2001 – Train – Drops of Jupiter

For this special “day after father’s day” edition of Music Monday, I decided to sneakily go through my father’s iTunes and see what he’s been listening to the most of, lately. It was a quick and easy statistics to pull up.

A little background – I grew up in the same area as my father – we’re northewestern Pennsylvanian folks, for our whole lives. Where we’re from, not a lot of fame comes from your neck of the woods, when someone makes it big, you hear about it. Pat Monahan, from the band Train might ring a bell. And while for most people the novelty has worn off, but when I got my father an iPod so he could listen to The Beatles while he worked, I never thoguht he would load it up with music from a band who had their big break when I was wrapping up high school.

The answer in iTunes was clear, Train’s Drops Of Jupiter was undoubtedly my father’s most played album. I thought this was strange. Someone who raised me on everything from The Beatles, to Stevie Ray Vaughan, to Rock Around The Clock was hooked on a band that my friends and I have to roll our eyes when we hear that they put out yet another album.

So I gave it a fresh listen. And part of my transported back to my days as a roller skating rink DJ, playing Drops of Jupiter for friends, and listening to Meet Virginia from one of their other albums. Sometimes I listened to the lyrics and music in a more mature light, with another decade behind me since I first heard the the Drops of Jupiter album. Giving at a fresh look, taking off the jaded tinted glasses of a 2012 hipster who wants to criticize everything that’s ever gone main stream, I can see why he goes back to this album time and time again.

The album showcases a lot of talent, the songs have enough variety to keep you interested. Ballads, acoustic guitar songs, stronger sounds of rock, and Pat Monahan’s vocals tearing through the music of each track. “What would / you give / to Getaway? I know this is how I could be over you / you know this is not another waste of time / All this holding on can’t be wrong / Just come back to me so I am not alone” he cries out in the song Getaway.

But far and away, my father’s most listened to track was I Wish You Would. So I listened to it on repeat a few times to put myself in that place – but it certainly was obvious what drew him to the track in the first place. I Wish You Would features a harmonica, which I hadn’t noticed anywhere else on the album. It also comes right out with a hint of country twang, some fighting words, a drummer trying to punch right throught the drumhead, and a little bit of indignation. Although, lyrically, I don’t think the average person is going to identify much with moving away to become big and famous and hoping your girlfriend follows you to San Francisco – but musically, it’s a great song to get swept up in.

And it isn’t just Drops of Jupiter, Save Me San Francisco, the title track of another Train album, is his second most played song in iTunes. He tells me all the time that the band just has so much talent that he really enjoys listening closely to the different parts as he listens to each song over and over. He picks out the bass, the drums, the harmonica, and listens to the song as if that instrument was playing the solo. Musical talent seeks musical talent. His days in a band are long behind him, but he still loves listening to great music, and if he’s listening to it? Well, then… I think I’m going to be a little less jaded and try to give a fair shake to some of this “popular” music!

2011 – The Districts – Kitchen Songs

UPDATE: See our 2014 follow up with The Districts.

I used to live in York, Pennsylvania. Little did I know that a few kids (probably in grade school or junior high the time I was there) in near by Lititz, PA were about to make a name for themselves. The Districts is made up of four very young members who play a soul-filled style of rock. You can pick up out influences by the dozen and their style travels a fascinating line between Blues and Grunge Rock.

Distorted guitars play jazz-like riffs in tracks like Thank You Please, and the music in Radiator has an indie-folksy sound, similar to that of Dr. Dog.

What makes The Districts stand out from their peers, right now, is in the lyrics and vocals. Although I’m unsure who writes the lyrics, Rob Grote belts them out like a downtrodden blues singer struggling to find his next meal. He sings with conviction and confidence. The only downside is that the rest of the band is okay. The instrumentals in the band go well together, they are well rehearsed, and sound fine. But absolutely nothing on the album is going to wow you or make you astonished at the talents of the musicians. You should anticipate, though, that if the members are this good at this age, that they very well could do something to knock your socks off in the next year or two – and as long as they keep playing and stay part of the scene there in the Lancaster area, they will mature. You have to, in that neck of the woods: there are an abnormal amount of skilled players there. But I have high hopes that The Districts will continue to stand out, and not just because of their young age.

If you think all of this sounds interesting, you can stream the entire album from The Districts’ bandcamp site, then download the album with a “name your price” scheme – how much is it worth to you to support up and coming talent?

2005 – RushJet1 – Sounds of the 2A03

RushJet1 is a chiptune artist who put a few albums out over the last few years, but certainly doesn’t appear to be wrapping up any time soon. RushJet1’s music, to me, sounds the way chiptune music SHOULD sound. Every single song sounds just like something that could have been the backdrop of any NES game from my childhood. It is chiptune in its most pure form. There doesn’t seem to be any other kind of production going on, no after effects, no additional instruments – just what can be made with a tracker and some creativity. Every time a random RushJet1 song plays in my playlist, I try to place the game it was from – then I realize it’s just RushJet1 and I listen to it all the time!

RushJet1’s Out of Reach, made with NSFplug

RushJet1 has a small personal website hiding out in a dark corner of the web where you can download dozens of songs and even a couple of full length albums, like the two put on 8bitpeoples.

2001 – Lit – Atomic

Lit was a one hit wonder from my high school years. Most famous for My Own Worst Enemy, they also put out Zip-Lock and Miserable as well known singles… but after that, for most people, they just faded away. I really enjoyed them, both before and after their rise to fame. So much so that I think their follow up album, Atomic, was one of my favorite albums of all time. I have something positive to say about almost every single track on the album.

It starts out with a crowd cheering, although it’s not a live album – the first track builds the anticipation and introduces Something to Someone, a track which immediately juxtaposes their fame with feelings of being alone.

Track two, The Last Time Again, all about the fun and not-so-fun moments around boozing your brains out and waking up with a hang over. It’s an enteraining song that puts a funny spin on what many would call a serious situation. This is followed up by the track Addicted, which is more about the inability to leave a relationship that you know is bad for you. Lipstick and Bruises follows that up, which, contrary to what your first impressions of the the title might be, is more about the passionate reasons that make it hard to leave someone.

I can’t say enough good things about the other tracks on the album. Happy in the Meantime, Drop D, Sunny Weather, Next Time Around, She Comes… each of these is just another alternative rock love song with more energy than most bands put in to an entire album. Each track could’ve been a success, but the genre was busy being taken over by the emo charts by the time this album was released. Happy In The Meantime is the one departure on the album, which is somewhat slower, acoustic song that you may have heard at least once before. “It’s just another reason why, it all comes down to you and I. We’ll another drink, waste some time with me, we’re happy in the mean time.”

Play this album in your car, with the windows down, and do your best not to enjoy it from beginning to end!