Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Summer Reflections Playlist

I was thinking today about a few songs that seem to speak to me about this summer, and a few kept coming into my head. Once I started putting together a playlist I realized it was all coming together more natural that I had thought, I was able to essentially break this summer into three songs for three separate moods and events from each month, with really little meditation at all, these just made the most sense.

Press play and read about each song below and the memories from this summer that influenced me to pick each one.

Saves The Day - A Drag in D Flat
Summer kicked itself off with me listening to Saves The Day's Bug Session EP collection, which feature acoustic or stripped down versions their songs (however, the version in this playlist is the full band version). Something about the muted electric guitars in this version of A Drag in D Flat really stands out for me. I also like how well the last verse "I am not afraid of what it takes to glue you to my side, if it takes a little bleeding, So be it. I will go without breathing, don't have to justify it. Can't just watch me, I've got time to kill" comes across in this version. On our Fourth of July weekend trip to Seattle, which was literally only two days worth of a whirlwind of attractions and seafood, I think I listened to this song about 3 times on the flight back to Phoenix. The moment that comes to mind in particular, is listening to this song on the return flight, and watching the snow capped mountains outside the window gradually give way to the dry brown high plains. This was the soundtrack to my 36,000 ft roadway tracing until we climbed above cloud cover and the sun finally set, closing the chapter on our first very brief summer adventure.

Jack's Mannequin - Holiday From Real
If this isn't the perfect song for summer I don't know what is. I had heard this song earlier and put it on my "On To morning Stars" iPod playlist which I constructed specifically for trips to San Diego. Right as we hit Yuma (and my co-pilot woke up :) ), this song started up, right on time. Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin is a terrific pop song writer and his lyrics in this tune perfectly describe what was one of the best vacations I had in a long time. We spent a week in San Diego, putzing around the surrounding California attractions. We stayed at a friend's apartment (who was away with family on vacation themselves) with limited internet access and no TV. This helped us disconnect a lot more and just take in the full California experience of not needing to do anything or go anywhere but whatever struck our fancy at the time. We had what felt like no worries for an entire week, and it felt amazing. This song reminds me of those few relaxing days: long afternoons of doing nothing, midnight donut runs while watching Buffy episodes, and polishing off drinks in the middle of the day just because I could. Fuck yeah we can live like this.

Bon Iver - Beth/Rest
This song kind of overlaps with the last one. On the first leg of our San Diego excursion, we took a trip to the beach. I used the free time to listen to the new Bon Iver record, "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" from start to finish. After zoning in and out of the soothing sounds of the album, this song was a bit of a wake up call, just because it sounded so unique and different from the rest of the tone of the album. Something about the layered melodies of the keyboard, sax and guitar just sounded so perfect, and it felt like it matched my exact mood at the time. Ever since then, when I would go back and listen to it,  it became a theme for the entire summer, a conglomeration of soothing sights, sounds, feelings, people and experiences, all working together in beautiful harmony, the kind of song that just takes your breath away. In mid September my girlfriend, our roommate (and very good friend), and I, all went to see Bon Iver live in what was an excellent mind blowing performance, and this was the second to last song they played. Something about that moment seemed fitting .Here I was with two of my favorite people who I shared many of these summer memories with, and here was the song that spoke in music how my soul felt at one of it's most calmest moments.

Looking back, this was a long, if not damn good summer, full of some really great memories I will never forget. I feel very lucky to have had lived it, and shared some of these special moments with the people I love.

our love is a star
sure some hazardry
for the light before and after most indefinitely

Sunday, September 11, 2011

'Cause love's such an old fashioned word.

Well it's September 11th, the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks here in the US, and this song has probably never rang more true for me than today. I originally was not going to make a post, but after watching some TV coverage and talking with my girlfriend, lines from this song started going though my head.

One of the reason's Under Pressure is one of may favorite songs, is not just the great songwriting, but the message of loving your fellow man. The official video for this song, although made 30 years ago, seems to really help convey the lyrics and message in a literal and figurative sense. Given the world we live in today, it makes me feel like not much has changed, but somehow, we can still give love "that one more chance."


Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure - that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What the world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets

Chippin' around - kick my brains around the floor
These are the days it never rains but it pours
People on streets
People on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher high high
Pressure on people - people on streets

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
but it's so slashed and torn
Why - why - why ?
Love love love love love

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance
Why can't we give love that one more chance
Why can't we give love give love give love give love
give love give love give love give love give love

'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And loves dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Freddie Mercury!

Because Queen played such a huge role in shaping my musical tastes, I can't let Freddie Mercury's 65th Birthday today go unnoticed. This is a nice little tribute Queen Productions put together in honor of the occasion. I highly recommend you spend the 5 minutes watching it, it will make you smile.

I celebrate by throwing on some Queen videos from my collection throughout the day, while reminiscing on how Mercury's (and Queen's) music influenced what I listen to today.

"It was all meant to be..."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Sunday I turned 26. I feel like 23, 24, and 25 were pretty significant and I'm told 26 is as well, but I'm not feeling like I have much to say about 26, as 25 seemed to be over in a blink of an eye. I already posted Big Casino, but here's a miniature mix of  really the only songs that seem to come to mind when I meditate on being one year older. I guess these songs are about just keeping yourself going, maybe. Give them a listen and see if you can find the theme.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Big Casino

Since my birthday is Sunday, I thought I would post a few songs that make me feel better about getting older. So here's the first one, Jimmy Eat World's "Big Casino." This song always speaks to the adult in me, and it always helps me stay positive about where I am and where I might be going. 

I think it's a great song, and a perfect song to kick off a very solid and very strong album, 2007's Chase This Light, but that's another post I guess!

Fun Fact: This song got it's name from singer Jim Adkins' side project "Go Big Casino".

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saves the Day Retrospective Part I:
Can't Slow Down

It's still early and I haven't even said a word...

It is hard for me to remember exactly what was going on in 1998 in popular culture; I was 13 years old, in middle school, starting my classic rock phase, and dealing with a Pokemon obsession. I was feeling out a lot of musical styles and trying to define my tastes. I do remember going out of my way to watch VH1 all day to try and find new artists I might like.

It was not until much later, that I discovered an album that came out that same year. Saves the Day’s debut Can’t Slow Down was released on Equal Vision Records out of Albany, NY on August 25th 1998. The original line up for this release was Chris Conley on Vocals, Sean McGrath on Bass, Anthony Anastasio and Chris Zampella on Guitars, and Bryan Newman on drums. The band themselves were only about 17 to 18 when it was recorded; successfully bottling the raw energy and emotion you live your life at as a teenager, and putting it on a record.

At the time, due to the association with Equal Vision and the raw and fast sound of Can’t Slow Down, Saves The Day was tagged as “Hardcore,” and even toured with bands in the same vein. This led to a backlash with later more pop or indie sounding albums, which you’ll discover as you read through this series, starts a trend that will follow the band through most of their career. Can’t Slow Down is definitely punk based at its core, and I can see why Saves The Day would’ve been grouped into hardcore; the sound is quick, loud and full of angst, grabbing at the raw emotion and frustration of just being a teenager who can’t find their place in the world. The two guitars create some great melodic hooks, and Chris Conley’s voice soars, yells and punches just the right notes at just at the right time to make you listen to the stories he tells. The album is rather short by conventional standards but quite average by punk standards. There are 14 songs, with a total run time of less than 32 minutes. Some songs barely break the 1:00 mark. Its name fits, as it almost never slows down, it’s the kind of album you can throw on for a drive and get lost for a bit.

The youthful personnel of Can't Slow Down (1997)

When I first discovered Saves the Day, I bought this album along with their sophomore effort, Through Being Cool, which was pretty reminiscent of what else I was listening to at the time in terms of pop-punk. I initially liked Can’t Slow Down, but it was overshadowed by other things I saw as bigger and better at the time. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school in 2003-04 that I really latched onto this album. I was, for the most part, decided on going to school in Arizona, leaving my family and hometown for a big city to live on my own and go to school just like we had been told we were supposed to for the last four years. A majority of my graduating class stayed behind to go to local state schools, so I felt somewhat alone and distanced. My grandfather also passed away that March after an extended illness that left my entire family emotionally bare; this was a huge time of change for my 18 year old self. I questioned everything, especially as graduation day came and went, and my Arizona move late that summer loomed on the horizon.

