.​.​.​Is This Part Of The Art?

by The Michael Character

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This album is the spark notes version of the 10 months immediately following college graduation.

More songs about transitions, anxiety, living at home, unemployment, and sadness, but with the added ingredients of contentedness, fulfillment, and actually getting a job that I love. Hope you don't hate it.

Endless thanks to the many friends who helped me put this together. I do not possess the creative or cognitive ability necessary to authentically express how grateful I am for all of you.


released March 18, 2013

The Michael Character - Acoustic guitar, vocals (and lyrics), mandolin, banjo, violin, xylophone, auxiliary percussion, singing bowl, ukulele

Connor (of The Michael Character) - Upright bass on tracks 2 and 7, acoustic lead guitar on track 1, backing vocals on tracks 5 and 7.

Honorary Characters...

Anna - Vocals and harp on tracks 4 and 8

Eric - Upright bass on tracks 5 and 6

John - keys on track 7, backing vocals on track 8

Lance - backing vocals on track 5

Sean - backing vocals on track 5

The Pittsburgh Crew (Dylan, Justin, Taylor, Jackson, and Nathan, plus Dan even though he's not from Pittsburgh) - backing vocals on track 7

J.J. - backing vocals on track 6

Album Art
Conor Monte

Mostly recorded in a tiny bedroom in North Quincy, MA with a single MXL V63M condenser mic and Audacity.

Partially recorded in other people's bedrooms/living rooms with said mic.

Partially recorded by friends, presumably in their bedrooms as well but I can't say for certain.



all rights reserved


The Michael Character Boston, Massachusetts

Acoustic punk based in Boston, MA. Absolutely willing to drive very far to play for you and five of your vaguely alternative friends in your combination kitchen/laundry room. Hit me up.


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Track Name: Reviver
I boxed up my memories into stained, wood-framed 5x3s
'Cause 'college' is just another flickr album to sift through now
Hoping to understand how we got where we never knew we didn't want to be:
A clean suit, a shit job, a taut rope, and a tall tree

A patient, deep breath
Poignant ins and outs, a chilling silence set to rest
95 in the sun, 96 in the shade, 107 in the engines of the motorcade

We're not products of a new age
We're revivalist performers on the original production stage
Just turning over rocks to find the mystery
But you can't see
What's behind what lies beneath
So maybe the answer's on the west coast
Or in the Mississippi Delta, but I honestly don't think so
And I hope to God you can prove me wrong
Track Name: Moving to Brooklyn
My bachelor’s degree has fallen asleep on my dresser
I’ll hang it someday in place I’ll have made
Where presently posters from high school pepper my wall
But for now I am stalling
But for now I’ll pretend
That 30 is dying, that 40 is death
That the greatest of sins is to find time to rest I am high strung
I am strung out
I’ll pretend that my friends are truly fucking free
But my future is pending and that won’t bother me
I’ll pretend it don’t bother me
You’re moving to Brooklyn I’m living at home
Neurotically grasping at proof that I’ve grown up a little
That I’m not the same child I was for no reason other than
The room that I sleep in, the car that I drive
The same mortal fear that I’m wasting away still alive
But our 20s aren’t sacred, we’re just blowing steam
‘Cause we’re scared there’s a threshold for living our dreams that we’re passing
That we’re missing our stop, we forgot to get off, and soon it’ll be gone
But it won’t be gone
And I know you wouldn't be told what to do
You can fall on your own knees
Tend to your own bruises, so go
You can run the whole way back to Brooklyn
Just drop me a line when you feel something brewing inside
Some anxious demise
One tiny last token of all the years spent telling lies
To yourself and your friends 'bout beginnings and ends
And the way you don't buy into
Societal paradigms of success in the sense of complete self reliance
Well you can talk all you want but I know when you're lying
Track Name: The Neighbors
I don't write many happy songs about winter on the north Atlantic coast
God knows why 'cause hell, I love it
Wet gloves, fingers numb, and boots that never dry on the inside

