Here, There and Everywhere

Here, There and Everywhere is my favorite love song Paul ever wrote if not my favorite love song of all time. Every lyric is beautiful, and it doesn’t rely on love song clichés.

I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere
Knowing that love is to share

It is so painfully romantic (but also painfully true) that to love someone is to need them everywhere. The idea of physically wanting them everywhere but also to share life with them because that is love is beautifully but simply articulated in the song. It resonates as so true, honest and perceptive.

UPDATE: I forgot about “I Will” at the time I wrote this post. Also I could never actually choose a favorite Beatles song of any category (love song or otherwise). Obviously would be a folly.

Brand New

75140005

Jesse Lacey at the show in Barcelona

So Brand New, one of my all time favorite bands, is breaking up (I’ve known for a while so it’s not a fresh wound). I thought I’d take the time to write about what I like most about the band and my personal connection to their music.

The personal connection part:

Below is a video I took of Jesse singing Soco (encore) in Paris last summer. It was a small venue and a very mixed crowd–primarily UK if I had to say. My then boyfriend and I had seen Brand New two days prior in Barcelona, and then we traveled to Paris to see them again. Both shows were incredible. In Barcelona we saw them right on the water. They played a lot of Devil and God. In Paris they played a pretty balanced set with a bit from each album. Jesse also covered Pop Queen by Ben Lee (probably for his wife who was there). The Soco encore was the highlight of everything (for me). It was always a special song to me and my ex (we actually made up our own recipe for soco amaretto limes and made bartenders all over europe make them for us).

After the show we were hanging around in the bar chatting with some Belgian guy, and then we ran into Vin and later Jesse who introduced us to his wife Andrea. My ex, a big baseball fan, was always concerned as to why Jesse would wear a wide variety of different team’s hats (oakland athletics, anaheim angels etc). Jesse explained to us that he collects hats with A on them for his wife Andrea.

We’re not together anymore, and it’s strange getting the official news about Brand New’s eminent breakup without him (we knew it was coming for a while but still). We just shared  Brand New and those shows and those moments. It’s interesting and weird to me how closely we associate music to people and memories. Especially as someone who is always listening to and exploring music, I find myself associating certain albums and songs to almost every single memory I have.

I think it makes perfect sense that Brand New is breaking up. If I was Jesse I wouldn’t want to keep singing my angsty, depressed younger self’s diary over and over again either. I actually don’t listen to Brand New very often anymore. I feel more or less the same way Jesse does: I’m happier now, and I don’t need the songs anymore. Nonetheless the idea of Brand New ceasing to exist as a band sucks. It feels like a time and part of me is being taken away.

 

The music blogger part:

Brand New defines emo, but they have a hell of a lot of range. When I first discovered them what I found most intriguing was that each album sounded completely different from the album before it. How is it possible for a band to reinvent itself so often but still be recognizable and good?

Your Favorite Weapon. Deja Entendu. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Daisy.

YFW was Brand New’s first album, and this is totally obvious when you listen to it. It isn’t bad (it could be my favorite!); it’s just dripping in pop punk teenage angst. “Girl, come to me. / The only brokenhearted loser you’ll ever need, / or I’ll be left alone forever with my magazines.” I mean it’s catchy and fun with great guitar riffs, but you know they’re teenagers. I love it to death.

Deja is still dripping in self-indulgent angst, but it is far darker and more introspective. It’s a depressing album and their bestselling album! It was my absolute favorite record for a solid year. I would listen to it basically on repeat. Couldn’t stop. And I would never shuffle it I would always listen all the way through. Deja is very much meant to be listened to as an album. It brilliantly tells a story of love and depression and desire and is also aesthetically cyclical and complete. It’s a departure from the complete pop punk of YFW but not completely. It certainly fits perfectly into “emo” as a genre and is why Brand New is labeled “emo.”

Devil and God is probably Brand New’s most mature album to date. Lyrically it addresses far more complicated themes (not just wanting the girl). Stylistically the album is also more complex. The songs get longer and louder and weirder. The lyrics are more angry than sad or angsty. It sounds totally different from YFW, but one can easily tell that Deja and Devil and God are by the same artist.

Daisy is certainly the Brand New album I’ve listened to the least (I’ve still listened to it a lot). Certain songs sound totally different from anything  Brand New has done and others are easily recognizable. There are certain artistic high points on the album–notably “Vices”,”At the Bottom”, and “Sink”–but I’ve never felt that it’s particularly stunning as an album. The songs are insanely fun live though.

