My Life In Albums: Part 2

My Life In Albums: Part 2

Part II: All Time Low – So Wrong, It’s Right

I think everyone goes through at least one musical-phase in his or her life that’s mildly embarrassing. For me, that was the Myspace era of pop-punk. I’m not saying that all music created from 2006 to 2009 was inherently bad, but in hindsight, that general period of time was sort of cringe-worthy.

Looking back now there aren’t many albums that I still treasure from the Myspace (or Neon) Era of pop-punk. It was one of those movements that just kind of swept everyone up in the whirlwind, and before we knew it, it had blown right past us. Today my friends and I can laugh about the swooping haircuts, overly tight jeans, and highlighter colored everything; but back then, it really felt like something awesome. It’s almost like how you gawk at pictures of your parents in acid wash jeans and a Van Halen shirt; you can’t really understand it unless you lived it. Sure, it was arguably one of the most laughable periods of the scene to date, and there was certainly enough crappy music produced to back that up, but just like every other era in music there are certain albums that really do shine through.

In 2007 I was just about standing in the deep end of adolescent life. Since my first jump into punk music things hadn’t changed much. I was still listening to a ton of Blink, I had found out about ska bands like Streetlight Manifesto and Less Than Jake thanks to the influence of a friend’s brother; and I had also begun to discover some more veteran-type bands like The Starting Line, Taking Back Sunday, and New Found Glory. These were all great musicians that had already made their mark on the scene years earlier, and many of their albums are still some of my favorites today; but they never felt like those bands were truly mine. They belonged to a generation of teenagers that came before me, and I wanted something new and fresh that I could call my own.

It was around this same time that music really started to take over my life. Like any other impressionable kid who idolizes musicians, all I could think about was trying to be like them. I was looking for any way to express all of my teen frustrations, get recognized, and hopefully impress a few ladies along the way.  I joined a band with some friends of mine and we would flood one of their basements with noise once a week; learning to cover all of our favorite songs and slowly going deaf in the process. It was through all of this jamming and hanging out that we started to find new music. It became like a ritual for someone to play a new artist or song they discovered that week on itunes or myspace, and it was because of these jam sessions that I got to my second milestone record.

It’s definitely hazy, but the way I remember it going down was my drummer, Mick (and fellow writer for Punks & Recs) had a new band he wanted us to check before practice one afternoon. I immediately became interested when he said that they were originally a Blink-182 cover band. How could I not love something that was built off of one of my favorite bands of all time? Well, as it turns out, I hated the band at first listen.

Dear Maria, Count Me In” by All Time Low read across his iPod screen. It was completely different from what I was expecting and I let predetermination get the better of me. I brushed it off as soon as the song was over. I thought the band was going to be something more along the lines of that classic Blink-sound, but I was wrong. The music had a heavier pop influence than I was used to and I think that’s what initially turned me off to it. I had spent the last few years getting away from that sound and I wasn’t ready to accept it into my punk music with open arms.

After about a week of Mick talking up this new record, So Wrong, It’s Right I finally caved and decided to give the band my full attention. It wasn’t an album that immediately hit me like Blink’s Untitled did. I would find songs that I really liked and other ones that I just tossed aside, but before I knew it, So Wrong It’s Right had become the most played album on my iPod.

I’m not sure when this record finally consumed my musical life, but when it did, I couldn’t get enough of it. Something about the emotionally charged lyrics and heavier distortion really started to speak to my 16 year old self. I could relate to all of the themes about young love, heartbreak, hanging out with my friends, and itching to get away from home. Its pretty much what every kid has swirling through his or her brain at that age.

I began to obsess over this new sound of pop-punk. It leaned a lot heavier on the pop side of the genre, but still managed to come around and hit you with heavy distortion and face-paced percussion. Alex Gaskarth’s voice always seemed to be the constant, unwavering force of nature that was able to move with all of the band’s emotional swings. Each song was the story of a kid trying to figure out that weird transition between teenage life and adulthood, and I was all about it.

Besides that fact that every song on the album was a hit, there’s something deeper that still holds sentimental value. This was one of the first records in my life that I felt was truly mine to discover. The music became a leader in the movement to get away from everything that scene had previously created in the radio-friendly era. It was able to capture the best aspects of the pop hooks that everyone loved, while still maintaining all of its punk influences. It also opened a door to all of these up-and-coming bands that had never existed to me until that point. Before I knew it, my iPod was flooded with Forever The Sickest Kids, We The Kings, Mayday Parade, Boys Like Girls, and countless others like them. It was a surreal feeling being able to find all of this new music in such a short period of time, and I remember spending hours a day after school sifting through iTunes and Myspace trying to find new bands.

Granted, today most people look back at this point in time and poke fun at everything that came from the Neon Era of the scene. If it weren’t for everything it created though, I would have never found So Wrong, It’s Right, and probably wouldn’t have cultivated my affinity for punk music to an obsessive level. Today, I couldn’t even name half of the bands that ignited and burned out during that period, but it says something about All Time Low’s impact that the band is still towards the top of the genre today. They have certainly evolved from where they were almost ten years ago, going from the up-and-coming nobodies to seasoned veterans. The standard of success they have achieved is something that many bands in this scene strive for with their own musical careers.

I can say that I have most definitely fallen off the ATL bandwagon; but, while I don’t really spend time pouring over their newer material, I still appreciate their accomplishments and everything they did for me as a teenager. So Wrong, It’s Right gave me an identity in an evolving  music scene, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

Album Retrospective

Every time I listened to this record it feels like I’m flying through it because the ablum doesn’t hit a lull in the pacing until song eight. It’s a good reflection of the youthful character that this album projects, and ultimately, it ends up being very successful.

The record starts with an immediate kick to the ass with “This Is How We Do”. It sets the standard for the rest of the music that follows with its crunchy distortion and catchy hooks. “Six Feet Under The Stars” has this twinkly, gooey feeling to it that would make any teenage girl swoon and any adult male immediately feel uncomfortable. It definitely reminds me that my mind is not where it was eight years ago when I listen to it today. It projects this juvenile understanding of love that we all go through, and in that sense, I get thrown into some serious nostalgia whenever it comes on. It’s still a really catchy song though and one of my favorites from this album.

The next few songs kind of cruise along until “Dear Maria, Count Me In”. This is the song that defines the whole album, and ultimately, the launch of All time Low’s success over the next few years. It’s also a great start to the second half of the record, which in my opinion, is the stronger side. It leads to one of the most easily recognizable pop-punk ballads of the last ten years, “Remembering Sunday”. This is another great example of the story telling ability of this band, and Juliet Simms does an awesome job portraying the female character in the song.

The last few songs on the record circle back to some really catchy, fast paced songs. I love “Vegas” and “Stay Awake” because they help bring the album towards really big, explosive finish.

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