18 Hole Review – Counterparts edition

I had a plan. Lord knows I had a plan.

On May 23rd, I “officially” shut down pretenditsnotme.com, my blog of sorts, to start writing for Amphetizine. It’s been almost 2 months and, while we’ve done 2 podcasts, I have yet to write a single word for this site. That changes today. Well, it was supposed to change in early July. Like I said, I had a plan.

You see, one thing I always tried to avoid on PINM was reviews. My reviews are largely “I fucking loved X so much, why didn’t you love X as much as I did?!” or “I hate Y so much that I can’t belive it was made for people who call themselves fans of X”. I feel very deeply for things, but I have a hard time expressing the feeling verbally or with the written word. If I love a song and want you to love it too, I’ll generally listen to it with you, wait until the part that makes me feel something, turn it up too loud for it to make sense to human ears, nudge you and scream “FUCK, THAT WAS GOOD, RIGHT?” Generally, these moments are mere seconds of a 3 minute song.

So I had a plan for a recurring “column” I wanted to do. I was going to buy a record, nothing new, necessarily, but new to me, and I was going to take it out onto the golf course and give that record an 18 Hole Review™. I had some records in mind and a perfect opportunity. Over the 4th of July, my wife, child and I were going to a lake for “water, boating and beer”. Wait, that’s not right. I don’t know how to swim, so water scares me and I am Straight Edge. We were going to a lake for “golf, golf, and to watch my daughter, who is 2, ‘swim’.

The last few years we have gone to the lake, I have played as much golf in those single weeks, than most “golfers” would play in a month. More golf than those who say things like, “yeah, I’ve golfed before” probably play in a lifetime. You see, at the Sandtrap in Cass Lake, the first 9 holes is 15 bucks. A little spendy, but the next 9 holes? 10 bucks. The 9 after that? 5 bucks. Surely you see why I stay out there for hours at a time. What’s that? You don’t? That’s fair.

So as I was getting ready to go play my first 9 holes with my father in law, I realized I had forgotten my headphones. My wife and the rest of the family were going to the grocery store, so I asked her to pick me up a cheap pair of headphones. I know, I know, fidelty this, quality that. Blah blah blah. Beggers can’t be choosers. I got home that evening and asked my wife for the headphones. She forgot them. As I had the rest of the week to go, I didn’t panic. What’s one day without headphones? There was plenty golf to be played.

I golfed in the am, again with my father in law, and meant to stop by the grocery store after our early round. Of course, I am the forgetful one in my marriage and I forgot too. I made it through the whole day, in fact, never again thinking of my master plan.

Many more rounds of golf followed and some ‘article worthy’ things happened. I made my first ever (outdoor) eagle; I golfed with a 70 year old who is in the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame and he had bowled 22 300’s in his life; I brought my daughter to the golf course for the first time in either of our lives and watched her “putt” by picking up the ball, walking it to the hole, dropping it in and saying “no, daddy!” when I went to retrieve it. The ball was in it’s home, dammit, and it should stay. Together we shot a 37. She was 9 for 9 on putts.

Once it became clear to me that I had failed myself and my (hopeful) audience, I resigned myself to thinking I would just listen to the album I had purchased on the way home. I had a 3 hour car ride, surely that is enough to form an opinion, right?

I downloaded Counterparts’ “Tragedy Will Find Us” and decided that would be the record.

My relationship with Counterparts is odd, to say the least. They are, without any doubt, a band I would normally not enjoy. I love straightforward music and Counterparts is absolutely not “straightforward”. Yet, one day, I fell down a “new music” (read; new to ME) rabbit hole on youtube and just kept clicking on new albums until something made me smile. I had probably seen a Counterparts shirt out in the wild, no doubt clinging to someone’s bony spine as they jumped around at a louder-than-it-needed-to-be local hardcore show. So I clicked on … something. I wish I could tell you the first song I had heard by them, but I have no idea. I can tell you the first song I fell in love with though “Debris” off of “The Difference Between Hell and Home”.

“The Difference…” came out in 2013 and I heard it for the first time in 2017, so I would never lie to you and try and do a record review column with exclusively new music. I am nowhere near current in anything other than the few bands I already know I’ll enjoy. So, using that existing metric, the fact that “Tragedy Will Find Us” came out in 2015 actually is pretty recent for me!

But alas, I had a plan there, too.

Sure, I listened to it the whole way home and sure, I had all the intentions of walking in the door and cranking out 500 words on why this record was nowhere near as good as “The Difference…”, but I walked in the door and did what any 30 year old male does after a week vacation that his wife and daughter were still on, by the way. A 30 year old man, his castle to himself, could do anything in the world… so, I played Minecraft for 6 hours, took a shower and went to bed.

I had all the intentions of jotting my thoughts down. Hell, I had all the intentions of re-listening to the record, front to back, and get all those feelings flushing back to my otherwise preoccupied brain. I haven’t listened to the record once since that day.

Here’s what I remember: there’s nothing on “Tragedy” that makes me feel like “Debris”. There’s nothing even remotely close to anything on “Tragedy” that makes me feel like “Compass”. The first track’s intro reminds me of “Ballroom Blitz”. There are two too many breakdowns that start heavy and get progressively sllllooooowwwwweeeeerrrrr. Cool once, not twice, definitely not three times. The only song I know I didn’t like is “Withdrawal”. Everything else was good enough for me to bob my head, shout along after a few listens and think, “hell, this ain’t too bad”. I think it’s slower than “The Difference…”, which makes me want to say it’s heavier. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it seems to have a more ‘brutal’ lean to it.

I heard Counterparts is writing a new record right now. Maybe you’ll be able to catch my review of it in 2020 or so. Depends on my golf schedule. Welcome to 18 Hole Review. The next one will probably be an actual review. I just have to remember my headphones.

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