let's talk splits
I made a tweet that got a lot of responses (for me, at least,) asking what everyone’s favorite split is.
miranda @mirandareinertwhat's ur favorite split there are right answers
October 26th 202050 Likes
I got a lot of good responses. By good I mean lots of people said Tigers Jaw’s split with Balance and Composure (a split I had on CD and from which I listened to Twenty Four on repeat in my car going to high school everyday) and every single Touche Amore split.
An equally hefty amount of people said, “aside from the obvious Shit Split…” which was actually not obvious to me as I don’t know anything about punk. Maybe I should learn anything about punk?
Probably won’t but it’s certainly a thought.
Anyway, as an impatient teenager trying to understand what my “taste” was, splits created a canon of a music scene that defined my taste for most of my young adult life. Most of my time in high school was spent scrolling through tumblr, property of zack, and the run for cover youtube channel just wanting to absorb music and then talk about it with my friends online.
God maybe my life hasn’t changed at all since I was 15 apart from the websites I visit.
I wasn’t able to go to basement shows in Philly or Jersey or whatever to understand the emo revival-pop punk scene I loved so much. Most of the Chicago emo I would eventually love most was over before I even heard The Wonder Years’ cover of Anchor. When I was 16 or 17 I’d start going to a bowling alley but seeing Knuckle Puck wasn’t exactly the coolest thing I could have been doing, it’s just where my friends were.
I was mostly a teenager terrified to drive and terrified of everybody so I got a sense of the bands I might like not in a basement (or the bowling alley) but instead from flyers for shows I’d never be able to go to, what bands mentioned other bands on twitter or tumblr, edits my online friends made for bands I’d never heard of, and splits.
It was always more exciting to talk about your favorite bands working together. Collaboration and connection between bands always felt exciting. You could guess upcoming tours and, with any luck, hear different versions of your favorite songs by other favorite artists.
Or if you were me, 16 and desperately hoping to be seen as cool, you could sound like you definitely know about way more bands than you listen to because even if you’ve never listened to any song by Deer Leap other than their songs on Are Here To Help or say you like Everyone Everywhere even though you have only heard Into It. Over It.’s cover of Raw Bar OBX 2002 but like I’ll totally like that band as soon as I get around to listening to them. Totally. Everybody loves that band nobody will question it if you say you like them. [note: i do like everyone everywhere but they were definitely a band i lied about listening to for a while]
I make fun of myself but being an insecure teenager who wants so badly to be a part of something did genuinely drive me to check out new stuff and that “okay what’s an easily digestible way to discover a bunch of new bands— who’s done splits with a band I like?” type attitude made me develop a certain affection and invented nostalgia for a collection of long broken up bands.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know I’m mostly a lazy music listener. I’ve never been able to focus on albums. I latch onto songs. Splits always felt like a special, interesting way to do that and a shortcut to getting into bands.
The unintended consequence was the creation of a sort of file in my brain of bands I think of as split bands.
Tigers Jaw is a split band in my head. Summer Vacation. Deer Leap. Castevet. Adventures. Touche Amore. Little Big League. KOJI. Annabel. Fake Problems.
These are mostly bands I’d enjoy out of another band’s context eventually, but my teenage brain fixated on the name on other half of the split and so there’s this swath of songs I cherish by bands that I never truly gave much attention. I wouldn’t tell you I’m a Tigers Jaw fan, but that split with Balance & Composure is probably my favorite split ever.
I don’t think that’s a worse way to experience music (you can draw your own conclusion) but I do think it’s interesting to explore the way I internalized songs. That song focused internalization formed not only my taste but the way I perceived 10 years of music from a distance.
Maybe I’m out of touch but splits have seemed to have fallen out of favor. There’s a few I’m aware of, of course. Kevin Devine seems to be dedicated to the art of the split. There was that Mom Jeans 420 whatever split that, I think, still informs the wave of Counter Intuitive artists and the way that label has developed an identity. There’s this split that just came out with some killer Arcadia Grey songs.
I’m certain there’s more I’m just not in on but I think regardless the trend has moved toward collaborative compilations, covers or originals for charity, as opposed to straight splits.
Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic and regressing into a teenage version of myself, but I miss hearing about a band and discovering they put something out with another band and creating a web of connection because of it.
Here’s a fun playlist of some of my personal favorite split songs. Hope you’re doing as well as you can be.
Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student based in Philadelphia. She is looking for friends. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like bait tweeting the music community about their favorite splits: @mirandareinert. Thanks for reading!
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