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Top Five Fridays: Reality Something

April 27, 2018

Hey Folks,

Welcome to another exciting installment of Top Five Fridays, the part of the show where a happening artist comes on board and shares 5 records that are near and dear to them! The result is a double musical whammy for you dear reader, as you not only have discovered a fantastic new musical architect but also an insightful look into some killer records that make them tick!

Today we find ourselves in ol’ Music City itself, Nashville TN to hang out with alt rockers Reality Something, a musical outfit that serves up melody and angst in perfect proportions.

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Credit: Bridgette Aikens

 

Reality Something came onto my radar via Infinity Cat, the label dropping their debut cassette tape in just a few short weeks.  Infinity Cat, for those not in the know, is one stop shopping for anyone wanting to keep their pulse on Nashville’s unparalleled underground guitar rock scene. It’s the kind of label (like Burger RecordsSalinas Records, or Don Giovanni) where their curative instincts are so locked in that if you like one of their records, you should probably go ahead and check out every single album they’ve ever put out.

The first taste of Reality Something’s debut album “Life Noise” that hit my ears was lead single “Hate Yourself” and for me (even after hearing the whole record, and folks it absolutely rips) this song still stands as a microcosm of everything I love about the band.  The record builds from a slow burn verse to the kind of Alanis Morissette sized chorus that you hope you somehow stumble into when you’re in high school so you can lock yourself in your bedroom and crank it to absolutely inordinate volumes while you rage along and experience some true rock ‘n’ roll catharsis.  Let’s be real, it’s the kind of Alanis Morrisette sized chorus that I still hope I somehow stumble into in the tail end of my 20s so I can lock myself in my bedroom and crank it to absolutely inordinate volumes while I rage along and experience some true rock ‘n’ roll catharsis.

I could tell Reality Something was a band pulling from some choice influences (Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Nirvana, and other such wonderful 90s grunginess comes to mind) so I was beyond stoked to when front-woman and songwriter Elena Franklin agreed to take some time and talk about some of her favorite records.  The resulting Top Five Friday reminds me why I keep coming back to this format and why it’s so incredibly rewarding to hear artists talk about the albums that have influenced them.  A list of favorite records can’t help but become even just a bit of a biography. In today’s case, we see how some killer LPs helped an artist find her voice and paved the way for Reality Something’s upcoming debut record!  So without further ado, I hand things over to Elena Franklin…

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Is This It – The Strokes

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There’s one band that absolutely defines mine and everybody else’s teenage experience growing up in New York City in the early 2000’s. The Strokes.  We were completely oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world felt the same way. I didn’t even realize the Strokes were a famous band until I got older, because at this point we all discovered music through whatever was playing at ‘free crib’s’ and downloading it on Napster.  “We can go and get 40’s, fuck going to that party,” was the most romantic notion our young hearts could imagine. This record permeates memories of summer nights on the end of Pier 40, New Years Eves walking back uptown freezing our tits off in heels way too high and dresses way too short (don’t forget, we had Sex and the City too lol), comforting your best friend whose boyfriend’s dumbass got booked on a Friday writing graffiti and wouldn’t be out till Monday (..again), and late nights turning to bleary mornings in cabs speeding home down the West Side Highway.  

The Strokes at Summer Stage in Central Park was my first concert. I went with Tana who was and still is my coolest friend and polar opposite.  We were 15 and she had jet black hair, even blacker eyeliner, wore cherry dresses and had tattoos and did drugs. We hopped a fence, tramped through the general admission crowd, and assholes that we were decided VIP was the only way we were watching this show.  So we posted outside the exit until some suits walked out and asked politely for their laminates, which they bemusedly handed over, and proudly took our places side stage. Tana hid under the stage to pee (we did have a two liter full of I’m pretty sure tequila and Coca Cola or some other equally not-okay combination in a tote bag) and as I checked out my surroundings I realized I’m standing right next to Drew Barrymore who must have been dating Fab at the time. I didn’t know what else to say to her so I asked her for a cig, and we stood together, as fans, beaming at the stage watching Julian lean into ‘Take It Or Leave It’ as the sun went down over the Great Lawn.

As kids, we were too young and spoiled to realize how lucky we were. How long it had really been since there had been such a cool band.  And that band was our band. And there really hasn’t been one like it since.

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Horses – Patti Smith

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One day I’ll be able to find all the words I need to fully express how much Patti Smith has done for me.  Until that day I will continue to squawk at people until they read her books and have awakenings of their own.  My life as I know it now, started when Kingsley’s sister gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. A paperback copy of ‘Just Kids’ with the words ‘Merry Christmas Elena, Kate Brock 2012’ written gently in pencil on the inside cover.  I had just left behind everything I had known about life until that point, and was in desperate need of something new and inspiring. I devoured it so feverishly that as soon as it was over I immediately flipped back to the beginning and read it again.  As William Burroughs said, Patti is a shaman. She has the unique ability to make you want to be not exactly like her, but exactly like yourself. I started that book as a lost girl, completely unsure of what I was going to do or my place in the world.. and I finished it an artist.  With new purpose, and an understanding to use any creative means available to discover who I was and what I could make of myself.

The first time I heard ‘Horses’ I woke up.  Like, “Whoa… I didn’t know you could do THIS..?”  I used to shut myself in a room in my new house in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, Tennessee, and listen to it over and over while I made my first paintings and furiously typed my first poems, drinking whiskey on ice and chain smoking and never having felt so alive..  and eventually, wrote my first songs. Patti’s complete abandon during her performance taught me to record then incorporate my first instinct of melody and lyrics into a song so it feels more expressionistic than ‘crafted.’ Patti taught me to explore the world within, instead of always looking externally and using escapism.  Through her I found so many of my favorite writers, artists and musicians that have shaped my experience. I think I can truly say, that Patti Smith saved my life.

