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Retrospective: [USA] by Anamanaguchi (2019)

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I'm listening to my favorite albums of 2019 right now, and doing a retrospective of them, how they came to me, how I feel about them, what I like about them.

There's a lot of reviews of this album, it's doing very well. I don't need to convince you that it's worth listening to in its own right. Even though it only came out a month ago, this album is probably going to be the album which influences me the most as I chew through it.

The road to [USA] was long, Anamanaguchi originally planned to release this in 2015, but scrapped it in dissatisfaction. I was so damned excited when I saw the teaser at the end of pop it! in 2014. It took five years to come out, though, and it didn't come with pop it!. It was released while I was visiting friends and family in Arizona, and celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the founding of my dear hackerspace, HeatSync Labs.

Being in Arizona gives me time and space to explore emotions and thoughts I otherwise overlook, paired with a near constant undercurrent of anxiety. I usually travel there by myself and stay by myself these days and I try to make sure that I carve a lot of time out to run at that speed and find space for understanding those anxieties. [USA] feels similar in that regard, an album that I can fall in to and let it guide me through a set of feelings I need to process and to see what falls from that.

I'll admit I stayed up until 2am to listen to this album. I spent the evening sharing tea and politics with my friend and some of their friends, all of them members of Arizona's go club. It was, in short, a really wonderful evening, more than I could have expected. I got back to the apartment I was staying at, climbed in to bed, went to play, probably, some Music for Sleep track, and y'know. Go to sleep. [USA] was there, so I turned the light back on, made some more tea, and I listened to the thing all the way through. I didn't read anything about it, I didn't try to look up the lyrics, I just went through it and immediately went to sleep. And I listened to it again in the morning, and two dozen times since it came out at the end of October.

Sunset by Plane made me cry that first time I listened to it. It's a track that I can place myself in – a lens of my own experiences following love and youthful energy to California, of the five years I spent there, and who it's made me today. Even without the emotional weight attached, it's my favorite track on the album.

[USA] has a journal vibe to it. Going through that whole experience it is about that transition from what the world was then and what it was to us, it's important to note, especially since the album is called [USA], it certainly is not about the United States of America.

Anamanaguchi have been open about their intentions and inspirations for this album. The world has changed since Endless Fantasy came out, Anamanguchi changed since then, I've changed since then. This album is a lens for those changes, and a representation the band's growth as people and craftsmen. It's a wake up call for the nintendo generation.

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Ryan Rix is a privacy rights advocate and net-art wannabe. Reach them on the Fediverse as @rrix@cybre.space, twitter as @rrrrrrrix, via email to ryan@whatthefuck.computer or on Facebook or on Matrix as @rrix:whatthefuck.computer.