I didn’t know what to do, I felt like I had missed out on the high school experience, I had never had a girlfriend, never pursued my crushes, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I started experiencing how fun hanging out with the in-crowd could be. I had spent my entire high school career fighting and pushing back at everything about it, my friends, my peers, my family, my city, only to find myself on the brink of leaving it all behind while grasping to get it all to make sense, this couldn’t really be all I had to show for my time here was it? Can’t Slow Down was my album for that time, more importantly, that spring and summer, as I wrestled with what the transition in front of me. I spent a lot of that late spring that eventually turned into late summer, driving.

 There were always a lot of errands to run in my family, my grandmother lives fifteen minutes outside of town, so it was not uncommon that I would make this trip at least 1-2 times a day for various reasons. I didn’t mind as it often gave me a reason to have some cherished alone time. Can’t Slow Down was in my CD player for those rides to keep me company. From the opening chords of Deciding pumping through my lousy stereo as I drove past all the familiar landmarks I would soon be leaving behind, to the final line of Jodie where Conley sings “Just to remember those days…that we spent in our heads” the album always felt over as soon as it began. Driving with this album in my stereo provided a kind of therapy for whatever emotion I was feeling, whether it was sad to leave, or angry at an old friend, I could work through them by turning this album on, driving through the streets late at night to take in the cool mountain air, and beat my steering wheel in rhythm the best I could while still maintaining control of the car.

The most meaningful memory I have about this record though, came when I was sitting on my back porch in the early evening that summer, listening to this record from start to finish, while reading the lyric sheet. I came to the last song and heard the last few notes and lyrics end this world I had just been engrossed in for the last half hour, so abruptly, just as I found myself lost in the middle of it. This experience for whatever reason made me see the bigger picture. This place, this short time in my life, was only temporary, I could ask myself all the what-ifs I wanted but I would be leaving in a few weeks, and my life would never be the same from that point. It was at that point I was able to accept the consequences of my decision to leave home, and realize that there was more for me outside of where I had thought I found a place to fall into.

This August marked my seventh year in Arizona. In that time, I have made many wonderful friends, and been lucky enough to meet the girl of my dreams. There are many things that would not have been possible if I had not been pushed in the right direction by this little record during that summer seven years ago.

Original Release Date: August 11, 1998
Label: Equal Vision
Length: 31:19
Standout Tracks: Jodie, The Choke, Always Teen Feet Tall

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series, 1999's Through Being Cool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From the archives...

So I'm hard at work on Part 1 of the Saves The Day Retrospective, I don't think I'm going to make September 13th to be honest but that's okay because it's my damn blog! I am almost done with the initial draft and should have it on my lovely editor's (aka my girlfriend) desk tomorrow night for an initial review. Writing is hard guys!

So in the meantime I'll leave you with a review I wrote for Blink 182's "Cheshire Cat" on Amazon 10 years ago.

"A must for anyone not deaf. " - Just where the fuck did I get this line? I think I laughed for five straight minutes when I read that again. Stay tuned and maybe I'll pull that little gem of wisdom out again in the future ;).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This is Not An Exit

It’s hard to know where to start when I talk about Saves The Day. Ever since I first heard them when I was a teenager, their music and the words of Chris Conley have been a constant in my life. Their songs transcend the mere words, notes and combination thereof; they touch at the inner truth of existing as a human being, the forming of relationships and bonds, and touching of hearts that makes us who we are. This will be the first post I plan on doing in a series of posts leading up to release of their new album, Daybreak on September 13th, in a retrospective of sorts, going through each album and its own meaning in my life. Consider this an introduction.

