#171 – Jesus Stole My Girlfriend

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Artist – Violent Soho
Album – Violent Soho
Year – 2010
Genre – Alternative Rock/Modern Grunge/Punk

What we have here, ladies and gentleman, is a rare specimen of superbly executed modern grunge music from down under. That’s right, Australia’s Violent Soho deliver an absolute rage and pain filled wonder of a track: “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend.”

The slow, chugging beginning provides an excellent and tense build up, and singer Luke Boerdam’s voice is pained and labored on every word in the first verse before the band explodes into a heavy breakdown. What I like here is the contrast of the dragging verse and the monstrous prechorus and chorus. It’s easy to see why the band decided to take this approach by just looking at the lyrics of the verses:

Every day
Every afternoon
Tried so hard
But lost to God

I thought you’re my friend
I’ll guess again
I look to the clouds
God gives me a frown

These are really personal and very sad lyrics when you consider the situation. The song talks of a girl who leaves her boyfriend after he explains that he doesn’t wish to follow her faith as rigidly as she does. This situation may be an extreme outlier, but you can tell this turn of events greatly impacted him. That whole first verse and first line of the second is pretty heartwrenching. You know he cared about this girl and really put time into caring for her. The slow movement of the verses gives him time to really lay out his most sensitive thoughts, as if he’s singing it to her.

The prechorus and chorus are the exact opposite. They’re just primal anger. It goes as follows:

This time next year I’ll be married
This time next year I’ll say sorry
But Jesus stole my girlfriend

Though he tells himself things will get better, it hurts like hell right now. The rage and screams let out in the chorus really hit you and you feel that pain that comes with trying to reconcile events surrounding any breakup. It’s the sensitive and sad followed by the angry. That’s how most breakups go, I think. This song is a perfect mirror.

On top of this, the band is just slaying. The riffs are hard and really dirty, and the melody is sultry and sort of slinks along and then bites your face off when you least expect it.

My favorite part of the song comes right after the bridge. As Boerdam sings “glorious” he holds the same note on every syllable, which sounds amazing, and then the two note guitar alternation leads into a drum kick in and then absolute musical carnage ensues. This would be the part in the show where the whole crowd looks like a churning whirlpool. By the time it’s over, you need to catch your breath. You feel like you were in that crowd. Rarely do we get an offering that so closely models the prime era of grunge in the early 90’s. Kudos to you, Violent Soho. Stay killer.

Let me know your thoughts on the song in the comments! Thanks for reading and listening!

#170 – Everything You Want

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Artist – Vertical Horizon
Album – Everything You Want
Year – 1999
Genre – Alternative Rock

Vertical Horizon frontman Matt Scannell has said that he still experiences joy when singing “Everything You Want” because he knows it came “from a true place.” Bearing that in mind, on top of the emotional power of the lyrics and chord progression, this is a formidable song indeed, and frankly one that describes how I’m feeling at the moment. So I thought I’d review it. I think this review is going to come from a very true place as well.

Right after the distorted opening, you can get a real sense of the melancholy of the song from the acoustic guitar progression. It’s crisp and well played. Scannell’s singing from the beginning is on point and every note is in it’s right place. The dark, albeit somewhat ambiguous lyrics in the verses draw you in closer. You want to know where this song is going to take you, though you can tell it’s not going to be roses and rainbows.

The chorus is dynamite. There’s really nothing else that needs to be said. The melody is superb at pulling your heart along and keeping you emotionally invested into every word Scannell is singing. You can really sense that place inside him where the song came from. This is one of the most riveting unrequited love choruses that’s been written in a modern song, just because of its candid honesty and universality:

He’s everything you want
He’s everything you need
He’s everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
He says all the right things
At exactly the right time
But he means nothing to you
And you don’t know why

These are the thoughts that run through our heads when we care for someone who doesn’t care for us. It doesn’t matter if we’re male or female. We think, “why not us?” “Why does that other person go for someone who doesn’t care for them like I do?” And it tears us down. It leads to some very dark and sad feelings inside us, and these very thoughts are captured and written down and sung for all to hear in this chorus. This is what songwriting is all about. Capturing moments that are true for all of us. In that sense, this is a perfect chorus. Not to mention the melody is incredible at the same time.

The next two verses and bridge build in intensity and really try to explore the mindset of the person we long for. What could they possibly be thinking? These verses try to answer that question, but still capture their ambiguous and strange nature of logic and thought. The heart is a tricky thing to pin down, and can we really know another person as well as we think we do?

The last chorus is…well it’s actually quite emotional for me to listen to. I’ve been at a point in my life where things don’t seem to work out for me too often, and I’ve grown up around many people who love seems to come easily and quickly to. What hurts me more is that often times some of these people take that experience for granted, either because they know it comes easily to them, or because they don’t truly appreciate what they have. Because of the lack of these experiences in my own life, I’d like to believe that once love comes to me, I will see it for the true miracle that it is. Being lonely for a long time builds up that ability to cherish a significant other. It truly is something I hope I never ever take for granted. I hope I love with all the power I have in me, and I hope I’m loved like that in return. Anyway, that’s how this chorus makes me feel, so I’ll just let the song talk. I’m sure we’ve all had these thoughts at some point in our lives, but I feel I’ve had them a lot lately.

