learning love songs

est. 2008


September 2012


Here is an album I have loved for a long time, since the first time I gave it a good listen. Must’ve been October, junior year of college. I remember driving from Syracuse to Canandaigua to stay a friend’s cabin for the night where they were recording an album.

I got really lost on the dark roads in the valleys – this cabin was tucked in the hills around the lake, and I wasn’t familiar with the terrain, the road names, or how prevalent deer running across country roads really are. Funny, that I learned to know those same roads pretty well just a couple years later.

But that night, that drive, got scary fast. I hate being lost and this was before I had a smartphone and its wonderful GPS navigation. Not that I would’ve had service anyway — I remember trying to call my friends for help and failing to catch a signal. It was getting dark, I was already an hour late, and I was turning down road after road trying to find a main drag, when I was on this skinny stretch of pavement that turned to stone dust that turned to dirt straight into a bunch of trees.

I still remember how the leaves looked, headlights right up against the branches. It was terrifying, the solitude and the darkness. It was oddly beautiful, exhilarating.

But I had this album on, it was something I hadn’t heard yet, and drives are good chance to get a full album listen in without distraction.  Not sure what to expect but feeling the need for something new, this was playing even before I started to wonder where I was. I found it awe-inspiring, it played away the anxiety and the tension in that moment of stress of human error, and somehow so much more.

So, in front of those trees, I didn’t freak out (much), I didn’t scream (well only once), and I took a seven-point-or-so-turn to backtrack up the dirt, up the stone dust and onto the pavement and county roads. Sure it was dark, and I didn’t know where I was, but how could I not love what I was seeing, these lands stretched and molded under the bright, bright stars in the clearest navy skies you’ll ever find.

Eventually I found cell service, directions, and a boy and a beer waiting for me at a cabin overlooking the heart of the lake and its western shore. Through it all I heard “Mending” two-and-a-half times through.

The atmosphere The New Frontiers bring is soothing and stilling, but the sentiment is a shade or two deeper than that. It speaks straight from the heart, without being filtered through the pretentious, ego-centric mind. So you get big thoughts and deep thoughts, but they’re loving thoughts, telling the truth and surrendering to honesty. Not afraid to mention Jesus (See “Who Will Give Us Love?”, a song that will truly mend your broken heart when the world’s tragedy feels too much to hear anymore), but hardly preachy.

The softest harmonies you can imagine. Gentle acoustic,amplified on occasion, satisfying resolve. Reflective to the most upmost level, almost “Clarity”-like this album has become to me.

If I had to pick, “Mirrors” is probably my favorite track, because I love bells, and because it is ultimately moving, symphonic in the equal part layers of vocal and melody arrangements. The album is stunning, this song shows why.

“Mending” was the only album The New Frontiers ever released. I wonder if it was because they knew they couldn’t top it. I would like to hear more, maybe, but I don’t need to.

This album kept me from losing it one night, and it has a miraculous ability to do so ever since. Without even noticing, I hear a song come up on a playlist, and I relax and smile; it makes my eyes fill with tears that don’t spill over and my heart feels a little lighter and I remember peace.

“This is the house where you were born,
These rooms seem smaller than before.
Turned 22 when were you found,
Shattered and broken on the ground.

They will rob you blind
They will take your peace of mind

And you’ll want to run away from here.I know you can’t escape from all of your fears,
I made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.

We saw a spark within your eyes,
Your face reflected in the light,
We are all angels in the sky,
We are all mirrors in disguise.

We will lift you up,
We will place you on your feet,
We will pick you up,
We will never let you go.

When you want to run away from here,
I found you can’t escape from all of your fears.
I’ve made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.

The New Frontiers, Mending


I thought to myself today: Why be so hard on yourself? The world will inevitably abuse you in its own, fortuitous way.

Like the trauma after a car crash and the hard roll onto the pavement, the damage is less severe if you just let it happen.
This is the kind of mood instrumental post-rock is for. The tempo changes, the layers, the crescendos that erupt in cymbals and resonate in high-pitched melodies…we glimpse into something greater when there’s nothing but sound to tell the story, and god this would sound so good on real speakers right now.


Probably the best use of garden-variety keyboard beats I’ve seen ever maybe.

