In defense of those who commit suicide.

Unpopular opinion:  suicide is not a selfish act and if you say/believe that it is, you are the selfish person.

Now, if you can swallow the ignorant reply that is trying to come out of your mouth right now, sit back and listen for a moment, because the people who have killed themselves might not have a voice, but I do and I am angry at the shit living people say about the dead.

Depression is a sad, sad thing and it kills people.  Depression is an illness and just because it kills people by causing them to take their own lives it does not make those deaths any less significant than say, someone who dies of cancer.

I have depression and have since I was very young.  I didn’t know what it was, or why I felt the way I did for a long time, but I’ve learned more about my illness over the years and how to cope with it.  I have contemplated suicide, but never attempted.  That is called suicide ideation, which is very different than actually attempting or committing suicide.

Here I am going to try to shed some light on why some people commit suicide and what they go through leading up to that decision.

Starting with what depression is like.

Depression is waking up everyday and not wanting to get out of bed because there is no point to your life.  Even if there is, your brain tells you “nope, you’re wrong, nothing you do will ever matter, you should just lay here instead.”  Depression is your brain saying over and over “no one loves you no one loves you no one loves you if they say they love you they’re lying because they don’t actually know how worthless you are.  By the way, you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless you’re worthless.” Depression is making art and hating it, but loving it, but also hating it and your brain telling you that your art is worthless too.  You’re worthless.

It does not matter what people say to you.  Even the best support by the most loving person is just another thing depression can tell you isn’t true.  That either they are lying, or they don’t understand you well enough to know that they should support or love you.  When someone in your life hurts or kills themselves, you cannot blame yourself.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how loving or supportive you are, depression can and will block that all out.

Some people take medication and it helps, some people take medication and it doesn’t help.  Some people take medication and they kill themselves because they suddenly have the energy and motivation to do so when their depression kept them from it before.  Some people self medicate with drugs, alcohol, etc, other people self medicate with hobbies.

Some people kill themselves.

Suicide is never a selfish act.  When a person commits suicide, most of the time they don’t believe that their lives have enough of an impact to matter.  Most depressed people believe that everyone around them is better off without them.  It does not matter if this is true or not.  This is what their depression tells them.  For the suicidal person, they have been told over and over by their own brain that if they die, no one will care and/or their family and friends will be better off without them.

I’ve been there.  I have been so close to the edge that I could taste it.  I self medicated with self harm and that kept me from stepping over that edge.  I have lived through dark moments where I thought how wonderful it would be to never have to wake up again because waking up is hard.  There were nights that I locked myself in the bathroom of my apartment while my sister was in bed texting a friend and cut myself until my skin went numb.  The emptiness inside of me made me want to scream, but I couldn’t let her know anything was wrong.  So I cut myself to feel something other than the yawning nothingness that stretched out inside of me.  Every day I used to wake up and wonder why I couldn’t be normal, why I couldn’t care like other people did.  I went through the motions with my friends, pretending that I was having fun, getting drunk enough that I could fool myself into having fun.  I partied three or four nights out of the week just to convince myself I was fine, then on the nights I didn’t go out, I talked to strangers online that I didn’t care about just to keep myself from being alone, because if I was alone, I would let myself die.

Everyone experiences depression differently.  Some people are depressed and never want to kill themselves, some people are like me and want to die but never attempt suicide, some people attempt to and survive, other people commit suicide to end their own suffering and the suffering that they believe they are causing everyone around them.

Depression (unless you live with it) is not about you, it is about the person dealing with it and their feelings.  When a person commits suicide it is not about you.  Yes, you are allowed to be upset, yes when someone influential or close to you commits suicide, it affects you, but it is not about you.  It is about them and what they were going through.

All of this being said, we can never truly know what another person was thinking when they decide to kill themselves.  Even when they leave a note, we can never really understand their reasons unless we have gone through exactly what they have.

What we can do is encourage those who need help to seek it.  We can ask “What can I do to help you?” rather than give advice on how to deal with depression (especially those of you who have never experienced it). We can do our research and understand that “being sad” isn’t the only symptom of depression so that we know what signs to look for.  We can listen and be sympathetic rather than assuming someone is crying out for attention.  And even if someone is crying out for attention, it’s because THEY PROBABLY NEED IT.

When someone commits suicide, we can mourn.  We can remind ourselves that it’s not our fault that their illness took them from us.  We can support their family and friends, and ask ourselves what we need to do better for the people in our lives to help them through their struggles.

