2020-10-25T00:42:17Z WordPress Jason Tate <![CDATA[10/23/20 (Ten Songs)]]> 2020-10-23T19:23:36Z 2020-10-23T19:07:01Z Ten songs is a weekly playlist from Jason Tate featuring songs enjoyed over the previous week. It is included in every edition of the Liner Notes newsletter and is free to sign up for via email.

This playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Ten Songs

  1. PVRIS – Thank You
  2. Bruce Springsteen – Rainmaker
  3. Seaway – Mrs. David
  4. Amy Shark – C’mon
  5. Dave Hause – Top of the World
  6. Hellogoodbye – A Reminder to Me
  7. The All-American Rejects – Night Drive (Acoustic)
  8. Sara Kays – I’m Okay Though
  9. The Wonder Years – Brakeless
  10. Timecop1983 – Falling
Jason Tate <![CDATA[Liner Notes (October 23rd, 2020)]]> 2020-10-23T18:26:52Z 2020-10-23T18:26:45Z This week’s newsletter has early thoughts on Bruce Springsteen, Seaway, and various other things I listened to, watched, read, and consumed this week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.


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Craig Manning <![CDATA[Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You]]> 2020-10-25T00:42:17Z 2020-10-23T17:01:30Z At this point, you don’t get a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band project without questions about it being the last one. That’s actually been the case for years: when Springsteen and company closed out their 1999-2000 reunion tour at Madison Square Garden with a special extended version of “Blood Brothers,” it felt remarkably final. Nine years later, when The Boss concluded the Working on a Dream tour with a full-circle performance of his debut album, 1973’s Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, a common topic of conversation in the Springsteen fan community was about whether we’d ever get another E Street tour. The band came back in 2012—sans late sideman Clarence Clemons—for a tour supporting Springsteen’s then-new LP Wrecking Ball, and came back again in 2016 to play 1980’s double-LP masterpiece The River in full night after night. At the end of each tour, the question resurfaced: was this the last dance? The ensuing years only gave credence to the idea that it might be, as Springsteen penned his memoir, spent more than year on Broadway, and circled back to old songs for last year’s solo Western Stars. Each of these projects was wrought with ruminations about fading youth, aging, and mortality. Bruce wrote and spoke extensively about Clemons, whose death in 2011 clearly shook him to the core. On Stars, he closed the album with “Moonlight Motel,” his most aching look back at the past, and at the little glories of youthful freedom and young love that can’t quite ever be replicated or recaptured.

As more and more evidence built up, it started getting hard to doubt what Bruce was doing. Years of looking back, of telling his story in his words, of organizing his legacy neatly, of coming to terms with aging and seeing his friends and bandmates leave this earth: all these things made it feel like The Boss was getting ready for his curtain call. Whether there would ever be another E Street project was the secondary question to whether Springsteen himself was ready to hang up his guitar and drive off into the sunset, like a kid pulling out of a town full of losers with his mind set on winning.

Letter to You, album number 20 in the Springsteen oeuvre, is both a rebuttal to these assumptions and a confirmation of them. On the one hand, it’s an album deeply preoccupied with the way things used to be. On the other hand, it’s a genuine E Street Band album—the first proper one since Working on a Dream and the first one to really sound like the E Street Band since the 1980s. Over the past three decades, Bruce’s biggest sin as an artist has been underusing his band. He became something like the neighbor who owns the most beautiful sports car in the world but never, ever drives it. Bruce had, pound for pound, the greatest-ever American rock band at his back and he gave them pink slips to chase other dreams. He kept them on the bench for almost the entirety of the ‘90s, then spent the 2000s and early 2010s making records that, while often wonderful, were recorded and produced in a way that didn’t play to the band’s strengths. Letter to You, recorded live in the studio over the course of four days and flush with musical arrangements that show off what makes the E Street Band such a thrilling live act, feels like a miracle just for sounding the way Bruce Springsteen records used to sound.

