Cautious the National

Photo by Joshua Porter.

We met on a dating site. I don’t remember what screen name I used. Yours was “Cautious.”

You’re a Minneapolis girl. You love music and bands define your life. You’re also artsy and edgy. Definitely too cool for me.

I don’t know much about indie music but instead of asking smart questions I tried to talk about something else. I think I thought you’d be impressed that I worked at an art museum.

You did recommend a band for me. “The National.” They’ve gotten you through some tough times. We talked a little about that band and I decided I should listen to them. Maybe I was just hoping that if I listened to them you’d like me. But you kind of sold me on it.

Sorry about the rest of the conversation. I was nervous, and there was no chemistry as you know. It was one of those painful how-can-I-fill-the-quiet things. Kind of like dry humping, but for talk.

This is the best part.

“I had fun tonight,” I said, wondering why I said that.

“Yeah, me too,” you said. That was nice of you.

“Let’s get together again…”

“I don’t think so.”

Thanks for being direct like that.

I don’t think of you often but here’s the thing. When I got home I did check out The National. I put them on a Pandora station. I tried to imagine you listening to these songs after a breakup or when you’re all alone. Maybe you listened to them that very night. I couldn’t picture it.

But the songs were pretty good, and I kept the station.

Over time I changed it. I curated. It still has that same seed band but now many others. It’s still named Cautious The National.

I don’t remember your real name, Cautious, or exactly what you look like. But you did educate me a little on indie rock and boy-girl relations. And once in a while I listen to my station, and I think of you.

Thanks Cautious.


And Not for Me

This is my new favorite song.

I want you to move to California for yourself,

I want you to find whatever your heart needs,

I want you to move to California for yourself, but not for me.

Many thanks to the band Delta Spirit for making the .mp3 available as a free download. You can grab it from their site here. You can also see the full lyrics on their blog. The song is called California, but it’s about so, so much more.


Adventure, Spotlight

The X-Structure: Music for a Great Adventure

I don’t separate art. It all blends together. When I took a drawing class, the professor noted that my sketches had a story to go with them. She made some savvy suggestions on artists I’d love (Hello, Redon). When I write fiction I picture the scene and I include visual details. It’s not a room, it’s a grey room and the lady’s wearing blue.

Everybody doesn’t roll that way.

But at least one group of musicians out there does, and you should all listen to them. They’re called the X-Structure.

The X-Structure

I’m not sure how I heard of them. It was last year, online somewhere. They offered a free version of their previous album, Liberation. I don’t seek out a whole lot of music these days, with 400 digitized CDs plus Pandora and Tubalr showing me new stuff. But the X-Structure caught me.

If I had to give it a genre I’d call it ambient but with meat on its bones. Spacious sci-fi sounds arc over a haunted landscape. This music carries mood like a virus.

Now here’s a tip for any creatives out there: when I become a fan of your work, I become a fan. I will spread that shit around. Maybe it’s because I blog. I know how hard it is to get your work out there. A tweet and facebook share means something, in a way that “I love your work” just can’t match. If you love it, feed it… make it bigger… help it grow.

So I tweeted, shared, and talked very publicly about the X-Structure. I told people to go check them out. Then life moved on.

Until last week, when this tweet came in:


@Rogue_Priest Here’s something to accompany you on yer quest. My gift to you, The X-Structure’s new album Wild Places.

I was en route to kayaking. I managed to shoot off a thank-you tweet, but only today did I finally get to download it and give it a listen. And?

This is the soundtrack of the Great Adventure.

Found in Wild Places

As the band says on the release page:

As with all of our albums there is always a story… each track has its own specific story which ultimately forms part of the larger story of the album. This larger story being an invitation to take the road less travelled, knowing that you have what it takes, a true heart, to stay the course… and something greater behind it all.

The Road Less Traveled is also the name of the first track, and while that phrase is overused in commencement speeches (and probably lyrics), here it’s encoded in tantalizing, beckoning sounds from somewhere up ahead. The synths draw you forward, promising nothing but no way back. And you go anyway.

The rest of the album takes you scene by scene down abandoned beaches, through overgrown highways and into places most people won’t ever go. The release page offers a written storyline for each track, but you won’t need them: you can feel the narrative in the sounds. It’s tangible.

Starrzan, X-Structure’s front man, bills himself as an adventurer and explorer. Whether it’s him or the character he’s created, his music proves he knows his way around that calling. I’ve never heard songs that so perfectly evoke the feeling of being alone on the road, outside, the breeze in your hair and only the spirits to keep you company.

I recommend you check it out. Wild Places is available for free:

The X-Structure: Wild Places

As with all promotions on Rogue Priest, I do this only because I believe in the artist: I’m not getting paid. If you like their sound, tweet about it or Facebook it up.

Listened yet? What do you think?