It’s okay to be angry, to be sad, to not understand why someone would leave like that, but it’s not okay to speak irreverently of a human life that was destroyed by their mental illness.

Instead of throwing around words like “selfish” and “waste of life” lets be more understanding, even with the things we don’t understand.

 

Why haven’t I published a book yet?

It’s a question I get from almost everyone in my life who knows that I’m a writer.  It’s the first thing people ask when I mention that I’m a writer.  It also has an answer that is too complicated for small talk and is difficult for people, even other artists to understand.

To break it down, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to write a first draft of a novel, accounting for the fact that I, like many unpublished writers, work a full time job and do not make any money from my writing.  A first draft of a novel is not like a finished painting, it is crap.  Utter crap.  No first draft is ever readable.  I take pride in the fact that I produce pretty decent first drafts, but even I consider my first drafts a mere skeleton of what the final product should look like.  Factor in that I write fantasy and the fifty thousand word standard for contemporary novels skyrockets to a minimum of one hundred thousand words and sometimes that stretches even the 6 month mark a little further out.

Subsequent drafts can also take anywhere from 3-6 months, but I’ll be more precise and say that a second and third draft will only take me about two months each to produce.  This is if I’m doing good with my writing schedule, not going out of town a lot and not working weird hours that affect my free time and sleeping time (which I frequently do).  Also barring the fact that I often get new ideas and will take a week to write those fresh ideas down and get them out of my system, then get back to whatever I was already working on.

So, a minimum of a year to get to a third or fourth draft, which a writer will be ready to show to someone else, preferably another writer, or their entire writing group if they’re lucky to have one.  We do this thing called critiquing, which is where we trade pieces of late-stage drafts with other writers and give them constructive feedback from a writer’s point of view, some of the most valuable feedback we can get for our drafts.  That puts us in the fourth or fifth draft, sometimes taking up to six months for another writer to give our draft the attention and feedback that it needs.  This is the step I am at with Shadowhand, my current fantasy project, I’m looking for someone who wants to trade critiques so I can get some good feedback to make it stronger.

More important for writers planning to self publish, but also a valuable tool for writers looking to traditionally publish, is the beta reader.  A beta reader is someone in the writer’s target audience that reads the very polished version of the draft and answers specific questions regarding character and plot.  For instance, whether a certain sub plot works well in the story, or is confusing and distracting from another more important element.  A writer might ask their beta reader for their opinions on certain side characters that the writer isn’t sure they want to keep, or flesh out more, etc.  Depending on the number of beta readers, this process can take a while.  The larger the number of beta readers and the more diverse those people are, the better, but more readers means more time and everyone reads at a different pace.

So that puts us between four and six drafts of a novel, depending on the method a writer uses and if they choose to use the beta reader model.  For a first novel, the more eyes on it before an agent sees it, the better.

Which brings us to the agent.  For anyone hoping to traditionally publish through a publishing house, large or small, they need a literary agent.  This is a person who has connections at the publishing houses, knows editors and will read your manuscript and know the best people to send it to.  They make money off of your sales, taking a commission, basically, so it is in their best interest to get your book the best deal with the biggest publisher.  Finding an agent interested in your work can take several months, or even years.

Same thing with an editor.  Having an agent will generally speed up the process because hopefully they are targeting the people who would be interested in your work, but it still takes time.  Editors have interns who read through crap everyday that they never even see.  Even with an agent, it could take weeks or months for that editor to even get around to looking at your manuscript.  They are often in the middle of multiple projects at once, working with different authors.

So that’s the process (plus the year or two it takes for the editor to edit your manuscript, printing, distribution, marketing, etc).  I also happen to be a perfectionist.  I don’t settle for anything less than my best work.  My fantasy world was in the works for years before I was comfortable even writing an entire novel in its setting and even after I started writing those novels, my ideas for the world evolved and changed so I had things to change in the stories.

Writing is not easy.  I saw a post written by someone else who said (I’m paraphrasing here) that they think people (non writers) believe that writing is easy, because in theory anyone can write.  Which is true.  Anyone can write down a sentence, or a paragraph.  Anyone can write a novel.  You could sit down and write a novel right now and have fifty thousand words of crap sitting on your table in a few months, because that’s what it will be: crap.  Everything I’ve ever written has started out as crap.  I’ve written five different fantasy worlds that I scrapped and haven’t even bothered to go back and look at.

