Frankie - Fall Out Boy - (2007)
I think I remember more about 7th grade than most people I know, and I attribute it entirely to the soundtrack of that particular year of my life. 2007 pop-punk was truly blossoming, with acts in my discography including but not limited to All Time Low, Forever the Sickest Kids, The Maine, and Seaway. We were dipping our toes in techno with Hellogoodbye, My Chem’s Black Parade was in full swing, Panic at the Disco hadn’t dropped the exclamation point from their logo yet, and Fall Out Boy, still hot off the tails of their breakthrough second album, released Infinity on High and completely redefined themselves.
Now, I didn’t have an especially broad knowledge on music at the time, but I knew, the first time I heard the opening track “Thriller” that having an intro by Jay-Z was an incredibly ambitious and high reaching goal for the band. “Thriller” is an incredibly powerful opening track and sets a tone for the rest of the album as well. “Thriller” would remain one of my favorite songs from the album and by the band in general for quite awhile because, after all, it was a song to me and every other fan. When lead singer Patrick Stump rips through the vocals on the line “Crowds are won and lost and won again/ But our hearts beat for the diehards” I would think to myself “that’s me, he’s talking about me,” because I was in 7th grade, and everything was about me.
Infinity on High saw major success with the first single “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race” which is a cleverly veiled call out of artists not putting their heart into music but just pumping it out as quickly as possible for the money and the headlines; it’s ironic, as the band only took a (forced) three month break between touring and promoting From Under the Cork Tree before they began work on Infinity on High with less then two years between the two albums. It also saw the first major shift in style for the band on this album, with Stump infusing the melody and vocals with an R&B style he learned from his love of oldies.
It’s actually incredibly difficult for me to narrow down which track is my favorite off of this 16-track behemoth, but I think if any truly ever held the title, it was “Hum Hallelujah.” The track, written by bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz, is about his suicide attempt by overdose in 2005, which isn’t something I knew as a 7th grader, but made me appreciate the song more later in life. Another candidate for favorite track is “Carpal Tunnel of Love” which is the nearest we get to an older FOB sound on this album. It’s the only song on the album the features Wentz’s screaming and a much edgier bass line. The only thing that I don’t like about “Carpal Tunnel of Love” is the incredibly creepy music video featuring the boys reimagined as characters from the Internet series “Happy Tree Friends” in which adorable animated woodland creatures meet their incredibly graphic demise in every episode. The music video is traumatizing at best.
Infinity on High definitely has a special place in my heart and I’m very glad to own it, but it’s still not my favorite FOB album, so you’ll hear more about FOB from me before too long. I picked up Infinity on High at a record store in Pittsburgh, PA, when I spent the day shopping around before I saw PUP at the Rex Theater.
Michael - The Black Keys - Let's Rock (2019)
The first album from The Black Keys in five years, Let's Rock represents a return to form for the Akron, Ohio duo. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have returned to their roots with blistering fuzz infused guitar, blues soaked melodies, and powerhouse drumming. The album was named after a story that Auerbach read about a Texas death row inmate who when asked what his last words were before being executed simply said "Let's Rock". And rock this album does.
Truthfully, this album is one of the strongest all around albums I have seen in a while. There's not a bad track on the entire thing. Also, it's got high listenability, so you know I'm wearing out my copy of this bad boy. When I heard the first couple of singles from the album "Lo/Hi" and "Eagle Birds" I knew I was in. I pre-ordered my copy months before the album actually dropped and was ecstatic to get it the day it dropped. Since then it has been a consistent figure in my album rotation. I'm sure you've already streamed this bad boy, because I mean, it's the freaking Black Keys. But if you haven't heard it in all of it's glory on vinyl, you're in for a treat. Check it out!