 

Brand New is awesome, and I will miss them.

 

Learning to Fly

Something they talked about a lot in the Tom Petty documentary was how Petty’s lyrics are simple but leave things open ended for the listener.

“I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down”

I feel like the song could be about countless different things which is great. In the doc Petty said he didn’t necessarily write songs about certain people or events in his life. Some could view his lack of authorial intent (or political agenda etc) as impersonal or even amateur, but I think it just makes the songs more universal and emotionally accessible.

The Art of the Album

gallery-221013-mini.jpg

As promised to my nonexistent readers here is the article I wrote for my school’s newspaper (The Devils Advocate) about concentrated music listening time and albums:

Recently I was listening through Radiohead’s album In Rainbows when I realized that lying on the floor listening to a record would perhaps be perceived as strange by other people my age. I wondered if I was perhaps an anomaly in a world of “shuffle” and “playlist” lovers. And it’s not the vinyl thing. I know most people don’t listen to vinyl anymore, but the question stands as to whether we have stopped listening to albums entirely.

The album is such a simple concept: 12ish songs that relate thematically or aesthetically.  Digital music and streaming services add to the ease with which listeners can access a huge variety of artists, which contributes to a mainstream culture that doesn’t listen to full albums. iPods/iPhones, digital playlists, the shuffle option, and a focus on hit singles are all sending the album into extinction. In bygone times, vinyl forced listeners to buy the full album and listen to every track. There was no iTunes-style buying just the hit single. Yes, you could buy tapes and 7” singles, but still it was far less prominent and with a tape you still had to fast forward or rewind to get to the song you wanted.

What else is to blame? Our attention span and patience are decreasing. YouTube allows us to find any song in seconds, and the death of physical music allows us to carry thousands of songs in our back pockets. “I rarely sit and listen to a full album, mainly because I do get bored and antsy after more than like four songs,” remarked Karson Daecher ‘16. In many ways, this new way of buying and listening to music hugely empowers the listener. We can pick the songs we like, put them in playlists, change the order and listen to them whenever we want. Artists need to work harder to capture our attention and make us listen through their whole album because we don’t have to.

Yet as Uncle Ben reminded Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The ability to listen as we please leads many to treat music as something that accompanies other things, not as something that deserves time and attention. When asked to comment on how often she spends time listening, Karson Daecher said, “I rarely listen to music while not doing other things—probably the time when I most ‘just listen’ is when I’m driving, so I’m still not focusing 100% of my attention on music. When I take the time to listen to music while not doing other things, it’s usually because I want to listen to a specific song or a few songs, and so I won’t take a long time to do it.” Daecher is not alone. Many of the students I interviewed agreed that they rarely spend time just listening to and appreciating music.

Young people, more and more, are listening to playlists that include many songs from different artists. “I almost solely listen to individual songs in a playlist. I like the variety that a playlist gives you, as well as the fact that you can shuffle playlists to listen to them in a different order each time you listen, to keep things different,” said Daecher. “I probably listen to playlists that I make more often than full albums, because I like to compile all my favorite songs. I listen to full albums when I want to really fully appreciate the art of the collective pieces,” said Mia Simon ‘16.

It does, however, seem like this might be changing. “Listeners today want musicality in their music and the best medium to display that is in an album,” commented musician Spencer Barnett ‘19. He continued, “I think that dissecting the album and all of its attributes is the only way nowadays to really get to know an artist’s skill as a songwriter. If they can put their songs in an order that makes sense, then they know what they are doing.” Nick Michael ‘18 echoed this sentiment: “Listening to individual songs from the album takes away from the story that lies within the lyrics, and is more for personal pleasure. I think for this reason, I like to pay ‘respect’ to the artist by listening to the album in whole at first and then making playlists to curate songs to my own liking.”

Some artists still strive to make cohesive albums of songs meant to be listened to one after another, with actual transitions between songs and motifs carried throughout the album. Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West have gained notoriety for releasing more conceptual albums. Albums like To Pimp a Butterfly and Yeezus have been lauded as truly standalone pieces. As Barnett mused, perhaps this trend towards more conceptual albums in the mainstream shows a shift back to the style of vinyl and masterful albums like Bob Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks. 

The playlist empowers the listener, but it also takes away from the album as an art form and in some ways disregards the work the artist may have put into creating a cohesive album. Artists today have to work a whole lot harder to make albums that are good enough to capture our ever-narrowing attention span and to make us want to listen all the way through.