I should be writing an essay right now, but I am having trouble starting it. I’m hoping getting my fingers flowing might help.
I’m going to start writing a bit about my favourite albums of all time and this is the first one, hence the title. I haven’t posted a blog in a while so here goes.
When I was about 16 and my “Oh my God, I AM Holden Caulfield” mentality was in full effect, I downloaded a song from Limewire while at my buddy Tim’s place. It was called Holden Caulfield and was by a band called Piebald. The lyrics were either directly taken from, or paraphrases of sections of, Catcher In The Rye. I liked it immediately, it sounded kind of like Far.
A while later, I was in Piccadilly Records in Manchester. Leafing through their supposed “Emo” section, I happened upon a copy of We Are The Only Friends We Have. I don’t remember how much it was, but it couldn’t have been too expensive because I didn’t have a lot of money back then and could afford to buy it. So I did.
I took it home and gave it a spin, it was ok. Mid-tempo stuff like this is a pretty mixed bag, you can get something really excellent like 24 Hour Revenge Therapy by Jawbreaker or you might end up with something really awful. This was ok though, I didn’t love it but thought it was efficient enough for head nodding on public transport. It worked it’s way into my regular rotation at a time when The Get Up Kids’ On A Wire was really doing it for me* and I had not long discovered my love for Rilo Kiley, it wasn’t long before it overtook both of these (and pretty much everything I listened to at the time too, I think the Desaparecidos album was just out as well which was a big deal for me).
I found myself surreptitiously singing along with the CD and it wasn’t long before I started actually listening to what I was singing. The thing about Piebald, which I learnt after actually sitting down and paying attention to the lyrics, is that they are really fucking good. Every song is like a trip into Travis’ unique mindspace, whether he is singing about how much he misses their old tour van or how working too hard will kill you. Once I had realised that the lyrics were not only really great but relevant to me, everything else about Piebald just fell into place. The crunchy guitars just clicked, the upbeat rhythms lifted me up, and Travis’ voice just seemed to sound so right.
You might think songs about missing a yellow van or drug fuelled road trips seem a bit hackneyed, or worse. But such is Piebald, they have such a unique sound and voice that is more than honest and interesting. Songs like Rich People Can Breed and Karate Chops For Everyone But Us are great, but the real stand out track is The Stalker, which, despite a smiley clappy exterior, is a funny and slightly scary song about obsession.
The whole album just flows so well, there are peaks and troughs, fast ones and slow numbers, funny bits and sad parts. I still like it a lot more than other Piebald stuff I’ve got since, and I can’t imagine another album ever making me smile as much as this one.
“I’m holding one hand, or two. Depending if we’re walking or dancing. Either way, I’m feeling fine.”
*I know most of you don’t really dig it but I really do, and while I will never write a blog like this about it, I believe it is a truly solid and excellent addition to the TGUK repertoire. Unlike Guilt Show, which was wank.