#186 – Let Your Hair Down

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Artist – MAGIC!
Album – Don’t Kill the Magic
Year – 2014
Genre – Pop/reggae

This song is pop music done absolutely right. This is what pop music CAN be, and SHOULD be. To me at least, minus the reggae element, this song recalls some of the greatest pop love song writers of the 80’s like Phil Collins. MAGIC! was one of those bands I never got sick of hearing on the radio, but even though you don’t hear them as much this year as last year, this song was still criminally underplayed compared to their other hit, “Rude.” This is a much more romantic song, and featuring some of the absolute best vocals I’d heard on a pop song that year. Let’s start with that, because I have some things to say about that.

It’s hard to describe how much I enjoy and just get sucked into frontman Nasri’s vocals. I will say that if I was a pop artist, I would want my voice to sound exactly like his. The vocals in this song, like MAGIC!’s other songs, are rich and as smooth as it gets. There’s just tiny flecks of grit in there too, but Nasri is such an accomplished vocalist that he hits every note exactly the way it needs to be hit. He knows how to create a perfect mood and take you along on a romantic journey. The difference between this and other songs by the group is the incredible vocal melody in this particular song.

I was floored by the lyrics when I first heard the song. Just these lines alone:

To me you are more than just skin and bones
You are elegance and freedom and everything I know

Wow. I’m a huge sucker for classic romance, but there’s a reason I value it. When you’re in love, there’s no words to express how much you care for your partner. But by God these lines come close. If music and lyrics paint a mental picture, I picture the verses as if a man and woman are just having a great time together and he’s admiring her while she’s just laughing and being herself. Then during this prechorus, they lie face to face and he brushes her hair back and whispers this to her in a tender moment, and the chorus is just full on making out and a cute romantic moments montage.

OK have you all finished washing your mouths out from after vomiting from all that sap? Good. Jokes aside, there’s a lot of love songs out there, but this one is classy and beautifully tender and honest. And I think that’s so rare and wonderful to have on the radio these days. Just the chorus of this song is such a great capture of how the simplest moments of a relationship are the ones where you feel most in love.

We can be ourselves now
Go ahead, be foolish
No one’s on the clock now
Lying in this simple moment
You don’t gotta worry now
Just let your hair down

The music is the perfect accompaniment to the vocals and lyrics. Beautifully simple. You have all the trappings of a laid back reggae song: shimmering electric piano, guitars that twang on off beats, and drums that feature those signature rim hits on the snare. There’s also a guitar solo in this song that doesn’t feel out of place at all, and it leads into a final chorus and some great vocal riffing from Nasri. Overall, I will say the music adds to the vocals, but it’s Nasri’s show for this one all the way.

I always find it really cool when Pop music promotes songs with really tender and deeply romantic love songs, and with MAGIC! it’s even cooler due to the reggae sound. This song is a winner in my book, and is currently on repeat in my house. I suggest you consider putting it on as well.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts, and be sure to follow my blog for more great songs!

#185 – Who’s Going With You Tonight?

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Artist – Trapt
Album – Only Through the Pain
Year – 2008
Genre – Hard Rock/Post-Grunge

What better way to tie up a piece on Bro-Rock than writing a review of one of my favorite tracks of the same genre! Everything aside, this song is fantastic, and is without a doubt the best song that Trapt ever produced. The sheer emotion in this song is just flooring, and it absolutely does not feel forced, fake, or showy in any way. “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight?” is how a great hard rock ballad should be: emotional, packed with hooks, and jarring.

Major props have to be given right off the bat to frontman and songwriter Chris Brown (not THAT Chris Brown). His voice is one of the few anomalies in 2000’s post grunge, in the sense that when there’s a more tender part of a song that needs the aggression taken away, his voice completely changes and takes on a melodic and smooth quality not generally found in this genre (see also Chris Volz from the band Flaw). Right from the first verse, Brown absolutely nails it. There’s that aggression that jives with what the other instruments are doing, but his voice tapers off and almost takes on this very boy band tone and starts to waver. In this case, I find it extraordinary that Brown is capable of singing this way, because it perfectly illustrates one of my points from my last essay: this genre is a blending of pop and metal. It’s the best of both, and it’s emotion and hooks of pop that Brown nails. When he hits the “tonight” at the end of each line of the chorus, it’s chill inducing. And when he hits the bridge,

It’s getting harder to sit here alone
I’ve been waiting I’ve been waiting and you still ain’t home
I have never ever felt so low
I’ve been thinking I’ve been thinking Oh where did you go

It’s vocal magic.

Since we’re on lyrics, I have to praise them as well. They’re certainly not the best out there, but they’re honest and don’t feel overly sappy and contrived. I honestly can feel and believe every word Brown is singing, and they capture a lot of classic elements, like loneliness and the failure of a past relationship and the worry and jealousy that come when you lose someone you love to someone else. These are very salient themes in the lives of young men and women and when you touch on those and add some aggression, which some of us undoubtedly feel as well during tough times, all while still keeping the melody extremely solid and catchy, you end up with a raw and real rock song that conveys real pain.

The music flows perfectly with the song. First of all, to Trapt’s drummer, keep doing what you’re doing. The drums, not the vocals, on this song kick this song right in and give it that body that just makes you want to headbang and scream your lungs out. They’re crisp and snare rolls build up the tension until each explosive chorus. The guitars and bass accentuate and complement Brown’s vocals perfectly. They’re never overbearing, but don’t lose the edge that they need. It’s simple, but it works perfectly for what it is.

Though the video has over two million views on YouTube, I would consider this song one of the hidden gems of the hard rock golden age of the mid to late 2000’s. Do your high school self a favor and dive back into this excellent example of rock done right.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts! Follow my blog for more song reviews on the way to 1001!