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Nirvana Unplugged in New York – Nirvana

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My high school boyfriend did a lot of dumb things like cheat on me, choose weed over anything else, and play video games right after sex. But he also did a lot of cool things that I didn’t give him enough credit for. He was deceptively smart and had good taste in movies, and wrote obsessively in a notebook which I teased him for at the time but do now myself.  He also burned me a lot of CDs. Maybe the most important in my musical development was ‘Nirvana Unplugged in New York.’ I’ve listened to that album probably more times than anything else in my life. I think it’s one of the most beautiful, soulful, candid, and honest things that has ever happened in the history of live performances and music in general. I would return to it a couple of times a year and as the years went on I gradually got into the rest of Nirvana’s albums, B-sides, and read every book, interview and documentary I could find on Kurt.  Underneath everything ugly and sad Kurt was a beautiful genius with a gift for melody. I probably learned everything I know about songwriting from Kurt Cobain. Nirvana wasn’t a phase for me but more of a lifelong obsession, comfort, and friend. “Oh, Me’ (originally by the Meat Puppets) was the first song I taught myself on guitar.

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The Globe Sessions-Sheryl Crow

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Ugh. Heartbreak.  But through pain comes growth so they say (*eyeroll* but they are really right). Twenty one year old me, living in Los Angeles going through the first real heartbreak of my life so far.  I wanted to die every day and I couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. The echo of my sweet sympathetic best friend across the country having just gotten through her first love breakup, giving me some sort of a “I promise it will get better and until then Sheryl Crow really helps lol” kind of thing rang in my head.  When I saw a cassette of “The Globe Sessions” at Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd I figured I may as well give it a try.. and let me tell you… she was not wrong. Suddenly leaving my house was something I looked forward to instead of dreaded, when I could open all my windows and drive through the canyons singing along as loud as I could and reeeally feeling California. This album also came along at a time when I decided out of nowhere I wanted to learn guitar.  I closed my eyes sitting outside my powder blue duplex in Silverlake one day and asked the universe to send me a guitar of my own. I was imagining I’d find one at a garage sale or second hand store for a price my broke-ass could afford within a few months. Not even a week later, walking down those same stone steps I looked up to see a small wooden acoustic with photographs taped all over its body leaning against the across-the-street neighbors mailbox, looking right at me.  After a second or two of realizing it wasn’t a mirage I knocked on my neighbor’s door, “Are you guys getting rid of this??” “Yes! It was our old neighbor’s and we are about to move and it’s just been sitting unplayed and we were hoping somebody would want it, do you want it?” I wanted it. I spent the next months sitting on my daybed in the living room where I stayed (3 girls 2 bedrooms, shrug, at least they were my best friends) drinking mescal and slowly learning the basics of guitar. The action was so high and the guitar eventually disintegrated on a friends carpet who offered to change the strings for me when I went out of town (to Nashville..)  and never went back to get it, but it remains in my memory forever. My Sheryl Crow guitar. The thing that pulled me out of my hole and sent me on my way in the ultimate right direction.

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Parallel Lines – Blondie

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Something my mom told me as a kid any chance she got was that she saw Blondie and Talking Heads at CBGBs before they were famous.  My mom grew up in the suburbs in Connecticut but moved to NYC for college at 18 and never looked back. A true New Yorker who has bled for this city, loves it deeply and utilizes it fully.  I used to listen to a Blondie CD walking to the subway to school every day on my little discman I’d had since my third grade birthday, which is exactly what that music was made for. It sounds like jackhammering, hot crowded trains, and people bugging you for money or catcalling.  It sounds like freedom in the anonymity of living in a city with millions of people. Of making it out of a small scene and into the big time. I’ve since come to love Chris Stein’s photography and Debbie’s sense of humor, there’s a really great book they did with one of my favorite biographers Victor Bockris called ‘Making Tracks’ (if you can find a copy I recommend!!)  But no one can argue with Blondie. Everyone in the world thinks Blondie is cool. Blondie represents the cool I will never have but will always admire, and the city I will always call home.

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Thanks so much Elena.  Once again I am reminded that musicians are often the best people to talk about music.  Also yes yes yes to Sheryl Crow. Man talk about the broken hearted nights spent listening to both the self titled and “Globe Sessions” records. BTW folks if you enjoyed Elena’s musings on coming of age in 00s Strokes era NYC then I can’t recommend Lizzy Goodman’s oral history of that scene “Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011” enough. Truly mandatory reading.

Here’s the dealio folks, as stated above and before, Reality Something’s debut record “Life Noise” drops on  5/4/18. Having been blessed to have wrapped my ears around an advance copy I can preach to you all from the mountains that this is not some cooler than thou emotionally muted hipster schlock. This is a serving of honest to goodness distorted, emotional rock ‘n’ roll of the highest caliber and you don’t want to miss out.  Preorder for cassettes can be found over here at Infinity Cat, while the LP is dropping on the band’s own Something Like Reality Records.  All the pre-order info for download, streaming, and physical releases you could ever want can be found HERE.

Thanks for reading folks! Remember to like Reality Something on facebook and all other available social medias, and remember that you can go back in the Top Five Fridays archives and find other great musical moments to explore including some other killer artists in the Nashville scene (Idle Bloom, Justin and the Cosmics).

well peace out good people of the world,

Peter Winter

 

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Peter writes about music and wonders if he will ever be cheerful again after seeing Avengers.  Follow him @peterwinter38

 

 

 

 

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