I went to school for four years for writing and it made me a better writer, but it doesn’t mean I can write a perfect first draft, no one can.  I can write a pretty good first draft that doesn’t make me cringe, but it’s not great.  The most valuable thing I learned in school was how to recognize what was bad and what was good and how to fix the bad things.

To sum up a very long post, I don’t have a book published yet because I’m not ready to publish one yet.  I have a draft that I am pretty proud of and am ready to get some feedback on, but I am not ready to have a professional literary agent read it.  When I send Shadowhand out to an agent for consideration, I want it to be the best thing that it can be.  Deep down, I am an artist at heart and I cannot set my creations free out in the world if they aren’t something I can be proud of and stand behind.  I know what good writing is and what goes into it, so I’m going to put the work in to give myself the best chance at succeeding in doing something I love.  I won’t settle for anything less because my art, and I, am worth more than that.

Why I wrote Shadowhand

[Featured image by Tumblr user lizard-is-writing]

With this post, I hope to start a sort of series about each novel I have written/am writing and why I felt compelled to tell that specific story.

I don’t write because it’s fun, I write because I have to.  It allows me to hold onto some semblance of sanity even though writing sometimes makes me feel more insane than not at times.  Writing isn’t easy, it isn’t magic, it’s hard work.  When I sit down to write out an idea, it’s because these characters won’t let their voices be drowned out, they demand to have their story written.

Dreya and Drys have been a part of my life since I was in high school.  They began as fae, but have ended up as a half human, half Dark Elf and a full blooded Dark Elf, respectively, in my original fantasy world of Tarith.  I knew pretty early on that their story was not going to be an easy one to tell and that it would hit close to home at times.  Even before they came to my world of Tarith, they were both broken people trying to heal from parts of their past.

Dreya and Drys’ story is one about darkness.  It is about the inner darkness that we all carry inside of us, whether it’s there because of something that has happened to us or because we choose to let it reside there.  This story touches on both of those and the things that become possible when one embraces their inner darkness, rather than running from it, or trying to deny it.

Good and evil are a matter of perspective.  Yes, there are some actions many of us can agree on that fall solidly on one side or another, but most of the world exists in a grey area that is only colored by our own experiences.  Shadowhand was born when I started looking at my own inner darkness and the parts of myself that didn’t agree with society’s vision of good and evil and decided to see what would happen if I let it flourish.  Spoiler alert: I became a much happier person.

I then wondered how I could tell a story about broken people who found strength in that brokenness and good people who sometimes do evil things.  From years of Dreya whispering to me about her haunted past, I knew that she would be capable of telling this story, and that Drys, a war veteran plagues with guilt, was also another perfect candidate.

I’m not here to write about the hero that saves the day, or the chosen one.  I’m here to reach down and pull out some of the darkest, truest parts of us and bare them to the light.  To show that embracing ones darkness does not make a person evil, but that it can sometimes heal us more than we know.

Progress

I’m probably in the healthiest mental state I have ever been in my life, right now.  I’ve struggled with depression to the point of suicide ideation and anxiety that has given me panic attacks when I’m on the way to work.  I still struggle daily with both, but in much less threatening quantities and I’ve gotten to this point by asking myself “what is making me unhappy and what can I do to change that?”

Not writing enough was one of those things so writing more went straight to the top of my to do list.  In the past year and a half, I’ve finished two manuscripts (one of them already partially written that I revived from the grave) and written 50,000 words of another that will probably end up being much, much longer than that.

Socially, I’ve withdrawn a lot and that has taken a toll on my social media interaction, but done wonders for my anxiety.  I have a very socially taxing job (I’m a barista in management) and I put almost all of my social energy into being present there every week.

Another facet of anxiety is that I second guess myself constantly when it comes to talking about my writing.  I never know what to share, what is too much to share, and if people are/will be even interested.  I feel like my writing process, being a complete pantser, is fairly boring and I don’t know what advice to give to people.  I know it’s in there somewhere, I just don’t know how to dig it out.  After all, I would hope that my BA in Creative Writing that taught me so much about writing that I still use would produce something useful that I could share with others.

So this is my attempt to revive this blog and post more about my writing and writing in general.  I started this blog to talk about why I write and why writing is important to me and other people.  I’m in the middle of rewriting the first novel in my original fantasy series so I think I’ll start blogging about that process.  I’m about halfway through the rewrite and I’ve discovered a lot about myself as a writer and how far I’ve come since I first put the idea down on paper.  Perhaps someone will find something that speaks to them in my process.  While it’s gotten manageable, the anxiety is still there and its hard to put myself out there, but I think it’s important, since I shouldn’t discount the importance of my own words.  I’m a writer, after all, if I don’t take myself seriously, why should anyone else?