In Defense of Bro Rock

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I do believe I can see the angry mob approaching my house as I type. Well if anyone finds my body, make sure my burial goes exactly how my will says: lowered into the ground as Nickelback’s “If Today Was Your Last Day” hits the funeral party right in their faces with digital surround sound speakers around the casket. I always knew as a writer I’d go down with one last controversial piece. Tell Scott Stapp I still believe Creed can make a comeback…

OK, in all seriousness here, the following essay is going to be very stream of consciousness. Very. Hell, I just decided that this topic deserved a debated tonight, so I haven’t constructed any arguments with research or anything. In fact, I’m not going to be preaching much of anything to anyone. I’m not going to tell you why you HAVE TO LISTEN TO any mid 2000’s hard rock or post-grunge. Feel free to to take everything I say how you want to take it, as this is just coming from my own life experiences and current thoughts.This is just why I (me, myself, Kristoffer John Kielich) still enjoy and even cherish music that, in my opinion, even trumps modern top 40 or pop country as the most hated genre on earth. Hell it’s even earned itself a little nickname you may have even heard of…

“Butt Rock.” To delve into this deep topic, I should do a very quick introduction of what exactly we’re talking about. Coming out of the grunge rock era of the early 90’s, record labels realized these unsigned Seattle kids in their bedrooms were attracting a lot of attention. By 94/95 the movement was in full force and some of the best grunge records had already shifted the rock spectrum 180 degrees away from the glitz and glamour of the hair metal of the previous decade. It turns out that raw intense anguish sold quite well to the restless youth and so the groups started popping up that, it’s argued, maintained at least some degree of the attitude without a lot of the honesty. It was the image that sold in these “post grunge” bands like Bush, Collective Soul, and Seven Mary Three. I wholeheartedly disagree, but anyways, rock began to gain more metal influences, but strangely enough, some hip hop influence as well. This led to the golden age of “Nu Metal.” Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Godsmack began to use even more overtly dark themes and became more blunt in tone than the grunge bands of their roots. There were also some new themes that began to creep in that’s what started the hard rock and post grunge revival of the mid 2000’s.

That was themes of masculinity, toughness, and a general sense of “Bro, you better step off and give me some space, because if you don’t , I’ll show you how much of a tough guy I am and I’ll mess you up cuz I like to go hard and mosh because no one gets me so I gotta be strong on my own and wreck some shit.” Phew, that was probably a bit long winded and I apologize, but it’s hard for me to some it up any other way. GRANTED, a lot of this music spoke to a lot of people and the problems they faced, but you can’t help but get the feeling of, oh what’s the word, Testosterone, in the air when this music comes on. This music, by the mid to late 2000’s (my high school days) came to represent a strong sense of male camaraderie and “Bro-ness” if you will. Again, hard to describe at 10:00 at night.

So that’s where we’re at. It’s never really gone away, though it’s gone out of style certainly in many aspects. I certainly don’t see as many Ed Hardy and Tapout t shirts as I used to. It’s still ever present, and apparently it’s left a bad taste in most people’s mouths, to the point where if you even utter the phrase “I kinda like some Nickelback songs,” congratulations, you no longer have friends. Forget about that date you were going on, because if you like Three Days Grace, that’s a turn off. Boss thinking about giving you a promotion? Well kiss your ass goodbye once he finds out your secret love of Disturbed’s “The Sickness.”

But what’s my stance? How can I defend it? After all, “Butt Rock,” which I’m assuming it’s called because…because of…um…because it makes you…think of…farts? I don’t know, but I can already hear the hundred thousand strong jury in U.S. vs Kielich saying “IT’S MAINSTREAM PROCESSED MASS PRODUCED GARBAGE! EVERY NICKELBACK/CREED/BREAKING BENJAMIN/DROWNING POOL/INSERT BAND HERE SONG SOUNDS THE SAME! THERE’S NO IMAGINATION OR CREATIVITY OR ANYTHING GOOD EVER IN ANY OF IT.”

My sentence looks grim. But hear me out. Let’s take a trip back to my high school days.

I was the kind of kid that everyone knew and perhaps even liked, but I had very few close friends. I’m not expecting sympathy, but that’s just how it was. But back then, I cherished the two or three closest friends I had; my best friends. I was pretty naive in the sense that I had a very sheltered experience. I admit that freely. I didn’t care about girls, or fitting in, or most stereotypical high school problems. What I cared about was going home, doing my homework, and playing Call of Duty and Battlefield with my friends. Nothing was more satisfying than blowing the heads off of some Nazi Zombies, or taking down kids online with my best friends. We were young and enraptured by the escape and the false sense of badassery that suburban kids could only get from ramming the barrels of a double barrel shotgun up the nose of an undead war criminal.

My musical taste fell right in line at this time, I had just exited the thrash metal phase and happened to turn on Buffalo’s own 103.3 The Edge, Buffalo’s hard rock one stop shop. I heard this:

Whoa! This is aggressive, and it’s even catchier than Megadeth! I like these melodies! I hate mainstream pop music (at the time I did) but this is basically the same thing but less Justin Timberlake and more BADASS. Granted, I didn’t feel “So angry, so painful, so pissed off,” but my brain sure liked the well crafted melody it was hearing! Turns out my buddies were going through a similar phase as me. One thing we all liked was how kickass we felt while listening to these tunes while absolutely wrecking shop on World at War. It pumped us up, and by God I’d be lying to you if I didn’t feel some Bro-ness between me and my friends sitting in my living room at 8:30 the night of a sleepover.

Me, who had two friends. Best friends. Who everyone knew, but wasn’t exactly friends with. Me, in my sheltered home as an only child. Me and my awkward buddies felt drawn together by this music. We had fun. We laughed. We indulged our fantasies of being all the things we were not. We were our own action heroes, and those were some of my most cherished memories I cling to to this day, in my new found post college age of anxiety, worries of the future, career pressures, and “Oh God I hope they like me, I hope they don’t think I’m weird. Will things ever get better? I hope so.” All that mattered back then when that music was on were the moments. Those stupid, hilarious moments were nothing mattered but who could be the splitscreen champion and crack the best playful insult.

But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there’s more to my defense than just my own nostalgia! The music should be judged fair and square on it’s merits, and now I can see you all foaming at the mouth, ready to tear me a new one. This is my view of the music. It’s pop metal. That’s really it. But I liked it before I liked pop, which I wholeheartedly enjoy now. Back then, It was a cool loophole. It had all the hooks and singability of a pop song, but the lyrics and musical construction perfect for taking out some pixelated aggression. To be quite honest, I think the hooks in most “Bro metal” or “Butt rock” songs are stellar. Yes, yes I can hear you clamoring about the oh so infamous “rasp” of singers like Chad Kroeger and co. But that’s what part of what adds to the feeling the music gives. It takes a pop melody and roughs it up a little bit. It adds some, ahem, “weathering” if you will. To me, those singers and their voices make those songs as catchy as they are. The aggression, false or not, is gives these songs credence and helps us remember them. Would you imitate Nickelback’s “Photograph” if Josh Groban was singing it? Don’t answer that. The point is the voice is what makes the songs distinct from any other genre. The songs may sound similar I will admit, but they certainly don’t sound like anything else out there. The combination of the hard rock and metal influenced instrumentation mixed with a melodic, yet slightly growling voice are the elements that separate it from modern country, pop, metal, or any other genre. They might all be influences, sure. But bro rock stands alone. Just like Godsmack said it would. In short, it’s just as melodically pleasing as any other pop song, but the vocals and lyrics just pump you up. And despite what people think, I do personally believe that any artist, no matter what genre, puts their emotion and honesty into every song they sing. A lot of the lyrics in this genre that’s been cast off as “shallow garbage” contain some things that did, and still resonate with me. Maybe be not to an extreme degree, but there are a great deal of post-grunge and hard rock songs that pack just as much an emotional gut punch as Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens. Sometimes the most simple superficial things are what we take the most pleasure in at any particular moment and that’s how it is with me and butt rock.

