Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Still City - We Will Explain Everything

Listening to music coldly - that's to say, without any preconceived notions of what I should think of it - is fairly new to me. After all, the way that I get new music is after liking something that artist/band has done in the past or through recommendations by my friends or itunes or lastfm, or someone who describes why I'd like it. I used to review albums for ACRN, and that was often cold listening, but that was a couple albums a week.

Now that I'm the music director at WJCU, I have to listen to dozens a week (if I am doing a good job, which I'm not... really). I find it a little scary to judge what should go on the radio without knowing anything other than my feelings about the songs. It's strange to evaluate bands who barely anyone has listened to, and decide whether radio listeners would like it.

Much of the music blends together, and I get the sense that it's because nothing is really distinguishably GOOD. Every once in a while, though, there is an album like We Will Explain Everything, by The Still City.

I know I like the album because it brings with it a rush of nostalgic feelings. It may or not be a concept album, or really more of a themed album, centered around what seems to me to be a break-up and a disenchantment with a city and an apartment and a specific space in a couple's life.

It's the middle of summer, and it's been a long time since I've needed a break up album to relate to (those feelings seem so far away), but it still strikes that familiar chord. Just as Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago felt so right, so perfectly melancholy, We Will Explain Everything hurts in the ways you want music to ache. Tears seem locked in the album, along with rage, fear, and a deep sadness. It achieves primal emotion.

I hear the rage of Frightened Rabbit, along with the complicated melodic interplay of Matt Pond PA. Maybe a little bit of Tim Kasher's lyrical brilliance is at hand.

"I remember an assembly line path to a dark dark room
The dust on the machinery
And how we slept down in the gloom
And then walking in that neighborhood
To the bus stop in the rain in June
To watch the way the rain attaches to electric wires
The way it slightly alters the view."

I hear some of the frenetic howling that I'm familiar with from all those nights I listened to Tim Race front one of my favorite Athens bands, Russenorsk.

"It could be so beautiful to make a mess of things."

Most of all, I hear a slightly pop-punk/emo-pop element that made me question if this album was too immature for its audience. But decidedly, it doesn't change or demerit the album. It draws from its youthful influences much like Manchester Orchestra, who I think balance the screaming passion that might be most relate-able for a young teen audience with something deeper and more thought-out. Plus, I can't deny my embarrassing past, the nights full of Dashboard Confessional, The Juliana Theory, Saves the Day, and The Get Up Kids.

"And the sadder parts of suburban sprawl will reveal themselves as merely a consequence of the best intentions."

I'm reading a book I borrowed from my friend Chris, where the author proves that we like the kind of music that we grow accustomed to. It actually is a science, and it has to do with the way our memory processes things. The connection we draw between music and memories is real. So very probably, the way that this album blends the music I used to listen to (and mostly can't stand anymore) with music that inspires me today, it has found a place in my brain to harvest itself.

Or maybe, I'm overthinking it.

The Still City - We Will Explain Everything

No comments:

Post a Comment