A modern gentleman’s guide to 13 Top Ten spring anthems

13. Arcade Fire – Month of May

Devender Sellers said it best:

On their Grammy award-winning album The Suburbs, the Arcade Fire explore the implications of growing up a suburban, disconnected child. On the track “Month of May,” Wil Butler curtly sings that the month of May is “a violent thing/ In the city their hearts start to sing./ Well, some people singing sounds like screaming./ Used to doubt it but now I believe it.” Any police officer will tell you warming weather brings out more activity and crime. In this Ramones-style rock song, the realities of city life awakened by spring awakens hibernating desires, both good and bad.

Arcade Fire addresses the ills of a season that resemble a hard boiled egg’s decorative shell. An inviting array of soft pastel shades brushed in hypnotic patterns. But this is an egg that was missed on the hunt, and left out of the basket. As the sun beats down on its shell, the inside becomes an acrid haven of rot, riddled with bacteria.

12. God is an Astronaut – First Day of Sun

These titans of post-rock hail from Ireland, where everything is in a permanent state of green n’ misty. So it’s no wonder that they have such a natural ability to capture the essence of spring, in First Day of Sun, via folding synth-like guitar waves and delicate harmonics. Imagine time lapsed photography of a wild flower peeking a bud above thawed ground. The tiny plant unfurls ever so gently, born into a climate where everything has a smell, after the lifting of winter’s muting veil. There is no crescendo, as you never actually witness the expanding of petals. The build up, growth and regeneration are the focal point of God is an Astronaut’s peaceful commentary on the span of time between two opposite seasons.

11. Matt and Kim – Ice Melts

Chemically enhanced road salt eats away at your car’s exterior metal shell, but a loose fire hydrant valve washes it all away. Snow tires kill your gas mileage, while cracked windows let a constant breath of warm air in. The blue nights  and filthy slush estuary’s of winter have been challenged by the chants of Brooklyn kids playing hopscotch. Matt and Kim can always be relied upon for records rife with blossomingly awesome celebratory power pop. Adding bursts of brass to Kim’s tenacious cymbal hopping shakes that hard water right off the city sidewalks, like it was never even there.

10. Harvey Milk – Mothers Day

A surging organ partnered with a string quartet, aboard a gondola that drifts down a canal. The current is so still, that the surface is like a glass coffee table for flower buds and dust. Yet something sinister and monolithic lurks from a far. Closes in. The dirty amplifiers from an Athens, Georgia  guitar shop slowly rise, at first, disguised with the organ’s hum, like a bloodthirsty alligator wearing sunglasses. You don’t have to holler about obscure space mythology to be in a metal band. The avant-garde habits of bands like The Melvins and Floor, are triumphantly elaborated upon with Harvey Milk’s showstopper from Special Wishes. Slow down a ZZ Top song, slow it down a little bit more, sing about your mom and you have something resembling this.

9. My Morning Jacket – I’m Amazed

They began in the backwoods, hushed and subdued like most alternative country outfits. Somewhere along the way they found Prince and let psychedelia rule their harry hearts. The rhythm of earth turns with blissed out southern rock harmony and a groovy bass line. My Morning Jacket follows the relationship of light rain on tiny leaf buds, all the way to the dawn’s detonation of viridian. And what a refreshing morning it is. Jim James is as impressed with the natural world as he is by its lack of justice, wrong devotion, and what they want him to believe. This jam couldn’t be more positive, but it’s begging you to wake up and smell the flowers. Flowers being a metaphor for the shady corporate agenda.

8. Youth Lagoon – Afternoon

If Schroeder from Charlie Brown had a Korg keyboard and a Mac loaded with garage band in his lonely bedroom, this is what it would sound like. I can’t hear this and not envision animated birds chirping at the brim of a cave, where a grizzly bear is stretching it’s four-month-stubbled jaws with a long awaited yawn. Everything’s muffled, as if behind a rainy window pane, or a mask of congested sinuses. The delightful caress of whistling is  the perfect serenade to bring the world out of hibernation. Only to find it’s raining and go back inside to play bear themed video games on Bear Box 360.

7. Banner Pilot – Spanish Reds

Banner Pilot play hectic melodic punk like it’s their day job just as much as a nightly passion. Their sharp songwriting is always kept relevant by how the final result consistently sounds live and uncooked. The melody of the chorus strikes every chord in the heart, beckoning the emotion of an old wooden Meatloaf song. Banner Pilot asks where the sun is before they question what moments really make it feel like the world is right, somehow. Here, it’s ignoring the monotony of dead end jobs while drinking red wine in bed all day with the ladies, waiting for the rain to stop. As a red breasted robin observes it all, from outside the window. April showers bring mayflowers, and mayflowers bring pilgrims. Pilgrim’s learned to play guitar and taught their grand children, who taught theirs, who moved to the mid-west, plugged their instruments in and kind of forgot about Europe. Loosing an hour of sleep never sounded so right.

