Tag: music autobiography

A Praise Chorus

One of my favorite things Regan (the morning DJ on Alt Nation) does is the daily Jimmy Eat World singalong. Because life is better with a Jimmy Eat World singalong. My whole mood improved when this morning’s singalong song of choice, “A Praise Chorus,” came over the airwaves.

“A Praise Chorus” was always one of my favorite songs on Bleed American. I remember how far away 25 seemed when I bought Bleed American at the ripe old age of 21 and now I’m further away and on the wrong side. “Even at 33, you’ve gotta start sometime” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.

Until tomorrow.

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Over It

I love Christmas music, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t love it enough to listen to the 24/7 Christmas music radio station for eight hours at work on December 3. And I really, really don’t want to listen to the 24/7 Christmas music radio station that plays seven different versions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” during those eight hours.

Don’t misread; I love “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as much as the next person who loves really depressing Christmas songs. Actually, I probably love it even more because it was written for Meet Me in St. Louis (which is one of my all-time favorite movies) and I have a very strong association between the song and the film (and the super depressing scene when Judy Garland sings the song). But I really didn’t need to hear it seven times today. (Or any day, really. My job is soul-sucking enough as it is, I don’t need the addition of Christmas songs to slit my wrists to.)

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” wasn’t the only song I heard more than once, but it certainly had the most repetitions. I heard three versions of “Last Christmas” (but not the Jimmy Eat World version, boo!) and two each of “O Holy Night” and “White Christmas.” And I like all of those songs, but c’mon people; the Christmas season is a marathon, not a sprint. I think there’s a very good chance that I will be Christmas music’d out by Friday. Luckily I have my tradition of listening to Chiodos’ Bone Palace Ballet while wrapping Christmas presents to balance things out. (You think I’m joking. I’m not joking. I’ve done it every year since 2008.)

Until tomorrow.

Tell All Your Friends

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Taking Back Sunday’s first record, Tell All Your Friends.  Part of me wishes I could say that makes me feel old, but I can’t.  Not really.  It would be one thing if I had purchased TAYF when it came out, but it feels disingenuous to say that about a record that I bought five years ago (no matter how old the record itself is).

Even though I completely slept on Tell All Your Friends (and Taking Back Sunday), I fell in love with this record once I finally bought it.  It is one of my go-to, comfort food records and has the iTunes play count to prove it 🙂 I was tempted to do nothing but quote songs in this post, but I decided to refrain.

I don’t remember how exactly I found out that TAYF was released on March 26, 2002 (or why, for that matter), but I did.  I have a little reminder in iCal and everything.  Apparently I’m not the only person who knows the date, either.  #TellAllYourFriends was a trending topic on Twitter today.  The best part of that were the couple of tweets I saw from people who used that hashtag in a non-TBS context, most likely because they didn’t know why people had started it in the first place.  It was quite amusing.

I’ve been celebrating the anniversary by listening to Tell All Your Friends pretty much exclusively.  (I have no qualms about listening to my favorite records on repeat.  I’m pretty much positive that I will never get sick of TAYF.)  If I’d been thinking, I would’ve watched some of the videos from that record as well.  Like the “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)” video.  (And not just because “Cute Without the ‘E'” is my favorite Taking Back Sunday song and video.)

Ironically, the version on YouTube is uncensored but the version I bought from iTunes five years ago is censored.  (Heaven forbid I hear the word “gun” in song lyrics.  Blah.)

So, congratulations to Adam, John, Mark, Shaun, and Eddie.  Ten years later and it’s still an amazing album (and, even more importantly, the band is still going strong).

If you’ve never listened to Tell All Your Friends, do yourself a favor and listen to it.  (It’s available on Spotify.)  I’m not promising that it will change your life, but it’s a damn good record and everyone should listen to it at least once.

Until tomorrow.

Music And Language

One of the things I love about language is its fluid nature.  We’ve all heard someone refer to Latin as a “dead language.”  When languages don’t adapt and evolve, they die.  This is also true of one’s personal language.  Especially in this age of new technologies and the new words that accompany them (blog, tweet, google, etc.).

