on through being cool by saves the day + music journalism as a hobby
I’ll get into Saves the Day in a little bit but first, like any person who does music writing or whatever, I’m gonna talk about music writing. I listened to two podcasts today. One through Dan Ozzi’s newsletter that he did with David Anthony. The other was Ian Cohen and Steven Hyden’s Indiecast Presented By UPROXX’s Indie Mixtape. Both mostly just discussed music journalism. Both hosted by or featuring music journalists I’ve read for a long time. I talk a lot of shit because the 30 something music journalist is a funny genre of guy but they’re people whose opinions I do put stock into on some things so I enjoyed it. Both those things can be true.
Anyway, those things made me think a lot about the way I perceive the things I do. The honest answer is that I’m mostly just a twitter loser but I write this newsletter that people read and make zines that people who don’t know me irl do buy. It’s all based on my opinions on music and things around it and my personality and existence as a person are all wrapped up in that reality. I try not to analyze the impact that has on my brain too much because it’s not all I do but it’s a big part of me.
At one point on Indiecast one of them brought up how some of their favorite people they follow on twitter who talk about music or who write about music aren’t professional music writers and why. It had to do with not having the vocabulary of music writers and not caring about the horse race of writing. I won’t be arrogant enough to put myself in a category of quality music writer hobbyists but I do fall into a larger category of music writers who are not professional and I also don’t aspire to be professional so it made me think.
Why do I do this? Why do I care?
Not so much “why would someone else read my thoughts” that’s not of concern to me. I can answer that question, theoretically. It’s the same as why I’d read any blog. But the question of why I do it is hard for me. Is it.. fun? Sure. Or at least talking to people about it online is fun for me.
I think I used to feel compelled to do it because I’m over opinionated. I have a lot of hard opinions I don’t really mean. I say hyperbolic stuff because it’s funny. I think I’m very funny. I am very funny. I’m less opinionated now that more people will see it.
Ian Cohen was also talking about blogging in like 2005 and how it was low pressure because there wasn’t really eyes on his work. You didn’t have to worry about consistent subject matter or format or saying something wack. I identify with that to a point. I can write here about whatever I want and some people will read it. Not that many people sometimes, a lot of people other times— but some people will read it and it doesn’t matter. I think where I diverge from his rose colored view of blogging when compared to me doing my stupid newsletter is that this thing is inextricably linked to Twitter in the year of our lord 2020.
I have a pretty positive relationship with social media but it does make this thing I do feel like work. I pay attention to interaction and engagement and I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas that will do well. Has my brain been poisoned by social media? Yeah almost definitely. My first memory is in 2008. I joined facebook in 2009. I’ve had my twitter account since 2011. I derive so much from twitter. Real friendships, weird pseudo-professional relationships, praise from people I admire. It’s a big part of my life but I look at my writing, mostly this newsletter, and I can’t help but feel like it only matters to me for the same reason it feels like work.
I don’t think there’s anything I do that doesn’t feel like work.
Dan and David were talking about the breakdown of music writing as a sector of journalism and if collective based music writing is possible. I aligned with their more cynical view on that. There are blogs made up of mostly static coalitions of younger writers. Making it work like that eats them alive. There’s no hope except to get more followers on twitter and develop a place in some bizarre social/professional sphere that doesn’t mean anything.
That makes me tired. I love the friends I’ve made through doing music writing and making zines and being on twitter in a certain way. It’s exhausting to feel like some of those relationships are pseudo-professional. Maybe it shouldn’t.
Dan and David also talked about their newsletters— both of which are wonderful— and quitting their Big Media Company jobs. In that it occurred to me that the two things I’m invested in are done by people who would never recommend their career paths to other people.
That makes me tired, too.
One of them brought up someone asking them how to pitch a personal essay about a band and there was some genuine advice but mostly the answer is you cant. Which is fair. I write stuff like that because I like doing it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like work.
I don’t think there’s anything I do that doesn’t feel like work.
I don’t know what the point of my newsletter is or my zines or anything. Is there a point for me? I interviewed a musician recently who told me he makes music even though it’s not his full time job because he feels compelled to. Maybe I feel compelled to write this stuff.
Maybe I’m just a narcissist who likes the attention of people who ascribe some level of value to me because certain types of people follow me online. Maybe I like being able to value myself because certain kinds of people I ascribe value to follow me online. Maybe writing this validates that love for validation and a concrete form of valuation.
Dan Ozzi asked me a question about zines recently and somewhere in that conversation said the words, “there is no goal there is only work” and maybe that’s enough. Maybe there is no point for anybody. Let’s talk about Saves the Day.
A couple newsletters ago I talked about songs that say the singer’s name! It was really fun to look into that phenomenon and I encourage you to read it! But I tweeted asking for other people’s favorite examples and my friend Mia mentioned the opening track to Through Being Cool. A bunch of other people concurred so I decided I’d focus on it for one of these.
