To All the Hours Lost on Blogspot

american poetry club remembers Sophie’s Floorboard, Pukekos, and being ”annoying indie kids.”

Around the year 2014, Jordan stumbled upon their first contemporary DIY release, Bethlehem Steel’s “Grow Up.” They were 17 years old, finishing up high school on Long Island, and largely ignorant of the vibrant house shows bands like Oso Oso were playing a few towns over. Connor was driving around Wisconsin, exiting his Radiohead phase, now obsessing over Bright Eyes instead — his first deep dive into the discography of a DIY band. We were the annoying indie kids who didn’t quite get that music wasn’t a personality yet. We spent most nights that year googling “album name zip,” searches which would time and time again lead us to one website, Blogspot.

Blogspot kinda sucked. A blog-hosting service lacking any comprehensive design capabilities, it was already a forgotten place when we arrived — isolated and without community, primarily populated by dead mediafire links and long inactive emails. At the same time, it was intensely personal. A majority of our discoveries until then had been through semi-collegiate radio stations, Pitchfork, or the newspaper reviews of Speedy Ortiz’s Major Arcana we requested our moms send to us while we spent the summer at camp. 

Sophie’s Floorboard changed all that. A personal archive run by someone named Kevin, the blog was an endless library of full discography downloads and short descriptions of US-based emo and hardcore bands. From Sophie’s Floorboard, we’d move on to Pukekos, BJ Rubin’s one stop shop for the perfect combo of not-yet-canonical indie and Brooklyn’s rising stars. For the first time, we could receive recommendations from people whose ambitions were just as earthbound as ours. It was that lack of pretense that made Blogspot a place we could lose a few hours in, absorbing the stories of basements we’d dream of seeing and the histories of people we’d swear we’d meet. They rarely cared for big personalities or the critically acclaimed. They were largely archiving the lives of kids who seemed to not have anything better to do — who were gonna be hanging in the basement anyway, so they might as well write some tunes.

That sincerity has kept many finds from those first days in our rotation today. Acts like the Love of Palatazo, Madeline Ava, Marietta, and Pants Yell! would define the sort of project we’d want to be in one day. There wasn’t any need for myth-making or grandiose origin stories; you could gather they were happy to be heard at all. If you wanted to learn more about them and what they do, all you had to do was find a contact form and ask. 

Blogspot gave us music that demanded we make it too one day. We’ll say it proudly: We love emo music! We love twee! Whether it was doing a deep-dive on the scene’s history or checking out what new bands Sophie’s Floorboard had posted, that feeling of uncovering it all felt like an accomplishment. These blogs documented a time when emo and bedroom pop were viewed as niche in an already marginal scene. They covered communities no one else would, of which only a few acts had even dreamed of crossing over and breaking through. That’s why when we first discovered these artists, it felt like something uniquely our own — a feeling that later built bonds with friends who had done the same.

Beyond our development as musicians, Blogspot laid the groundwork for our embrace of Bandcamp’s now-go-ahead-and-actually-do-it attitude. The incredibly frustrating work of digging through countless archives and sending an unhealthy amount of undelivered emails in hopes of acquiring a rinky dink rip of a four-song EP encouraged us appreciate the beauty and vulnerability of creating any sort of art at all. Those lost hours deciding which of the two available band photos to turn into an MS paint-based album cover for our mp3 libraries taught us that what qualifies as having meaning and lasting impact is up to us as individuals to decide.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t admit it played a role in the forming of our most influential ventures, like Jordan’s tape label It Takes Time Records, which hoped to preserve the scattered bedroom music they had been coming across. Blogspot showed us that the act of making music is enough on its own. Why fret over critical acclaim when you’ve found refuge in the love of community? The value of art isn’t determined by anything other than whether or not you are proud of where it came from.

The Sophie’s Floorboard and Pukekos eras of media discovery are long over now. That’s a good thing. Blogspot was hard to navigate. Finding your place there meant running with your eyes closed hoping you’d find some light. Blogspot was never going to make documenting, listening to, or releasing music as accessible as it’s become today, nor was it going to ensure artists could communicate with the world and still get compensated equitably the way Bandcamp and Resonate are trying to. In hindsight, its bar to entry was too high — we’re sure it discouraged just as many people from digging deeper as it inspired. As a music community, the easier we make it to connect, the better off we are and the closer we get to making DIY scenes places that really do welcome everyone. 

That being said, Blogspot was the right place for us. We miss the lack of clarity that made each individual discovery feel like finding a long lost grail. Those albums changed our lives because we had worked our butts off trying to find them. When even the most inclusive local scenes felt like worlds we’d never fit into, Blogspot reminded us there were still reasons to make, archive, and uncover music that felt both rewarding and true. There are more routes to take to music fandom than ever before and every day we get closer to really democratizing the means of discovery. We don’t know if we’d still see that as a predominant end goal if it hadn’t been for Blogspot — we don’t even know if we’d still be digging in our bedrooms for that perfectly suited song, or trying to write that track.  We hope you’ve got something that makes you feel similarly.  We hope you’re finding your way.

american poetry club is six kids in a basement, not too far from you, doing their very best to capture the sound of self-esteem. they don’t have it down quite yet, but they’re putting in the work, and they’re getting closer all the time. Their six-song EP, do you believe in your heart?!, is out February 2021.