For the latest Long Way [at] Home video, we covered Taking Back Sunday’s Yo Gabba Gabba classic, “We All Love Our Pets.” The pets really deserve top billing in this one.
Appreciation Post, the new Bosley Jr. EP that I recorded and mixed, is out now. I’m really proud of this one, and I can’t wait to see them play these songs live (whenever that may be).
Wonderful essay from Craig Manning at chorus.fm.
And so, to artists, I say this: don’t disappear; don’t stop the livestreams or the AMAs or the social media engagement; don’t delay your album releases, even though now might seem like the worst possible time to promote something. We need you right now. We need you to be there to help us make sense of the world, and of the lives we are living. We need your songs to offer reminders that this too shall pass, or welcoming shoulders to cry on at the end of the bad days. We need to be able to hear a lyric or verse and ask, “How did this person know that about my life?” It’s in times like these that music really saves people; reminds them that they aren’t alone; brings them together, even if it’s from afar. Someday soon, we’ll see each other again—in a bar or a club or an arena or a stadium—and we’ll all sing together, loudly. Until then, know we’re still out here, and we’re still listening.
My friends in Bosley Jr. released their new single today. "The Shape of Punk Is Gone" is the opening track on their new EP, Appreciation Post, which I recorded (with some help from the band and Joel Gaeta after the stay-at-home order went into effect) and mixed over the past few months. Hear the song on their Bandcamp and grab the full EP when it’s out in a few weeks.
We’ve been slowly working on the first official Long Way Home record over the past year and a half. There’s still a ways to go, but in the meantime, we decided to re-issue our last album, Two Decades and Change, along with a remastered B-sides EP, demos, and a new version of "Book of Matches." I’m still immensely proud of this one.
We can’t put this up on streaming services under our new band name because the songs were previously released, but you can find it on our Bandcamp.
There’s a new Long Way Home song out today. It’s short and fast and loud.
The new Pelafina EP, Familiar Places, is out now. Massive thanks to Nick Stetina for helping us make this record. Check it out here, and watch the music video for "Significant Weather" below.
It’s the end of the year and the end of the decade (more on the latter in this post). It’s the time for me to reflect on the year and think too much about lists. Some things will never change.
Music I Worked On This Year
- Jeff Schaller and the Long Way Home – “Younger Years” (guitar, recording, mixing, mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – Paradoxes (mixing, mastering)
- Sloth Hands – Vacation’s Over (mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – “Mediocre Boys” (recording, mixing, mastering)
- Flora Self – “Didn’t See It Coming” (bass, recording, mixing, mastering)
- Pelafina – “Blue and Gold” (guitar)
- Apocalypse Quest – “CEO Blood” (recording, mixing, mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – ERBA (recording, mixing, mastering)
My Favorite Albums of 2019
I’ve had a one-sentence review of my number one album, Breakup Season by Future Teens, in my head for a few months: If I had heard this when I was seventeen, I might have been a better person. That sounds hyperbolic, but I haven’t been able to shake the idea. I know I could have used this album as a teenager. It’s so honest and introspective about heartbreak and sadness and dealing with those emotions in healthy ways. I’m so happy that a band like Future Teens exists. I’m jealous of the kid that hears Breakup Season this year and connects to it like I connected to The Upsides. Future Teens will be that kid’s first favorite band, the soundtrack to their formative years, their inspirations and role models. I keep likening this album to The Upsides, probably the single most influential album on my past ten years. It feels like a torch-passing at the end of the decade, and it’s all the more apt because I saw Future Teens open for the Wonder Years in October.
The rest of my list feels as varied as my year, spanning genre and scope from emo debuts to the biggest pop artist in the world. As always, I think there’s a lot to love on this list, so pick something and give it a spin.
- Future Teens – Breakup Season
- Charly Bliss – Young Enough
- Pedro the Lion – Phoenix
- The Menzingers – Hello Exile
- The Mountain Goats – In League With Dragons
- Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
- Taylor Swift – Lover
- Origami Angel – Somewhere City
- The Get Up Kids – Problems
- Telethon – Hard Pop
- Proper. – I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better
- Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – Routine Maintenance
- Ceres – We Are a Team
- Oso Oso – Basking In the Glow
- Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
- The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
- Somos – Prison On a Hill
- Dave Hause – Kick
- American Football – LP3
- Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
- Junius Paul – Ism
- The Maine – You Are OK
- Nervus – Tough Crowd
- Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
- Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
My Favorite EPs of 2019
- Better Love – All I Ever Wanted Is To Be Where You Are
- Mineral – One Day When We Are Young
- Ruston Kelly – Dirt Emo, Volume 1
- Rat Tally – When You Wake Up
- Bosley Jr – No More
My Favorite Songs of 2019
My Favorite Shows of 2019
I went to 63 shows this year, 35 of which I played. Here were my favorites. These were all great, but the John K. Samson show is a contender for my all-time favorite performance. He doesn’t tour much, so make it a priority to see him if you have the chance.