Now it’s time for some admissions that I’ve grown to learn about bro rock. I know that the portrayal of women in some songs and videos in the genre are unsavory and appalling to this generation. I agree, and if I were to take a guess, I could probably guess who this music is targeted for most of the time. But that doesn’t mean most of us don’t have at least one post-grunge or hard rock song we unabashedly love. We love it for the feeling and for the melody, and sometimes the sheer silliness and, well, “Bro-ness” of the lyrics and instrumentation. It’s the same way we can enjoy an occasional cheesy action flick. I enjoy it for the small moments of fantasy. I feel like it’s the soundtrack of my own personal Michael Bay film, and you can lie, but I know every last one of you has seen at least one Transformers movie.

So that’s it. That’s what I got. What’s the verdict? GUILTY? Well Goddammit I don’t care. I say it loud and proud. I DO LISTEN TO BRO ROCK SONGS OCCASIONALLY. EVEN NICKELBACK AND CREED. NOT ALL THE TIME, BUT MAYBE LIKE, ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR A FEW HOURS. UNLESS I GET INTO A NOSTALGIC MOOD IN WHICH CASE FUCK IT, I’M GOING FULL ON NAZI ZOMBIE MODE. And to be honest, I don’t care. I like so many things, that it’s always weird to see this genre singled out so often. Sometimes we all need to be badasses. Sometimes all the skinny suburban kids, yes even the grown up ones, need to pretend to be cheesy action heroes and heroines for a day. And when those modern day problems and anxieties start to walk up to you in a dark alley, you stare them straight in the eye, pull out your mental double barrel shotgun, fully upgraded with rapid fire and explosive rounds, of course, and…

Well, I think you know what to do. I’ll just leave this song here in case you forgot:

Power in (e)motion – My Favorite Emotional Music Videos Part 1

Now if this were BuzzFeed, I’d be titling this piece “TOP TEN MUSIC VIDZ TO GIVE U DA FEELZ.” Essentially, that’s what we’re going for here. The emotional power of film is something I have always considered to be congruent with music. They both can be extremely effective cathartic outlets for when we can’t or are unable to express how we feel in the moment to someone. We instead look inward, using what’s projected in front of our eyes or into our ears and then draw our conclusions as to how they relate to how we feel. We interpret, and reinterpret. The beauty of music videos, when well crafted, is that they take the magic of film and use that to elevate songs we already love to a new level. When you watch a piece of great film, you can’t help but be moved on some level. This was a fun list for me to make, but I wanted to showcase some of my favorite music video/song combinations and explain why I think they’re elevated above the majority. These are music videos that hopefully will hit you on a gut level like they did with me.

Bedshaped – Keane

This video, directed by Corin Hardy, is certainly one of the most eye catching videos on the list. It’s presented in this Tim Burton-esque style claymation, and at first, certain aspects of it seem almost creepy and unnatural. But that’s the beauty of the whole thing. The song itself deals with feeling lonely, isolated, and yearning to return to times of happiness. The video presents the main character in a way that’s so visceral that you can’t help but get a little choked up. The expressions used in his animation, especially in the darkest moments of sadness, really resonate and activate your sense of empathy. As the character hides from the world and cries all alone, it speaks to struggles with depression and anxiety; something very much in our modern consciousness. The small moments of joy, like the friendship with the cat, adds sympathy and will perhaps draw out a smile among the sadness. To cap it all off, the gorgeous hand drawn animations of the band just add to the energy encased in the video.

Fireflies – Owl City

Directed by Steve Hoover, this video captures the same magic that Disney movies do through it’s whimsy and wonder. It makes you feel like a kid again. The lyrics in the song prove Adam Young’s skill with wordplay AND nostalgia. It’s exudes this sense of innocence, and harkens back to a time when nothing mattered but exploring our own imaginations and having fun. In this world of stresses and bad news, it’s nice to know that sometimes we can still find time to dream again. Young’s performance is earnest and unassuming. He clings to that innocence that so many of us let go of too early. Knowing how the real world works is obviously important, but is it so necessary to surrender some of our wonder and innocence so early? It’s not for the cynical, but it reminds us it’s nice to forget about our own hardships for awhile.

Voices – Saosin

Saosin may fall into that category of bands that emerged from that golden age of emo and alt-punk music, and from that alone you’re probably drawing the conclusion that their videos deal with some “Oh woe is me that girl I like doesn’t like me” stuff, and that the videos themselves could fit any generic emo category. Well, I’d have to disagree. Saosin has consistently made videos that impress me with their tone and feel. Though I couldn’t find who directed the video, one thing is clear: this video gets its message across loud and clear. The shots of each person staring at the camera, silently dealing with the domestic problems they face is perfectly juxtaposed with the frenetic energy of the band performing. It’s heartbreaking when analyzed with the lyrics. “We speak in different voices when fighting with the ones we love…why can’t we say what we’re thinking of?” It’s a cry for help for those who feel unable to speak, and for those who choose to carry on because out of them only comes love, in spite of the hurt. The last shot of the video is haunting, and one you won’t forget anytime soon.

What A Day (2013 remake) – Greg Laswell

This one is a little unique in the sense that it’s not a traditional music video, but a unique take on a lyric video. The power of the words and what little you see of Laswell’s hands make this video powerful. The lyrics are raw and vulnerable, and the manic speed with which Laswell writes makes it seem like he absolutely has to get these feelings off his chest, or else he might break down. When the chorus hits, it’s even more effective, as it’s man looking back at his life and wondering if it was wasted. A powerful motivator. By the gentle and optimistic end, the lingering last words speak to all of us to make the most of every day.

