By: Charlie Daffron
When I travel I always listen to a lot of music. It’s the best way to pass the time. I’ve got over 5,500 songs on my phone, plus access to music streaming apps like Bandcamp, so I always have a wide variety of things to choose from. Last week, I drove to Tennessee with my family for a few days. During that time, I was in the car A LOT (over 20 hours of driving both ways), so I tried to narrow down everything I listened to during the trip to five prominent albums that got a lot of playtime.
Capture The Flag-War on Women
The week I left, there was a lot of things going on in the world to be angry about. An unarmed African-American teen had just been killed by police in Pittsburgh, immigrant children were being torn from the arms of their parents and imprisoned in detainment centers, and the presidential administration was up to no good as usual. After spending the week watching all of this happen on the news and feeling powerless and frustrated because there really wasn’t a lot I could do about it, I was ready to get away from all of it for a couple of days. The first thing I put on when I got in the car was Capture The Flag. It was the most logical choice considering everything that was happening. The album is the sonic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail, a middle finger in the face of Trump and everything he stands for. Hearing all the raw passion and aggression that Shawna Potter and company put into this record was strangely comforting. Songs on the album address some of the topics I had been so frustrated about during the week, and it was like hearing someone put my thoughts into words. That’s why I listened to it so many times during my trip. Bands like War on Women always help restore a bit of my faith in humanity.
Life, Love, And The Pursuit Of Justice-Justin Sane
Sound wise, the next album I listened to was different in almost every way from War on Women. Life, Love And The Pursuit Of Justice is the first solo album by Anti-Flag singer/guitarist Justin Sane. It’s a complete departure from Anti-Flag’s loud and confrontational sound. Sane takes a much more stripped-down approach to the music and sings about personal topics that you won’t find on a typical Anti-Flag record, all while staying true to his politics. The entire album feels like a more intimate listening experience because every song is just Sane and a guitar, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric. The album’s title says it all: these songs are about Sane’s life, his experiences with love and of course, the pursuit of justice.
So, what made me choose this album? Prior to the drive up to Tennessee, it had been at least 2 years since the last time I had listened to any songs from Life, Love, And The Pursuit Of Justice. No particular reason why, it’s an excellent album, it just kind of fell off my radar. That is until the song “Cassette Deck, Road Trip, Grand Canyon” a song that is literally about a road trip, came up on shuffle. After listening to that song, I went and looked at the rest of the songs on the album and remembered how good they are, and immediately listened to the rest of it. I guess that’s the power of music for you.
Year Of The Snitch-Death Grips
Death Grips took up a lot of my music listening time while I was in Tennessee. Year Of The Snitch was released the day after I got to Tennessee. Leading up to leaving for my trip I had been super busy with school, work, and just life in general, so I had totally forgotten about all the great albums being released that day. I kind of had this “Oh shit” moment while scrolling through my Twitter feed that morning because I saw a promoted ad that said “Year Of The Snitch out June 22” then I looked at my calendar and discovered it was in fact June 22. It’s funny how that worked out.
Prior to that day I had only really listened to Death Grips in passing. I knew a couple of songs, so I had a general idea what the band’s sound was like. I also knew some good friends of mine really liked them, so I’d always meant to sit down and listen to more of their stuff. I decided that Friday was the perfect time to start. So, I went back through their releases and listened to older studio albums and mixtapes to try and mentally prepare myself for Year Of The Snitch. After spending a bunch of time doing that I was left wishing I had done it earlier.
As far as Year Of The Snitch goes, I liked it quite a bit and listened to it a lot during the second half of my trip. Sound wise, I think the cover does a great job summing up the album. You look at the cover and go “What the fuck is going on here?” then you listen to it and go, “What the fuck is going on?” That might sound negative, but I mean it in the best possible way. Death Grips do a great job making extremely experimental music that really pushes the boundaries of what I thought music could sound like and the kind of genres and styles of music that can intersect.
While we were in the car driving back from Tennessee, I dozed off while listening to Year Of The Snitch at full volume. The music in my headphones was so loud that my mom could here it over the rest of the noises in the car. She told me at lunch she that everything she heard confused her so much. She couldn’t tell what instruments she was hearing or what was “real and fake,” as she put it. Honestly, that may be the greatest reaction to Year Of The Snitch that I’ve ever heard.
Unfuckwithable-World’s Scariest Police Chases
I was looking for the perfect album to listen to on the way to church with the family and the answer came in the form of World’s Scariest Police Chases’ first full-length, Unfuckwithable. Before the band released such masterpieces as Nofx And Out Come The Wolves Dookie and the Adolf Hipster EP there was Unfuckwithable. Since it’s not on Spotify and for some reason I forgot to transfer it from my computer (a mistake I have since remedied), Unfuckwithable was another album I kind of forgot about. But, it returned in my time of need to provide me with 16 minutes of entertainment from my grandparents’ house all the way to the church parking lot.
As you may have guessed from their album titles, World’s Scariest Police Chases is one of the most wonderfully obnoxious bands to ever find their way into my music library. Imagine Super Troopers, but in the form of a band. That’s basically WSPC in a nutshell. Their hilariously over-the-top antics never cease to entertain me and Unfuckwithable is no exception. With 11 songs that are just as catchy as they are fun, you better believe I spent the entire church service with “Put You Hands Up” stuck in my head on an endless loop. Here’s to hoping that new album will be out soon!
It’s Pronounced The First Three EPs-FUCK! (It’s Pronounced SHIT!)
FUCK! (It’s Pronounced SHIT!) is the brainchild of Fraser from The Murderburgers. So, it’s like The Murderburgers except shorter, much, much, shorter. Fraser himself described FIPS as, “The musical equivalent of a mental breakdown.” It’s Pronounced The First Three Eps compiles the band’s entire 20 song discography into one convenient 14-minute long package with Seth Rogen on the cover, because why not?
The album is packed with brilliant song titles like “In A Parallel Universe I Have A Highly Paid Job, A Beautiful Wife And Two Very Well Behaved Children,” “My Attitude May Stink But I Smell Fuckin’ Amazing”, “A Sorry Excuse For A Song Hiding Behind A Long And Witty Title”, and of course the three song titles throughout the album that are Against Me themed masturbation puns (See if you can find them all!). The songs are so short the album will probably be over before you’ve even read all the song titles (or maybe I’m just not a very fast reader, who knows…).
But, the best part of the album is what’s underneath all the goofy song titles. The lyrics cover a wide variety of very meaningful topics, including dealing with depression, BDD, self-worth, and coping with the loss of friends and loved ones. All these subjects are presented in a collection of upbeat sounding pop punk songs that waste no time getting to the point.
It’s Pronounced The First Three EPs was the last album I listened to before we got back home. Ok, so I listened to it a couple of times, but it’s not that long so it’s easy to listen to it 2 or 3 times on repeat. It works on a lot of levels. On one level, it’s a bunch of deep, but abrupt songs. On another level it’s a fun little pop punk record with plenty of replay value. It’s also one of the best albums to listen to at the end of a 10+ hour long car ride because the songs are super short (between 8 seconds and a minute-and-a-half long), and after spending all that time in the car my attention span is super short, making those FIPS songs ideal listening.