Sarah Saturday might be my longest running rock crush—while all of the cliché reasons admittedly apply, more importantly she’s always seemed to remain relevant to me. She’s thoughtful and reflective, without pretension.
Initially our musical star aligned over bratty indie pop-punk. Guilty as charged—and not the least bit remorseful about it—but just as our bleached hair (both hers and mine) began to show roots, so did our taste in music. Styles evolved. We matured. Slamming guitars and songs about getting wasted grew tired. However, I never really let go of the teenage angst—it just morphed into twenties angst… and now thirties. Through it all, Sarah has been adding poetry to melody and capturing a sentiment of the evolving human condition while articulating the complexities of adult relationships. Whether she likes it or not, we’ve grown up together—and after all of the years I still turn to her to sing me to sleep at night.
For some reason I’ve avoided writing about Ghost Notes since it came out last summer. I’m not sure why—I really like this album. I also love Veruca Salt. They make the short list of my all-time favorite bands. The only thing I can think of is that I was trying to keep this album for myself. It’s like reliving a memory—something you’d only share with someone who understands what you’ve been through. Or maybe it’s because Nina and Louise harmonizing again feels like a freshly washed blanket out of a warm dryer and I just want to curl up and daydream while I listen. It’s been my sanctuary, invitation only.
Ghost Notes is vibrant, powerful, and packed with refined adult angst; it’s also extremely familiar. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s my favorite quality of the album. It’s everything I miss about Veruca Salt and how I’ve romanticized the idea of what it would be like to recapture teenage love. Reality will never be as good as the fantasy, but in Veruca Salt’s case they’ve managed to rediscovered the magic they had from their first two albums, and in doing so brought me right back into my high school bedroom. Maybe you can never go home again, but if you could this would be the soundtrack. Older, more mature, and all of the childish insecurities buried deep beneath an exterior of defiance and collared shirts.
Not that Veruca Salt was ever the youthful exuberance of pop rock, the band leaning more on cerebral advances and driving guitars, but this album is a living will of their progression as musicians and songwriters. They’ve become masters of their craft, something only time and experience can develop—a kick to the nuts of the double-edged tragedy that is rock n’ roll’s youthful expiration date. Eddie Vedder keeps doing it, Beck—even though Jack White and Billy Joe Armstrong will never see another Teen Choice Award—nostalgia aside—the craftsmanship of their music has dramatically improved with their age.
The combination of Girl Talk and Freeway is unlike anything you’ll hear in Top 40 radio—mostly because the music industry is way behind modern art. Record labels can’t, or won’t, touch Girl Talk because of copyright laws, but I challenge you to argue that Broken Ankles isn’t original work. When does a sample no longer become a sample? You can’t copyright a drum beat or a guitar note, so it must be the arrangement of the music that holds value. What happens when you deconstruct the original arrangement of a song, then combine it with 5 or 6 other deconstructed songs, and create something entirely new? Well, awesome is what happens, but just as the music industry fought the internet, they’re also trying to silence this new emerging genre.
As much as I love music, and devoted a significant amount of my life to it, I can still be pretty closed minded. I like what I like and over the last few years I’ve lived deeply in that bubble. Why listen to the radio when I’ve got 20k+ songs in iTunes? I also no longer care about being cool—I’m over having to be the first to hear a new rock band or searching for the meaning of life within lyrics. I think there’s two reasons for this:
One, I’m getting older. Not all music, or even the music I used to like, resonates with me like it used to. There’s nostalgia attached, but I certainly can’t get excited about the new pop punk band singing about getting kicked out of high school—nor should I. I never thought I’d see the day when I didn’t have much of an interest in Warped Tour or picking up an issue of AP—but those days are over, and I’m okay with that.
Secondly, my time at Sony forced me to listen to a lot of music I’d otherwise have no interest in. Leaving that world was like a spiritual backlash to anything Top 40—I could refocus on the music that moved me, rather than it’s commercial viability. New music doesn’t mean good music, and now being a private citizen, I only have to worry about good music.
With that said, Taylor Swift’s 1989 is good music.
It’s often hard to articulate the thoughts and emotions that consumed me the first time I listened to Bikini Kill. Awestruck. Captivated. Confused. Moved. Inferior. To me, the band was the beginning of an awakening or rather a tangible example of something I already knew to be true- they just personified it.
I wasn’t aware of sexism until later in childhood, roughly when girls started to develop and I didn’t. Even then, I didn’t really understand it. I understood that men were physically stronger than women, but I kind of thought that’s were the conversation ended. I figured my natural weaknesses were women’s natural strengths and vice versa, the whole thing ultimately balancing out. I honestly lived my childhood believing that because nature made me stronger that meant that women were naturally smarter. My mom is smarter than my dad, girls in my classes always seemed to get better grades than the boys. I was the one with the inferiority complex because I had little use for physical strength- I never wanted to beat anyone up. As a little boy, I didn’t consume myself with sociology or world history, all I knew was what I saw. Girls were beautiful and tender while boys were rough and mischievous.