emo bands

When You Say “Best Friends” Means Friends Forever

It started with a girl. Last weekend I went to a punk show in Philadelphia. Rancid, Pennywise, and Suicidal Tendencies are all on tour together with a few other bands and they played a well known Philly venue that we all still refer to as the Electric Factory. I was supposed to attend with my friend Ashley and her friend Kelsey, but when Ashley took an offer to sell merch for Rancid, that left me and Kelsey to attend together. I just met Kelsey earlier this month so going to Rancid together really gave us the chance to hang out and get to know each other. We started talking about music and eventually got into talking about Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. They were two of my favorite bands in high school and Kelsey’s all time favorite bands. Since my Rancid hang with Kelsey, I’ve listened to both bands a couple times and for nostalgia’s sake, started reminiscing about how wild it is for someone to love both bands so much given their history.

Again it started with a girl. Jesse Lacey of Brand New and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday were childhood best friends. They both were part of the famed Long Island music scene in the early 2000’s. As rumor has it, at some point in their friendship there was a girl that got in the way. No one knows the exact story of what happened. From what I know, it was something along the lines of Jesse was with a girl that cheated on him with John. It incited a well-known emo music feud between both bands. Songs from both bands’ first albums pointed anger and hatred towards each other (Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven” and Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No “I” in Team”). There was even band merch that did the same (“Because mics are for singing not swinging”, a dig at TBS frontman Adam Lazzara’s mic swinging style and “Proudly Swinging Since 1999”). Yet, while listening to these bands in high school, I loved both of them. Sure, I favored Brand New over Taking Back Sunday, but I definitely loved both and listened to each during certain periods of high school. Most of my friends did too. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has chosen one and hated the other? Do those people even exist?

That’s what got me thinking about it this week. It’s crazy that we loved both of these bands. The songs they wrote that took aim at each other had some incredibly violent lyrics. “And you can think of me when you forget your seatbelt and again when your head goes through the windshield!” or “Best friends means I pulled the trigger. Best friends means you get what you deserve!” I mean come on! These are intense words. They’re actually threats! But when you’re in high school in the mid-2000’s, you don’t think of it that way. You just love the music and you relate to the lyrics.

I will say though “Seventy Times Seven” was the fuel for a lot of my own teen angst towards friendships. In fact, I think both of these bands taught me about friendships through their songs. I realized the importance of calling someone a best friend and what that meant. Of course, actions speak louder than words, but…words can be powerful. You don’t want to waste words on lower cases and capitals. You want them to mean something. So in high school, I started using the term “best friend” sparingly because in my mind “best friends” meant friends forever. I learned that from Brand New. It’s still something I hold with me to this day. I actually took those words for granted recently and I needed to remind myself to not do that again after it happened so again I looked towards “Seventy Times Seven”. This is why it’s still relevant 15 years later.

Sadly though, in recent years, a lot of people began to have mixed feelings about Brand New. In late 2017, Jesse Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct and a lot of fans were upset by the allegations. Mostly, I think people realized that Jesse Lacey wasn’t who they thought he was. Before that happened, Brand New released one final album, Science Fiction, before calling it quits last year. Taking Back Sunday however is still touring. They’re embarking on a 20 year anniversary tour this fall. John Nolan is still part of the band even though he took a brief break from the group in the mid-2000’s to form Straylight Run. On the tour they’re playing their first album Tell All Your Friends in full. It’s definitely going to bring up a lot of feelings for fans and maybe even for the band. Who knows maybe we’ll find out exactly what happened between Brand New and Taking Back Sunday? Maybe not though. I will say I think the feud might have been blown up out of proportion and there’s evidence of that as well (cue the video of Jesse and John playing with Say Anything). It was still enough that we never got a Brand New/Taking Back Sunday tour. Despite everything surrounding both bands, I’m glad they gave us the music that they did. It was the soundtrack to my youth. Even if I no longer feel like a failure by design or a wishful thinker with the worst intentions, their music is still relevant to me at times and I still love connecting with people over it.

 

Crooked Shadows: Album Review

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote about my love for Dashboard Confessional. They changed my life in high school and got me into good music (click here for a more detailed description). They were my favorite band back then. For the past 9 years though, they’ve been M.I.A. as far as new music goes. Honestly, if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d buy a new Dashboard album, I wouldn’t have believed you because the style of music Dashboard plays doesn’t match my current interests. Plus their music reminds me of a specific time in my life that I’ve grown past. I still appreciate them for that time though. I’ve just moved on.

A little over a year and a half ago, I worked a Dashboard Confessional show. They were on the Taste of Chaos Tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin (with Anthony Green), and The Early November. It was an honor to work and one of my greatest full circle moments to date. I had the opportunity to stay for the show after I finished work and I, of course, took advantage it. I left early to watch the Stanley Cup Final (my team, the Penguins, were on the verge of winning the Cup) but stayed for about 5-6 Dashboard songs. However, I doubt I would have attended if I wasn’t working. That’s the best example I can give you of my recent feelings towards Dashboard Confessional. Three months ago that changed slightly.

Dashboard Confessional released their first single from their new album Crooked Shadows in November (the album was released on Friday). I saw it as a new music release on Spotify and decided to listen because I was curious. The single, “We Fight”, was pretty good. It was better than I expected. I wouldn’t say I was hooked, but I was happy their new song was something I would listen to. I felt the exact same way upon hearing Brand New’s “I Am a Nightmare” in June 2016 and The Movielife’s “Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel” over the summer. At that time, I also saw that Dashboard announced a new show date in my hometown in late January. I thought to myself that I’d definitely go to the show as long as I had nothing else going on. I even tried to see if a few friends were interested, but I delayed getting tickets in case something came up.