- John K. Samson and Christine Fellows – 11/23 at Beat Kitchen
- The Wonder Years, Future Teens – 10/20 at Metro
- Ruston Kelly – 11/1 at Thalia Hall
- Mineral – 1/24 at Lincoln Hall
- Pedro the Lion – 5/18 at The Castle Theater
- Jacob Sigman, Jetty Bones – 3/29 at Beat Kitchen
- The Sidekicks, Adult Mom – 7/7 at Subterranean
- Spanish Love Songs – 5/19 at Cobra Lounge
- Los Campesinos! – 7/6 at West Fest
- We Were Promised Jetpacks – 7/13 at Bottom Lounge
My Favorite Podcasts of 2019
Two Headed Girl is the best new podcast I listened to this year. It’s a chronicle of gender dysphoria, transitioning, and marriage. Hosts Alex and Matthew Cox are unflinching in their honesty with each other about their lives, health, and feelings. It’s kind of amazing that they recorded all of this and are willing to share such a personal journey with the world.
Elsewhere in the podcast world, two of my favorite long-running podcasts hit new highs in 2019. On episode 102 of Reconcilable Differences, “Preparing the Way,” John Siracusa buys a refrigerator. The two-hour chronicle of this harrowing adventure is everything I love about the podcast format. And The Watch, Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald’s twice weekly talk about movies and TV, transitioned from purely critique to a behind the scenes look at making a TV show as Andy called in from the set and editing room of his upcoming show, Briarpatch.
Finally, I’ll recommend Michael Lewis’s Against the Rules, a meticulously researched exploration of societal rules and the people who make and enforce them. Unlike the long-running conversational shows I typically like, the tight format and high production value make Against the Rules feel more like an audio book.
My Favorite Books of 2019
As usual, I read very few new releases this year, but the few I did read were fantastic: Hanif Abdurraqib’s latest poetry collection, A Fortune For Your Disaster, Mark Z. Danielewski’s children’s book for all ages, The Little Blue Kite, and Mischa Pearlman’s One Day When We Are Young, a retrospective on the emo band Mineral and a companion piece to their first new music in over twenty years.
The best book I read this year, regardless of release date, was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
My Favorite Television of 2019
I started 2019 with the vague goal of “keeping up” with TV, but I quickly realized that’s impossible. There’s just too much great TV. With that in mind, I just want to highlight a few of my favorite shows of the year, all remarkable for very different reasons, which also happen to be short and digestible.
Fleabag – Season 2
A tour de force of emotion and energy, every episode left me thinking that writer / producer / star Phoebe Waller-Bridge might be the most talented person alive.
Every frame of this show is immaculate. I’m a longtime defender of the endings of Lost and The Leftovers so I had confidence in Damon Lindelof and his team to pull this sequel/remix, and my expectations were still far exceeded.
When They See Us
Ava Duvernay’s docu-drama about the Central Park Five is a heart-wrenching examination of injustice. The opening sequence alone is worth the price of a Netflix subscription.
A different kind of bleak docu-drama, set on the opposite side of the world as When They See Us, Chernobyl is equal parts moving, gruesome, frustrating, and deeply sad.
And I can’t leave the TV section without giving a shout to Baby Yoda on The Mandalorian, constant cause of delighted squeals (both Liesi’s and mine) every time he’s on screen.
My Favorite Movies of 2019
As always, I’m very behind on movies at the end of year, but Knives Out is a masterpiece.
- Knives Out
- Marriage Story
- The Irishman
- The Report
- Toy Story 4
- Dolemite Is My Name
- High Life
I haven’t made a formal new year’s resolution in quite a few years, but I do have some plans for 2020.
Pelafina will be releasing a new EP in the next couple months. More on that very soon.
The Long Way Home are deep in the process of recording our next album. That will hopefully be out later in the spring.
I didn’t make a single blog post this year, and I want to change that. I don’t have a clear structure in mind, but I just want to write more.
I’m going to listen to more jazz.
The Upsides leaked on Christmas Eve, 2009.
Wonder Years vocalist Dan Campbell was panicking in an Outback Steakhouse bathroom (seriously, he wrote a song about it), and I was sitting at my parents’ desktop computer downloading the album that would have an immeasurable influence on the next ten years of my life. I don’t know Dan personally, but I would guess that was as much a turning point in his life as it was in mine.