Journaling through Poetry and the Importance of Emotion

I’ve always tried to journal and never been very good at it.  I suppose I’ve never felt that my day to day life is very interesting and there are a lot of things in my life that I am more than happy to let fade into the past, rather than recording them onto paper to be burned later.

I mentioned in my last post about poetry that I started a poetry journal when I was 13 years old.  Ever since I read a book that offered the idea of a journal of poems, I have kept one, for nearly ten years.  I draft on paper, on the computer, in the notes section of my phone, and write the final draft by hand in my journal, with a date.  I don’t write poetry habitually, or regularly, I just record my poems when they come.  I have spans of months, and one nearly a year where I didn’t write any new poetry, but in ten years, I have nearly five composition books full.  Poetry is not my form of choice, but it suits the journaling purpose.

I love my poetry journal.  Rather than a traditional journal, keeping track of meaningless details and days and things that I would rather forget, I capture memories and emotions like snapshots in my poems.  When I go back and revisit older journals, I get to feel my memories rather than try to grasp at a faded, grey scale picture, disappearing from my mind.

Emotions are important.  For much of my life, I have always been afraid to share mind, a product of the environment I was raised in.  Instead of vocalizing my feelings, I’ve always written them down.  Even though I’m learning how to express my emotions out loud, it is still so much easier for me to write them down.

My poems often read like letters, addressed sometimes to a specific audience and sometimes to no one or everyone in particular.  I write a lot about my past as a cutter and about living everyday with anxiety and depression and what it’s like being a physical and emotional masochist.  I write about love and friendship, painting pictures with words that don’t come to me except with a pen on paper.

I am a perfectionist, so being able to draft out my emotions in poems and revising the words until my expression if exact is a borderline obsession.  When I tell a person how much they mean to me, I usually write letters and rehearse my words beforehand.  I have a decently large vocabulary and I am meticulous in my word choice.  I don’t like repeating important words, or ones that stand out.  I like variety in my writing, even if it makes it sound pretentious.  I kind of am pretentious.

Writing poetry brings out a certain desperation in me.  In that is the all-consuming need that I have to write, but also the need to express myself personally.  In poems addressed to my boyfriend, I highlight our memories together, the special moments that I never want us to forget because I know that someday we’ll want the reminders so we can cherish them together.  For my best friend, I chronicle the special bond we share.  It is one of those friendships that is difficult to put into words, but I struggle to find a way to explain it anyways.  Poetry seems to be the only way I can capture our unique relationship.

I use my poetry to revisit times when I used to hurt myself, dredging up what I felt at the time.  I want to keep a record of those emotions, to help myself better understand who I am, since my drive for pain is a huge part of me.  Similarly, I document my struggles with depression and social anxiety in my poetry.  There is a lot of frustration in those, since so few people understand what it is like to deal with that special mix of lifelong mental afflictions.  A lot of people have experienced depression in one form or another, but clinical is a different monster and my masochism lends a whole other shade to the spectrum of mental illness.

My drive to write comes from so many places, that desperate need to sort out my emotions, to capture memories, to analyze myself.  I’ve mentioned music as an inspiration for my fiction writing, and it is true of my poetry as well.  The covers of my poetry journals are collections of quotes from songs that have touched me.  Instant inspiration whenever I pick up my journal, a collection of musings from minds other than my own.  Music helps ground me, gives rhythm to my writing.  Music is so heavily tied to emotion, which is where my poetry takes root as well.

So poetry has become my outlet for those things that I have a difficult time saying aloud and for the things that I struggle with on my own.  While novel writing will always be my calling, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing poetry.  I don’t ever plan on seriously publishing any of my poems, but I hate them less and less every day that I write more of them.  It’s a type of journaling that suits me and feels more meaningful to me.  Emotions are an important thing to express and when you are an introverted writer like me, poetry is a good outlet.

 

I Surrendered My Heart to I Prevail

Last month, I went to see one of my favorite bands perform live and walked away thinking about a completely different band I had seen for the first time that night.  I Prevail opened for Hollywood Undead and absolutely blew my mind that night.  Not only was their set energetic and ground-shaking, but I took home their EP and kept it on repeat for a week straight.