I know that my vocabulary changes all of the time.  Sometimes it’s to accommodate the latest social media craze.  But sometimes I pick up a word or phrase that I hear someone else using.  For example, I started using “as well” instead of “also” when I was in South Africa (and I still use it to this day) and at the height of my Firefly fandom I was using “shiny,” “rutting,” and “gorram” (and I should really start using them again because they are awesome words).

But the single biggest thing that had a conscious impact on my vocabulary was the very first issue of Rolling Stone I ever bought.  True story.  On Ash Wednesday I wrote about my annual tradition of giving up swearing for Lent.  I feel like it’s a worthwhile thing to give up because I swear a lot.  To say that I cuss like a sailor is an insult to the fine men and women of the United States Navy (such as my paternal grandfather, the Navy pilot, who never swore according to my dad).  But that wasn’t always the case.  No, for the first half of my life I was a complete goody-two-shoes and I didn’t swear.  I even looked down on the kids who did swear.  But then Rolling Stone put Gavin Rossdale on the cover (you know which cover I’m talking about) and 15-year-old me was inspired to buy Rolling Stone for the first time ever.

I think I kept that issue for over a decade (even when I stopped caring about Bush, I couldn’t get rid of it), but sadly I don’t have it anymore.  But here’s the thing I remember most about it: the swearing.  There were so many four-letter words not just in the Bush article, but in all the articles.  The first time I read the article it was almost too much for my poor, little, sheltered brain to take.  To that point I had had minimal exposure to vulgar language, and here it was all over a respected national publication.  The more often I read the article (and I read it a lot), the less distracting I found the language.  And eventually it hit me: swearing’s not really that bad.  After all, if it can be printed in all of its uncensored glory in a major magazine like Rolling Stone, how can it really be that terrible?  It’s not like the clerk carded me when I bought it at the store (good thing, too, since I didn’t have a license or a passport).  There was no parental advisory label on the cover.  Where’s the harm?

I decided that there was no harm (at least as long as my parents weren’t around) and thus began my slippery descent into the world of cussing like it’s my job.

The funny thing is, I was reminded of the Rolling Stone cover and the swearing and all of it when I heard Bush’s “Little Things” on the radio yesterday.  (I love that song but I hadn’t watched that video in years.  I forgot how freaking weird it was.)  It’s strange that something can have such a huge impact on your life (and I know that sounds weird, but deciding that swearing is okay was kind of a big deal for me) and then you just forget all about it until the most random thing reminds you.

Until tomorrow.

Go And Buy A Hammer, Never Sing Again

Once upon a time, I was easing my way back into listening to music that actually qualifies as “alt-rock” (as opposed to the crap I was listening to in my early- and mid-twenties).  But I still had a ways to go.  I was listening to Sirius Alt Nation most of the time, but I had a tendency to only listen to artists I knew.  If a new artist came on the radio, I tended to change the channel (and this was the exact reason I slept on Jack’s Mannequin and Straylight Run, among others, and to this day it kinda bums me out).

By late 2006, I had pretty much gotten the better of that habit.  (I had also purchased the debut albums by Jack’s Mannequin and Straylight Run.)  I wasn’t exactly seeking out new music, but I wasn’t actively trying to shield myself from it either.

One new song that caught my attention on Alt Nation was “Sowing Season” by Brand New. Now, I’d heard of Brand New before.  I’m pretty sure I’d seen the videos for “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad,” “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” and “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” on Fuse once or twice.  I even have a vague recollection of hearing “Jude Law” on Y1oo.  But I’d never really felt compelled to check out their records or anything like that.

I don’t really know what about “Sowing Season” caught my attention (the song is amazing and one of my favorites, but that’s 5.5 years of living with it talking).  I wouldn’t even say that the song in and of itself was the thing that prompted me to buy The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.  I remember reading a glowing review of it somewhere on the Internet.  (All I really remember from that review was getting the sense that the author really hadn’t wanted to like Devil and God as much as he or she did.  It was almost bitter about just how glowing it was.)  The next day I was at Best Buy for something (man, do I wish I could remember what I had actually gone to Best Buy for that day) and when I walked in I perused the new/popular CD wall (as was my wont).  One album’s cover caught my eye, I picked it up, and, lo and behold, it was Devil and God and it was on sale.  (The wannabe archivist in me wishes I remembered the exact date this happened, but I don’t.  There is, however, a very good chance that it was November 20, the very day Devil and God was released.  At the very least, it was no more than a few weeks after it was released.)  Remembering the glowing review I’d read the night before and knowing how much I liked “Sowing Season,” I decided to buy it.  Why not, right?  It was on sale.