6. The Naked and Famous – Young Blood

Like a ritual chanted by a tribe of post-apocalyptic Indians, adorned in neon face paint, coaxing a space god to bless them with rain and a lucrative harvest of bio-engineered corn.  You can almost feel the dandelion spores brushing against your cheek. This New Zealand electro-indie outfit stood out from their counterparts with the 2011 full length Passive Me, Aggressive You. It was an album of  power-pop that projected  a dark minor key cadence, and buzz hampered guitar drop ins.  The weird, echoed voice of a thousand young savages frightening you with the pure beauty of sound.

5. The Horrible Crowes – Cherry Blossoms

The brilliant side project of a guitar tone genius and a gifted storyteller. On their semi conceptual album exploring a breakup, The Horrible Crowes reflect on a long winter that didn’t end without broken bones and permanent stains. Named for those pink flower buds that get all over your car. In this instance, they’re discovered on the hood of some old automobile after some vixen obliterates a charming gentleman’s heart. Spring is observed as foreboding, where Winter is a solace from the boys of summer, who lay waiting to snatch up yo lady-friend. Cherry Blossoms strikes a splendid balance between bitter and sweet, which is how I’d imagine the actual flower petal to taste.

4. Dropkick Murphys – Fields of Athenry

If Boston had its own currency, Ken Casey’s grinning green mug would be on the front of the five dollar bill. Dropkick almost owns the entire Spring holiday season, and are working on taking over Cinco de Mayo next. They figured out that power chords, bagpipes and tin flute sounded great together and decided not to stray. Part that with a celebration of the relentless spirit of the working class, and you have the reason for DKM’s success. Fields of Athenry is actually a traditional Celtic folk tune about a farmer who steals food for his family, during the great famine. He is imprisoned in Botany Bay, Australia, and when Ken tells us about that waiting prison ship at the build- up, it makes me want to wind surf on a river of corned beef.

3. American Steel – Every New Morning

Dag naggit this tune makes me want to shove pollen up my nose and sneeze as hard as a human being possibly can. Back when American Steel had unbridled, sloppy elegance and screamed every word like words were something that kept a man breathing. If you got drunk all winter, and woke up in the sun on a March day, then this one is for you. The deconstructed bridge of wallowing, the build up and that fuckin lead just makes me want to grab a small tree bulb and violently cram it into the soft, cradle of earth’s soil to water it on a regular basis until I have a vast field of lilys to flee drunk and broken through.

2. Leatherface – Springtime

Leatherface is a crusading band that helped pioneer what the kids call ‘melodic punk.’ Track number seven on the 1991 classic, Mush, invented a home for nostalgia in punk music. And I got a spring fever. A fever for more sweet smelling guitar chords bowed under an ash lunged British man wailing about the kind of hope that lives only in history. Brings you back to that place where everything is new, clean, free, and with so many things left to see. The ache that Frankie Stubbs carries for that time is tangible. Calling out for it with the swash and buckle resonance of a Pogues basement show. Except that rare place never came into fruition, and the only prescription I need is more Leatherface, grittier and prettier.

1. Frank Turner – Photosynthesis

If the concept of folk art translates to mean handmade or homemade, than Frank Turner is some solid folk. Photosynthesis examines crossing that strange bridge from your 20′s to your 30′s, and then draws a comparison to plants; to how they derive energy from the sun, as a means to simply live. But plants are rooted to the ground, and Frank says fuck being rooted to the ground and fuck plants. This is a defiant manifesto against growing up and ditching all your dreams. But most of all it’s about growth, and not being in a rush to turn into a big, dead, tree with a pension plan. An acoustic driven anthem, with arena rock capacity. Listen to this one outdoors, on a morning when your local weathermen are reporting outside and have their sleeves rolled up. Bright yellow sun, along with jovial battle cries that rally against those who have given up, shut up, and sat down, truly make a great medley. Chlorophyll? More like borophyll.

Or if your partial to something more seasonal, be well cognitively equipped with a modern gentleman’s guide to 13 Top Ten summer anthems

1 Comment

Filed under Folk punk, Indie music, Nature, Review

One response to “A modern gentleman’s guide to 13 Top Ten spring anthems

  1. Amateur Chemistry

    This is such a good list! Cheers to the Leatherface, and American Steel! I like that you include punk and indie rock; It’s refreshing to see somebody with a less discriminating taste in music

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