Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's not you, it's me (well, maybe it's you)

Our relationships with bands isn't too dissimilar to our relationships with people. Some are built to last. Some start out great and then fade over time. Some just weren't meant to be. Sometimes it's the band's fault. Other times, it's the listener who's to blame. And sometimes, it's no ones fault - listeners and bands simply grow apart.

This, of course, happens on a monthly basis when you're a teenager. One week it's hip-hop, the next it's classic rock, the next you meet a cute goth chick who works at Starbucks and you're all about Bauhaus and eyeliner. You get the point. Sure, everyone's musical palette refines at a different rate, but I'd guess for most, by the time you hit your mid-to-late twenties, you have a pretty good grasp of the music you will probably listen to till you either can't hear anymore or you die (just pictured myself listening to Fugazi as a 90-year-old).

So, with this in mind, here are a few bands I've more or less broken up with over the last few years, along with a brief history of the torrid affair. Scandalous!

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

These Austinites entered my musical radar in 2001, I believe. I remember them popping up on ALL the music rags, especially the British mag Q. They seemed to be talked up and hyped everywhere - and for good reason. The album they soon released, 2002's Source Tags and Codes was an epic post-hardcore powerhouse that still sounds just as vital and fresh today as it did eight years ago. When I went and listed my favorite albums of the last decade earlier this year,it clocked in at number 9, ahead of White Blood Cells, Fever to Tell and Return to Cookie Mountain.

So what the hell happened? The follow up to STaC, 2005's Worlds Apart wasn't great, but it had some promise. Namely, the epic opener "Will You Smile Again." Unfortunately, it had little else. Following an epic masterpiece isn't easy, sure, but the songs just weren't there, and haven't been on any of the band's three follow ups to STaC. They have another due out next year, and while I can't say I'm eagerly anticipating it, I will give it a listen to see if I can rekindle something with this "old flame."

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
I was smitten with BRMC's debut album, B.R.M.C., at first listen. It was moody. It was rockin'. It was mysterious. Hell, it was cool as fuck. Sure they were borrowing heavily from The Jesus and Mary Chain, but from what I remember everyone else was busy ripping off The Velvet Underground, The Kinks and the MC5, so they had a different vibe that set them apart from their contemporaries. I saw them play twice while they were touring for their debut (once in Salt Lake City!), and I can say, without a doubt, they were/are the real deal live.

Follow up album Take Them On, On Your Own was a worthy sophomore effort. It rocked a little harder, and they scaled back the JAMC reverb a bit. But I liked it and I remember listening to it quite a bit.

So what the hell happened? The band's third album, Howl, was, by most accounts a pretty good album. But at the time, it's stripped back, bluesy feel was lost on 2005 me. I really haven't revisited it since, but I am planning to. By album four, Baby 81, I was pretty much over the band. I did give it a listen, but the magic was gone. Man, we had some fun though, didn't we?

The Faint
I was a bit late to the Faint's electroclash party. Perhaps somewhere between embarrassingly late and fashionably late, but late nonetheless. The album that introduced me to the band, 2001's brilliant Danse Macabre, didn't find it's way onto my mix CDs until well into 2002, even though the band was all over my musical radar (hello, Saddle Creek). I clung to my guitar rock like Bear Grylls clings to vertical rock faces 200 feet up - with all my fucking life! I wanted nothing to do with synth-based music.

The first track on Danse Macabre changed all that. Agenda Suicide is a punk rock song at it's core, and all the bleeps and blips in the world couldn't change that. Nothing else on the album quite matches the intensity of the lead track, but that's fine - it's a fantastic dance record whether you dance or not.

So what the hell happened? The Faint, unfortunately, followed this electronic masterpiece with a huge piece of shit called Wet From Birth. There really isn't a redeeming track on it. The Faint have been dead to me ever since, but I still owe them for popping my electronic cherry.

I was going to continue this post with a few paragraphs about Interpol, but this shit is getting (got?) waaaay too long. Suffice it to say, Interpol is currently 2-for-4 as far as their albums go. Great if you're playing baseball, not great if you want me to keep wasting my valuable time illegally downloading you're records.

Also on the outs: Cursive, Franz Ferdinand (need a solid #4, guys!), Of Montreal.

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