Alkaline Trio do not really mess up – unless, of course, Matt Skiba is drunk on stage and not altogether with it. Outside of that, they literally do no wrong. Obviously when they announced a new record to be released in 2013, my anticipation went through the roof. Luckily for me, you and all the other die-hards out there, Alk3 never waiver; they are an extremely safe and predictable group – but, not in that bad, judgmental type of safe. So forget American Idol for a few minutes and consider this safety the good kind, like a panic room or something – a very warm and cozy panic room, I mean.
In honor of the trio that has left such a mark/impression on me and my life – as well as the release of their new record – here is the latest segment of “10 You Should Know,” the Alkaline Trio edition.
“Dead on the Floor” from This Addiction
Off their last full-length LP, “Dead on the Floor” is an absolute gem of a track. It carries that familiar Skiba tone along with the dark, yet soft backdrop that only Alkaline Trio seem to be able to pull off. A song that can really only leave you feeling pleasantly heartbroken, you can’t deny its charm and lyrical perfection. “When you asked me if I’d stay forever / Guess you meant just for the week.”
“Burn” from Crimson
While listening to 2005’s Crimson, it is damn near impossible to decide on a favorite track. The record is brilliantly balanced, displaying both Skiba and vocalist/bassist Dan Andriano at their best. “Burn” is one of those songs that has never grown old, or gathered dust. The four minutes plus is magical and haunting, simply put. While I cannot responsibly claim it to be my favorite from the record, I also can’t say that it is not. “Somehow we fell down by the wayside / And somehow this Hell is home.”
“Do You Wanna Know?” from Agony & Irony
Lyrically, THIS is my personal, all-time favorite from the trio. Andriano’s undeniably perfect for this track, which really goes without saying. While Agony & Irony was a minor disappointment – when comparing it to Crimson of course – “Do You Wanna Know?” is possibly the one track I could not go without. “Don’t let go / My spine is slipping like a fault line / If I go I’ll bury us all.”
“Radio” from Maybe I’ll Catch Fire
I did not really want to be obvious with any of my choices, but here I go anyway. Honestly, I really do not have much of a choice here. “Radio” is just one of those tracks that will never get old. The raw emotion and power that accompanies the familiar lyrical madness is about as Alkaline Trio as you can possibly get. This song basically defines the band. “I’ve got a big, fat fucking bone to pick with you, my darling / In case you haven’t heard, I’m sick and tired of trying.”
“Queen of Pain” from Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music Split
You have got to love a good split! Most would just add other tracks from one of the major records they released, but honestly, “Queen of Pain” is one of the band’s best songs to ever release – no matter what form. In fact, one of the things I most love about the trio is that they will put out these groundbreaking tracks in single/EP/split formats (something another very impressive band does not mind doing – AFI). “There’s a fire forming not too far from here / Out on the east coast, maybe it resides in you my dear?
“All on Black” from Good Mourning
I may get crucified for not including “We’ve Had Enough,” “Every Thug Needs a Lady,” or “This Could Be Love” off of Good Mourning. Not saying that those tracks are less than deserving, they just happen to be a part of Alkaline Trio’s second best album ever. “All on Black” is a stunning creation and since it gets less “play” than the aforementioned songs, I enjoy it more – I would do that (ha!). And I’m living in lack of the blood sent from your heartbeat / That arrived in your neck every time I salivated over you.”
“Private Eye” from From Here to Infirmary
A song about a drunken investigator? Questionable choice. Actually, it fits almost perfectly. Corpses, DNA, drinking heavily and irresponsible behavior can sum up early Alkaline Trio themes. Honestly, nothing since has truthfully changed – outside of an increased level of lyrical intelligence and hidden themes. But really, it’s all the same – classic trio song. “And I’ve been preoccupied with these sick, sick senses / That sense DNA on barbed wire fences.”
“Sadie” from Crimson
Since I have not mentioned drummer Derek Grant and his very useful presence in the trio, I will do so now. “Sadie” is my absolute favorite track, percussion-wise. The subtlety of his skill is phenomenal – to be truthful, he always is, but here especially. Much like the rest of Crimson, “Sadie” fits like a glove in the middle of the album. “This sentence may seem like a lifetime of screams / That’s curdling the blood they found on you.”
“Blue in the Face” from Good Mourning
I did a terrible job recognizing Dan Andriano, didn’t I? Skiba hits again! This is in no way a competition between the two vocalists, but it just goes to show that the more of a head-case/loose cannon you are, the better. One of the noteworthy things about “Blue in the Face” is the harsh rasp that Skiba uses during this very low-key track – a trick he does use from time to time, but packaged with just an acoustic – beautiful. “And you can breathe without coughing in daytime, well neither can I / So what do you say? Your coffin or mine?”
“Time to Waste” from Crimson
The third track from Crimson to display itself on this list of ten. Some may think this to be unfair, perhaps. What is unfair is that I am unable to include all 13 songs from the album. The opener to the album was an almost lock to be represented – it laid the foundation for what was to be the soundtrack to my 2005 summer, and on and on… “I had time to kill, it’s dead and buried / You had guts to spill, but no one trustworthy.”