Saves The Day are best known as a punk band from Princeton, New Jersey, at least that’s how they started out, but in a span of 14 years their musical sensibilities have ranged from pop-punk, emo, indie, to sounds reminiscent of The Beatles. Often it was Saves The Day’s ability to do one of these quite well that would pigeon-hole them into a specific genre only to leave fans scratching their heads as they further expanded their range on their next release. They are a well-travelled band, having toured with artists such as Snapcase, Weezer, Blink-182, Green Day, Taking Back Sunday and Circa Survive. The band went from indie labels to actually being on a major label for a brief stint, only to be dropped after the label went under shortly after the album’s release.
Chris Conley, the man behind Saves The Day
The band has seen their share of ups and downs, with 14 different members and a different line-up for all but 2 albums; “they” manage to keep a consistency of musical ability and pop prowess with front man Chris Conley holding the reins. Conley is a true master of words and the human spirit, writing songs that not only tell stories, but speak to the harsh, uplifting and honest parts about being alive. Conley is Saves The Day, and Saves The Day is Conley, his relationships, thoughts, feelings and fears are transcribed within the lyric sheets in each album. Yet with each ounce of pain expressed in a Saves The Day song, comes gallons of hope a joy through the music that is created. Many of Conley’s lyrics and music take you back to your own moments and feelings through his own, and over the years they stop becoming about one specific moment, and about the moment you are listening to them in, whether it’s driving through the desert, or shouting along at a show.

This is my first big undertaking for this blog, but hopefully it will act as a catalyst for even bigger things. Stay tuned for the first retrospective of Saves The Day’s first album, 1997’s Can’t Slow Down.

For more info check out the Saves the Day entry on Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let me scrub that brackish line

So I'm kind of falling in love with The Weakerthans. Granted I think I only have one album (maybe two) but every time they come up on shuffle I find myself engrossed in the simple hooks and lovely creative lyrics that I want to repeat to myself over and over.

stuff like:

"The airport's almost always empty this time of the year, so let's go play on a baggage carousel.."

"And I'm leaning, on this broken fence, between past and present tense"

Not to mention the build up in "Watermark" that explodes into this line:
"Hold on to the corners of today, and we'll fold it up to save until it's needed"

I really am an emo kid at heart. I'm looking forward to listening to some more of their stuff.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The iPod Adventure

So for this post, I thought I would talk about my iPod adventure. It started at work one day when I realized I could not think of anything to listen to. I had a full 80GB iPod classic at the time and I was missing about 30GB of my library. I was waiting for a friend who worked at the Apple store to use his friends and family discount to get me a 160GB classic. So I figured, "Damn, if I have this much music, I should really try to make sure I've heard every track at least once."

Now time for a little background, or more so an explanation of why I have so much music. My favorite band is Queen. When I listened to their Greatest Hits album at the age of 11, I loved every song. When I got Classic Queen (The US Equivalent of Greatest Hits II) very soon after, it was the same story. They would end up becoming  favorite band. The whole story is probably for another post, but essentially for the next few years I bought all their studio albums and became a fan of the entire catalog. This initial experience influenced and somewhat formulated my music listening habits forever. Only now am I realizing that just because I like a few songs or even one entire album from a band,  it does not mean I need to listen to their entire discography. This of course became even easier to do with the advent of the Internet, where an entire band's discography is only a few clicks away.

So I have gathered a lot of music, a lot of it I have ripped form my personal collection, a lot of it I grabbed out of curiosity off the Internet. Once it gets categorized and organized into my music folders, It sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of other more important new music coming in. So the goal of the iPod adventure was to listen to all of this music just to make sure I didn't "miss" anything. Here's the other thing about my somewhat massive music collection, it takes a lot, I mean a lot for me to to delete anything. Simply because tastes change. More than once have I found something I didn't care for years ago only to rediscover it after a song comes up on shuffle.

So I am almost at the one year anniversary and I've listened to probably around 8000 songs and powered through to the letter M. I don't exclusively listen to music just to complete the adventure. If I know what I want to listen to I listen to it, but when I can't think of what to listen to I just pull up the next artist down the list and go for it. So that's the story on going adventure that I'm sure will come up more than once.