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.