New Morning – Alpha Rev

What’s in a life? Alpha Rev captures that perfectly in this song, which you can read my earlier review of here. This video sweeps you up and doesn’t let go. Images straight out of a Terence Mallick movie fill up this video, but to amazing effect. Everything is symbolic and up to you to interpret according to your own experience. Is it everything sweet, or everything that hurts? Is it beautiful or tragic? It all depends on how you choose to see it, but it captures a lot of the abstract feelings of joy and sadness we’ll experience as we go on the journey. But the journey is right there for you to see here.

That’s all for part one! I had a blast choosing these videos and writing this post, and there’s two more to go. If you liked these, let me know in the comments. What are your most emotional music videos? Be sure to post those as well!

184 – Never Get You Right

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Artist – Brandon Flowers
Album – The Desired Effect
Year – 2015
Genre – Synthpop/Alt. Rock

What is life? OK before all of you decide to instantly close the window or head to YouTube, hear me out. In your life, when you look at it, do you think it’s been guided by fate? Free will? Perhaps a mix of both? I personally think it’s the latter. We can’t choose our gender, sexuality, race, our family, or what circumstances we’re born in. Yet every day we labor over every little decision. We obsess over things we could have done differently, and how maybe things would have worked out if we’d changed one little thing or taken a different path or said something else. “Well maybe he/she’d still like me if I’d done this or that at this or that time.” “Ugh, why does it seem like my life is always going wrong?” “I wish I was someone different.” These are the thoughts that stress out so many of us and often emotionally cripple us every day. They prevent us from living how we often want to live, and I fall guilty to this as well. But after listening to Brandon Flowers’ “Never Get You Right,” I really drew an encouraging and powerful message from it. Hopefully one that inspires us all, and it starts with the first line.

It’s a coin toss. It’s a game on.

At first, I didn’t understand this line. I thought it was just an interesting game metaphor to start the song. Then I saw the beauty of what Flowers is trying to say. This is life. It’s fate and free will. There are many things in our life we can’t change, affect, or decide. It’s a coin toss. It’s already been determined. We have to realize that a lot of parts of life are like a coin toss. We don’t choose a lot of things, but there’s always another side. The second half of the line is the rest of life. It’s a game on. This is how we as humans CHOOSE to live.  It’s free will. We take what cards we’ve been dealt and we say “GAME ON!” We choose to move beyond our crippling fears and worries and choose to approach every day and say, “bring it on, I’m ready to live and be who I am, because being my honest self is something I can choose to do every day.” That’s the best we can do, but it is literally the best thing we CAN do. It’s being yourself and living in the here and now that matters most. Phew, and that’s just the first line!

The rest of the lyrics in the song use a ballad as a lens for this idea of the duality of the way our lives unfold and the people we become.

You were born lost, and dirt blonde
No curfew, with a drunk mom
No one to stop you now

And I’ll give you my opinion, it’s the only one I’ve got
They’ll turn you into something, whether you are it or not

The beginning speaks to the circumstances we can’t change in our lives, but by the time the prechorus hits, it’s all about if you choose to be how you see yourself or how others see you.

But they’ll never get you right

Only you know who you are. Be that person, always. Don’t let others change you.

There’s another line that I love before the second chorus that really speaks to this fact that we really obsess over things we can’t control and labor over wishing we’d done things differently:

Through a microscope lens, dissecting your whole life

And finally, the bridge of the song shows how while we worry our lives away and spend our time putting on false pretenses and struggle with our own inner personality and honesty, things will still happen and things in our lives will still change. Our lives will pass us by as we’re stuck in neutral:

Everybody talks from the wrong side of the mask
Gliding through the universe as the world goes rolling past
But don’t give in to the pressure ’cause it isn’t gonna stop
The world goes on around you whether you like it or not

This is honestly a song with one of the most important messages I’ve heard in a long time. Brandon Flowers absolutely nailed it on this one, but the lyrics, as good as they are, are still just one half of the equation!

The music and melody in this song are just gorgeous. From the start Flowers’ honest and emotionally compromised voice wavers from note to note, adding that sense of humanity. It’s soft and gentle, and the gorgeous, classic 80’s synth and piano line come courtesy of the legendary Bruce Hornsby, who is a guest on this track. The percussion and hand claps are also straight out of the classic 80’s balladeers songbook, but this is done to great effect. The chorus is triumphant, and is mirrored by the melancholic and reflective verses. It’s sweeping and romantic and Flowers carries this track on every note. He soars and falls with each line. After years of crafting records with The Killers and on his own, he’s figured out quite a lot, and you can tell these songs mean a lot to him.

Flowers’ message, in the end, is simple. Just get out there and live! Don’t be afraid to be who you are and tackle every day as your best self just because some unfortunate things have happened or are happening in your life. It’s true there are things we cannot choose, but we can choose who we present ourselves as to the world. Who would that be? A kind stranger? A lover? An adventurer? A poet? A friend? An enemy? These are the things we can choose, and it’s the most important thing that we actually can change in the world. So instead of worrying about events that have already happened or haven’t happened yet, we can all focus on being our honest selves and living our lives fully in each moment of every day. To be cliche and throw out an old quote to end this post:

“Whatever you are, be a good one”

Let me know what you all think of the song in the comments? Do you believe in fate or free will?

The Art of Confidence – Terrible Thrills, Vol 2.

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When I finally took the time to discover Bleachers (fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff’s side project) I was greeted with honesty. His album Strange Desire was a record that was laser focused on capturing gradiose romantic emotion through well crafted pop melodies and lush soundscapes. Despite that previous sentence of mine, Antonoff came across as genuine and unpretentious. His voice is low and echoes from wall to wall, but it’s straightforward. He was confident and you can tell that he was engrossed in every moment in the production of the record. Of course, there were a few songs I didn’t care for, but I thought the record was very good regardless. It had some of the best hooks I’d heard from a semi-mainstream band. That’s a testament to Antonoff’s songwriting ability and his experience in the pop world. He knows what we like to hear, and I respect his ability to translate that and add those sounds to his own personal experiences and lyrics.
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After all this, I couldn’t help but wonder what some of these great songs would sound like in a higher register. I thought about the different dimensions the song would take, and if the emotions would change at all. Would the emotions that rose up in me while listening change? Would a female voice change the perspective of the song? Well imagine my surprise when Antonoff surprised many people by re-releasing his Strange Desire record with the songs redone and with different female artists singing each song. I couldn’t help but think Jack (whom I’ve interviewed before and can say is a very kind guy indeed) was listening to my ideas. After reading about why the decision was made, it turns out that Antonoff, according to him, hears his songs in a female voice first and then sings them an octave down out of necessity. I think that’s an interesting way to approach songwriting to be sure, and a lot of the artists I saw that were guests on this album: Sia, Elle King, Sara Bareilles, and Charli XCX among others excited me. I couldn’t help but applaud Jack Antonoff for being as confident as he is in his material. This is a guy who knows his songs have a potency to them as they were, but he’s willing to let that go and try and recapture what he had done all over again. That takes guts. But how does it stack up to the original?

