So I’ve had “Rolling Waves” on repeat around here lately. (I mean, always, but moreso recently.) It got me thinking that I haven’t really “dived” into what I love about the band itself, as it were. I’ve talked about other favorite bands in the past, such as The Replacements and Brakes and, always, The Mary Chain, but never this one.
I first heard The Naked and Famous back in college. Their debut, Passive Me, Aggressive You, was actually new territory for me at the time. I was still exploring my music tastes; I’d come out of my indie summer listening to Cults and Treats and Touchdown. Passive was indietronica that offered up distorted vocals and guitar. Shattered in the most thrilling of ways. And it felt like college: I mean, one of the songs is even called “Young Blood.”
I don’t have memories of when I first heard In Rolling Waves. I like it better than Passive, although “Girls Like You” is amazing. I think In Rolling Waves is just so epic; it’s TNAF bursting out of the mold they set for themselves with their debut. There’s no 8-bit distortion to be found on the album; instead there’s acoustics and the Wall of Sound tinge that’s become TNAF signature. I mean, “Rolling Waves” literally sounds like waves crashing when the chorus hits. “A Small Reunion” and “I Kill Giants” get in on that action as well.
TNAF proved themselves able to slow things down, though, with “A Still Heart,” which is acoustic covers of their most well-known songs. You really get to appreciate the lyrics. It’s interesting to hear the slow buzzing that’s another TNAF trademark become translated into guitar lines.
As for their lyrics themselves, I find them moving. They’re self-reflective and discuss a weird mix of letting go, throwing yourself into the new, and celebrating the past. In “A Small Reunion,” it’s “here’s to me/and here’s to you.” It’s in that spirit of self-reflection that I’m writing this post, I suppose.
Have you heard any of TNAF’s work? What are your favorite songs or albums?
Last week I was working on a post about The Replacements. It was going to focus on their status as one of my favorite bands and explore the reason why. As part of the writing process, I looked through my archives to see what I’d already written about the band. Turns out there was a Favorite Bands post on The Replacements already – from 6 years ago.
That got me thinking: that’s a long time for them to be a favorite. Are they on the same level for me, though, as The Mary Chain or The Limousines, bands I’ve name-dropped and written about much more extensively?
And if not, why?
I think it comes down to lyrics. Their sound is literally note-perfect for me; I love the grungy guitar and echoing hum of “Can’t Hardly Wait”; I love the slow evocativeness of “Here Comes a Regular.” It’s that rough-hewn feel that made them a favorite in the first place. Yet lyrics are often what seals the deal when I’m falling in love with a band, and I’m not sure I’m always the target audience. “Achin’ to Be” and, of course, “Darlin’ One” are very much “story of my life” types of songs, so it’s little wonder that I love them. A girl thinking about being creative and maybe being hesitant about it at the same time. Those songs explore a tenderness that the rest of The Replacements’ catalogue is…somewhat lacking. See: “Waitress in the Sky.”
I guess that frat rock, or its progeny, just isn’t something I natively reach for.
I love The Velvet Underground, and I love Lou Reed even more. I remember when he died; by happenstance, I met up with a fellow music nerd not long afterwards and asked if they’d heard the news. They replied that they listened to all his music that day – just feeling it, letting themselves reflect on who Lou was, the impact he’d left.
Another, less-commonly discussed impact is Lou’s open discussion of his bisexuality. While not quite a queer icon, many, like myself, have appreciated that someone so widely revered in the music community was…not straight.
The thing is, I feel as though that that’s something erased from his narrative, and the narrative of “classic rock” in general. He wrote a song called “Venus in Furs” about BDSM, yet he’s been repackaged into one of the many white men who form the canon of “traditional” music that you, your dad, and most of your (let’s be real, male) friends listen to on repeat.
I was in a bookstore not too long ago and found myself in the “nonfiction” section. There were several books on Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. I immediately flipped to the indices of each book to see if “bisexual” was referenced. When that failed, I read through the section of the books that deal with Lou’s teenage years, when he was subjected to electroshock therapy to cure his homosexual urges.
No references, even though he wrote the 1974 song “Kill Your Sons” about it.
Why? Is it just that difficult for us to accept that someone so influential can also be queer?
An occasional series where I talk about my favorite bands & why I love them!
I discovered The Replacements in Fall 2013. I can’t remember how I discovered them, so there’s no good story there, unlike for two of my other favorite bands (JAMC and Brakesbrakesbrakes – I’ve shared those stories of discovery elsewhere on the blog).
So I didn’t find them through a random Google search or through a cover-of-a-cover. The Replacements just came into my life and it instantly felt like an inevitability. They’ve got a very similar sound to bands that I like: solid guitar lines that support clever and introspective lyrics.