In last week’s 3 of the Week feature, Sebastian looked at three songs from bands that rose like a phoenix out of the ashes of previous bands. The Mars Volta, Jack’s Mannequin, and Gorillaz were featured. For this week’s installment of 3 Of The Week, we’ll look at the other side of the coin. This week features three songs by bands who would serve as the stepping stone for their members to move onto bigger and better things.
1. “Museums” – The Rookie Lot
Before writing songs about the Devil and God, metaphors linking failing relationships to sinking ships, and adolescent deaths from drunk driving, Jesse Lacey of Brand New played in The Rookie Lot. The Rookie Lot features Lacey on vocals and guitar, bassist Garrett Tierney, and drummer Brian Lane, who would fill those respective roles in Brand New, as well as Brandon Reilly on lead guitar, who would join The Movielife, and Alex Dunne of Crime in Stereo fame on guitar. The lyrics here aren’t nearly as introspective as Lacey’s later lyrics would be, but the instrumentation and melody are just as catchy as anything found on Your Favorite Weapon. Lacey’s vocals aren’t as fully developed as they would later become, as he was still in his teenage years. Reilly’s guitar work following the first chorus, as well as the bridge, is phenomenal. The bass work from Tierney is quite fluid as he bounces from string to string in the outro, perhaps proving himself as the most naturally talented member of the band. While the respective members became more introspective as they matured, both in age and talent, the foundation of their musical prowess begins with The Rookie Lot.
2. “Rules Broken” – All-Time Quarterback
After playing guitar in Pinwheel, Ben Gibbard decided he wanted to branch out of the supporting role and make a name for himself. The result was two EP’s released in 1999, All-Time Quarterback and The Envelope Sessions, which would later be merged into one self-titled full length two years later. The instrumentation isn’t as layered as the songs Gibbard would write with the band that made him famous, Death Cab for Cutie, but this is due to the fact that Gibbard performed all instruments and wrote all the music for every song bearing the All-Time Quarterback name, a role normally filled by Chris Walla. The metronome-like backing track may annoy some, but it is unique and gives credence to the self-made nature of the release. Gibbard’s voice is as strong here as it would be on the subsequent DCFC records, showing his natural aptitude. The song contains a rather mournful tone, something that would be found in many DCFC songs.
3. “Deluca” – Flake Music
Known to many as the band that will “change your life,” courtesy of a plug by Natalie Portman in Zach Braff’s directorial debut, 2004’s Garden State, The Shins helped pave the way started by Modest Mouse as one of indie-rock’s quirkiest, and most popular, bands. However, James Mercer didn’t always make pop records that feature eccentric instrumentation and songwriting. He started off in Flake Music, which also featured Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval who would play in The Shins until they were let go by Mercer in 2009. Flake Music’s sound could be characterized as a pop-punk band influenced by Braid and Boys Life, though leaning more heavily to the pop side that the latter band would become famous for. The distortion found on the guitars is something that would only rarely occur in the later incarnation of the band. The entire album, this song in particular, gives off an intensely DIY sound. “Deluca” sounds as if it was recorded in a basement, with the recording gear as far from the instruments as possible, completely contrasting the highly produced qualities of The Shins’ records. While it’s easy to distinguish Mercer’s voice, it is extremely interesting to see his jump in style from pop-punk to indie pop.