I ended up being able to go and took my mom to the show. She was always a fan of Dashboard when I listened to them in high school so I thought she’d appreciate seeing them at least once. The show was fantastic. I loved it, especially lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba’s stage presence. It definitely evolved over the years. It was fun to stay for the whole thing this time around and sing all my favorite songs again with a few new ones in between. Speaking of new songs, a week before the show they released another single, “Heart Beat Here.” This time upon listening, I was hooked. The song was a perfect blend of something I would listen to now mixed with that classic Dashboard Confessional sound (essentially Chris Carrabba’s voice). At that point, I thought to myself, “I might actually have to get this new album.” On Friday, I did.

Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh full length album, was released on Friday. The album is relatively short compared to the others. It’s only 9 songs long. Within those 9 songs though is the complete re-birth of a 2000’s emo band to a 2018 indie/alternative rock band. This album is far from emo. It’s purely indie rock mixed with indie folk, electronic, and alternative rock. It’s such a great blend of my current interests with classic Dashboard that I fell in love with it in a matter of hours. If you want anything reminiscent of old Dashboard, I’d recommend listening to the songs “Open My Eyes” featuring violinist Lindsey Stirling or “Just What to Say” featuring Chrissy Costanza. “Heart Beat Here” has an old Dashboard feel as well. At the Dashboard show I attended two weeks ago, Chris said the song is a continuation of “Hands Down.” I don’t know if I’d agree as far as the sound goes, but it’s definitely a great song. That track along with the other first five are absolute jams. My favorites are “About Us” and “Belong” (with Cash Cash) which I had on repeat Friday afternoon. “We Fight” is included in that bunch as well. I currently have the album in my car and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next week or more.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve fallen in love all over again with one of my favorites (the first was Foster the People over the summer). Although I think this time, I’ve just fallen in love with new Dashboard so it’s kind of like falling love all over again. I would recommend their new album to anyone at this point, but especially to those whose music interests have grown and changed, much like mine have. Dashboard Confessional is back in the best way possible.

The Early November

I know I’ve only had this blog for a little over a year now, but I’m still not sure why I didn’t make a post about this band at this time last year. Yesterday it occurred to me when I was trying to think of a blog topic for the week that it would be the perfect time to write about the band The Early November because ironically it is early November (obviously intentional). I used to listen them back in high school. I wouldn’t say they were one of my favorite bands, but I had quite a few of their songs downloaded.

I first heard of The Early November sometime between mid 2004-late 2005. I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment like I often times do with many of the bands I write about. I’m guessing it was some time after I purchased the 2003 Vans Warped Tour Compilation, which was in the summer of 2004 (“Every Night’s Another Story” is listed on my iTunes as being from that album). They came into existence a few years before I first listened to them though.

The Hammonton, New Jersey band was founded in 1999 by guitarist and front man Arthur “Ace” Enders, along with former member Jim Sacco (later replaced by Joseph Marro), Sergio Anello, and Jeff Kummer. The band signed with Drive-Thru records in 2002 releasing two EP’s that year, For All of This and The Acoustic EP (acoustic versions of all the songs on For All of This), with the label. The Early November played dates on the Vans Warped Tour and the Skate and Surf Fest the same year. While still touring, the band debuted their first full length album, The Room’s Too Cold, in the fall of 2003.

In 2006 the band released their sophomore record, a triple disc album, The Mother, The Mechanic, The Path. The album debuted at #31 on the Billboard Top 200, which was their highest charting album to date. It was around the release of the second album that guitarist Bill Lugg was added to the ensemble. In 2007 the band announced an indefinite hiatus and played their final show at Bamboozle on May 6th. At the time, the future of the group was uncertain, but they did not rule out a possible reformation, which is exactly what happened four years later.

The band reunited in the fall of 2011 to play several shows on the east coast. At one of the shows (Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ), it was confirmed that Ace was working on a new album for the group. The Early November’s third album and first album in 6 years, In Currents, was released in July of 2012. Since then, the band has toured and released a fourth album, Imbue,  which came out in May of this past year.

When I was in high school and college, I never had the opportunity to see The Early November live. I did see Ace Enders perform an acoustic show once though in early 2012 along with Anthony Raneri of Bayside, Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, Chris Conley of Saves the Day, and Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. on the Where’s The Band? Tour. I’m pretty sure I remember Ace playing a few Early November songs along with songs from his side project band I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business. It was a fantastic acoustic show. I highly recommend seeing any of your favorite bands play acoustic if you ever have the opportunity.

Truth be told though, I haven’t listened to The Early November in a very long time. It’s been so long that I haven’t even heard any of the music they released post-hiatus. The last time might have been at that acoustic show almost 4 years ago and even then I wasn’t listening to them like I had in the past. Even now as I played their songs while writing this post, it occurred to me that things are so much different for me than they were back in high school. Their music falls under the emo, alternative, indie, punk rock genres. I can’t listen to their music and relate to it in the same way. I’m a much different person. I have more confidence, more hope, and an overall more positive outlook than I did as a teenager. Although my life is currently nowhere near where I’d like it to be and I’m still trying to achieve my goals, it does get better. For nostalgia’s sake though here are some of my former favorite songs by The Early November:

  1. Ever So Sweet
  2. Come Back
  3. All We Ever Needed
  4. Hair
  5. Sesame, Smeshame
  6. I Want To Hear You Sad
  7. Sunday Drive
  8. For All of This