For this week’s feature, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look back on a few songs that my band performed back when we were still together. We played a lot of covers, but these three were some of my favorites. Coming from three of the scene’s most popular bands, these songs all feature dual vocals, catchy hooks, and the appropriate amount of angst for a group of guys in high school. The first two are songs that I still cover to this day (in a different format), so it’s clear that they’ve had a lasting effect on me as a musician and person in general. Plus, with Taking Back Sunday‘s original lineup preparing a new album, Underoath‘s release of their first album without Aaron Gillespie, and Brand New‘s updated website and suspected new album, now is as good a time as any to look back on some of their best work.
1. “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” – Taking Back Sunday
This was one of those songs that we always practiced and had a lot of fun playing, but never actually got around to playing live. When I started performing on my own, I picked it up and it’s now very common on my setlists. Everything about this song is perfect, from the strummed chords in the beginning to the traded vocals in the verses to the layered vocals later in the song. This song drips emotion and has a video that could give you an epileptic seizure. It makes me feel like I’m sixteen again and it is impossible to not dance to. If I had to choose a sign to define the pop-punk genre, this is that song. Adam Lazzara and John Nolan’s voices drip emotion in a way that is more fun that you could ever imagine the lyrics sounding, and the little fills in the drums and bass add a ton to the atmosphere of the little musical break after the second chorus. Though I love a lot of the other songs that Taking Back Sunday wrote, “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” is the one that best exemplifies what makes them a great band and is the true culmination of their potential.
2. “A Boy Brushed Red (Living In Black And White)” – Underoath
We started playing this song after our lead singer who was one of our guitarists graduated and wasn’t really able to play with us any longer. Looking back, it’s a little crazy to think that we played this song as a three-piece, but somehow we made it work. This is the kind of song where the vocals make the track great, and it was definitely fun to trade off singing and screaming with our remaining guitarist. That’s not to say that the instrumental portions of the song are weak by any means, since they are very dynamic and do a great job of setting the mood. Now that I perform solo, this is another that I like to play every once in a while, even though the feeling of it is a lot different from rocking out with a band. Either way, the lyrics are great, and it’s one of the best songs from an album full of very strong songs.
3. “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” – Brand New
I’ve never really been a fan of Brand New. I don’t know if that’s because I never took the time to get into their albums, or if it’s because there’s something about them that I actually don’t like (if it’s the latter, it’s most likely the vocals, but who knows). Either way, I had never even heard of them before showing up at my friend’s house to practice a few days before our first show (the “Mr. SHS” competition at our local high school). He brought up this song as an option of one to cover, saying something along the lines of “this band sucks live, but the song would be fun to play”. A live video confirmed that statement, and we learned the song, which would ultimately be our only song played at that show due to time constraints. The chorus is easily my favorite part of the song, as the vocal trading is well-executed and the melody easily gets stuck in your head. When the music cuts out (we called it “the pause”) near the end of the track is also a great part, and probably the most fun part of playing the song live (even ahead of when everything kicks in at the beginning). I might not enjoy the band, but I’ll always have fond memories of this song.