Well, I will say this. The songs vary greatly, which is refreshing for me. He didn’t simply rehash the sounds of each track. But some were more successful than others. The thing is, all of these guest artists are still bound to Antonoff’s melodies and construction. So bearing that in mind, I wanted to give the tracks that resonated with me (again) a quick review. But if you’re looking for an answer as to whether you should listen at all, my answer is a resounding YES. The album’s lyrics and melodies still remain potent and resonant, and the change in vocal tone from song to song will surprise you in the best way possible. So let’s take a closer look:

Track 1 – Wild Heart (teat. Sarah Bareilles)

Sarah Bareilles has a very soothing and earnest tone, almost comparable to Antonoff himself. Instead of the pulsing, urgent tone of the music in the original, this one comes across as even more romantic, as it’s a lot more subdued and gentle. The textures are still lush, although I will say Antonoff went a little overboard on the samples on this one. I could’ve done without them at times, but if you listen to this version after the original, the two work perfectly in tandem as if they were sung by two members a couple deeply in love. It’s a soothing caress to the original’s fiery passion.

Track 2 – Rollercoaster (feat. Charli XCX)

This is one of the songs where the music wasn’t tampered with too much. Which to me is perfectly fine. The glittering neon vibe of the synth in this song was one of it’s greatest strength to begin with. Charli XCX has a very distinctive voice that to me always sounded like a cross between a rebel and seductress. To me, that adds up to someone who knows how to live and take chances, which is exactly the spirit of this song. Perfect choice. Her voice in the verses fits perfectly, but what makes this song so good is the power of the chorus. The original had Jack’s voice overlaid a few times, which gave it oomph and a gang-vocal quality. That was actually removed for this version, which I feel was not a good decision. I wanted the same gang vocal sound Charli had on “Boom Clap” but she sings straight through on this one. It’s still a fun energetic track, but that one (in my opinion) misstep took a bit away from it.

Track 3 – Shadow (feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)

This was the last song on the original that I decided I liked. However, from the beginning of this version, with its beefy and rich synth bass line, I was hooked. The stuttering guitar line from the original remains, and Jepsen takes great advantage. She makes this song her own, as if it were on her last record. It fits perfectly too. It flows perfectly right until the chorus, which like the previous song, is big and powerful on the original. However, on this one, the tempo drops out and we get a quiet synth backing and a stuttering bass kick underneath Jepsen’s voice. I was surprised by this change, but pleasantly so. I like this change a lot, as it has a similar effect that Bareilles’ “Wild Heart” had. It adds this sensitivity and almost fun loving kindness to the tone of the song. Jepsen’s voice has that quality to it, so hearing her be the focus instead of being drowned out put a smile on my face. Not to mention that synth from the beginning is infinitely better sounding than the tones of the original.

Track 4 – I Wanna Get Better (feat. Tinashe)

Wow, what a 180! This is not the pulse pounding neurotic shout along song that we all knew. This version an introspective, emotional cry for love and self improvement. Perhaps that’s what Jack had in mind with the original, but I don’t think that vibe was fully captured until now. Tinashe (the girl from The Polar Express!!) is excellent at controlling her voice and making these lyrics become even more powerful moment to moment. The quiet, muted chorus gave me goosebumps. But there are few vocal effects I wasn’t a fan of, but overall this song goes from crazy and unpredictable to sad and harrowing. The beat is still there, but the vocals and musical changes shift the tone completely. Bravo.

Track 6 – Reckless Love (feat. Elle King)

Honestly, this was the one I was the most nervous about. The original is so potent and brave a song coming from Antonoff and his voice that I wasn’t sure how Elle King, who has one of the most distinctive voices and sounds in pop music today, was going to tackle it. I’m glad to say that this was one of my favorites on the entire record. Her voice in the verses is tender and beautiful. It’s almost like if you took the best of an old time folk ballad and added synths over the top. It’s old meets new, and I’m thrilled that they kept the absolutely gorgeous synth line that comes right after the first two verses. It’s at this point, that King takes the shy, fragile tone of Antonoff and makes it powerful and confident. Her yells say, “I’m taking charge of my life. I don’t need to bend to the will of anyone who doesn’t return the love I’ve given.”  I’m so glad both versions maintain distinct personalities, but this one is quickly becoming my favorite of the two.

Track 7 – Take Me Away (feat. Brooke Candy and Rachel Antonoff)

Ironically, this song already had a female vocalist, with Grimes doing a great job in the original version. The original came across as a gentle resolution to an argument from both sides, but this one, which features Jack’s sister on clean vocals, and also raps from Brooke Candy, is a classic Yin Yang song. The music isn’t changed really, but the angry and snide raps are followed by a wonderful and simple vocal by Rachel Antonoff. “I know you’re sorry” remains one of the shortest, but most powerful lines on the record, and I’m glad the vocal integrity of that line was kept intact from Grimes to Rachel. I think Antonoff was more successful with the original because it gave this image of a couple crying and making up and embracing after a bad fight. Both sides had surrendered to the moment. But this one sounds like a one sided affair, which can be just as true, but a harder pill for romantics like me to swallow.

Track 8 – Like A River Runs (feat. Sia)

I wanted to share this one because I actually don’t care for it. But I have a feeling many others out there will adore it. I personally liked the epic, anthemic sounds of the original, and though I admire Jack and Sia for taking a chance with turning this into a piano ballad, I don’t think it was as successful in it’s message. Sia still has an absolutely incredible voice, so massive props to her, but she plays with the melody at times where it doesn’t it need to be touched. I miss the pounding drums and huge sounding synth. The gentle nature of the piano in this one seems to clash with Sia’s massive voice and her soaring notes. But I don’t know, maybe I’m just not sold on it yet. Let me know what you all think of this one.

