Landon’s Pick: “The Concept” – Teenage Fanclub
In 1991, Scotland’s own Teenage Fanclub produced their third studio record entitled Bandwagonesque on Geffen Records. Though it was a very solid, distortion-heavy release that was praised with critical acclaim, it also shared the unfortunate duty of releasing around the same time of another critically acclaimed Geffen release (think a naked baby swimming after a dollar bi…oh, Nevermind) and was naturally overshadowed. However, 20 years later, the band’s first track on the record, entitled “The Concept,” found new life in last year’s bruisingly funny film Young Adult as the song that Charlize Theron’s character uses to connect with her youthful days of living in her Minnesota hometown. Admittedly, this is how I found out about the track, and I’m glad for it, as it’s a perfect anthem for the sexually confused, morally conflicted teenager in all of us.
Joe’s Pick: “Ambling Alp” – Yeasayer
Yeasayer is a rare kind of band: filled with pop/dance rhythms yet quite eccentric, their music requiring you to sit down and absorb it over repeated listens. Their 2010 effort Odd Blood – a fitting title indeed – showed that pop music is so much more than autotuned vocals and a single dance beat. One of the band’s more quickly accessible tunes, “Ambling Alp” delivers an uplifting message about staying tough and persevering regardless of what life throws at you. Filled with catchy keyboards, horns, and general arty pop goodness, the lyrics in the bridge remain as strong with every listen: “And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of or beat you, raise your head and wear your wounds with pride.”
Dylan’s Pick: “Tie Me Down” – Every Avenue
Now the whole glimmery pop-rock genre never really appeals to me but when the hooks are as big as they are on an album like Every Avenue’s Bad Habits, then I can be swayed. The album opener “Tie Me Down” is one of the catchy, pop jewels of this record. David Strauchman’s powerful vocals is what allows Every Avenue to stand out among their pop rock counterparts and that is the basis of what makes “Tie Me Down” so charming. Strauchman knows how to write a good pop hook and his strong performance on this track is a treat. If you don’t have “Lead me on to turn you off/And watch me come undone/So tie me down and fuck me up, baby/Rip my heart out” after the first couple listens then I fear there is something wrong with your mind. This track isn’t anything technically proficient and it won’t wow you in any way, but turn it up while driving on a nice day with the windows down and enjoy a track like this for what it is.
Eric’s Pick: “We Need To Act Like We Don’t Need This Shit, Then They Give Us The Shit For Free” – Meet Me In St. Louis
Meet Me in St. Louis were not your everyday UK post hardcore band. Pretentiously long but exceptionally awesome song titles, influences from all over the place, sexy melodies, groovy grooves and an immense live show – they were a rock band if ever there was one, with songs that are meticulously crafted but far from aggravating. “We Need to Act…”, the first song from their debut EP, blasts forward in the manner of early Bear vs. Shark just to show up at the drive-in for start-stop breaks with rhythmic tidbits, adopting the ethereal clean sound of Minus the Bear shortly after and mixing it with mathy excitement. The song’s urgency is phenomenal, the modular songwriting fresh and witty, and the finalizing chord crescendo the catchy explosion that blows the song up right in your ‘Best Songs I’ve Ever Heard’ hemisphere.
Jason’s Pick: “The Ocean, The Beast!” – Lower Definition
It’s like a festering wound. Truth be told I enjoy Of Mice & Men to some extent, but nowhere near as much as OM&M drummer Valentino Arteaga’s old band Lower Definition. Seemingly star-crossed after the release of The Greatest of All Lost Arts, the band flip-flopped members and hiatus states before making a brief appearance last year prior to entering what seems to be total hibernation. In any case, this track is a top-notch example of the band’s balance of melody and mayhem, fueled by tight drumming, slicing guitars and Matt Geise’s commanding voice. While it seems the band will probably never see a return to what they once were, this track and the record it comes from are fitting reminders of what was arguably one of the most underrated bands in post-hardcore.
Jacob’s Pick: “Late Nights” – I Call Fives
I’ve wanted to pick a song from I Call Fives for the better part of a month. Now that the whole record’s finally available on Spotify, you can put the best pop-punk album of the year so far on repeat. Full of catchy melodies and lines like “You have to find what you left behind if you ever want to see me again/I never want to see you again,” this is the sort of song that reminds me of why I listen to music like this in the first place. With great instrumental parts and just the right feel about it, this song is the whole record boiled down to a single track. It’s only been a few months since I first heard it, but I can’t see a point in time where spinning this record doesn’t get me at least a little excited, and this is the sort of opening track that amps me up right away.
Megan’s Pick: “Fake Tales of San Francisco” – Arctic Monkeys
Days into the Olympics, and I’ve finally caught the fever. Yet, my sport of choice to indulge in, due to their stunning performance at the opening ceremony, is actually the Arctic Monkeys, and their song “Fake Tales of San Francisco.” Its funky rhythm and strong sound slay me, while easy lyrics allow for appropriate chanting. Plus, the use of this song as mockery for bad bands and egotistical frontmen is pretty rad. Their British-ness and charm are displayed really well in this song, giving us Americans something to drool over. Well, at least this American (wink, wink).