The first time I listened to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was in my car on the way home from Best Buy that night.  Now, I talk about Brand New all the time on this here blog and take any excuse to tag posts “Brand New,” so you’re probably thinking that I fell in love with Devil and God on that very first listen and became an insta-fan.  Well, you’d be wrong.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.  Frankly, Devil and God isn’t what I’d call an “immediate” record, it’s the kind of record that one has to live with.  If I met someone who claimed to love Devil and God on first listen, I’d call them a liar.

Once home I added The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me to my iPod.  This turned out to be key.  At work the next day, I decided to listen to Devil and God again.  And that kept happening.  Even though I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the record (except for “Sowing Season,” which I loved), something kept causing me to listen to it at work.  Pretty much daily.  And as I started to develop an appreciation for the record (especially the first half), I kept listening to it.  By the first of the year, I was hooked.

In early 2007 I decided to check out their back-catalog.  I wanted to start slow, so I bought their earlier singles (“Jude Law,” “Quiet Things,” and “Sic Transit Gloria”) from iTunes.  (Here iTunes helps my wannabe archivist.  I bought “Sic Transit Gloria” and “Quiet Things” on 1/6/07 and “Jude Law” on 1/12/07.)  I eventually decided to buy a physical copy of Deja Entendu in late January (I think – I’m pretty sure I bought it just before my dad’s birthday).  I fell in love with Deja pretty instantly.  It’s a much more immediate record than Devil and God.  Even though I was a confirmed Brand New fan at this point, I didn’t buy their first record, Your Favorite Weapon, until the end of March (again, I think – I’m pretty sure I bought it the day I saw Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow at the Wachovia Center).  Favorite Weapon is my least favorite of the three, but I love it for its own reasons.

At around this time, I became desperate to see them live (funny, since I had no idea how difficult that would eventually become).  For whatever reason, I didn’t see them when they played the Electric Factory in April ’07.  It may have been sold out by the time I found out about it.  But then they were announced as one of the main stage acts at the Bamboozle that year (and so were quite a few other bands I love).  Hooray!  I convinced my brother to go with me and headed up to the Meadowlands full of happy energy.  But then actually getting in to the show was a clusterfuck of epic proportions.  (Remember how much I complained about getting in to the Ritz Ybor for Taking Back Sunday last year?  This was so much worse.)  It wouldn’t have been so bad if Brand New hadn’t been the first band to play the main stage.  But they were.  And I only saw the very end of their set (but I saw them play “Seventy Times 7,” so that was something).  I was cranky but eventually got over it and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Okay, I’m almost up to 1,100 words.  I need to wrap this up.

Even after the disappointment of not really seeing them at Bamboozle, I continued to listen to Brand New religiously.  My listening focus would shift, but eventually it always returned to Brand New.  They’re my comfort food (or my happy place, as I decided last year).

In the summer of 2009, they announced a new record, Daisy.  I was stoked, both for the record and the potential tour to support it.  I pre-ordered Daisy from the band (and even got it in the mail the Saturday before it was released – yay!).  Like Devil and God, it’s not an immediate record.  It’s also not my favorite Brand New record, but I do love it.  I also finally realized my dream of seeing them live on November 5, 2009, when they headlined at the Ritz Ybor (which was actually a super-positive experience).

I hoped they would tour again in 2010, but it was not to be.  However, I was ridiculously fortunate last year.  They played all of 13 shows in 2011 (as far as I remember), and I was at two of them.

I’m hopeful they’ll put out LP5 this year.  Apparently Jesse said something about working on new music at one of the 11 shows I didn’t attend last year.  Plus, they just wrapped up a tour of the UK.  In the mean time, I will continue listening to the four amazing records they’ve already given us.  Brand New has been my favorite band for 5.5 years now and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Until tomorrow.