Also, shaker egg! Really fantastic harmonies. Easy to love, sort of makes you want to dance. But beneath all the twirling auxiliary, and those wonderful mandolin strings, there’s a really lovely song, an assertive, berated yet dignified love letter. Something very 19th century about it that is refreshing, charming.

It’s a well-crafted structure, in the sense it’s very even and that’s not something everyone can do, as it can be tough to find the right words that are also the right number of syllables and rhyme enough. Sure I love something asymmetrical, that’s certainly interesting, but something this steady is simple, and simple works more often than not.

Some friends of mine played with these guys back home last night. Interesting in checking out their album…would’ve been so cool to see that show! Alas.

“When I was a boy of nine
I loved you with all my mind,
all my heart, all my soul,
Love me now or lose it all.

Your sister Jean and Anne Marie
say that you’re in love with me.
Is there something I can’t see?
Love me now or leave me be.

Down by the river on past the creek,
all me way to Widow’s Peak,
proclaimed my love but you didn’t speak,
love me now or hold your peace.

The baker and the butcher’s wife
say you lead a lonely life,

need a man to stand beside,
love me now or stand aside.

Darling, it’s so plainly true,
even I get lonely too.
When my heart is set on you,
love me now or leave me.”

~Boy of Nine
Buxton, Nothing Here Seems Strange


Someone explain to me how it is the the 23rd of September in the year 2012. I just don’t understand how fast time can move. It is beyond comprehension.

So this happened today. It’s a little rough, the angle is not exceptionally flattering, but how fun it was! Something to remind me I still remember what it’s like to feel creative, hence I have something to wake up in the morning for:

You should tell me if you liked it. Feedback of all types not unwelcome.


For whatever reason, I’ve been on a huge The Starting Line kick lately. Whenever they come up on the iPod, I’m like “Sure, OK, let’s go with this.”

Interesting to me I haven’t blogged on them before? Because “Say It Like You Mean It” is such a fantastic mainstay, but ya know, I only get around to this every so often. But I’ve been a huge kick lately, every TSL song on shuffle has made me stop (And yes, OK, I jam out to “Island.” You caught me. It’s the only track of “Direction” that makes the cut, though).

This one, though, particularly I love, short and sweet as it is:

Love the beat, love the phrasing, love the concept. Straight-the-fuck-up. Love that goodbyes can be so upbeat.

It gets it all in one. Loved. Unloved. Circumstance, Inspired. And so it goes.

“Lead on,
to keep our feelings strong,
and make me still believe
our page is one and the same
Our ways will separate tonight.

You say if we were to wait.
Some things just might be changed.
I say that I dont have the strength
to fuel a burning flame.
Speak to me,
What can I say, we just live too far away.

That’s a shame that love can’t make you stay.
Sweet thing,
I hope that you know I’m wondering where you are.
You say this could work someday,
When you and I both know this is the end.

Leave me the way it has to be,
excuse my poor excuse.
Tell me that insecurities
are what drove me to you.

And everyday I compare your face
from sweet beginnings to your bitter end…
Sweet thing,
I hope that you know I’m wondering where you are.
You say this could work someday,
when you and I both know this is the end.
Let me let go…
Sweet thing,
I hope that you know I’m wondering where you are
You say this could work someday,
When you and I both know this is the end

~Hello Houston

The Starting Line, Say It Like You Mean It


One thing about recklessness, it’s not always aggressive. Sometimes it’s quiet. Despondent. A little hopeless.

“Gonna burn the town
if you lie to me.
Gonna set it off,
oh baby, I was blind to see.
Talk me down,
I’ll find my wings,
a big bad soul,
Some say that it’s the end of me.

And I tell myself, it’s not following me,
Break me out of here, cause it’s blinding me.
Lie to me baby, don’t you lie to me
Nothing’s gonna change if you wait to save me.

When the world is down
And fast asleep,
They can’t break us now,
Nobody’s here for you or me.

I’m half way gone,
Don’t want to be alone,
I’ll burn the town,
I’ll find you if you want to be found.

And I tell myself thye’re not following me,
Break me out of here, cause it’s blinding me.
Lie to me baby, don’t you lie to me,
Nothing’s gonna change if you wait to save me.

And I tell myself, it’s not following me,
Break me out of here, cause it’s blinding me.
Lie to me baby, don’t you lie to me,
Nothing’s gonna change if you can’t, can’t save me.”

~Burn This Town 


You know that feeling you get when you think you have a great idea, only to find it’s been done? Not only that, but been done well? It’s that mix of feeling disappointed and unoriginal, embarrassed by your own foolishness in thinking maybe you got something cool going on after all. But, after, there’s also a wave of self-satisfaction, a bit of a kudos to the instinct.

That’s how I felt after I heard this…:

…at the store the other day, and thought “Man, it would so rad to to make this into a sad acoustic cover!” only to hear this…:

…on a Pandora station today. Fun little arpeggio motif, West-Coast-cool vocals, and an unidentifiable instrument and/or pedal holding down a simple and effective rhythmic line. It thoroughly modernizes a classic, a little more depth and a little less pep, though it doesn’t completely sacrifice the innocent charm of the original.

Secretly wish I was around for the Ed Sullivan days. Back when even the bad-side-of-tracks-greaser-rock-n-roll boys wore suits and ties and had clean hair, it seems. I have to believe everyone used to have better manners than they do today, where most people treat everyone else like yesterday’s trash and think nothing of it. Still, I bet some people were still jerks. Jerks are as timeless as a crush-inspired love song.

Whatever. I still could figure out my own (sadder) version of this tune, maybe. But now I’m just YouTubing a bunch of Buddy Holly videos and making my cat hang out with me. What kind of life am I trying to lead, anyway? Really thought I’d have that worked out by now.

“Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a rollercoaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
Hey, hey-hey”

Buddy Holly and the Crickets, B-Side on “Peggy Sue”


Pretty obsessed with this one off “Handwritten.” Nice contrast in the early guitar parts, then some really resounding but subtle delay, just the way it should be used. There’s something circular, almost merry-go-round about it, maybe it’s in the way he manipulates the vocal line on the chorus.  There’s only so much build until the end, it is steady.

Don’t call it a sleeper track — I think it’s one of the most mature perspectives we’ve heard from Gaslight yet. It’s completely and utterly patient, but none the less heartfelt for it. This is a song that recognizes the sweeter side to the gravity, if not the tragedy, of waiting for someone to come around, waiting for life’s tides to turn. At such times, usually, there is nothing to do but wait.
I listened to this song at least two dozen times this week, spurred by a flood of memories and kisses that made me beg for a rewind button to appear, because so much can change so fast. Some moments, some people, can rewrite the soul in an instant without any sound intention. Just like that, the world is different, even though everything around you is the same.
It’s kind of like taking a walk down the streets you drive by all the time. The vantage point is different, off-kilter, and you wonder how you’ve missed so much all this time. Like ornate window trimmings on an otherwise ordinary house, or a flowering tree littering petals along the sidewalk, or a brass nameplate on a mailbox, or a sad, yellowed front yard that must’ve been abandoned for years. You know you’ve seen these things before, in passing, but from this point of view, you use a whole other set of eyes. And then, in a way, it  makes you appreciate the whole scene that much more. 

“Stay the same, don’t ever change,
Cause I’d miss your ways.

With your Bette Davis eyes,
And your mama’s party dress.

While this city pumps its aching heart
For one more drop of blood,
We work our fingers down to dust
And we wait for kingdom come
With the radio on.

I wanna see you tonight
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
If you ain’t been in love for a while.

I was born beside a river
That flows to a raging sea
That will one day serve to quell,
Or one day be the death of me.

In my faded jeans and far away eyes,
And salty carnival kiss,
That all my former lovers say
Was once magnificent.

I wanna see you tonight,
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
And if you ain’t, oh if you ain’t…
I wanna see you tonight,
Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
If you ain’t been in love for a while

And still this city pumps its aching heart
For one more drop of blood.
We work our fingers down to dust
While we wait for kingdom come
With the radio on…

It’s been so long Mae, so long
It’s been so long Mae, so long
But since the radio’s on…”

The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten


Tiny Desk Concerts are a good way to kick off bound-to-be-adventurous Sundays.

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