The Wonder Years would go on to tour the world, release four more albums, and become my favorite band in the process. In the meantime, I was playing in bands, writing songs, and occasionally touring. I was briefly a critic, writing reviews for two music blogs. I recorded and mixed records for myself and my friends. But first and last, I was a fan. All these years later, I still love the feeling of hearing a great album for the first time and letting it wash over me, of a lyric that cuts to my emotional core, of singing along with a room full of people or by myself in my car, of feeling seen and understood, feeling like I was a small part of something important.
A decade-spanning list like this is fraught with complications, biases, and tough questions. How important is a decade anyway? How do you weigh an album with five or eight or ten years of influence against one that came out six months ago? Can I cheat and list two EPs as one album? How do you reckon with the personal significance of art whose work is tainted by the artist’s problematic behavior?
I don’t have good answers to those questions. I just have a list of albums that were important to me over the past decade. These are the albums that soundtracked every significant moment of my life since senior year of high school. They’re in some semblance of an order, although that order gets messier the further down the list you go. I hope you listen and find something you love.
I was eighteen years old, still in high school at the start of this decade. I was still buying every album I liked on CD. I had yet to discover vinyl collecting (and Vinyl Collective). I didn’t know DIY bands were releasing their albums for free on Bandcamp and dubbing their own cassette tapes. Spotify hadn’t launched in the US. The entire musical landscape is so much different now than it was back then, and I’ve certainly grown a lot in the intervening years as well, but it’s still possible for music to move me like it did a decade ago, by the light of a desktop computer, the first time I heard The Upsides.
- The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing
- The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace Is There
- The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
- Fun. – Some Nights
- Jason Isbell – Southeastern
- Bleachers – Strange Desire
- Beach Slang – Broken Thrills
- John K. Samson – Provincial
- Laura Stevenson – Wheel
- Jimmy Eat World – Damage
- The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
- The Menzingers – After the Party
- Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
- John K. Samson – Winter Wheat
- The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
- Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life
- Thursday – No Devolucion
- Joie de Vivre – We’re All Better Than This
- The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful and So Unaware of It
- Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
- Ruston Kelly – Dying Star
- Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers
- Paramore – After Laughter
- Into It. Over It. – Intersections
- The Graduate – Only Every Time
- The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
- The Wonder Years – The Upsides
- The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
- Jimmy Eat World – Invented
- Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
- The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
- Bleachers – Gone Now
- The Hotelier – Goodness
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
- You, Me, and Everyone We Know – A Great Big Hole / I Wish More People Gave a Shit
- Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?
- Hellogoodbye – Would It Kill You?
- Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other
- The Tower and the Fool – How Long
- The Hotelier – It Never Goes Out
- Waxahatchee – American Weekend
- Modern Baseball – Sports
- Desaparecidos – Payola
- Copeland – Ixora
- The Sidekicks – Happiness Hours
- The Wonder Years – Sister Cities
- Taylor Swift – Red
- The Menzingers – Rented World
- The 1975 – The 1975
- Future Teens – Breakup Season
- Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In the Alps
- Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness – Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness
- The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
- Charly Bliss – Young Enough
- Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
- The Swellers – The Light Under Closed Doors
- The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ
- mewithoutYou – Pale Horses
- You, Me, and Everyone We Know – Some Things Don’t Wash Out
- Joie de Vivre – The North End
- Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
- Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
- State Lines – Hoffman Manor
- Into It. Over It. – Proper
- Pedro the Lion – Phoenix
- Fireworks – Oh, Common Life
- Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
- Broadway Calls – Comfort/Distraction
- Transit – Keep This To Yourself
- Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride
- Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
- Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten
- The Dangerous Summer – War Paint
- Japandroids – Celebration Rock
- Real Friends – Everyone That Dragged You Here
- The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
- Guster – Easy Wonderful
- Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
- Better Love – We Were Younger and Less Put Together
- I Am the Avalanche – Avalanche United
- Brian Fallon – Painkillers
- Bomb the Music Industry! – Adults!!!
- Smallpools – Smallpools
- The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven
- Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound
- Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring
- The Swellers – Good For Me
- Braid – No Coast
- Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All
- Converge – All You Love You Leave Behind
- Touché Amore – Is Survived By
- All Get Out – Nobody Likes a Quitter
- Fireworks – Gospel
- Joyce Manor – Million Dollars To Kill Me
- Hostage Calm – Please Remain Calm
- Mixtapes – Ordinary Silence
- Daytrader – Demo
- Aficionado – Aficionado
- Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland
- The Appreciation Post – Work/Sleep