Archive for the ‘Emo’ Category

Heather


Heavens – Heather

When it comes to gloom, Alkaline Trio main man Matt Skiba takes some beating. So when you’ve a photo of a grave, it’s a good idea to look his way, sooner or later. This is, afterall, the man who wrote of wanting his lover to take his radio to bathe with her, plugged in and ready to fall, and of throwing lit cigarettes down, hoping to maybe catch fire.

Skiba’s day job takes the girls, stakeboards and baseball caps of pop punk and adds a macabre mix of maggots and misery. But wholeheartedly not in a cheap, faux goth way of the likes of AFI… it’s smarter and dumber than that all at once: they called an album Good Mourning for god’s sake!

So casting around for a song to listen to in a graveyard and casting aside the cliched and the corny (farewell Cemetary Gates), I came to Skiba’s short-lived sideproject, Heavens, with whom he created, alongside K-Minus’ Josiah Steinbrick, one album, Patent Pending, in 2006. After the album and a short tour, the duo dissolved in a deluge of distemper.

But in the interim, they left us 11 songs (and an ok cover of gloomy music’s most frequently massacred tune of choice, Love Will Tear Us Apart), including a song about a girl who takes photos in grave yards. What better sound to accompany a shot of a grave stone?

The good news for fans of his dark lyrics and darker humour is that Skiba has a solo album due out this summer, and if his previous work performing Alkaline Trio songs in his own for a split EP with Kevin Seconds is anything to go by, it should more than match his other material.

You can buy Patent Pending from Amazon here, albums from Skiba’s day job here and that split EP here.

Or download them from Alkaline Trio

Sunset Soon Forgotten


Iron & Wine – Sunset Soon Forgotten

The photo above was taken on my last trip to Spain (as was this one for that matter), shortly before I fell / slid / scrabbled (5 foot / 45 foot / 100 foot) down the side of the mountain from which it was taken. The experience left me with adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, and a very real understanding that staying up a mountain until it is by any definition dark, just to get a photo of the sunset, is pretty bloody silly. Still, looks good doesn’t it?!

The point being, that in this case, it was, for me, far from being a sunset soon forgotten, unlike the one name checked by Iron & Wine in the song above. So there might not be a titular link, but trust me, as the lyric says, the sun was still sinking, down and down.

Iron & Wine, as is ever more often the case with modern Americana ‘bands’ is in fact the stage name of Texan Sam Beam, and an expanding band of sometime collaborators. In the UK (and abroad for all I know) Iron & Wine are known principally for the cover of (often my favourite song), The Postal Service’s Such Great Heights, which featured in indie kid fav film Garden State and on an advert for a probably long dead search engine. Despite that, there are four albums full of their own brilliant, low key take on folk / americana, as well as a great rarities compilation and live album.

The song sounds to me like a rushing precursor to The Low Anthem’s excellent To Ohio from last year (mentioned in my top ten albums), but dates from Beam’s second album, 2004′s Our Endless Numbered Days. The album is a collection of delicate ballads superior in my view to the bearded troubadour’s 2007 set The Shepherd’s Dog (did I mention Beam has the best beard and hair in music? Yes better than Devandra).

You can buy the album from Amazon here or download it from Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days

The Sharp Hint Of New Tears


Dashboard Confessional – The Sharp Hint Of New Tears

When I first looked at this picture, I knew I liked it and wanted to use it, but it took me a surprising amount of consideration to work out how. Surprising because literally and figuratively, I think this is one of the best matches I’ve posted on shotwithsound since I started last summer.

It was the tears that did it in the end – it so often is with emo – when I stopped looking at the image as an out of focus view from a car after dark and started thinking of it as one distorted by tears, it was all too easy.

The most overtly smackable and over-wrought of the balladeers that consisted 2001′s third wave of emo, Dashboard Confessional, the solo and then full band project of Chris Carrabba (ex of Further Seems Forever), had one very good album and several brilliant EPs, before becoming a bit too, well teenage, for a mid-twenties tattoo coated ex-hardcore type to pull off.

The Sharp Hint of New Tears is the song from which Carrabba drew his band’s name, with its refrain of “This car hears my confessions, I think tonight I’ll take the long way” and lyrics about failing to hold back the tears, it’s both my favourite wussy song, and a perfect fit for an image that looks like a tear-drenched view of the car in front’s back bumper.

iTunes doesn’t seem to have the initial EP on which the track appeared or the more widely available MTV Unplugged session that features the version above, but you can buy that from Amazon here

By the way – this blog in no way endorses the unsafe practice of driving and crying. Man up you big girl’s blouse!

The Longest Winter

Pedro The Lion – The Longest Winter

Because it’s still bloody cold, and it snowed yesterday, and because I love this song, and I took loads of snow pictures last weekend, but not because it’s a cheap tabloidesque page filler or I’m a typical weather-obsessed Brit, this post is again about the winter.

Pedro The Lion were an indie band from Washington State, fronted by, and essentially the baby of, David Bazan – one of American indie’s most interesting and enigmatic figures, whose open and intelligent lyrics describe in explicit detail his struggles with his faith, love, politics and alcohol.

Despite being big around the time of the third wave of emo, and writing to my mind the era’s best song in Bad Diary Days (someone needs to call their band that by the way), Pedro rightly avoid being lumped in with the likes Saves The Day, Jimmy Eat World or Dashboard Confessional and really pre-empt artists like Bon Iver, The Low Anthem and even Grizzly Bear’s work.