I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why

There’s not much left to the song after this. It’s as if the Scannell spent all his emotion on this last chorus, which is understandable. I would want to shout those words as loud as I could if I had the power to. I guess the last thing to say is that this is an incredible song, and one that’s very relevant to my life and my feelings right now. I hope it stands the test of time, because it captures a particular emotion so well, that you have to take notice.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you all so much for reading and listening, especially to a post as personal as this one. I hope you all don’t mind hearing me get so personal about what’s going on with me. I just have to be honest, because that’s how I am. Anyway, thank you.

#169 – Gimme Something Good

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Artist – Ryan Adams
Album – Ryan Adams
Year – 2014
Genre – Rock

Ryan Adams has outdone himself with “Gimme Something Good.” It’s the absolute perfect blend of old school Tom Petty/Jackson Browne/Bruce Springsteen rock and roll values and the very unique and distinct modern style of raw and emotionally distraught songwriting. It’s quite a piece of work to hear; a song that simultaneously pulls out all the stops with a killer riff that you just don’t hear much anymore, but the pain you sense in Adams’ voice and the emotional punches that punctuate the song are the other half of the equation.

The opening riff doesn’t need explaining. It’s classic, bluesy, and boy is it kickin’. The guitar tone throughout just rings as clear as a bell but has that crunch we all love, like breakfast cereal. The keyboards backing Adams up only add to that blues atmosphere. You can picture him playing a song like this in a smoky club filled with neon and beer. But as soon as Adams starts singing, you know there’s more than meets the ear here.

His voice is smooth, and you definitely hear that hint of Jackson Browne in there. And there’s just as much weight to every word that Adams sings. His pained verses are only upped by his amazing prechorus:

All my life been shaking
Wanting something
Holding everything I have like it was broken

You can hear it in his voice. Life just has been throwing him blow after blow of misfortune, and day after day he so desperately wants it to end. He wants a chance. He wants a new start.

Gimme something good

What power there is in this line. He’s saying, “Please. Just for once I just want something good to happen to me. I want to be like the happy people I see around me every day. I want a lucky break, or a chance to love again. I just want to feel like myself again, because quite frankly, I haven’t in a long time.” That’s reading between the lines. That’s what I hear when Adams pleads this line over and over and over. It carries so much meaning not just for Adams, I suspect, but for me and those who hear the song as I do. It has a great deal of gravity for me because I relate to that sentiment very much, and I wish for those things too.

But that’s the funny thing. When the song shifts back to the bridge, you’re back in rocking out mode. It’s a delicate balance between high and low, but one that is pulled off with such talent that it doesn’t seem out of place or unnatural. When you hit the bridge, there’s a beautiful steel guitar passage that takes the passion of the chorus and puts it to music. By the time Adams finishes the song, you’re reaching for the replay button. It’s powerful musically and lyrically. Adams has all the touches of a talented songwriter who knows both his craft and himself. And that’s what matters most for an artist. Knowing yourself, who is often times, your audience. Sing to you. Sing for them.

Thanks for reading and listening! Let me know your thoughts below!

#168 – Dismantle. Repair.

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Artist – Anberlin
Album – Cities
Year – 2007
Genre – Alt. Punk/Alternative Rock

I’ve been feeling the absence of Anberlin in my life now that the band has decided to call it quits and retire. Just going through their back catalog, I’m rediscovering just how great this band was and what talented musicians and songwriters they were. “Dismantle. Repair.” is not just a fan favorite, its’ one of my favorites as well, so I figured that I should let everyone else in on this beautiful gem of a song.

The echoing guitar sets the tone, and frontman Stephen Christian’s voice smoothly drifts across the noise and gives everything that emotional edge. His melodies are well constructed throughout, and soon enough the whole band kicks in with a prechorus that you’ll hear throughout the song, but that never seems to get old.

Enter some fast paced drumming and more ear catching work from the guitars and from Christian. After this next prechorus, we finally hear the bread and butter of this song which is the glorious chorus.

Hands, like secrets, are the hardest thing to keep from you
Lines and phrases, like knives, your words can cut me through
Dismantle me down (repair)
You dismantle me
You dismantle me

First of all, those lyrics are extremely well written, and Christian’s voice just adds a whole sense of anguish every time he sings them. This isn’t a love song. This is a song about someone at their lowest; someone who was put there by someone else. You really get that sense from a chorus of this magnitude. The melody here is a huge hook, and it’s a good thing because you’ll hear this chorus a lot.

The next next verse features some great harmonies and some driving guitar to give it some extra bravado, and to cap it off, the end screams from Christian will give you chills as it rolls right into the next chorus. You can imagine how crazy a song like this would be in a live setting. There’s a lot of layers in that chorus, and one of my favorite parts is the ascending guitar line that you can hear in the background. That’s some great work.

The bridge is by far the most beautiful, personal, and chilling part of the song. The lyrics are fairly simple:

Save me from myself
Save me from myself
Help me save me from myself
Save me from myself

This melody is so incredibly beautiful as the notes fall. Christian’s ghostly delivery gives you the impression he’s singing out of a lot of pain and sadness, almost with his eyes closed and his head in his hands. It’s truly the best aspect of the song, and I only wish it was a repeated motif. There’s a huge amount of honesty here. This is a man who’s putting it all out for the subject of this song to hear and see.

Because of this, the choruses that follow (opening with a great snare roll) seem to have even more bravado as Christian roars “REPAIR” and the band slams on the gas until the very end. This is a song designed to both create a drive in you, and to show how vulnerable a man can be. That’s a tricky balance to pull off. Mission: successful.

This song may not be Anberlin’s most popular, but it certainly is one of their most powerful offerings. After listening, hopefully you can see why it’s such a big fan favorite, and one of mine as well.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave me your thoughts below. Until next time.