New year, new music. I mean, 44 days into the year is still pretty new right? Either way, this post is focusing on the first band/album I've heard this year that has had a real impact on me. I've sort of found myself in a rut lately when it comes to listening to music, and when I do find the time/motivation to listen to something I usually just rotate some old favorites and some of the better stuff I came across last year, and most of the newer music I've tried listening to over the last few months just hasn't clicked with me yet. But then I came across awakebutstillinbed.
Ok, so one of the things I've struggled so hard to understand in life is why do I like the music I like? What is it about a specific piece of music, or band, or artist, or album that appeals to me? Most of the time the answer is completely lost to me, no matter how hard I try I just can't define what it is about something that just does it for me. The one thing that usually has the most obvious, most powerful, and sometimes most depressing, influence over my opinion is relatability. If I find something relatable I'm probably going to enjoy it regardless of quality, style, or any other quantifiable criteria that might cause me to like or dislike the music I'm listening to.
This band is definitely one of the ones where my opinion of them is heavily based on relatability. I was hooked even just by the name alone, I mean, I shudder to think how many hours of my life have been spent "awake but still in bed". It's a feeling I'm all too familiar with, and it's the same with the album title, it hits just a little bit too close to home. And that's the reason I mentioned above how relatability can be depressing. Most of the time I consider myself to be relatively happy in life, but when I look at myself through the lens of the music I find relatable I start wonder. What is it that causes me to relate to the likes of Crywank, XXXTentacion's 17, Admiral Angry, John Frusciante's early solo stuff, Daniel Johnston, Teen Suicide (who I should probably do a post on soon), Willis Earl Beal, and so on? What exactly is it that causes me to relate to and fall in love with bands/artists/songs/albums/ that are just so utterly depressing? Why do I find such comfort and solace in this kind of music? Should I be worried? I think I might delve deeper into these thoughts in a separate post somewhere down the line, because it really is something I'd like to explore in greater detail, and I've already gone completely off topic. I mean, I'm writing this post to share some interesting new music with you guys, not go rambling off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the music I'm sharing.
Anyway, enough about me, what about the music?
Well, awakebutstillinbed are a fairly new band. I can't find any info about when/how they started out, but in early January of 2018 they released their first album, what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you. They are an indie/emo band who label themselves extremo (according to the tags on their bandcamp page at least).
Ok, I'm sorry about this, but back to me for a second. When I was a teenager it was at a time when emo music was at some sort of peak, and it was fucking awful. Emos were everywhere, roaming the streets listening to bands like Aiden and My Chemical Romance, sitting in their bedrooms cutting themselves while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands. And I come from rural Ireland and went to school in a fairly small town, so the fact that this was so popular suggests that it was a borderline mainstream youth subculture, it was kind of ridiculous. And then, sometime between 2009 and 2012, the emo movement sort of disappeared, the trend was dying. Emos were growing up and started to integrate with the new fad, they were becoming hipsters.
But what does that have to do with anything? Well, back then emo was popular and it was stagnant, there was no growth in the music, it was being sold as a product. But once that popularity started to fade the genre started to move, there was more room for honest artistic expression to shine after the mass produced garbage was thrown away. It was gaining momentum. I believe that emo is currently going through a Renaissance and is finding its way into all sorts of new territories. I mean, even five years ago if you told me emo rap/hip-hop was going to be a thing I would've laughed in your face, but now we have artists like XXXTentacion, and even before him, Tyler, the Creator could probably be considered emo. Likewise, if you told me five years ago that in the future I would be listening to, and even loving, "emo" music, I might have smacked you upside the head and called you a fool.
I know I'm going off on another tangent here but, honestly, this has been something on my mind lately, I find it very interesting, and musically, I'm fucking loving it. Emo is in a really good place right now, and the band I'm trying to share with you today is another example of that. So, let's get back to talking about them, shall we?
I guess we should probably talk about how the band sounds, right? Well, one of the first things that struck me about the band once I gave their album a proper listen was that they reminded me of bands like The Crocketts and Hum, but there is something else in their sound that I can't quite put my finger on, it's reminiscent of something just out of reach of my memory and it's starting to bug me a little, maybe you can help me figure it out. There's also a little bit more than a hint of early to mid 2000's pop punk to their sound that normally wouldn't appeal to me but they somehow make it work. But one of the main things that sets this band apart from others like it, and the main draw for me, is the vocals and I don't know why. The vocals are a pretty standard mix of singing and screaming, but there is just something about the vocalist's voice and how she transitions between the different parts that just so perfectly fits the sound and style of the band, it's the glue that holds everything together while simultaneously trying to tear it all apart.
