Frankie - The Wonder Years: The Upsides
“I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place / the weight of the world would be okay / if it would pick a shoulder to lean on / so I could stand up straight”. The opening lines of The Upsides, the sophomore album of pop-punk powerhouses The Wonder Years, sets a tone for an entire album, which focuses on anxiety, depression, loneliness, fear, anger, homesickness, and not letting any of it crush you. The album is near and dear to me, I remember the day it came out (January 26, 2010) and skipping school to go buy my copy at the mall with my high school friends (mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry). I thought the content was relatable in high school, but it didn’t truly hit me until my freshman year of college how much this album meant to me.
The Upsides was my go-to album when I was walking around campus, cold and homesick for a town I didn’t think I’d ever miss, isolated from everyone I had ever known. I think this album is so important to me because it shaped my outlook on growing up and my understanding and battle with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Ultimately, this album is optimistic in nature; it’s all about putting up a fight and standing your ground. The phrase “I’m not sad anymore” is a repeating line in the song. It appears in the opening song “My Last Semester” as previously mentioned. It also appears in the next song “Logan Circle” as “I’m not even sad anymore, I’m just so tired most nights” and again in the song “All My Friends Are In Bar Bands” as “I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place/ If this year would just end I think we’d all be okay.” These lyrics stick with me, even if I haven’t listened to this album in months, because I’ve learned that sometimes depression and anxiety just wear themselves out (or start to just feel normal) and I’ve always equated adult life with being constantly exhausted.
Michael - Julien Baker: Turn Out the Lights
"You don't want to bring it up / And I already know how it looks / You don't have to remind me so much / How I disappoint you / Suggest that I talk to somebody again / That knows how to help me get better / And 'til then I should just try not to miss any more / Appointments". No one quite captures the struggles of anxiety and depression quite like Julien Baker. Her lyrics are masterclass, bar none in the alt world today on the topic. As someone with depression and anxiety (and other mental health issues) her music hits like a beam right into my soul when she sings lyrics such as the aforementioned ones from her song "Appointments". This song is off of her sophomore release Turn Out the Lights an album which saw a maturation for the young alt star musically, vocally, and lyrically (though her first album Sprained Ankle was fantastic as well).
Since it's release just last year, this album (and Baker) have quickly established themselves as favorites of mine in the genre. It is because of how carefully and meticulously crafted each of Baker's songs are that she has risen so fast in my eyes. She is a young woman that writes from her own heart and writes of her personal struggle, often discussing issues such as substance abuse, mental health, issues with the notion of religion, and many other big questions in the universe. I appreciate her willingness to write from a real place. Basically, she doesn't write about bullshit and it comes from the heart. Which mean the world to me. I have yet to see her live, but you best believe next time she passes through the area, I will be there. I got this special edition clear vinyl release from Hybrid Records in Corpus Christi, Texas. One of my favorite spots in the city to find music.