#38 – Swimming Pool

The Front Bottoms

Artist – The Front Bottoms
Album – The Front Bottoms
Year – 2011
Genre – Indie-Punk

A lot of people who want to be musicians and write really great lyrics are disheartened by the fact that they don’t have the best voice in the world. Well let me tell you something: music is about feeling, emotion, and honesty. If you can sing to the best of your ability and sing about how you truly feel, people will take notice. Case in point are The Front Bottoms and front/bottom man Brian Sella. Yes, he’s not the best singer in the world, but his lyrics are subtly beautiful and resonant, along with being witty and clever. He sings with true emotion and you can tell that the songs mean something to him, and others have picked up on that. This band has been making a splash recently and really resonating with the new generation of young audiences. Swimming Pool is a heartbreaking song that requires a bit of exploration, but the lyrical message is profound in its own way.

“There’s comfort in the bottom of a swimming pool. I’m holding my breath for you.” I have to talk about the lyrical portion of this song first and foremost. Sella’s lyrics are both confusing and clever; emotional and detached. You can tell they are intensely personal for him, but we all can take away meaning from them as well. They speak of the unspoken feelings and thoughts during a break-up. Sella does a wonderful job at capturing the frenetic and fragile nature of the mind during moments of vulnerability, and the his lyrics during the chorus and ending stanzas are simply heartbreaking.

“And I will do the things I think you might like. And I will be alone for probably the rest of my life.”

Powerful stuff. We reach a certain point where pleading and pity seem to be the only mental escapes from overthinking, and Sella knows this. Over the top of all this, there’s a phone conversation that ends with a break up, which I’m sure many of us have either gone through or heard before. It’s a simple, human connection to the rest of the song, but one that is intense and effective. We tend to underestimate the power of these moments. As the song finishes, Sella gives one more yell of “There’s comfort in the bottom of a swimming pool!” It’s a final plea of desperation; exhausted, heartsick, and beaten down. I got shivers.

The music here is simple, but poetic in its own right. A plucking guitar provides the song with a simple melody that’s repeated throughout which creates a nice somber base, but the chorus is crashing and aggressive. It juxtaposes quite well with the verses, while not over complicating the song. The guitar tone and melody heard in the chorus is a good choice, and the ending of the song builds up the frustration reflected in the arc of the song. The guitar changes melody and picks up pace, while a piano is pounded upon with no regard for melody. It’s pure expression and emotion, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting finish.

Yes, singing lessons can always help, but honesty is what matters. Other people will realize that what you have to say is important. Your experiences will speak to the human collective, because we all feel. A lot of people cannot express their emotions openly, so music is an outlet for them. For all aspiring musicians out there, look to The Front Bottoms. Brian Sella is not the greatest singer in the world, but his words and music is full of the stuff that truly speaks louder than the voice. I tell you, there’s no greater feeling in the world than someone saying to you “That song really spoke to me.” Keep going, and keep making music.

Please comment and let me know what you think of the song and review! Pass the word around.

#37 – It’s Only Life

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Artist – The Shins
Album – Port of Morrow
Year – 2012
Genre – Alternative/Indie Pop

Hello again world. Life has thrown me quite a few curveballs these past few months. Lots of love, loss and loneliness and all that. Being that many of these experiences were new to me, I didn’t really know how to handle them. As a result, and as I’m sure many of you noticed, this blog kind of fell by the wayside. I really had to do some thinking about myself and a bunch of other things. Music, as it always has before, calmed my soul and provided the expression that I could not convey in words to others. It’s time for me to begin again, and I couldn’t think of a better song to encompass the situations and feelings that us as human beings suffer, rejoice, love, cry, and laugh through.

The whole song exudes this wonderful youthful sort of joy, while being tinged with melancholic vocals. It starts with Jangling guitars and piano that sounds like it belongs in the opening credits of a Wes Anderson movie. From then on, it’s a beautiful acoustic journey filled with choral backing and bells galore. The electric guitar in the song has a wonderful tone, and the melody throughout the whole track is quaint and catchy, but not overwhelming. It’s a perfect balance of heart and soul. Simple and poignant music here.

Frontman James Mercer has a very sweet, honest voice which comes across loud and clear. Every note he sings, you can sense the emotion laced behind every line. His lyrics poetically describe life’s hardships, and trying to move past them. It’s an exploration of the feelings we all experience in our darker times, and our longing to reach out for help. The resolution here is that we do have those that care and have “been down the very road you’re walking now.” We can’t help but feel, because we are human. We are not perfect, but we don’t have to be. We have our friends to carry us around the next bend where love is waiting. Overall a beautiful sentiment poetically portrayed and sung with true honesty. The chorus is a thing to hear, as Mercer stretches his voice to show us exactly what he wants us to see and realize.

It’s Only Life is a wonderful song to help get you through life’s struggles, as it certainly helped me. As you’ve noticed, I will now start posting the actual videos to my reviews so that you can all listen to the song while you read. Plus I find it more convenient anyway. This post is a personal one for me, and I pray that all of you show the ones you love how much you care about them this holiday season. Winter can get especially lonely for those on their own, so to all of you I say this: if you ever find yourselves feeling lonesome and pessimistic about the future, just remember that there are people who care about you and will help pick you up again if you let them. Around the next corner your true love could be waiting, but until that time, find comfort in those around you and never change who you are. It’s something I’ve had to learn as well.

It’s only life. It’s only natural.

Please comment and let me know what you think of the song or review. I hope you all had a great thanksgiving!