Saves the Day is a band I’ve known of for a long time but never listened to. I have a contentious relationship with third wave emo, really. I love Taking Back Sunday and Say Anything and I liked Brand New. I never listened to Thursday or Saves the Day or Lifetime. I don’t like Dashboard Confessional. Jimmy Eat World I like now but it didn’t penetrate my sphere as a preteen. More pop punk stuff like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and Panic! and Paramore never did for me what they did for others. I mostly stayed away from a lot it because it either didn’t connect or it just missed me and it just felt too late.
I really liked the more indie stuff— Death Cab and Bright Eyes. I liked the neon pop punk of All Time Low and The Maine because it was the right time. Timing is everything, folks.
What I can say about Through Being Cool is that I’ve always loved the album art. The party scene, the colors, their postures. I love that. It, naturally, reminds me of that Seventeen Magazine “Am I Emo?” spread which is embarrassingly close to how I dress today and have always dressed.
All credit on this image to Seventeen Magazine pls do not sue me
Both the album and this spread came out in 1999. It’s very Seth Cohen. I think sometimes I like an album cover so much I never want to listen to the album or it’ll taint how much I like the art. I felt that way about Diary by Sunny Day Real Estate. I ended up really liking that record (I’m more of a second wave emo in taste) but the point stands.
I don’t think All Star Me is a favorite of mine on the album. I like that Chris Conley says his own name in it, but that’s really it. You Vandal I feel similarly about but I like the chorus better. “My spleen is dripping from my pants” is a very funny thing to say.
I think writing about stuff like this is hard because it is stuff I like, you know? Like if I heard those songs in a bar I’d be like, “this fuckin rules dude” but sitting in bed I don’t think anything.
As I listen to the beginning of the album I thought to myself, “I wonder what Stay What You Are sounds like” because that’s like the other Saves the Day album and I read that they suffered a car accident and it changed the vibe of the album. Maybe that thing about the car accident isn’t real but I was wondering if Stay What You Are was more worth listening to.
Then I heard Shoulder to the Wheel and that whole thought line left my brain immediately. If I had heard this song at 13 it could have been what Timberwolves At New Jersey was for me. This song rules dude. Fuck yeah.
Rocks Tonic Juice Magic didn’t stand out to me but a friend told me that the lyrics were off putting to them for a long time which is a very intriguing thing to say about a song. It is, of course, because the lyrics are graphically violent about an ex-girlfriend. Whom amongst us…
The story my friend gave me was that he was a writing student and it was an exercise or something. I don’t really remember. I just think violence against women was a part of the whole thing and I don’t know if that’s like.. okay .. but it’s no more graphic than an early Taking Back Sunday song so I won’t go too hard. Pick your battles, draw your lines. I don’t really like the song so I’m ok.
Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots is a great song title. I liked this one a lot too! I think the bright spots in this album are mostly the catchy choruses and the angular Chris Conely voice. This song sorta goes against that. It’s Jawbreaker-y. It doesn’t center the really, really bleeding heart bullshit emo lyrics (though “Somewhere under water maybe you could find my heart / 'Cause that's where i threw it after you had torn it out” is an all timer). The song doesn’t have to have a pop hook for it to be good, as we see here, but if you’re not gonna go catchy then you cannot center the obnoxious lyrics.
Can I critique Saves the Day on lyrics when I love Taking Back Sunday? Should I reconsider my love for Taking Back Sunday? My brain cannot handle this much self reflection. Moving along.
Third Engine is ok. Obligatory New Jersey mention.
My Sweet Fracture! Bass line babeeeyyy! This one rules. I like the talk-sing at the end. I love the bass line. This is sweet.
And then we’re back to less than pleasing. Vast Spoils of America sucks dude. Californyuh ! Bleeehhhhh. The Last Lie I Told is fine. It’s poppy and fun. I like it uncritically the way I like the last song on this album.
The other two songs I haven’t addressed are very weird. Weirder than I was expecting and it left me underwhelmed when it came to Banned From the Back Porch.
First up.. Do You Know What I Love The Most?
This song is, I cannot stress this enough, so horny. It is horny but it is not sexy. Recently I made a matrix to understand this phenomenon of horniness in relation to Los Campesinos! but it works here.
This song is FIRMLY in the upper left. It is horny like American Pie. I don’t remember if I liked it but I know I thought it was horny. Emo likes girls but is it horny? Can it be emo if it’s not awkward? Sound off on twitter.
Through Being Cool is a great title. They picked the right name for the album. I liked this song but it is odd. “I’m gonna stick some needles in his face” is a strange threat. It’s a weird thing to say. And not in the same way as Rocks Tonic Juice Magic! It’s just weird! Despite that, it’s still a fuckin banger! Who cares!
I think I liked this album. I’m not sure. It left me confused. It left me wanting to listen to Taking Back Sunday. But most importantly, it left me wanting to listen to another Saves the Day record so that’s cool.
That’s all for me, folks. There is no goal ! Only work !
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 polling the emo community on where good pizza in Philly is: @mirandareinert. Thanks for reading!
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