Jeff Schaller and the Long Way Home – ‘Reckless Life’

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the rest of the Long Way Home (besides Liesi) and even longer since we’ve rehearsed as a full band, but we spent the past few months working remotely on an acoustic EP. Jeff wrote these songs over the past tumultuous year, and I think they’re some of his best – incisive, political, and memorable. Give it a listen and get ready to hear loud versions of these when it’s safe to play shows again.

Jeff Schaller and the Long Way Home – ‘Two Decades and Change (Deluxe Edition)’

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.

An Album That Changed My Life: The Power of Failing by Mineral

I wrote this piece up for a forum I frequent, and I figured I’d post it here as well.

I was sixteen years old and browsing one of the old B-Sides R Us blogs when I came across a post with a link to Mineral’s first album, The Power of Failing, accompanied with a challenge: “If you can listen to this and feel nothing, then you don’t have a heart.” It was rare in those days to see a full-length album on the B-sides blog, so with no other context or background on the band, I dove in.

To this day, it remains one of my most memorable first listens. It’s an imperfect record in so many ways, but the songwriting and the passion shone through the messy production and rough musicianship to a degree that I’ve yet to hear replicated. The guitar tones aren’t what any producer would pick out today, but Scott McCarver’s parts stand out nonetheless, from the tension of the feedback solo on “Slower” to the cathartic release of the pre-chorus riff in “Parking Lot.” Chris Simpson is not a technically proficient singer – his voice cracks and strains in ways that make trained vocalists cringe – but he puts every fiber of his being into every word he sings. And the lyrics were exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Simpson writes about perennially relatable topics like overcoming loss and personal failure, and his lyrics are steeped in Christian themes and imagery that made the songs hit even harder for me. I was in tears by the end.

The Power of Failing also challenged how I shared the music I loved with other people. My friends ignored it because it wasn’t on the radio. My brother wouldn’t listen to it because of the production. I had to beg people to drop any preconceptions they had about emo or whatever and just close their eyes and listen. I would print out the lyrics and include them when I burned the CD for someone. I’m not sure any of my friends ever really got Mineral the way I did, but I recently heard Frank Turner tell a story about doing almost the exact same thing, so I know I’m not alone.

From there, the floodgates opened. I couldn’t get enough of this “midwest emo” sound, and within months my iPod was full of The Get Up Kids, Texas Is the Reason, the Promise Ring, and many others that I still count among my favorite bands.

It wasn’t until their reunion tour in 2014 that I finally got the chance to see Mineral. I truly thought it would never happen, and I could do little more than stand against the stage and stare at the four people whose words and music had affected me so deeply over the past seven years. I cried again during “Five, Eight, and Ten” and “Parking Lot” and especially “Unfinished,” and I’ll never forget it.