learning love songs

est. 2008


Straylight Run


“And it takes more time than I’ve ever had, 

Drains the life from me,
Makes me want to forget. 
As young as I was, I felt older back then 
More disciplined, stronger and certain 
But I was scared to death of eternity 
I was saved by grace, 
But destroyed by naivety  
And I lied to myself 
And said ‘It’s for the best.'” 
~It’s For the Best 
Straylight Run, Straylight Run
This used to be one of my favorite songs, back in ’04 when this record and its emo counterparts were all my friends and I could take in. It soundtracked late night car rides with boys I couldn’t wait to kiss, basement sleepovers with girlfriends talking about the nerves and the newness of it all. I remember signing along, like we knew what it meant to stumble and settle. But this song, today, does not bring me back to those times. A decade later it is manifest, here and actualized in the present. 
I may have loved this song when I was 16, but I understand it now. 
Straylight Run may have only had modest success past their debut, but the way the self-titled has withstood the test of time makes up for that. Desperate and damaged but clear-eyed enough to know it, it is a timeless tribute to the pains and longings of self-realization, one that is beautifully played and performed. The production is meticulous, and so tasteful for a rock band of this era, with a blend of piano and strings supplementing John Nolan’s distressed belt and whispered whimpers. Everything about this record, from steady drum rolls to pounded-out chords and backing harmonies, is measured and polished, giving elegance to bitterness, and I think that’s why I can listen to it today and fall into it as much as I did once before. 
This is one of those albums where I’ve memorized the words to the point of mantra (“We’ll move forward/sad strong, safe and sober/We’ll move forward/And know where we went wrong”).  I connected instantly to the eloquence and desolation, and though my life hardly looks like what it did in 2004, such connections remain. On a day when no song feels sad enough and solace is hard to come by, I find a mirror buried under 10 years worth of life, lessons and memories. 
“And now faith is replaced with a logic so cold, 
I’ve disregarded what I was, 
Now that I’m older. 
And I know much more than I did back then. 
But the more I learn, 
the more I can’t understand. 
And I’ve been content with this life that I lead 
Where I drink too much 
And don’t believe in much of anything 
And I lie to myself 
And say ‘It’s for the best.’

We’re moving forward but holding ourselves back, 
And we’re waiting on something that’ll never come. 
We’re moving forward but holding ourselves back, 
And we’re waiting on something that’ll never come.

And I lie to myself, and say, ‘It’s for the best.'”
~It’s For the Best 
Straylight Run, Straylight Run


Trying to learn this song tonight. I cower/bask before the greatness of Nolan performance.

“Cause after this mess
I guess you’d bet
That I’d collapse before you do
Well maybe that’s true
Or maybe, it’s not at all”

~Your Name Here, Sunrise Highway,
Straylight Run, Straylight Run


I heard Straylight Run’s “Hands in the Sky” on t.v. tonight. I liked that song and it worked soo well for the scene. It was on “Sons of Anarchy,” an FX show that, according to their wiki, has a sick soundtrack.


Yesterday, a Facebook post from Straylight Run with a clip of a new song made my day. It had been a really bad day, so to hear new material from one of my all-time favorite groups was just the ticket.

Today, I stumbled across their self-titled first record during an afternoon listening session, and I remembered how much I loved it. I think it really captures the spirit, emotion and ideals of a lot of early 2000s groups. It’s eloquent and soft, but not so soft that it doesn’t flood you with emotional prowess after a full-length listen. Also, it’s a really great sing-along record once you know all the words. Choruses in “The Tension and the Terror,” “Mistakes We Knew We Were Making,” and “Your Name Here” were made to belted out–and from the sound of the clip I heard yesterday, John Nolan continues to belt like no other. Praise the gods.
And of course, who could forget “Existentialism on Prom Night?” Songs like that (and titles like that) shaped the the blogging tastemakers who we’re taking advice from.

If you listen to their newer songs, they’ve got the same sound as the band’s earlier material. Soaring, catchy choruses, Nolan’s scratching, clawing desperation, and creative, precise rhyming and word emphasis. Unfortunately, I don’t know how successful all this is seen in the eyes of critics. True fans of the band’s vibe and sound will love it, ’cause it’s simply more from Straylight Run. The once “it,” indie cool guys don’t get the same recognition they used to because their sound hasn’t given into fads. It’s a tale as old as pop music itself, I imagine, but it doesn’t get less sad with time. Its hard to tell how bands with true songwriting chops like SR that fit into a scene will survive after that scene evolves into something else.

I could go on for hours about this concept and it still would probably make no sense.

Unfortunately, not all music from the early aughts was as sweet as SR. The generational hipsters are seeking god know’s what in indie-ville, and the orchestral electro dance generation seems to be pushing aside those influenced by more traditional, alternative pop rock songwriting. I feel like it’s getting harder and harder for me to find new bands to gel with, unless I’m delving into new genres. ‘Cause to look under “indie” these days is not what it used to be.

Still, I am constantly on the lookout for new music, to write about and spread the word about in one medium or another. I’ve learned this–nothing new can feel as good as your favorite records on a hard day…music remains my mental medicine, time hasn’t seemed to change that.

Sidenote: 100th blog post! Congratulate me?

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