Drawn from their debut album (1999′s It’s Hard to Find a Friend) The Longest Winter, as well as being apt for this unthawing frozen January, is a cautionary tale about accidently ending up lonely, old and cold with nothing but memories of the love you once knew to keep you company. Cheery. The mood is marginally lightened by the dark wit that cuts across many of Bazan’s lyrics – the narrator laments a life that’s left him ‘in a studio apartment,
with a cat for a wife’ – but generally, like much of the album, it’s as bleak as the title suggests.

Unfortunately, Pedro The Lion split back in 2006, but Bazan himself continues to produce music under his own name – including an album released early last year. He is touring Europe this month and next – you can find the dates at his website here.

The photo above was taken in the countryside north west of London, and I chose it from many many snowy shots because I like the space that is self-evidently created by the whiteness of the snow in the foreground and sky in the distance, isolating the house against the chill of the landscape.

You can buy Its Hard To Find A Friend from Amazon here or download it here: Pedro the Lion - It's Hard to Find a Friend

Repeater

RepeaterFugazi - Repeater

As far as I’m concerned, Fugazi are the coolest band in musical history. Formed from the embers of Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, and Embrace (not that one) in the late eighties, they redefined how independent music could be released, marketed and consumed, selling albums and concert tickets cheap enough for kids to afford, printing and designing their own flyers and album covers, running their own label and self-managing.

They built on the punk and indie ethos that had been nascent in the States since the late seventies, and took it to its outer limits, rejecting all outside interference with their music and managing to have  a hugely successful, massively influential, 15-year career into the bargain. And that’s without even talking about the songs.

Although both Embrace (still not that one), Ian Mackaye’s previous band, and Rites of Spring, Guy Picciotto’s former group, had introduced a new understanding of moderation into the relentless screaming wall of feedback and aggression produced by bands like Mackaye’s Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Minutemen, Fugazi were the first group to master the dynamics and pioneer an altogether new sound, emotional hardcore.

The quiet / loud dynamics, jangley guitar sound, throat tearing and heart renching vocals and feedback waves would go on to influence acts as diverse as Nirvana and the Dashboard Confessional, but few would attain the peaks of brilliance repeatedly reached by Fugazi during their 15-year existence, before they announced a seemingly permanent hiatus in 2002, ending their existence with a series of live shows each recorded for posterity – producing over 30 live cd-r albums.

Repeater was their first studio album, the title a play on words around the Beatles’ Revolver (records both revolve and repeat, and both revolver and repeater are terms for guns). The song itself is a an anti-violence peon (the band were known for stopping shows to eject, usually politely, violent slam dancers, believing the practice to be reactionary and macho) dressed up in the usual dynamism of both soft, loud, and start, stop. Something about the song swirls around you like smoke, cloaking you in a haze of motion and emotion, while all the time still seeming urgent and, ironically, almost aggressive.

The picture above is not of anyone from Fugazi, in fact it was taken at a Breakfast With Wolves gig last week – they’re an unsigned London band who produce a riotous, awkward, incredible racket, you can hear them here: Myspace. But I liked the picture enough to want to use it, and its hazy, blurred aggression made me think of Fugazi’s music, and the brilliant combination of swirling feedback and jagged guitars that characterise Repeater.

You can download or purchase all of Fugazi’s albums from their own record label, Dischord, here. You can also get them on iTunes and Amazon, but I expect they’d rather you bought them direct.

I Will Follow You Into The Dark

I'll follow you into the darkDeath Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark

“A plan almost always has a happy ending” – Ben Gibbard, Death Cab singer/song writer.

A sombre sounding song to accompany a distinctly sombre shot today… But unlike the image, which is genuinely gloomy, the song is actually a heartfelt love song. I wouldn’t expect anything else from Ben Gibbard really.

The song’s main lyric promises a lover that even if she is cast into limbo, alone, he will follow her, into the dark. The natural lines of the photo seem to encourage the eye to do the opposite and follow from dark to light, so maybe it’s less gloomy than I imagined.

As a bit a sentimentalist, the Death Cab idea of imagining a love strong enough to surpass even death is a faintly familiar if meloncholy one – in sickness, health and death if you like!

The above quote describes Gibbard’s approach to the full length album that features I’ll Follow You Into The Dark, Plans, and captures his aim of writing about the space between expectation and realisation – as Steinbeck had it, of mice and men.

Plans is a brilliant album and is for me the best of Death Cab’s increasingly prodidgeous output – although I prefer Gibbard’s album with Dntel man Jimmy Tamberello as The Posysl Service to any of his day job records I think… I’ll work out a picture to go with one of those tracks soon.

You can get Plans from Amazon here.

Or download it from iTunes: Death Cab for Cutie - Plans

Out Of Reach

Out Of Reach

The Get Up Kids – Out Of Reach

Having broken up in 2004 and only reformed last year, The Get Up Kids are playing their first London show in over half a decade tonight. Having missed seeing them last time round, I’m very pleased to say I will be there this evening… and to celebrate, ten years from its original release, I thought I would feature a track from their landmark album, Something To Write Home About.

As many sophomore albums do, Something To Write Home About deals with issues of being in a succesful band, trying to juggle the pressures of touring with personal relationships and the problems with being away from home for long periods of time. Unlike many others though, it is rarely self-righteous or overtly whiny about the fame many bands try so hard to achieve then complain vehomemtly about.

Out Of Reach is my favourite track from the album so a few weekends ago I went looking to capture an image to accompany it here. I hope the above shot looking across the Solent to the Isle of White achieves the right balance of distance, space, exploration and loniliness that the song conveys…

You can the album in the usual places linked below, but if you do like the track and want more, it’s worth noting that a special Ten Year Anniversary edition is coming out next month with bonus material like live tracks and demos.

Get Something To Write Home About from: The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About

Get the album from Amazon:

Something To Write Home About

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shotwithsound

shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website www.nicstevenson.com.