shitty earbuds have imposed upon my listening habits.

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