I think it is safe to say that we all had that one band at one point in our lives that really got us into music. The one band that made us go, “Wow, so that’s how listening to music is supposed to feel.” For me, it was Arctic Monkeys. When I was in high school, I used to go to my local library to rent CDs and burn them onto my computer (sorry, iTunes). One of the first albums I obtained was Arctic Monkeys’ first full length debut, “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not” (among other gems, including “Is This It?” by The Strokes and “The Queen is Dead” by The Smiths). That album, and the subsequent ones that I devoured later, became the soundtrack to my high school experience; my go-to answer to the feared “what’s your favorite band?” question.
The art of spotting a sample has faded to technology. Now all a good ear has to do is a quick google search or peruse a blog to reveal the mystique of an eloquent beat. But an infectious hook, loop, and vocal can haunt me for an afternoon. Or a few days. Or this past week. Red Pill’s 2015 release Look What This World Did To Us has been on regular rotation on my Spotify feed. Rum and Coke especially speak to my Friday nights’ struggles between a girlfriend, a graduate student’s bank account, and a bar tab. Yet that’s not what this post is about. On the self-titled track “Look What This World Did to Us”, Red Pill tells a Bukowskian tale with an acerbic tongue. Familiar to early Atmosphere, the track speaks of a guarded regret singular to the loss of youth.
Last Friday, September 25, while most of my fellow Nashville concertgoers were headed to the first night of Taylor Swift’s 1989 stop at Bridgestone Arena, a friend and I were on our way to the Ryman to see West Coast indie pop/rock group, The Neighbourhood. My friend had never been to the Ryman, so this summer when tickets went on sale at a fairly low price we decided to just go for it (little did we know that Sufjan Stevens would be announcing a show there merely 2 months later…sigh). The Neighbourhood seemed like a strange choice for the Ryman, as they had certainly lost a good deal of relevance (and not to mention, airplay) since the release of their first album in 2013. Despite that, I was excited mostly to see if they could pull off their unique experimental tracks live.
In the first seven years of the new millennium, Modest Mouse released their most critically acclaimed album The Moon and Antarctica (2000), their most popular song “Float On” (2004), and an album that reached #1 on the Billboard 200, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007). In the seven years since that impressive run, the band has been relatively silent, with only sporadic festival appearances, a b-side EP, and promises of collaborations with Outkast’s Big Boi to remind us Modest Mouse was still a thing. After years of tantalizing rumors and false alarms, Modest Mouse is back for real with Strangers to Ourselves.