Album Review: Past Lives (Against the Current)

Back in 2012 I came across Against The Current on YouTube watching random music videos of artists covering Taylor Swift songs. Then I came across Chrissy Costanza, and when I first heard them do a rock cover of a Taylor Swift country song I was hooked. Before they signed their record deal with Fueled By Ramen they were a small pop-rock band out of upstate New York that energized their music with rock driven guitars.  Now, they are charging their own course with a changed sound.

Their sophomore album Past Lives takes the forms of many current pop-rock bands before them. All the guitars have been slowly drowned out by the techno edge that has engulfed the music industry. It has made music sound stale and robotic. What happened to the guitars? The edge that I first fell in love with in your early EPs?

The 80s electric pop is definitely coming back to the music scene and every artist is jumping on the band wagon.  The new album isn’t all bad and this isn’t going to be a blog post full of down and out on how I miss the old music days because lets face it, without change we are all dead.  Past Lives is a mix of 80s electric pop with side of techno.  The guitars have been replaced with music machines, electronic pianos, and stronger drums.  One of my favorites off the album is “I Like The Way.”  The song seems like a memory or a dream as the music has numerous overlays of voices with a wave of sound that is crashing over a heavy clap beat.  It reminds me of never growing old.  We all have to grow up, but to continue the youth that we are born with we need to remember all the things we love about life.  In the second verse it goes:

“I found a burnt CD-R in your visor
From back when you were in a band
You laughed so hard it hurt
But I like how that guitar looked when it was in your hands”

“Voices” is one of the few songs on the album that has a rock tone.  With a powerhouse guitar phrasing that is linked throughout the upbeat tempo of the song.  It is an interesting concept to have it be upbeat since the song is about negative thoughts taking over your own sanity.  The music video a little out there but this song reminds me why I fell in love with Against The Current.  Their forceful bass-lines, compelling vocals, and dynamic song writing continues to improve year after year.  No, I don’t think they are sell outs for continuing to grow and change, it all goes back to what I said before.  If we don’t change, we die.

 

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It’s Time To Figure Me Out – The Summer Set’s Best New Song

When you’re a kid, your dreams are endless as you’re told by adults that you can do anything.  When you become an adult, that constant push to dream is squashed by the reality of bills, trying to keep up with the “it” people, and viewing your friends lives through social media as it seems more glamorous than your own.  The Summer Set will be releasing their first album in more than three years.  For the run of their fourth full-length album (Stories For Monday) they have released a few singles with one of them being a song called “Figure Me Out.”  It’s a song about reflection.  Coming to an epiphany moment where you stop listening to everyone around you and you can finally see things clearly.  Getting to that moment is difficult, because it means you have hit rock bottom.  Rock bottom is where your thoughts truly fall into place, and it can come in more forms – financial, death, family disfunction, or job frustration; like a boiling point about to blow.  One of the lines in the song says:

“Son don’t stop chasing great, and keep pounding the pavement
So, I’d much rather die tryin’ to make something sacred than live as another YouTube sensation.”

As an adult you hope that the choices you make are eventually going to lead you where you want to be.  For the last ten years I have moved from city to city, job to job looking for something, but have never truly found it.  At this point I don’t know if I even remember what I’m looking for in this world.  Security.  Family.  Friends.  To make a difference at something I love.  To Change someone’s world for the better.  Maybe it’s a little of all of the above, but getting to the point in your life where your imprint is worth more than fortune or fame is something that not everyone achieves.  Another person passed away in my graduating high school class and it got me thinking that nothing is worth your time unless you’re happy.  I mean truly happy.  Not the facade that everyone sees via social media.

“I’m too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids
I don’t know just where I fit in cause when I open my mouth I know nobody’s listenin’
In the words of profit who still can’t turn a profit
Cause I don’t fit in with the in crowd, but I’m too Hollywood to go back to my hometown
Cause they think that I’m famous when I know I’m a fraud
Who got too fucked up on the finer things to remember who he forgot
But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems maybe there’s still hope for me to start again…”

We get caught up in what people think.  Their judgements become how we live our lives.  How many likes did you get on Instagram or Facebook?  Does it really matter if some likes the picture you shared, or asked you what’s wrong from your sad status.  Of course it matters, because humans thrive on acceptance.  Should it matter?  I don’t know.  I know that if a friend from the past reached out I would be there for whatever they needed.  I know if someone I barely know wants to talk something out with an unbiased party I would listen.  I know that life hands us situations that we question if we can handle and we are surprised every time we get through it.

Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  So, why is it so difficult to find out that second most important question?  We dwell and fester on the past, the choices we make, but we never consider the fact that hindsight is 20/20.  That the other decision might not have been better.  Living in the now is important, but learning from the past can be a powerful tool.  Learn from yourself, learn from history, and learn from the people around you everyday.  Continue to do what is best for you and fight to make a difference in more than just your pocketbook or your next status update. And Brian Logan Dales know that this song has given me hope in one of the most frustrating moments in my life, and that it is time to figure me out.