I Prevail is a Post-Hardcore band out of Detroit, Michigan, featuring a fresh, clean sound both on stage and on their record.  Their name sets a high expectation for their music, when I think of the word “prevail” I think of defeating enemies, conquering castles, and continuing onward in the face of despair.  Their EP “Heart vs. Mind” carries this theme that their name introduces throughout its entirety, breaking down what it means to prevail.

I was a little bit nervous when I first popped in the CD as I drove home from the show and the first track opened with synth.  Now, I don’t have anything against electronic music, but I’ve had experiences with some post hardcore bands that use way too much over produced synth to make their music a little more mainstream-friendly and it doesn’t usually turn out too well.  I Prevail did not do that, thankfully.  They stay dedicated to their melodic, heavy roots, throwing in some synth, piano, and strings to accent a well rounded sound.

The second track on the EP “Crossroads” spoke to me on an intimate level, which is what music is supposed to do.  At first, I expected it to be just another cliche “hold on, it gets better” song that is a post hardcore staple, but as I listened, I realized it was much more.  “You gotta dig deep and bury all the thoughts, the thoughts that tell you, you’re not good enough…..I always get built up, but broke right back down” are words spoken from the heart of someone who has experienced depression and knows what it feels like, everyday.  When Eric screams his parts, you can feel the truth and experience behind his words.  When Brian sings, it is almost like he is trying to reach out to his bandmate.  The dual songwriting on this track works brilliantly and brings a freshness to a topic that sometimes seems overdone.

“Love, Lust, and Liars” and “The Enemy” were both released as singles before I Prevail debuted their EP and both are a perfect representation of the theme I introduced earlier.  “Love, Lust and Liars” is a great twist on the usual sad breakup song, instead of dwelling on someone who has hurt you, it is a fast paced, heavy hitting song that is a big “fuck you” to the person who destroyed this relationship.  Alternatively, “The Enemy” is a campaign against a person who has never done anything good for our heroes.  “Face Your Demons” is another story in this theme, taking prevailing to another level: revenge.  Sometimes, moving on requires destroying someone else.  Here our heroes destroy an evil person who hurt someone close to them, making sure their name is sullied for all time.

This EP is eight songs of unforgiving, relentless soul-felt music that doesn’t slow down for a second, even when we get to I Prevail’s ballad of a love song.

Once again, these guys show us a different side to something that could have turned out cliched.  Often we get the token love song on an album, slower, something that may appeal to listeners outside of the metal scene and that’s all well and good.  After a run of hard hitting metal tracks, I Prevail brings us an acoustic ballad about unrequited love.  The weakness, it seems, in every hero, except here they do not win the girl.  In a string of songs that talk about victory and overcoming everything in your path, this track shakes up the theme a little bit, showing us that even a warrior loses some battles.  But the EP picks right back up again for the end, bringing us another heavy song before they close out with the cover song that got I Prevail a lot of the spotlight they are seeing today.

Normally, I wouldn’t go through the effort of talking about a cover song, but I Prevail’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” is such a great cover that I have to touch on it.  I’ve been a big fan of the Pop Goes Punk albums for a while now and a distressing trend I have noticed in the later editions is how unoriginal a lot of the covers are.  Often they end up sounding just like a guy singing a song that a girl originally did, not a lot is changed musically, melodically, if anything is changed at all.  I Prevail do a number on Taylor Swift’s popular song, you can recognize the familiar melody, but Brian takes it out of Swift’s register and Eric’s screams, especially in the bridge, bring a completely different element to the song lyrically.  The rest of the band turn the pop song into a metal song and it is delightful.

I will not hesitate to say that I am stoked for a full length album from these guys.  I cannot wait to see what they have to add to their theme that they have delivered on so far.  I’m a sucker for well written lyrics, balanced cleans and screams, and a heavy sound and I Prevail delivered all of those things and more.

Not the Kind of Rodeo You Were Expecting, Was It?

The Nixon Rodeo is a local Spokane band that caught my interest three years ago, when out of the blue, I happened to miss them opening at Rock Hard at the Park, but ended up running into their drummer, Ethan Harrison, at a Shari’s in Spokane Valley after the show.  I remember having a short conversation with him that ended with him running out to his car to grab their debut album “Made To Bleed” to give to me.  That album has not left my car since and every chance I’ve had, I’ve gone to see them live.  I have been addicted ever since.