Letter to You is far more than nostalgia, though. It’s one thing to write new songs that sound like old songs. Bruce played that game himself on 2007’s Magic, a joyfully wistful album that splits the difference between the classic Springsteen sound and modern studio polish; Rolling Stone called it “the most openly nostalgic record Springsteen has ever made.” Letter to You is wistful, but in a different way. Magic was a tip of the hat to the past. This album attempts to turn back the clock to the way-back-when, even as its creator reckons with the dwindling sand left in the hourglass.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about brevity: about how time can feel long when you’re in it, but can look like it elapsed in the blink of an eye when you look back; about how, too often, you take for granted the things that are there in your life until they aren’t anymore; about the tendency we all have to look back at golden memories and hope for similar good times in the future, only for those “next times” and “somedays” to turn into little impossibilities, floating off on the winds of time. Earlier this month, my grandma passed away, almost exactly six years to the day since we lost my grandfather. Losing her caused me to reflect on some of my favorite times that we spent together. In particular, I thought of a family reunion some 15 years ago, and of sitting on a porch on a flawless summer evening, my entire family—my parents, my siblings, all my cousins, all my aunts and uncles, and my grandparents—within a 20-foot radius of me. We were doing what we always do in the evenings when we get together: singing old songs while my Uncle Billy played guitar, the adults drinking wine or beer, all of us reveling in being together and sharing something idyllic. I remember thinking at the time that it was a perfect moment, and I’ve looked back frequently often over the years and yearned to go back to it. I always told myself we’d have another vacation like that: another golden summer; another week of no responsibility; another perfect night under the stars, singing along to songs we all loved. But time wore on; my cousins and I grew up and fell into busy lives that left less time for weeklong getaways; the family gatherings got further apart, and briefer when they did happen. Now that my grandparents are gone, I have to come to terms with the fact that there will never again be a moment in my life quite like that perfect memory from 15 summers ago, because my family will never be “all” together again—not quite.

What makes Letter to You miraculous is that it looks back at those memories of long ago and somehow finds a way to actualize them again—to go back to the blueprint of what made the good ol’ days so damn good and to find a way to resurrect it, if only just for the few minutes that a song lasts. That’s most clear on “Janey Needs a Shooter,” “If I Was a Priest,” and “Song for Orphans,” three very old songs revisited here nearly 50 years after they were written. All three songs were penned before Greetings from Asbury Park came out. “Priest” was even one of the dozen or so songs that Springsteen performed in his audition for Columbia Records in 1972. The songs sound old too, recapturing the wordy street-rat charm that defined Bruce’s first two albums, before a screen door slammed in 1975 and changed everything. Somehow, even the band ends up in the time machine, with especially Max Weinberg’s pounding drums and Roy Bittan’s twinkling pianos recalling what defined “E Street” back in the 1970s. The only giveaway that the songs were recorded in 2020 and not 1978 is Springsteen’s voice—wearier and more weatherworn today than it was then, but still somehow imbuing the songs with the same youthful hope that they were built to carry. It’s difficult to put into words how joyful it is to hear these songs now, other than to say that it feels a bit like closing your eyes, picking a favorite memory that you thought was lost to time, and suddenly getting to relive it as your older, wiser self. For a guy who spent an entire run on Broadway talking about his “magic trick,” perhaps the most surprising thing about Letter to You is that, with these three new-old classics, Bruce adds a new element to his illusion.

And it is an illusion; of course it is. As much as some of this album might sound like a time warp, other parts repeatedly wake you up to the fact that it’s 2020 and not 1973. That’s not Clarence Clemons playing the saxophone, for example, or Danny Federici playing the organ. When the E Street Band toured in 2012, in the wake of Clarence’s death, Bruce repeatedly asked “Are we missing anybody?” We’re still missing a few on this record, even though the sheer sound of it makes it feel like their ghosts are playing in the room again. The newer songs here are also very much about the stark reality of 2020, one where our Boss has to grapple repeatedly with loss and the idea of his own impermanence. On “One Minute You’re Here,” the haunting acoustic opener, he conjures up images of fleeting things—trains roaring through town, summers, a happy memory shared with a loved one at an autumn carnival—in service of the title refrain: “One minute you’re here/Next minute you’re gone.” On “Last Man Standing,” he muses about being the only person left alive from his first professional band, The Castiles. On “House of a Thousand Guitars,” he envisions heaven as something akin to the small-town bars he and the band used to play on the Jersey shore, way before “Bruce Springsteen” was a household name. On “Ghosts,” he lets his audience in on what’s likely become a ritual every time he performs: connecting with his fallen musical brethren “on the other side.” And on “See You in My Dreams,” he intones that “death is not the end,” pledging to another lost companion, “I’ll see you in my dreams when all the summеrs have come to an end.”