Track 9 – You’re Still a Mystery (feat. MO)

I love every minute of this. This song was my favorite of Strange Desire, and it’s my favorite still. It’s an ebullient celebration of love and every little moment you experience with someone else while you’re in love. A song of this caliber can’t be topped, I thought. I thought wrong. MO absolutely owns this song. Her raspy cuts like a knife through the song and it’s powerful and beautiful. Jack probably took note of this, and make the snare drums in this song even louder and sharp. It’s songs like this that make me want to dance around and just lose myself. And that’s the point. They even added a Bruce Springsteen style saxophone solo that Bleachers likes to add to live performances of this song. MO brings a youthful exuberance and joyful energy that can’t be controlled. That’s how you feel when you’re in love. You want to tell the world. She’s telling the world, and she doesn’t care what people think.

Well guys, those are all the songs that I thought I should talk about, but please check out the entire album as it’s truly a testament to great songwriting and a show of confidence from an artist who has captured something great. Until next time, please let me know what you guys think of the album in the comments!

#183 – Oceania

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Artist – The Birthday Massacre
Album – Superstition
Year – 2014
Genre – Gothic Rock/Pop-Metal

Have you ever fantasized about what would happen if Cyndi Lauper decided to add metal riffs to her music? Well then do I have the band/song to make your dreams come true! The Birthday Massacre have been crafting dark synthpop metal tunes for more than a decade. Each song features beautiful vocals done from frontwoman Chibi over lush layers of synths and strings, as well as crunching metal riffs. The effect is actually rather ethereal and truly a treat to listen to. “Oceania” is my favorite track from their newest album Superstition, and I think many people who traditionally shy away from harder rock and metal will very much enjoy this track for its pop sensibility.

Right from the opening staccato drum machine opening, your mind will immediately scream 80’s. Well that feeling never really leaves the whole song. Chibi’s voice has an almost identical quality to the great female pop singers of the same era, like the aforementioned Lauper and golden age Madonna. The synthy bass line keeps right in time and the song even has a similar beat to those songs of decades past. The prechorus is where you’re going to the band pull out some of their first metal guitar sounds as well as play around a bit more with their synth melodies.

The catchiness of the chorus hinges upon the way the synths blend so perfectly with Chibi’s voice, again just like back in the 80’s. Think how good “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” sounded back then. Now add that modern metal crunch. It’s executed so well, with Chibi’s voice hitting high notes with no problem. It’s uplifting and really demonstrates a perfect melding of two worlds.

The next really big highlight comes right after the second chorus with a great old school 80’s hair metal guitar solo. And then right that there’s echoing and atmospheric synth solo that’s dark and brooding, but almost mystical in feeling. It transports you to a place of your imagination’s choosing, but perhaps evokes feelings of the sea or water like the title suggests.

The last chorus is cathartic and transitions right into another quick guitar solo before ending with the ocean waves. The song somehow keeps itself upbeat, but also is, in a strange way, very calming. The vocals are smooth and the synths add a beautiful smooth texture from beginning to end. The guitars are what really add the “Massacre” to the name of the band. With fantastical lyrics on top of all this, hopefully fans of classic 80’s pop will discover something new and exciting with this band. I guarantee if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it.

Leave a comment with your own thoughts! Thanks for reading!

#182 – Bobby Black

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Artist – Panic Is Perfect
Album – Behind Your Eyelids – EP
Year – 2015
Genre – Indie Pop-Rock/Alternative

Working as music director at 89.3 WGSU (Geneseo’s Voice of the Valley!) at college really opened me to a literal ton of music that I would never have discovered by myself. The sheer vastness of the emails and piles of CDs that would be sent to us each week for rotation was overwhelming to say the least and it made it hard to give everyone a fair shake. However, I made it a point to at least listen to three songs from every CD sent to us, since it takes a lot of effort to press CDs and package them. Quite frankly, the majority of CDs I received I did not care for for one reason or another. However, when I discovered the gems, that just made them shine all the more brightly. Case in point was Panic Is Perfect, a San Francisco Indie Pop band with incredible hooks and crazy production skills. “Bobby Black” was far and away my favorite off the EP we were sent, and though the whole EP is full of fantastic pop-rock tracks, this funky groover of a song takes center stage.

I never thought I would say that a tambourine part is one of the best parts of a track, but without it, this song would be significantly less funky. It’s the part that makes you want to get up and dance, not to mention a killer bass line that just slinks right in from the beginning. The vocals, done by Jeremy Belzer and Mike Hoffman, are really not about the power, but the way that their whispery quality combine with a kickass melody, and the verse transitions perfectly into the chorus, and there’s these really sort of 70’s cheese organ sounds in the background that really add a cool effect to the groove of the song.

The chorus is the showstopper. It’s a simple, simple melody but it’s a head sticker for sure. The tambourine gets even louder, and you can hear a chorus effect that adds depth to it. The melody is a classic high to low, but it’s the smooth transition between notes and words from Belzer and Hoffman that will grab you and make you move your body to the beat.

The bridge of the song is also a standout, with both men jumping to falsetto in another high to low catchy section, which leads directly into the last chorus, where plucked guitar notes become more prevalent and add another pop dimension on top of the well crafted melody and structure. And then…the song is over. It’s a short one at only just over 2 minutes, but these guys know that’s all you need for a hook filled pop song. Put the funk on top and you’ll have people dancing in no time.

The lyrics are also interesting to me. From what I’ve gathered, the song is about the titular character being bullied. Lines like:

They write these lies with their knuckles

and

Every bruise here will be doubled

The song seems to be about Bobby living a life of torment, but wrestling with the fact of whether or not he’s a good enough person to not seek revenge. The bridge and chorus point this out:

You only think of the ways you can pay it back

Run, run, run Bobby Black…
I’m begging you, don’t, don’t overreact
They’re all just fools

It’s kind of a sad song when looked at closer, but it’s hard to forget about the beat of the music, but it’s important that there’s more depth to the song than first meets the ear. Either way, you’re bound to get enjoyment out of “Bobby Black” and from Panic Is Perfect in general. Check these guys out, and get yourself ahead of the curve!

Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts! Thanks for reading!

The Most Important Punk Record of the Past Decade

Before getting into the main post, I wanted to tell you guys some stuff coming up about the blog. The main thing is that I’m going to be changing the types of content that appear on here. Don’t worry, 1001 songs will still be continuing, I’m just going to be adding more things like this: reviews, personal thoughts on music, upcoming artists, (hopefully) interviews, and other cool music postings. I’m really going to work on updating my look as well, so hopefully that comes down the pipeline as well. All 1001 songs posts regarding the songs themselves will still have numbers, but reviews like this will not. Ok, now that that bit of housework is done, let’s get to that title. Be warned now, this is not a typical short review. This is a long dissection of why I believe this record to be THE BEST. It’s more of an essay, but it may be the most meaningful one I’ve written.