And when we're all grown up
We'll rake the leaves on Sunday mornings
Impress our neighbors with our adult priorities
And we will curse the young
And claim we never loved the limbo
We'll all be strangers, but we'll pay our own rent
Track Name: September (Interlude for Employment)
By September it seemed the concrete had set; I told myself each night that I would rise with the sun, but instead pried open crusty, dispirited eyes each morning at 11, like stubborn oysters, begging another minute of mute confusion before the inevitable,sobering, raw exposure of waking life brought a much despised focus to it all. I had always been a list maker, but this practice had been elevated from a helpful organizational technique to a survival strategy in the months since graduation; today I was to check job listings, send out resumes and cover letters to new prospective employers, follow-up call those prospective employers that I had initially contacted a certain period of time back, and read a chapter or two of laborious historical criticism in order to keep my academic mind from spoiling in the daily toxic ritual of repetitious restaurant labor which I had become so accustomed to. Do this, it always seemed, and you will make it through the day. And I always did.
But the turning of the seasons had reframed this routine with a new urgency; September, the month I had forever associated with new beginnings, ever since that first brisk morning at the bus stop when the older kids taught five year old me the coolest way to wear my baseball cap, September, the month of new friends, new teachers, then new professors, new opportunities, new experiences, a new start to an old cycle, not merely a spoke to the calendar's wheel but the originating moment of the annual circuit, September, this most stalwart of traditions had, this year, brought no changes. Instead, it's first few weeks blended so completely in my mind with the preceding month of August that I barely noticed the steadily dropping temperature and meekly curling leaves, forfeiting their moisture drop by drop until the annual browning and oranging had visibly begun. I remained oblivious to the fact that summer had, in keeping with its own unchanging annual customs, given way to autumn. Then, a thought; perhaps the entirely predictable growth and change of nature was only jarring because the restaurant, the context for my most distinct moments of angst and anxiety and self-loathing, has no windows. I sigh deeply, completely, and decide that perhaps it wouldn't be too detestable a thing to sleep another hour.
And then...a phone call.
Track Name: Stop, Take Stock
Won't say that it's bad that I'm happy
I can't complain
Cashin' salary checks that are all the same
No more minimum wage
No more calling my Mom to tell her I'll be home late
Because I'm out on my own now
Playin' real boy
Fully employed in my field (YAY!)
Four straight months; sour heart, sad brain
Now I'm settling into a new link on the food chain

But while it's true that some weathered a long climb
Some were abroad with their boyfriends in fancy clothes
Living largely, in love for the meantime
Or keeping busy while you hold on for tomorrow

We all stop
We all take stock
We all feel regret about paths we've taken
There's always a legacy wonderin'
'What ifs' by the hundreds
And downplayin' all we've made

She went to a better school than you
But she's hardly self-actualized
Now you spend all your evenings alone in your bedroom
But by daylight teach children to empathize with each other
What a beautiful thing
Track Name: New Roots
Last free parking spot
On the end of my new block
Smell a salty shore breeze
Reminds me of New Jersey
But Quincy, my adopted home, is quite a lovely town
And so I'll gladly put my roots down to pull a lived life out
Track Name: Hardly Punk. Not Ashamed.
I signed my lease with no co-signer
My bank raised my credit ceiling by 300%
And well, that's pretty cool I guess
I pay my rent before the first
And every hunger and other thirst I feel is dealt with through expenditures entirely my own

And I know it's hardly punk to pay your bills without a headache
'Cause you budget effectively
But take my word for it:
I'd rather be a poseur and a hypocrite
Than stumble 'round New Jersey feelin' like a sack of shit
You better believe it

So we all got older, but we stayed the same
We took a chance at being independent
And we worked for all be gained
I excelled by other's definitions, but for all my efforts
Made a little home on my own terms
And I'm not ashamed, no I'm not ashamed
Track Name: The Things That Matter
Livin' up to the aspirations of a younger man who wanted to be better
Is gettin' tough
'Cause I haven't been off work in five long months and I am tired
I know it's hard, I know
And sometimes I gotta just raise my head
And do the work that the world needs done
But sometimes I get lazy
and it's hard to admit it, but I gotta be honest

I don't always give a shit about the things that matter;
The people that I love
And that's real fucked up of me

Even when I've got the time I don't always use it wisely
I ought to call you up
And tell you how much you mean

Oh it's conceivable we'll change in time
We gotta wait and see
But maybe someday we'll be the people that we want to be