It was my pleasure last weekend to not only watch them play one, but two, two hour sets to celebrate the release of their new album “Relentless” and snag a copy.  I’d been streaming it on Spotify the week previous and listened to it a few times in the car with my boyfriend, but I was itching to get the CD in my car on repeat.  So I listened to it eight times in one day and here I am, writing a review on what is easily my favorite album of the year.

The Nixon Rodeo has always been a heady blend of punk, alt-rock, metal, and post hardcore that can satisfy the heart of any rock and roll fan and they delivered all of that and more with the new record.  The quiet intro sparked with gunfire and distant sirens is reminiscent of Metallica’s “One” and brings the same sense of anticipation that doesn’t quite wholly prepare you for what you are about to experience.  In what is arguably a second intro, Ethan jumps in and introduces The Nixon Rodeo, because why the heck not introduce yourself on your own record.  His opening screams “Raise the bar” set the tone for the entire album.  The Nixon Rodeo definitely raised the bar.

They open with the single “Hesitation’s an Indication” that showcases all that The Nixon Rodeo has to offer: Brent’s incredible, diverse, vocal range, Josh shredding out a classically rock and roll guitar solo, iconic punk rock gang vocals lending an anthem-like feel and Ethan’s powerful screams lacing the track with a hardcore vibe.  Diving right into their fourth track with another single “Now you Got My Attention” we are immediately assaulted with the same level of vocal strength and complex lyrics.

The Rodeo brings a mixture of cleans and screams that are often at odds with each other, creating a dichotomy that singles out certain parts of the lyrics.  Definitely my favorite example is in “Back and Forth” where during the pre-chorus, Brent sings “I don’t wanna talk” and Ethan cuts in screaming “I wanna talk!” and takes over.  This primes the way for Ethan’s spoken part after the chorus and makes you stand up and pay attention.  To counter that, the two vocalists also use each other as a balance for their melodies, lining up cleans and screams in perfect execution.

“Uncontrollable” delivers the tried and true anthem for all of those who have experienced the pressure of trying to be someone that they are not.  The Nixon Rodeo throws us their take on this often overused cliche and delivers a fresh stance that I credit to great writing.  A vein that runs through all of the Rodeo’s lyrics is rhyme, which usually sounds awful and forced, but here adds a poetic structure that makes what simply could have been a good song, a great song.  For instance:
“And now we’re still here waiting
Understating, illustrating
A tragic ending to a fucked up song
I hope everyone will sing along”
There are definitely incomplete or off rhymes that don’t match up with some of the more complete rhymes and jar the ear a bit, but for the most part the songwriting is solid and poetically executed.

What I enjoyed most about this album was how every song was different.  Different lyrically, musically, structurally.  Some tracks were resoundingly metal, like “Hesitation,” “Found ME In Team” and “Now You’ve Got My Attention.”  There was a slow, pop punk ballad, “Scandal” and some classic rock and roll tracks, “Back and Forth,” “Uncontrollable” and their cover of “Billie Jean.”  Then, in absolute Rodeo style, they brought in a completely unique and great element to the track “Now or Never,” the inclusion of the “Rodeo” chant.   The battle cry of The Nixon Rodeo’s fans.  The song itself is about the fans and the appropriateness of including the chant lent an intimate feeling to the song that could have been accomplished no other way.  They round out the album by including a fast paced angst-y punk song “Keep Me Awake” and another slow, beautiful ballad in “A Chance to Tell You.”

It is worth mentioning that this is a talented group of guys who not only recorded songs on this record playing more than one instrument, but they switch it up on stage too. Travis jumps on drums for Ethan during the more scream-heavy songs and I’ve seen Brent take over the bass, though they like to bring up guest musicians to help out during these songs as well.  Some bands can hardly pull off one sound live, let alone a mix of different genres, but The Nixon Rodeo does it all.  Their unique musicality isn’t lost during the live set and they are one of the most fun, high-energy bands I’ve seen perform.  They sound clean and well-rehearsed, something I’ve learned to appreciate from a live band.  Two nights, two hours, back to back and I couldn’t have been more impressed.

I could sit here and dissect every song on this album and explain exactly how each part makes the whole a great record, but I will refrain from spilling my guts on the topic.  The Nixon Rodeo’s third album, “Relentless” is for those of you who love rock music.  The diversity of the songs, the original lyrical content, and ability to do each of these songs justice live, two nights, back to back, is what makes “Relentless,” and The Nixon Rodeo, outstanding.