The most important punk record of the last decade came out yesterday. Bold statement? Yes, and I understand that music is among the most subjective of art forms. But I truly believe that this one particular record holds something potent and something that actually has the power to change lives in a way that no other record has done in a long time, especially in my own life.

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That record is Senses Fail’s Pull the Thorns from Your Heart and as a warning right now, this is not a record for fans of certain genres of music. This record definitely falls into the post-hardcore category, and it’s quite aggressive and there are more screamed vocals than melodic ones. However, if your mind is open to that sort of record, the melody punctuates moments of extreme light and clarity that really adds a beautiful duality to the record.

For the past decade (and even longer) the various sub-genres of the modern punk scene, emo, pop-punk, hardcore, post-hardcore and numerous others, have generally stuck to specific, and often introspective and painful themes of life. Lost love, self repair, yearning to be more…the list goes on. Granted, these themes are very powerful and often create some of the hardest hitting, most emotional songs for my generation in particular. However, what Senses Fail and their frontman Buddy Nielsen have done is evolve like no other band in the scene has done before.

After putting out a fantastic album about the joy and beautiful experience that is experiencing the love of a significant other, called Renacer, I was unclear what the themes of this new album would be. However, the content of this album, and the previous one as well, stem from the spiritual and mental rebirth of Buddy Nielsen. In Renacer, Nielsen expresses how falling in love has started him on his path to a better life. Nielsen has stated that his past is one full of drugs, drinking and abuse from himself and others around him. If Renacer shows what the love of another can do to change a person, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart is all about self love and it’s healing power, an idea that is constantly attempting to be reinforced to everyone in the age of the internet, but especially to generation Y.

Nielsen’s shift to eastern philosophy and Buddhism is the key component of the lyricism of the record. The title itself comes from a quote by the Sufi poet Rumi:

“To wander in the fields of flowers
pull the thorns from your heart.”

The quote itself speaks of keeping your heart vulnerable and open and never being afraid to feel, even after times of extreme pain and sadness. Letting yourself open up and tearing down the walls that hurt yourself is a very good way to express what Nielsen is telling his listeners. The record is a documentation of his own struggle with his sexual identity as queer, and the regret of his past abuses and his promise of “I will not die in shame.”

The record is unique in the sense that I had never listened to an album that is not only divided into 4 sections of Buddhist thought which Nielsen explains in this series of videos:

It’s also unique in the way that it uses Eastern philosophy and thought as a lens to preach self love, the beauty of vulnerability, and the idea that we can all overcome pain. Quotes from Rumi, the Buddha, Gandhi, and other eastern holy men and spiritual guides all provide important ideas on peace and love mixed in with Nielsen’s own struggles and thoughts on his life and hardships. With all of the campaigns that seem to spring up in this internet age on self love and learning to coexist in a fragile world of culture and self, this album provides a new tool with which not just youth but people can listen and find the courage through the lyrics and music to strive to overcome worldly pain and open their hearts to love and beauty. I want to highlight the lines in each song that I’ve found most meaningful, and you’ll see why an album like this, especially in this genre, is so different yet just what we need in this day and age:

1. The Three Marks of Existence

It takes compassion to confront your pain
It takes strength to be vulnerable enough to float on the rivers of shame
Be ground, be crumbled
You’ve been stony for too long

Like wild flowers grow where you are
Let your heart burst, let it explode

2. Carry the Weight

I hope you never know what it’s like to hide a piece of yourself inside
Or to be so fucking ashamed you’d rather kill yourself than be alive

I’m still scared but I’ve got courage to be
More vulnerable and one day free
Now my heart isn’t covered in concrete
I breathe, I breathe
No longer scared of the vulnerability
No longer scared of the person that I see

3. The Courage of an Open Heart

I was so alone, buried in sadness, love dragged me out of it
So alone, buried in sadness, love dragged me out of it
I want to love with the courage of an open heart

4. Wounds

There is a beating in my heart and it is the scariest thing I have ever felt
To know that the difference between joy and sadness is such a small sliver
There is a welling up of emotions inside me that I just can’t bare; tears stream down my face
There are moments of extreme joy, there are moments of love, there are moments of madness
And this is life; we cannot change what arises, only how we greet it

The wounds that never heal are the ones you refuse to see

Be the change you seek

5. Take Refuge

May I forgive myself for the person who I think I should be
And may I love myself even when it feels like I don’t deserve to breathe

What you seek is seeking you

There is no agony like holding on to an untold story
Inside of you, poisoning the truth

6. Surrender

When I stare into the sky and I know that I am part of this
Unfolding into beauty, my eyes steam with tears, rainbow ribbons grace the ground
I have died a thousands times, I have breathed a million breaths, but it has taken me this long to be present
It’s taken an eternity to see this evidence

There is so much love and so much kindness
There is so much hope, someday you’ll find it
Take the armor off your heart and let it beat

7. Dying Words

Be a lamp unto yourself
Shine the light onto the truth

There’s so much beauty in this world I just didn’t see it
I’m too busy protecting heart with good reason
Some of us have been so abused, so mislead, so far from love
We don’t even know how far we’ve gone

Why did I stay in prison when the door was left wide open?
What was it that I was clinging to?
I changed the perspective, not just the view

Love has changed me

What are the stories you tell yourself
That you aren’t good enough or shouldn’t feel?
The love that you deserve is pounding in your chest
Reach inside and fucking grab it

8. The Importance of the Moment of Death

I was so tired of being alone
I was so tired of listening to the chorus in my head
Telling myself I wasn’t good enough to be happy or proud or loving to myself
What kind of life is that to lead?
Finding the courage to open up my heart finally let me fucking breathe

No one should ever be judged for who they love
No one should ever have to be afraid
There is so much grace in being vulnerable
There is so much beauty in being brave

9. Pull the Thorns from Your Heart

I’ve been looking for a pearl this whole time
It’s been right in my chest
I went diving to the depths of hell once
But I only found death
And it said to me
“Don’t be afraid of your end
Be bold, be authentic
Be brave enough to love again”
They said

Pull the thorns from your heart
To wander in the fields of flowers

10. We Are All Returning Home

The times that you take to wait
For all the things that you need
Are the times that you’ve wasted

Reach up from the soil and bloom
Go to the places that scare you
Shine the light on what is it that you’re not willing do see
We are all returning home
We think we are separate, so we roam
Searching for something to satisfy this thirst
We must turn inward

Do you hear that roaring between your ears
Do you have the courage to listen
Can you make peace with your fear

11. My Fear of An Unlived Life

One day I will be gone
But all the things that I have done will remain

We are all longing for compassion
We are all longing for acceptance
There is nothing that shows more strength
Than meeting pain with compassion
Because we all have wounded hearts
We are just as blind in the dark
And we all quiver in fear
When the ones we love disappear

How can we ignore a message like this that speaks so deeply to our soul? I’ve never experienced lyrical content like this. In this world where there’s so much fear both within and without, it’s so beautiful to have a message of letting go and opening your heart to love and the beauty and kindness that surrounds you everywhere.

