Robert DeLong chats about being more intentional on his second album In the Cards, approaching dance from an indie/singer-songwriter perspective, his unique musical background, and predicts the future of electronic music.
Today (August 25th, 2015), Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run has officially been around for 40 years. It’s only had a huge influence on my life, though, for about seven. For a considerable amount of my personal musical growth, I was aware of “the Boss” and his work, but it didn’t really resonate with me on a personal level. Born to Run, along with Born in the USA, Greetings from Asbury Park, and The Rising, were among the first albums I ever put on my first iPod back in 2004, as I looted my parents’ CD collection looking for more tunes to stock my brand new 20 gigabyte device. But while I loved hearing the title track pop up on shuffle during runs, and while later songs like “My City in Ruins” always struck a chord with me, it took another four years for Born to Run to really become that album in my life.
It’s late April 2010, but the weather is so glorious outside that it feels like it’s already June. Rain was threatening earlier, but now, the sun is beating down overhead as I pack the final items into my car for the three-hour journey home. I’ve just finished my freshman year of college and closed out a great semester, and my roommate and I are saying our goodbyes in the parking lot of our dormitory, after having handed over the keys to the room we’d shared since September. It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’m happy to be headed home to the resort town where I grew up for some much needed vacation. I climb into the front seat of my ’98 Honda Civic, plug my iPod into the FM transmitter, and briefly debate which album to choose. I smile as my thumb finds Jack’s Mannequinʼs Everything in Transit — one of my favorite albums of all time, and a record that has been my definitive “summer soundtrack” since I first discovered it four years earlier. I press play and the sounds of “Holiday from Real” come coursing through my speakers. “Fuck yeah, we can live like this,” Andrew McMahon sings. I put on my aviators, shift the car into first gear, and drive. This is going to be the perfect summer, I think to myself as I pull away from my first year of college. I can feel it.
Last week, I got the chance to spend a half hour chatting with Seattle-based folk singer/songwriter, Noah Gundersen. Fresh off the release of his 2014 debut album, Ledges, and already gearing up for the release of the follow-up, Carry the Ghost, Gundersen spoke candidly about the collaborative nature of his new album, about keeping the intimacy of his earlier music alive whilst moving into full-band territory, about exploring difficult subjects like religion and existentialism in his lyrics, and about why we’ll probably be hearing yet another new album from him sooner rather than later.
Is Jason Isbell the best songwriter of his generation?
The former Drive-By Truckers member certainly made a case for the affirmative on Southeastern, his breakthrough solo LP from 2013. Southeastern was the kind of remarkable record that only grows in stature, importance, and personal impact over time. Written in the wake of Isbell getting sober and taking control of his life, Southeastern was at once both mournful and hopeful. Within those songs was a man with a suitcase full of doubts about himself, but also someone with the resilience to push forward and be better—at least with the helping hand of the person he loved most. “Home was a dream, one that I’d never seen, until you came along,” Isbell sang on “Cover Me Up,” Southeastern’s stirring mission statement, and the best song of the decade so far. He wrote it for Amanda Shires, the woman he married just months before Southeastern dropped, and the person he credits with saving him from the darkness.
I recently came across this Italian pop-punk band called NOW.HERE. Usually when I hit play on a band labeled “pop-punk” cynicism gets the best of me. My history with the genre is as old as my history online and most of the time I just sort of feel like I’ve heard it all before and that nothing can excite me in this space anymore. Then I stumbled onto the new EP by NOW.HERE. These four songs, crafted by 5 kids from Italy, hit me in a way that very little in the genre has in years. There’s an urgency and energy that reads as authentic and fresh to me. I went from “man, this would be my favorite find if I was in high-school” to “I keep coming back to this more than I expected” to “fuck, this is really good” to “see, I still do like pop-punk” to “yeah, this is one of my favorite finds in a while.” If you’re looking for a great pop-punk EP or maybe just looking for something to relight that air-guitaring jump-kicking part of your soul — start with NOW.HERE.
Last week, I got a chance to chat extensively with a personal hero of mine, Butch Walker. We talked about Butch’s new album, Afraid of Ghosts, including how the recent loss of his father inspired a new direction for his music, why he decided to have Ryan Adams produce the disc, and why his trademark sarcasm and upbeat songwriting is nowhere to be found. We also touched upon Walker’s back catalog, the woeful reasons why no one should be expecting to find Letters on vinyl anytime soon, whether or not The Black Widows will be making music again in the future, and why Butch’s protege Jake Sinclair took over most of the production duties on the new Fall Out Boy LP.