Springsteen has sung about death before, but never this prevalently, and never this personally. The prospect of shuffling off this mortal coil feels uncomfortably close in most of these songs, to the point where I had to remind myself several times while listening that Bruce is only 71 and (hopefully!) still has many good years left in front of him. And to his credit, The Boss still does unleash a few moments here that hint at what the future might hold for him and the E Street Band. The first is “Burnin’ Train,” a blazing rock song that feels tailor-made to open shows on Springsteen’s next arena tour with the band, whenever the hell that is allowed to happen. The second is “Rainmaker,” the one political shot that Springsteen takes on this record—and one that he makes sure counts. It’s about desperate people and the huckster they count on to solve their problems. “Rainmaker, a little faith for hire/Rainmaker, the house is on fire/Rainmaker, take everything you have/Sometimes folks need to believe in something so bad, so bad, so bad/They’ll hire a rainmaker.” Trump’s name never appears, nor does his description, but as in all of Springsteen’s best and most searing political work, the message is clear regardless: on November 3, let’s fire the rainmaker.

Mia Hughes <![CDATA[The Big Easy – A Long Year]]> 2020-10-23T16:59:12Z 2020-10-23T16:59:06Z If there’s anything Brooklyn-based band The Big Easy can count on as they release their debut record A Long Year, it’s that there’s probably absolutely nobody with whom that title isn’t gonna resonate. The end of 2020 is in reach now, and while, sure, in some ways it feels like the start of it was only two weeks ago, it also feels like it was a thousand years ago. A pandemic, the ever-growing creep of fascism, however many personal battles we all may have had, and all before whatever is to come on election day; it’s been a long, scary, exhausting and often hopeless year. To state the obvious, we live in a very different world now than we did back on January 1st.

A Long Year was penned in that old world, and it sounds like a time that’s gone now, if hopefully temporarily. This is raucous, beer-soaked, dive bar punk. This is being jammed into a tight space with strangers and feeling the spray of sweat and spit like it’s ocean mist and not a potential death sentence. Remember that? It sounds kinda horrifying now, but also like to just experience that one more time would be some kind of salvation.

The Big Easy don’t claim to offer salvation though, not even for themselves. Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Bethomieux’s long year involved a breakup and all of its fallout, and it’s this that echoes across the album; the depression, the bitterness, the self-loathing, the yearning, the coping mechanisms (not all healthy). It’s steeped with drunken hurting and hungover shame. It’s someone who doesn’t have the energy to hide from how fucked up he’s become. Bethomieux isn’t trying to write an epic, he’s just trying to make it to tomorrow.   

If that sounds like a slog, believe me when I say it isn’t; in fact, the first thing the record tells us as it jumps into the opening riff of ‘It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt’ is that it’s really fucking fun. This is a party riff if you’ve ever heard one, and the song is the record’s catchiest moment. Stylistically and spiritually, the band is in the vein of The Menzingers, PUP, perhaps some earlier Joyce Manor and some later Wonder Years, all of which should give you an idea of the caliber of explosive energy their songs can yield. You can so easily imagine the push pit to the more excitable tracks on here, most tangibly ‘It’s All Fun and Games…’ and ‘If I Knew It Was The Last Time’, and damn if it wouldn’t be a tough one to resist.

That’s not to say that it’s without gravity. There’s a dark, weighty quality to the record’s sonics, something they lean into with more brooding tracks like ‘Alone’ and ‘New Years Day’. It allows the record’s tough ruminations to feel important and anchored, rather than just background noise for a party record. Bethomieux’s ragged, impassioned vocals do a whole lot for the songs on this record too, gifting them a raw intensity that lifts them above the ranks of punk rock stock. It’s this patent emotiveness coupled with the carefully crafted melodies that would make the songs deeply inviting to howl along to in a crowd. (You’ll notice that it’s difficult not to talk about this record in live music terms; the timing of its release is somehow both appropriate and tragic).

I suppose aside from the riffs, the main reason A Long Year doesn’t feel miserable is that its overriding feel is of catharsis. It never feels that Bethomieux is wallowing or whining; it feels that he’s expelling, in a way that is true and essential. It’s achingly real, like you can almost feel the weight being set free yourself, and there’s a joy to that – or at least a sense of fulfillment – even when it involves clawing up from rock bottom. This makes it feel all the more like a record worth becoming invested in, worth keeping close to the heart, much like a Never Hungover Again or an On The Impossible Past. While you trudge through the last few months of this long, difficult year, it could be just the accompaniment you need.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Mat Kearney – “Grand Canyon”]]> 2020-10-23T16:56:51Z 2020-10-23T16:56:45Z Mat Kearney has shared the new single “Grand Canyon.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Sigur Rós Announce ‘Odin’s Raven Magic’ Release]]> 2020-10-23T16:50:05Z 2020-10-23T16:49:59Z Sigur Rós will release Odin’s Raven Magic on December 4th. Today they’ve shared the lead single “Dvergmál.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Cartel Share Acoustic “Faster Ride”]]> 2020-10-23T16:48:11Z 2020-10-23T16:48:03Z Cartel have shared a new acoustic version of “Faster Ride” on Instagram.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Bright Eyes – “Miracle of Life”]]> 2020-10-23T16:46:42Z 2020-10-23T16:46:37Z Bright Eyes has shared the new song “Miracle of Life” featuring Phoebe Bridgers via Bandcamp. All proceeds from the song will go to Planned Parenthood.

Last week Bright Eyes were announced as additions to the bill for Planned Parenthood’s upcoming “Village Of Love” Virtual Fundraising Festival on October 25. Today, the beloved band have unveiled a brand new song - “Miracle Of Life” - released in partnership with the 7-Inches for Planned Parenthood Collective with all proceeds from sales, streaming and syncs to go to Planned Parenthood. The track is available today exclusively via Bandcamp for $1 download and will be available on all streaming platforms from October 28th. 

Says Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst of the track, “This song should not exist in 2020 America. It is a protest song, I guess. Or maybe just a little story about what was, what still is in many parts of the world and what could be again here in this country if the GOP is successful in reshaping the Supreme Court and rolling back all of the hard fought progress made for reproductive rights in the last fifty years. Hopefully, if we all work together and vote, it will make this song sound as irrelevant and outdated as it should."

This recording features the talents of Bright Eyes members Conor Oberst, Mike Mogisand Nathaniel Walcott as well as Phoebe Bridgers, Jon Theodore and Flea. 

Bright Eyes released their acclaimed new album Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was on Dead Oceans in August. 

Planned Parenthood and the arts and entertainment community proudly partner to advance social justice — from civil rights and gender equality, to LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive freedom — and raise our voices when our health and rights are on the line. 
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions.
Jason Tate <![CDATA[Matt Berninger Performs on Colbert]]> 2020-10-23T16:44:10Z 2020-10-23T16:44:04Z Matt Berninger performed “One More Second” on Colbert.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Chelsea Wolfe – “In Heaven”]]> 2020-10-23T16:43:25Z 2020-10-23T16:43:20Z Chelsea Wolfe has shared a cover of “In Heaven.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[HAIM Perform on Seth Meyers]]> 2020-10-23T16:40:38Z 2020-10-23T16:40:33Z HAIM performed “3 AM” on Seth Meyers.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Pinkshift – “Rainwalk”]]> 2020-10-23T16:39:35Z 2020-10-23T16:39:30Z Pinkshift have shared the new song “Rainwalk” on all streaming platforms.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Illenium – “Paper Thin”]]> 2020-10-23T16:38:36Z 2020-10-23T16:37:33Z Illenium has released the new song “Paper Thin” featuring Tom DeLonge of Angels and Airwaves.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Charlie Simpson – “I See You” Video]]> 2020-10-23T16:36:18Z 2020-10-23T16:36:13Z Charlie Simpson has released a video for the new single “I See You.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[The Wonder Years – “Brakeless”]]> 2020-10-23T16:35:09Z 2020-10-23T16:35:03Z The Wonder Years have shared the new song “Brakeless.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Miley Cyrus Announces New Album]]> 2020-10-23T16:33:11Z 2020-10-23T16:33:03Z Miley Cyrus will release Plastic Hearts on November 27th.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Run the Jewels – “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4)” Video]]> 2020-10-23T16:31:36Z 2020-10-23T16:31:31Z Run the Jewels have released a video for “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4).”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Ariana Grande – “Positions” Video]]> 2020-10-23T16:30:40Z 2020-10-23T16:30:34Z Ariana Grande has released a video for the new single “Positions.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Amy Shark – “C’Mon” Video]]> 2020-10-23T16:28:52Z 2020-10-23T16:28:46Z Amy Shark has shared her new song “C’Mon” featuring Travis Barker.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Albums in Stores – Oct. 23rd, 2020]]> 2020-10-22T17:17:22Z 2020-10-23T04:00:00Z Today sees new releases from Bruce Springsteen, PUP, Clipping., and more. If you hit read more you can see all the releases we have in our calendar for the week. Hit the comments to access our forums and talk about what came out today, what albums you picked up, and to make mention of anything we may have missed.

Actress – Karma & Desire
Adrianne Lenker – Songs & Instrumentalsdiscuss
Becky Warren – The Sick Season
Bruce Springsteen – Letter To Youdiscuss
Don’t Know How But They Found Me – Razzmatazz
Ela Minus – acts of rebelliondiscuss
Faithless – All Blessed
Fever 333 – Wrong Generation
Fuzz – III
Gorillaz – Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timezdiscuss
Greg Puciato – Child Soldier: Creator Of Goddiscuss
I Love Your Lifestyle – No Driverdiscuss
Jeff Tweedy – Love Is The King
John Frusciante – Maya
JunglePussy – JP4
Keaton Henson – Monument
Kevin Morby – Sundowner
Laura Veirs – My Echo
Loma – Don’t Shy Away
METZ – Atlas Vending
Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders
PUP – This Place Sucks Ass
Pallbearer – Forgotten Days
Pallbearer – Forgotten Daysdiscuss
Plants and Animals – The Jungle
Roger Waters – Us + Them
Sam Smith – Love Goesdiscuss
Souvenirs – Love for the Lack of Itdiscuss
The Mountain Goats – Getting Into Knivesdiscuss
Touche Amore – Lament
clipping. – Visions Of Bodies Being Burneddiscuss
Jason Tate <![CDATA[Tigers Jaw Announce New Album; Stream New Song]]> 2020-10-22T17:10:11Z 2020-10-22T17:10:05Z Tigers Jaw will release their new album, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, on March 5th via Hopeless Records. Today they’ve shared a video for the new song “Cat’s Cradle” and pre-orders are now up.

Tigers Jaw today announced their sixth album I Won’t Care How You Remember Me,produced by the band and Will Yip, will be released on March 5th, 2021, via Hopeless Records. The thrilling first single “Cat’s Cradle” is out now alongside a video, directed by Drew Horen and Lauren H. Adams, which features the band—Ben Walsh (vocals/guitar), Brianna Collins (vocals/keyboards), Teddy Roberts (drums), and Colin Gorman (bass)—performing within the world of the album’s elegant cover art. Written and sung by Collins, the song bids adieu to a skewed friendship in just over two-and-a-half searing minutes."‘Cat’s Cradle’ is about the realization that no matter how much love, effort and consideration you put into a friendship, sometimes it just isn’t enough to make it work,” she explains. “The lyrics reflect on how being passive aggressive and not communicating directly can just lead to tension, confusion, and frustration in any relationship. Confrontation can be really challenging, especially when you’re worried about how what you feel might make someone else feel, and I have the tendency to suppress my own concerns and apologize first. With this song I wanted to acknowledge my own thoughts and emotions without feeling bad for having them.”

Collins adds about the video: "Because the video for ‘Cat’s Cradle’ would be the first glimpse into our new record, we wanted it to visually and aesthetically nod to the album cover art. Drew, Lauren, and the entire team we worked with did an incredible job of making the video we wanted come to life: a simple concept that’s visually compelling.”

I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, now available for pre-order, finds the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based band at the height of their powers, fusing their collective skills with the synchronicity and energy they honed over several years of non-stop touring. Whereas their latest output, 2017’s spin, was replete with several dense layers of instruments and vocals, I Won’t Care pushes the elements of liveliness and human connectivity forward. This back-to-the-basement approach resulted in a new songwriting dynamic; while spinfound Walsh and Collins splitting writing duties, I Won’t Care marks the first time all four members shared songwriting input. The band’s most sonically ambitious and lyrically affecting album to date, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me sees a newfound freshness and creative freedom crystalizing the lush world of Tigers Jaw. 

While at first the title track—featuring Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull on backing vocals—seemed to be an unapologetically defiant statement, it ended up carrying a greater significance for the band, who rallied around it as a sentiment of shared personal renaissance that sets the tone for the album, as well as the band as a whole. “This album is a hopeful time capsule of a band who has been through a lot together. It’s about growth, self-reflection, and figuring out how to be present in the moment to really take stock of what’s important, without getting sidetracked by the opinions of others or things out of our control,” Walsh says. “Tigers Jaw can get through anything and be stronger because of it. We’ve endured lots of change over the last 15 years, but a lot of things have remained consistent. We make the music we want to make, we push each other to continue evolving and growing as musicians, and we are so proud of where we are now.”
Craig Manning <![CDATA[Taylor Swift – Speak Now]]> 2020-10-22T16:58:26Z 2020-10-22T16:58:20Z Speak Now is the most pivotal album in the Taylor Swift discography. It’s not the one that started the story (2006’s self-titled debut) or the one that made her a global superstar (2008’s Fearless), nor is it her biggest album (2014’s 1989) or her straight-up best (2012’s Red). But it was on Speak Now where Swift took full control of her creative enterprise, came into her own as a songwriter, and established many of the key elements that would ground her career for the next decade. It also might be the album that, more than any other, sets the table for the next 10 years of country music, from the pop influences to the confessional style of songwriting. It is, in a word, a landmark.

Swift, unlike many mainstream country stars, was always a songwriter first and foremost. Her debut self-titled record dropped when she was just 16 years old, but she still had writing credits on all 11 songs (and wrote three of them solo, including the number-one country smash “Our Song”). On Fearless, she more than doubled that number, taking solo writing credits on seven of the 13 songs (including “Love Story,” which briefly became the best-selling country single of all time). Still, Swift racked up a lot of co-writes on those first two albums, particularly with veteran Nashville songwriter Liz Rose, who has 12 writing credits across Taylor Swift and Fearless. On Speak Now, the big selling point isn’t that it’s a concept album about wild romance and dramatic heartbreak (Red), or a leap into pop (1989), or a rejoinder to her haters (Reputation), or her “indie” record (folklore). No, the big selling point here is the simple fact that Swift wrote all 14 tracks by herself.

Perhaps more than any album released since—in the country genre or otherwise—Speak Now reads like a diary. While Swift never stopped being a confessional singer-songwriter, her pivot to pop on 1989 sanded some of the rougher edges off her lyrical approach, removing a bit of the personal specificity and rich detail in favor of songs that are, for the most part, more simplistic and more universal. Red still had plenty of nuance and detail, but felt more deliberate with what it revealed—like Taylor was shining the spotlight on the parts of herself and her life that she wanted her listeners to see. Speak Now is different. It’s a gloriously messy overshare of an album. All the things Taylor ever did best are bursting out of the seams of this record: the romance, the heartbreak, the pathos, the grand evocations of growing up. But there’s also the awkwardness and clumsiness and naivete that comes with being a young person trying to be an adult but not being quite there yet. There are contradictions in the songs themselves: in “Better Than Revenge,” for instance, Taylor savagely rips a girl who stole her boyfriend, admonishing the subject of her ire that “stealing other people’s toys on the playground won’t make you many friends”; but then in the title track, she shows up at a wedding uninvited to confess her love to the groom—and they end up ditching the ceremony and running away together. There’s a fair amount of hypocrisy here, but who ever made it to their twenties without being a hypocrite once or twice?

The uncharitable read on Speak Now is that, due to its relative immaturity (and because Taylor came clean about all the celebrities who the songs were about), it’s aged the least well of her albums so far. Certainly, the songs about Twilight it-boy Taylor Lautner and Owl City frontman Adam Young date the album squarely to the beginning of the 2010s. And yes, “Innocent,” the ballad where Swift forgives Kanye West for interrupting her moment at the MTV Video Music Awards, feels a bit quaint (and plenty patronizing) now that we know how the rest of that story played out. “Better Than Revenge” is probably the worst offender, a problematic slut-shaming anthem that pits one woman against another over a fucking Jonas brother.

The fairer read, though, is that Speak Now is exactly the kind of record that young artists usually aren’t allowed to make—one that reflects the true warts-and-all experience of making that perilous journey from youth to adulthood. Label interference is typically a given with performers that hit the big time in their teens, to the point where it’s almost remarkable that Big Machine let Swift write every word and note on the record that was arguably going to make or break her career. Fresh off Fearless, armed with two ubiquitous hits (“Love Story” and “You Belong with Me”) and a boatload of Grammys (including Album of the Year), Swift was poised to hit a new level of fame that Speak Now could have mucked up if it had missed the mark. Most labels, at this stage, wouldn’t risk changing the formula: they’d keep the cowriters, play it safe with a few clear-cut radio singles, and let the money role in. Instead, to Big Machine’s credit, they gave Taylor creative carte-blanche and released a record that didn’t have a clear smash hit candidate; it sold a million records in a week anyway, and I’d argue that’s because of how fiercely, unapologetically honest it is.