The other unique juxtaposition we find is how Senses Fail’s sound, in spite of lyrics like those above, actually gets heavier. We almost venture into the realm of straight up hardcore in a lot of these songs, but the moments of experimentation and melody are reserved for the moments of greatest clarity and revelation. The band experiments with elements of shoegaze and some post punk in songs like “Surrender,” but the majority of the record is hard hitting and heavy as hell. This has a lot to deal with the lyrical content, as Nielsen really pours out his soul piece by piece with each song. Never forget, this was a brave, brave record for him to write.

The rest of the band really contributes musician wise. Every song is well constructed and the talent is really present in the fact that it may not be THE fastest or THE heaviest record, but each soundscape fits each song in exactly the right way. From the hard hitting plea of “The Three Marks of Existence,” to the urgency of “The Importance of the Moment of Death,” to the cathartic and revelatory title track, each song provides its message in a way the makes sense for the genre, but also in a way that showcases what this band has evolved into. Guitars chug and sound great and heady, drums are crisp and clear, and the bass provides some of the most virtuosic lines in the bands career.

Why is “Pull the Thorns from Your Heart,” the best punk record of the last decade? It presents itself in a way that is totally unique to any record I’ve experienced thus far in the scene, with Nielsen’s Eastern philosophical lens providing beautiful and poetic ways to promote happiness and peace within ourselves. The music complements the lyrical content (which in my opinion always comes first) perfectly, and showcases an ideal evolution that so many bands constantly talk about going through with few rarely actually achieving the goal. Finally, it speaks to us. All of us. We all go through pain, struggle, hardship, loss, self consciousness…I’ve spoken about these things many times in the songs I’ve reviewed. But as I look around me and I see the next Dove Real Beauty campaign or the passage of gay marriage in the supreme court, or a tragic shooting that showcases the parts of our culture that scare us most, or even seeing a post somewhere online about how people don’t fall in love the way they used to or…well you get the picture. Look around you. There are things that scare us everywhere, and there is kindness everywhere. There is darkness and light, but sometimes we only choose to hide ourselves in the darkness. We get afraid and close ourselves off or judge ourselves when we need to realize we are one. We run from our chances at love because we’re scared of the outcome, or choose to ignore the world around us. Why is this album the best? Because it reminds us to keep ourselves vulnerable in this world.

Feel. It’s a brave thing to feel. Feel scared. Feel hurt. Feel loved. Feel alone. Feel angry. Feel joy. Feel it all. We have been stony for too long. We all deserve the love that is hiding inside ourselves right now. We have the power to choose love always. Not just for others, but for ourselves. Never forget that.

Remember…

Be bold. Be authentic. Be brave enough to love again.

Be a lamp unto yourself.

All you need is already within you.

“To wander in the fields of flowers
pull the thorns from your heat”

#181 – Here Is Gone

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Artist – Goo Goo Dolls
Album – Gutterflower
Year – 2002
Genre – Alternative Rock

I think it’s about time I showed some love for the hometown boys. The Goo Goo Dolls came out that great period of the mid nineties that forged a brand of sensitive, honest songwriters. There are too many songs by them to name that resonate with me, but this one in particular hits me hard every time I listen. Gutterflower is their most under appreciated album in my opinion, but it’s full of really deep introspection that I really enjoy to reflect upon. So let’s start with “Here Is Gone.”

The quick and breezy acoustic guitar riff from the start sounds crisp and actually somewhat upbeat, but you can tell when singer John Rzeznik starts, he sound urgent and troubled. As he goes along, you can tell he’s singing to someone in particular, and it seems he’s had a troubled relationship with this person.

I’m not the one who broke you, I’m not the one you should fear
WHAT DO YOU GOT TO MOVE YOU, DARLING

The darkness and the way Rzeznik hits those lines, especially that last one just sticks in my head. It’s an outburst of anger and it’s an argument. It’s like he’s capturing the essence of fighting with a significant other in this moment, because that’s what it feels like. It’s a build up and then a release of something we wish we could take back, but judging by the title of the song, I don’t think the narrator wants to or can repair the damage done during these events.

I thought I lost you somewhere
but you were never really ever there at all

Now is that a heartbreaking line or what? A realization like that is hard thing to express in words, but Rzeznik has a way with his words. Like I said, crafted in the nineties. It’s here where the music picks up in intensity and the guitar really starts to echo and reverberate.

But this chorus, man. This chorus:

And I want to get free
Talk to me
I can feel you falling
And I wanted to be
All you need
Somehow here is gone

When you care about someone more than anything, you will give up anything to help them in their sadness and pain. I think I remember seeing a message in Kurt Cobain’s journal (as shown in the AMAZING Montage of Heck documentary. Seriously, go watch it) where he says “I will make myself miserable to make you happy.” Well I think that’s a true expression of love. Maybe not the healthiest expression, but one of the purest and most selfless in a way. I think this chorus captures that sentiment and more than that, the yearning to help and be that missing piece that partners are often described to be. Unfortunately according to that last line, it seems to have failed.

The music during this whole section is raucous and Rzeznik really belts it out here. The grit in his voice adds to the power of his singing and his words. When he hits the high notes in each line, it’s truly like he’s digging deep and bringing the sadness of his past to light for everyone to feel. I feel it. If you listen close, yo can hear the quick snap of the electric guitar strumming during the chorus as well. The drums just slay during this part as well.

Going through another intense prechorus is just as good the second time. Actually, the song only GAINS potency as you listen through each chorus. By the time you get to the wonderful melody of the bridge, you’re shouting and singing at the top of YOUR lungs, just like Johnny. That’s the moment of connection.

I know it’s out there
I know it’s out there
Somehow here is gone, yeah

This is one of my favorite parts of the song. The ambiguous nature of those first two lines really lets you add a great deal of your own meaning to the end of this song, which soars really high from the melody. What’s out there? Happiness? Sadness? Heartbreak? Love? Only you can decide for yourself. And that’s what music lets us do.

Thanks for reading and listening! Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts!