learning love songs

est. 2008


Matt Skiba and the Sekrets


Wowowow the new Blink-182 single is great. Love that this band (Tom DeLonge departure aside) has been chugging along for more than two decades, continuing to deliver this radio-friendly pop punk rock. I’ll admit I haven’t been much of a fan of their catalogue since their “I Miss You” days, which is about the same time I started to pay attention to other genres like indie, alt-country and all other sounds of interest that crossed my path, but a stream of incessant buzz on Twitter today made it impossible to avoid “Bored to Death.” And why would you want to?

It’s a great single, from the catchy bridge to the fist-pump chorus, and gang vocal harmonies where new addition Matt Skiba shines (His solo project. Matt Skiba and the Sekrets, converted me to a total fan last year). It’s grown-up rock-and-roll from a band that once thrived in the immature underground, and I love the melodic influences that Skiba’s identifiable vocals bring on board.

Who knew that it would be 2016 and Blink-182 would still be such a huge band? Maybe I’m wrong here, and maybe this single won’t catch on, but I’d be damn surprised if their album didn’t top what is left of the charts and dominate the mainstream scene for the months to come. Long live the bands that refused to stop in their tracks, and those that found a way to keep their signature sound alive.

“There’s a stranger staring at the ceiling

Rescuing a tiger from a tree
The pictures in her head are always dreaming
Each of them means everything to me

And it’s a long way back from seventeen
The whispers turn into a scream,
And I’m not coming home.

Save your breathe, I’m nearly
Bored to death and fading fast.
Life is too short to last long
Back on earth I’m broken,
Lost and cold and fading fast
Life is too short to last long…”
~Bored to Death
Blink-182, California


“I beat my,
Myself black and blue

You cut your,
Yourself up it’s true
Tell me why
There was no follow through
Where the hell I went
When I went krazy without you
Krazy without you.

A little edgy, uptempo pop rock can really get you through a Friday afternoon. I discovered, via YouTube, the latest from Matt Skiba and The Sekrets, a band I did not know existed. Matt Skiba is really talented, and also really busy. 

The record is 32 minutes of riffs and hooks and top-of-range high notes. It’s like a peppy version of The Smiths in some way, with retro-throwback rhythms and dynamite rhythms. I could maybe do without the “k” trope – it’s even embedded in their lyrics! – but I suppose I ought to give it up for attention to detail. In a way it speaks to the adolescent moodiness a rock musician has to encapsulate, and his voice carries with a goth-like flatness that makes it somehow forgivable. There’s a specific style to hear, and to see, yet it’s subtle enough to avoid the kind of dramatics I’ve gotten a bit too old for with modern acts. Skiba, after all, is an adult, and so even in pop punk/pop rock format, there’s a maturity to speak of.

Across “Kuts” there’s a healthy dose of guitar solos, and a ton of synth production that feels current and trendy and now. The focus isn’t on the frills, but the feel, like the building chords and bridges that collapse into sad little scenes of hearts in pieces and broken souls. It’s like someone poured The Cure through a 2014 indie pop filter, and blended in some early 2000s emo. I will take it.

I’m familiar enough with Alkaline Trio to know I’d appreciate the sound of Skiba’s own creations, but I’m unfamiliar enough with Skiba’s (massive) catalog to feel like I’ve discovered something. At the end of a week, before a series of unknown hours and unknown situations and all the space and opportunity that can provide, these are the sounds that keep me from the same old traps and tracks, and embracing what is new and now, and fresh.

“You came crawling from the wreckage
You were stumbling through the dark
You were trying to send a message

You were trying to leave your mark
I was busy playing in traffic
I was dizzy from the spin

Blindfolded with my arms out stretched
They called my next of kin

And I went off the rails without you
I went off the rails it’s true…

You came roaring from the ocean
You were swept onto the land
You had nothing but your broken wits
And a fistful of sand

I was softly speaking backwards
In my ancient mother tongue
There was nothing left to do but laugh
At what I had become

And I went off the rails without you
I went off the rails it’s true…

I beat my
Myself black and blue
You cut your
Yourself up it’s true
Tell me why
There was no follow through
Where the hell I went
When I went krazy without you
Krazy without you.

Matt Skiba and the Sekrets, Kuts

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