Obviously, Taylor had written confessional songs before, but not like this: not like “Dear John,” where she savagely flays John Mayer while aping his exact musical palette; not like “Long Live,” where she recaps her entire success story like she’s the hero of an epic fantasy novel; certainly not like “Last Kiss,” a painfully raw breakup song that, up until last year’s “Soon You’ll Get Better,” had the honor of being the saddest thing Taylor had ever written. These songs and the others on Speak Now capture the visceral, technicolor rush of emotions you feel when you’re 19 or 20 and it seems like everything that happens in your life deserves a big-screen adaptation, complete with an epic soundtrack. This album captures all those moments. It calls back to when your relationships felt as “us against the world” as the one in “Mine,” the Springsteenian first single. It brings back those crushes that felt profound for about a week and then faded off into the ether, like the one in “Enchanted.” It recalls those moments when your own self-centered worldview started to break apart and you realized that you maybe haven’t always been awesome to your significant others (“Back to December”) or to your parents (“Never Grow Up”). It certainly captures how dizzying the butterflies were during the first kiss of a youthful romance (“Sparks Fly”) and how it absolutely felt like your heart was going to split in half when that romance came to an end (“Last Kiss”). And it even brings back those big pinnacle moments of your young life, when your achievements felt like an apex worthy of a fairytale storybook but really turned out to just be one more stepping stone on a much longer and grander journey (“Long Live”).

When Speak Now came out, I was a few months into a relationship with the girl I would end up marrying. I was a sophomore in college and we were doing the long-distance thing, and it felt like we were living for the weekends and those fleeting hours and days we’d get to spend together. This album, more than any other piece of music, seemed to capture what I thought love was at the time. It wore its heart and its youth on its sleeve so proudly, and it felt every bit as dramatic and emotional and intense as the sugar rush of young love I was experiencing at the time. Eventually, you trade that tumultuous innocence and naivete for maturity. You trade the insane excitement and infatuation of the honeymoon stage for the stability of deep, abiding love. Just as Taylor grew out of writing songs the way she did on this album, I eventually grew out of needing these songs in way I did back in 2010. I can’t remember the last sad solo night drive I took with “Last Kiss,” though suffice to say there were plenty of them back then, when every five-day stretch without the girl I loved felt like purgatory. But the great thing about Speak Now is that, while you eventually age out of the moments and emotions described in the songs, you never get too old to remember how those moments and emotions felt. Every once in awhile, my wife and I still listen to this album together and sing along. We do it because we love the songs, but also because they remind us of the former us: the kids who drove 100 miles to see each other every weekend, foregoing college parties and other experiences or responsibilities because we knew, somehow, that the feelings we had in our hearts were more important.

Speak Now is also a reminder of former Taylor Swift, the girl who was willing to spill every ounce of feeling she had in her heart for the sake of the music. These days she’s more reserved, more deliberate, less self-absorbed. The triumph of this year’s folklore is that it finds as much nuance and emotional vibrancy in imagined narratives as Swift once found in her own stories. But there’s something so raw and unfiltered about Speak Now, even 10 years later. Back then, I was obsessed with the idea of giving my life a soundtrack, with processing every good or bad moment through the prism of a song. Taylor did that too, except that she was doing it through songs she penned herself. As she sings in “Dear John,” “The girl in the dress wrote you a song.” In 2010, Taylor Swift had a song for everything.

Zac Djamoos <![CDATA[Goings – “Trying Dying” (Video Premiere)]]> 2020-10-22T16:55:40Z 2020-10-22T16:55:34Z Goings have signed to the ever-underappreciated Know Hope Records ahead of the release of their new album, It’s For You. The band’s brand of indie-rock, which mixes the math energy of heavyweights like Dryjacket with the quirky pop of a band like Motion City Soundtrack, is sure to warm up your autumn. We’re excited to premiere the band’s latest single, “Trying Dying,” which is a delightful taste of what to expect from their debut LP.

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Nada Surf – “Just Wait” Video]]> 2020-10-22T16:49:17Z 2020-10-22T16:49:11Z Nada Surf have released a video for “Just Wait.”

Jason Tate <![CDATA[Lydia Loveless – “Say My Name” Video]]> 2020-10-22T16:46:37Z 2020-10-22T16:46:30Z Lydia Loveless has released a video for “Say My Name.”