Frankie - Tigers Jaw - Tigers Jaw (2008)
Have you ever known an album that you loved so much you didn’t even recommend it to your friends so that it could stay personal to you? An album that you not only know all the words to, even years after you last heard it, but can also annoyingly sing along to all the instrumental parts as if they were also lyrics? An album that transcended from your adolescence into your adult life but kept its importance? For me, that’s one album in particular, the second eponymous album from the indie-rock/ emo group Tigers Jaw. I’ve probably said this about a million albums, but this album was the soundtrack to my youth. The album came out in 2008, and there weren’t many days riding the bus to school after its release that I couldn’t be caught listening to it on repeat. A few years later, in college, it would be the same story as I walked between classes at Ohio University, and even now, ten years later, when I’m navigating the insane highway system of Columbus on my way to work or to GP’s house to record The Alt Revue Podcast.
I don’t think I’ll get over the pure perfection of this album. The sweeping guitar solos and the intricate harmonies I forced myself to learn all play out like one long song to me. The lyrics captured the teenage emo turmoil I hadn’t quite figured out yet in high school, and kept this group solidly amongst My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy on the list of albums I would angry cry to. I can still remember hearing the lines “What about your friends, do they make you happy?” from the opening track “Sun” repeated over and over for the first time. “Chemicals” still shakes me to my core with its first notes and it’s devastating bridge confessing “you are strong/ so much stronger than me/ all along/ ‘cause you are everything and I am nothing.” I think what I love about this album so much is that it doesn’t need to be wordy to get it’s point across. The songs cover tough topics like lost love, anxiety, and loneliness, but are strangely fun to sing along to. Take “Heat” for example, a song dissecting the American way of life, with the closing lyrics of “No one goes to college anymore!” that are impossible not to shout along to. Or the closing track “Never Saw It Coming” with the opening lines “I learned a lot about falling in love when I fell out of love/I learned a lot about being a friend when I was alone” which don’t really make any sense and are not that deep but for some reason my voice still cracks when I sing them at my windshield?
I missed Tigers Jaw on their recent American tour celebrating the tenth birthday of the album, but I did get to see them a little over a year ago at Express Live, with an all-star lineup that also included Foxing and Manchester Orchestra. Needless to say, I love all those bands and was a super fan of that show. It was an incredible show, and the excited, nostalgic vibe in the crowd was palpable. I initially went to the show with some friends, but when one friend felt under the weather, they decided to stay outside with the fresh air where they could still hear the music, and I rotated back and forth between keeping them company and joining the crowd in some rowdy sing-a-longs. It definitely opened up my eyes to the concept of attending a show solo, fewer people weave through a crowd better. I picked up my pressing of the album at that show, easily one of my most prized possessions.
Michael - The Smiths - Louder than Bombs (1987)
One of my all-time favorite bands is The Smiths. To me musically, they could do no wrong, in particular Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Morrissey's deep sweeping vocals paired perfectly with Marr's intricate guitar work that was displayed on virtually every single track they ever put out. Perhaps most importantly for my love of The Smiths are Morrissey's fantastic lyrics. He just might be pound for pound the best lyricist of all time. He can often translate the darkest and deepest emotions into the most intricate lyrics. While he's often called the "Pope of Mope" and similar nicknames. However, there are sever tracks where Morrissey can be extremely witty, biting, and charming. Morrissey has a particular snark that just speaks to me I guess.
Louder than Bombs is a compilation album from the group that came out in 1987. It features some of, but not all of my favorite tracks from the group. Some of the tracks included that I love are "Panic", "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want", and "Asleep", just to name a few.
This album is one of my favorites from my vinyl collection because it is chalk full of The Smiths goodness and it has 24 tracks that I can play straight through. The Smiths ability to take serious topics and make fantastic songs from the has always impressed me. As someone who battles with mental health concerns including, but not limited to depression and anxiety, I have always been able to relate to The Smiths themes and music. It's not to hard to throw a dart and find a song from The Smiths that expresses a feeling I have felt, or a thought I have had. There are very few bands that I can say that about. That might just be the most important reason of all why I love The Smiths.