See and Spin

See and Spin #8: 3 Things to Read, 3 Things to Hear

See and Spin, where Real Arters dish on a weekly serving of three things you need to read and three things you need to hear.

Man vs. Marathon (Jeré Longman / The New York Times)
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Part IOne scientist’s quixotic quest to propel a runner past the two-hour marathon barrier.
Part IITrying to identify the athlete who might be able to break the two-hour barrier.

Inside Evan Spiegel’s Very Private Snapchat Story (Kurt Wagner / Recode)

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It’s Evan Spiegel’s world—we’re all just snapping in it.

The Ukrainian Hacker Who Became the FBI’s Best Weapon—And Worst Nightmare (Kevin Poulsen / WIRED)

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A twisted international tale of money, power, and hacking.

Weezer / “Only In Dreams” / Weezer—The Blue Album (1994)

On the week marking the 22nd anniversary of its release, you should really go ahead and take in the full majesty of the all-time alternative rock record that is Weezer’s self-titled 1994 debut, better known as The Blue Album. But in the interest of relative brevity, it’s more pertinent that you really, truly listen to the magnum opus of the band’s career: the album’s epic 8-minute closer, “Only in Dreams.” Bookended by Matt Sharp’s bassline–the most memorable in the band’s catalogue—what happens in between is a study of slow-building, sustained brilliance.

Blissful, layered guitar work melds acoustic and electric elements in the verses, with Rivers Cuomo’s haunting lyrics reflecting on the tortures of a love so powerful—yet uttainable—that the figurative woman at the center is in the air around him and even inside his bones. The verse-distortion driven chorus-verse-chorus format would make for a top-notch album closer on its own, but it’s the final three minutes that render “Only In Dreams” a transcendent piece of rock music. Circling back to the track’s patient, subdued beginnings, Weezer begin the climb. Cuomo and Brian Bell’s guitars ebb and flow in and out of each other. Patrick Wilson’s drumming grows more pronounced as he hits the ride on every beat. Sharp’s bassline speeds up. Tension builds and builds and builds.

And then, after five snare hits strike, the song explodes into a cathartic crescendo of beauty that words fail to describe. Dueling guitars give way to Cuomo’s greatest guitar solo, Wilson slams his way across the kit with fierce rolls, and even as the listener is soaring, they’re brought back to earth by that Sharp bassline as everything else fades slowly into the background. It’s the kind of thrilling musical moment that feels perfectly timed yet tragically short. Alas…

But when we wake / It’s all been erased / And so it seems / Only in dreams

Holy Ghost / “Compass Point” / Crime Cutz EP (2016)

It’s a groovy miracle: Brooklyn deep-disco duo Holy Ghost! have finally given their dance-starved fanbase reason to get moving again with new four-song EP Crime Cutz. On “Compass Point” the outfit explore an absolute cornucopia of soundscapes, jumping between pulsing electronics and synths that feel like something out of a club in the Tron universe, to funky bass and horns that give the final quarter of the track some serious bounce. In that final minute-plus, all of these sounds converge seamlessly, with layered vocals (We like it when it hurts / It brings us back to earth) entering the fray slowly. Bandmates Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel have described Crime Cutz as “physical, angular rhythm candy,” a colorful description that feels quite fitting for the EP’s most dynamic track.

The Sun Days / “Busy People” / Album (2016)

You’d be excused for immediately assuming that “Busy People,” from Swedish indie-pop outfit The Sun Day’s debut, was going to reflect on something sunny. But as Elsa Holmgren opens the track by singing “Can you keep a secret? I tried to kill myself last night,” the disarming effect is almost immediate. Much like the rest of Album, anxiety and heartache permeate the jovial instrumentals for a memorable, striking contrast. “Busy People” is this formula in its most pure and perfect form, with sighing, echoing guitar work giving way to the driving chorus and breakdown. With all the lush interplay that follows the intro, Holmgren’s suicidal secret takes on an intriguing, liberating tone.

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