* Today’s title is a line from the song “Bought a Bride.”  It’s a line that kind of filled me with abject horror from early 2010 until the first batch of dates was announced in early 2011. I normally know what I’m going to name a post before I write it, but today I had no idea (too many options).  It just sort of came to me as I was finishing this post.

Favorite Band I Only Saw Once

Oh, Silverchair.  How I miss you.  I love days like today when I am reminded of just how awesome you were.

The title is true.  Silverchair holds the title of “my favorite band I only saw once.”  And that’s a total bummer, but I’m so incredibly grateful for that one show.  Especially considering that Silverchair held the title of “my favorite band I’ve never seen live” for 12 years.  And I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that they would hold that title in perpetuity.  But then, miracle of miracles, they put out a record in 2007 and, even more shockingly, toured the states.  I don’t think the tour hit even a dozen cities, but I don’t care because Philly was one of the cities they did play.  I bought a shirt at the show and it’s on the list of t-shirts I will never get rid of.  (By the by, Young Modern, the record they put out in ’07, is really damn good.)

I spent an hour or so yesterday exploring Pandora (no, not the Internet radio site, the Australian National Web Archive).  Me + Web archive = searching for band Websites.  Throw Australia into the mix and I searched for Silverchair’s Website, natch.  It’s there, by the way; Chairpage was archived by Pandora in 1999.  The point is, all the Silverchair stuff made me want to listen to them.  (They may be my favorite band I only saw once, but that doesn’t mean I keep them on heavy rotation, which is a damn shame now that I think about it.)  So last night I listened to 1999’s Neon Ballroom, my favorite record of theirs.  And then I listened to their other records this morning.

So yeah, it’s been a Silverchair kind of 24 hours.  Hopefully I’ll do it again sometime in the not too distant future.

In case you’re wondering, the title of “my favorite band I’ve never seen live” is currently held by either Jimmy Eat World or Straylight Run.  I’ve liked Jimmy Eat World longer (not hard since they’ve been around longer), but there’s still the possibility that I might see them in concert.  That’s far more doubtful for Straylight Run since they more or less broke up.  But then again, I have seen John and Shaun of Straylight Run three times in the past two years (in Taking Back Sunday, of course).  You see why it’s so difficult for me to name a new favorite band I’ve never seen live?

Until tomorrow.

Do It Live

One of my favorite ways to experience music is live.  This should surprise no one since I wrote about seeing Brand New and Taking Back Sunday in concert last year.  But this is a post about my first concert experiences, not the two best shows I’ve ever seen.

My very first concert was Dada (but I rarely admit to that).  I don’t remember exactly when it was (other than early-mid 90s).  My uncle wanted to take his two oldest nieces, me and my cousin Jennie, to the show; Dada was one of his favorite bands.  Jennie backed out shortly before the show, but I was dying to go to a concert.  As evidenced by the fact that I went to see Dada after Y100 had played “Dizz Knee Land” into the ground and it was the only song of theirs I knew.  I don’t remember much about the show other than it was at the TLA in Philly and I had a good time.

My second concert was the Moody Blues at the Mann Music Center in Philly.  Like the Dada show, I don’t often admit to this.  The Moody Blues were (and still are) my parents’ favorite band.  Don’t misread, I like the Moody Blues as well, but who wants to claim their parents’ favorite band as their first concert?  Again, I don’t remember much about this show except for upgrading our tickets when we went to will call.

My third concert (and the one I normally claim was my first) was the Smashing Pumpkins at the Spectrum (RIP) in Philly.  In my defense, it *was* the first concert I went to that was entirely my idea.  Plus, I can actually tell you exactly when it was: July 6, 1996.  (As much as I wish I could tell you that I just knew that, I still have the t-shirt I bought that night and it has the tour dates on the back.  I could, however, have told you that it was early July ’96 without looking.)  It was the Infinite Sadness tour and Garbage opened and it was amazing.  I don’t really remember the details of this show either, but I know I loved it.  I was so in love with Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness back then.  Plus, I’m super glad I was able to see the actual Smashing Pumpkins and not Billy Corgan and a bunch of other people calling themselves the Smashing Pumpkins.

In the spirit of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite songs.

Until tomorrow.