controversy: your favorite weapon is my favorite brand new album by a lotPlayed 22 times.
fireworks - oh, common life
released on triple crown records
someone call npr. emo revival is out. we need more thinkpieces on pop punk. thanks to bands like fireworks, high school kids now feel safe wearing shirts like this, and critics are now covering with gravitas the same subgenre they shrugged off right after jay-z showed up on infinity on high. i saw the wonder years about a month ago in cleveland, and midway through their (sold-out) set, dan campbell thanked the crowd for showing up and supporting his band. “they wanted us to play the little room on the side,” he said, chuckling and shaking his head.
i’m not the genre’s foremost historian, so take my generalizations with a grain of salt, but i’d argue that pop punk has seriously sobered up since hot topic stopped selling motion city soundtrack tees. oh, common life feels like the musical equivalent of the ‘where are they now?’ sequel: the melodrama you grew up with is still here, but it’s evolved into a different monster entirely. dave mackinder writes more like john darnielle than pete wentz, swapping the AOL instant messenger aesthetic for lyrics about distance, discomfort, and disappointment. the dude has obviously done his homework, and it pays off - oh, common life is one of the best albums about family and the bumpy bridge to adulthood since the sunset tree.
fireworks occupy a strange niche in the scene. on one hand, they’re not afraid of sounding a little syrupy - peep the guitar riff that opens “flies on tape” if you don’t believe me. by the same token, mackinder hasn’t abandoned the choir boy croon that’s marked the band’s style for so long, and the album bears a glossy coat from front to back. oh, common life thus lacks the teeth that makes pop punk marketable as the music of adolescent rebellion. if we’re talking semantics, ‘power pop’ might better describe fireworks, who emulate the exploding hearts more than, say, nofx.
track six on oh, common life is called “play ‘god only knows’ at my funeral,” and if that title is any indication, mackinder sees a lot of brian wilson in himself. i don’t blame him. in the public eye, few genres scream ‘monochrome’ like pop punk and sunny surf pop. oh, common life isn’t exactly pet sounds, but they have more in common than you might think. both are intensely personal records, driven by young, miserable frontmen who aren’t quite ready to be adults and who have violent desires to bust out of their genres’ proverbial prisons. much like pet sounds, fireworks’ latest is a rich, rewarding pop album whose hooks don’t storm your subconscious so much as they slyly infiltrate it. maybe this isn’t dave mackinder’s pet sounds, but it’s damn close.
no joke, this record turns ten years old in november. i’m gonna start writing retrospective album reviews a la stereogum i think. we’ll see how that goes.
i don’t remember how i got home last night or how i’m here today but yeah that’s alright because it’s nothing new. i’m stuck like a boat, frozen in a lake in a michigan winter where the waves are late and i’m hoping for you.
i’ve been listening to this band a lot since i saw them last friday. this is a really killer record.Played 237 times.
i’m gonna be in the library like all day today so i decided to revisit some albums that are like my “old favorites.” up first is this bad boy. do you know how many times i listened to this goddamn album in the summer of 09?Played 3003 times.
fuck fuck fuck there are so many good lines in this song. i blogged about it a little bit last night but i just wanna post some of my favorite lyrics here because this might have the highest concentration of razor-sharp one-liners in any hold steady song.
if she happens to suggest a love based on trust and respect
tell her i’ve been wasted since last week
if she happens to bring up the pinpricks and the throwing up
tell her it’s just part of growing up
if she wants to get involved tell her to stay in st. paul
tell her i’m not up to taking calls
ask her for some adderall
if she wants a scene report don’t tell her bout the kicked in doors
tell her we ain’t even keeping score no more
she’s been hiding from those gentlemen
with the same tattoos as gideon
some nights the bus wouldn’t even stop, there were just too many kids…
i borrowed my friend kathryn’s car and drove up to albany last night to see the hold steady play at a bar called the hollow. i’ve been listening to this band since i first got into ‘underground’ music in 2009, and seeing them play live was something i’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. due to poor planning and issues w/ amtrak, i almost didn’t make the show, but my buddy conway and i got there with time to spare, so it was all good.
a trio of nerdy white dudes called cheap girls opened, and their combo of power chords and mid-00s pop-punk vocals blew me away. the sound during their set wasn’t that great, so i made a note to check out their records. i’ll get to that soon enough.
seeing HS frontman craig finn walk onstage with his goofy smile and short-sleeved button-up felt a lot like waking up on christmas morning as a kid. during their set, he pulled a lot of lame dance moves and made the stage seem less tiny than it really was. they’ve been opening all their shows on this tour w/ “i hope this whole thing didn’t frighten you,” and albany got the same treatment. the crowd wasn’t as thundering as i was expecting, but it made sense: 1. the venue was fucking small and 2. everyone at this show was at least thirty years old and they all clutched glasses of beer.
some highlights: they played “ask her for adderall,” a bonus track from the stay positive sessions and one of my favorite hold steady tracks in general. “chips ahoy!” followed that, and the crowd went fucking nuts for it. one of the room’s rowdiest moments arrived when craig and co. launched into full-scale attack mode for the last chorus of “chips ahoy!” even the couple next to me - both of whom were well into their forties - threw up their wrinkly fists a few times.
"multitude of casualties" was the real treat of the night. their setlists recently have been pretty erratic, and we had no idea what to expect. i completely lost my shit when they started to play “multitude,” and everyone around me tossed me shifty eyes and cold stares. no shame, though. after the show, i could only speak in whispers, and i’m pretty sure most of my voice loss occurred during this song. but how could i resist? “multitude of casualties,” moreso than most HS tracks, struck me immediately with its naked honesty, and it’s catchy as hell too. i’ve spent years trying to write a line half as good as “it’s a funny bit of chemistry / how a cool car makes a guy seem that much cooler.”
THS are one of those bands where every song feels like “the definitive hit,” and their six-song encore drove home that point pretty hard. they came out swinging with “constructive summer,” maybe the biggest singalong of the night, and they shut it down with “slapped actress.” they’re probably my favorite band ever, and i can’t tell how excited i am to see them tear it up again, preferably sooner than later.
conway and i stopped at a service plaza on the drive home for some french fries and hi-c. we got back to poughkeepsie around 2:00 and i passed out within minutes of entering my dorm room. i dreamed about separation sunday and high school and everyone i’ve ever loved. it was a pretty great night.
check out the rest of the setlist here.
i just realized that this is my favorite song of all time
it’s always nice to have realizations like thatPlayed 24 times.
My favorite moment of Breaking Bad was that oh-so-painful but inevitable scene where Walt has to reveal to his family of his double life as his alter-ego Matt Berninger, vocalist for indie soft rock band The National
We all knew it was coming, but were we really ready for it when it came?
Moments like this are what make television great