But that's enough talk, it's time to hear it for yourself.
[awakebutstillinbed - opener]
As the name suggests, this is the opening track from the album, and it was the first song I heard from the band, it's also the song that made me decide that this band might be for me. Honestly, at first I wasn't really feeling it, but something made me keep listening to the song, and I'm glad it did. It starts off with a guitar repeating the same note until the soft, melancholic vocals come in, interspersed with the odd chord every now and then from a second guitar. It goes on like that until about the halfway point when the vocals become more strained and exasperated until finally culminating to an almost desperate scream. Then the drums kick in, the song picks up in energy, the vocals grow in intensity. And then the song is over.
I think this might be my favorite track I've heard from the band so far. It's definitely the one I've listened to the most.
This is the second track on the album and another one I enjoy.
[awakebutstillinbed - life]
This is one of the songs where the pop punk influence can be heard the most, and the vocals really save this song for me. I probably would have skipped this one if it hadn't been for the delivery on the opening line, that "I couldn't get my life back..." really does it for me. I also enjoy the shift towards the end of this song.
And now for another of my favorite tracks from the album.
[awakebutstillinbed - stumble]
Much like the first track, this one starts off slow and somber until finally culminating in a desperate, cold, and angry screaming crescendo. This might be the only other contender for my favorite song on the album, give it another week or two and it might kick opener off the top spot.
Ok, let's take a quick, little break before we continue.
[awakebutstillinbed - interlude]
This is a fantastic instrumental track that hints towards mathrock, in tone and energy more than style and form. There's actually quite a lot going on in this track when you really listen to it, but there's also a simplicity to it that can be a little deceiving on a casual listen, or if you have the track on in the background. Super good. And it's nice to know that the band can keep me interested even without the vocals.
Now, are we all rested after that nice little intermission? Good. Let's get back to business.
[awakebutstillinbed - fathers]
Not my favorite track on the album, there's something just a tad generic about it, but it's still a good track. And, hey, it's a music video too, so after talking about them for what feels like days (seriously, I'm worried this post is too long), we finally get to see what the band looks like.
Yep, they look like a band alright.
Ok, one last track before we wrap things up. And what better way to close things out than with the album's closer?
[awakebutstillinbed - closer]
Ok, so I probably could have picked a better song to end on, or at least one that I enjoyed more than this one, but I thought it was fitting to close with closer since we opened with opener. This is in the running for the most pop punk sounding track on the album (Paramore, anyone?), and there isn't really much else to this song. On it's own I find the track a bit boring, but as the closing track of the album I can appreciate it, it kind of has a calming effect that brings you back to normality after the intense energy swings and dynamic shifts of the previous eight tracks.
Alright, another post done. The next Music from the Underground post will be number 10, that's pretty cool, double digits! That's kind of special, right? The first MftU milestone? I know it's only 10 posts, but honestly, I'm amazed I managed to make it past two, so I'm going to have a little think about the next one and try to pick out something special from my all time favorite bands/artists.
But, in the meantime, if you liked awakebutstillinbed and want to listen to what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you in it's entirety (which is something I recommend), just click that link to their Bandcamp page. If you're strapped for cash you can download it for free, or if you really enjoy it and have some expendable income you can leave them a little tip or buy the cassette for $5. Either way, I hope someone out there in Steemitville will have found some new music to listen to.
Ok, that's it, we've reached the end of this rambling mess of a post. I probably wrote more about my random thoughts on relatability of music and what that says about my mind, and my thoughts regarding the current state of emo as a genre, than I wrote about the band I wanted to introduce you guys to. But, hey, I'm not really a writer, I'm definitely not a reviewer or a critic, and I don't plan out any of my posts, this is all stream of consciousness type shit, I guess I just had a lot on my mind today.
PS. What's the deal with (Steemit's?) spellchecker? Apparently 'relatable' and 'relatability' aren't real words but 'emo' and 'emos' are. Strange.
Music from the Underground #1 – Gaika
Music from the Underground #2 – Crywank
Music from the Underground #3 – Various Artists
Music from the Underground #4 – Admiral Angry
Music from the Underground #5 – Benjamin Clementine
Music from the Underground #6 – Denzel Curry
Music from the Underground #7 – XXXTentacion
Music from the Underground #8 – Three Ridiculous Metal Band Names