Don’t Mess With Me – Brody Dalle

One my my high school crushes was Brody Dalle. I started listening to The Distillers after I became heavily interested in Rancid and Hellcat Records. (I was obsessed with almost everything that label produced.) I loved everything about Brody. To me, she was the epitome of female badassery. She had an unmatched swagger and voice, all while still being completely and utterly stunning and unapologetic about being a woman. I thought that was amazing.

Recently, Brandon asked me if I had heard of Brody, and my interest piqued immediately. “Of course I have! Why?”

He loaded YouTube on our PS3 and played this video.

I had no clue that she’d released Diploid Love, but he and I have been listening to it on repeat since Friday. (We picked it up at Shake It on our date night.)

Especially now that she’s blonde, I’m sure the comparisons to Courtney Love are pouring in. But I prefer Brody by a landslide.

When I listened to her while she was in The Distillers, she had jet black hair and looked undead, except for her blood-red lips. As it turns out, when she and Tim Armstrong split (the lead singer of Rancid, and owner of Hellcat) her musical career took a major hit.

According to an article published by The Guardian in April 2014, “It took her three years to leave Armstrong, and when she did, the aftermath was brutal. His celebrity friends waged a public campaign against her, criticising Dalle in the press, and reportedly threatening the male Distillers and blacklisting anyone associated with the band. “We lost every fucking body. Me and my guys were left there standing alone, holding each other.””

In addition to that, Dalle was battling with a meth addiction, which as many know, is something that people rarely bounce back from. The Distillers last album, Coral Fang, produced some mainstream hits, but it wasn’t enough to save the crumbling band and lead singer.

Luckily, Dalle moved forward and married Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and had children Camille & Orrin, who she credits for her continued sobriety.

Diploid Love has a lot of gems that are worth a listen, but my favorite so far is Don’t Mess With Me.

While the beat and progressions Dalle uses are enough to draw in a casual listener, I can’t help but appreciate her lyrics, as well. Her entire album speaks to overcoming battles – both inward and outward – and Dalle has clearly won all of the ones she’s been faced with.

You’re the reason I can stay
And fight until the death

Fall Back Down – Rancid

Don’t worry about me, I’m gonna make it alright
Got my enemies crossed out in my sight
I take a bad situation gonna make it right
In the shadows of darkness I stand in the light…

…If I fall back down, you’re gonna help me back up again
If I fall back down, you’re gonna be my friend

I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been sad. That’s all there is to it. Last Thursday, my mom’s dog had to be put down VERY unexpectedly. My dad has been out-of-town for work, so I was the only one that could be there for her. When she called to say it was time, I left work and drove to be with her. It was one of the darkest days I’ve had as an adult. For some that might sound stupid, but for us, our dogs are our family. And Wren was a wild family member. Seeing my mom so devastated and knowing she’d now have to go home to an empty home plunged me into depression. I begged her to stay with Brandon and I at our apartment.

In addition to that, Brandon and I had been planning on adopting a second dog. So a day after putting down a beloved family member, I drove to Dayton to pick up a new one. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy at all.

On Friday when Jarrett and I got home with Ivy, we had a few friends at the house. And when the pressure became too much and I sobbed like a baby, they hugged me while standing in my kitchen, and left to give me time to process.

All of this leads into this song:

As mentioned before, I have a certain affinity for Indestructible by Rancid. It was released in 2003 while I was heading into high school, and I became addicted to it.

“Fall Back Down” is a much poppier song than their usual, but it always serves as a pick-me-up when I’m sad.

Let’s face it: my friends are amazing. They’re family. And family sticks together. This song is a break from the cynicism of punk, and I love the gratitude it conveys. Next time you’re emo, don’t be embarrassed to listen to a song that picks you up, regardless of how old or unpopular it may be. We all have our own journey to take when we’re having a hard time. Let’s just hope you have awesome people to share it with.

First Album Love

Whenever I find an artist, I always look through their entire catalogue, afraid that I missed something pivotal.

But I always end up coming back to the first album I heard by them. Even when I know it isn’t their best work, it still manages to be my favorite.

Case in point?

Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Social Distortion – White Light, White Heat, White Trash 
Rancid – Indestructible 
AFI – Sing the Sorrow
NOFX – The War on Errorism
Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty
New Found GlorySticks and Stones
The Black Keys – Magic Potion
Against Me! – Searching for a Former Clarity

Okay, I think I made it clear.

For some reason, there’s a thrill and memory associated with when you fell in love with an artist. Even if, in your heart, you know it isn’t their best work, the first album you hear will always shine brightest. Some of my best memories were made listening to these cds. I still remember being in middle school and buying, White Light, White Heat, White Trash at FYE and listening to it on my Walkman in the car on the way home. I was so excited to hear those songs, and to find a new sound that I’d never known – a sound that no one around me in suburban Indiana had known.

That sparked my love of Social Distortion, who were my favorite band for years. I even remember going to see them in concert and teachers from my high school were at the show. We had more in common than we’d initially realized, and even though they were my instructors, I considered them friends.

I can pinpoint the moment I heard the opening riff to “No Son of Mine,” from Every Time I Die’s The Big Dirty. The same car trip that inspired my love of ETID fueled my passion for Against Me!. I was on a trip to Bloomington to suss out IU with some friends, and they played Searching for a Former Clarity. “Miami” stuck with me. I can remember subsequently going into Shake It Records to buy copies of both albums, and being ridiculously excited.

A friend burnt Indestructible for me in high school. In all reality, she was a bully that I didn’t really like, but I befriended her to avoid conflict. I asked her to burn cd’s for me that I didn’t have the money to buy. At the time, Tim Armstrong’s voice was worth putting up with her. I listened to that album on repeat while mowing the lawn at home. It was the soundtrack to many a summer sunburn.

As I tried to distance myself from the bully girl, I found myself going to the local library to get albums and burning them to my computer. That’s where I scrounged up Magic Potion and countless others. Surely the librarians knew that when I checked out STACKS of cds, I wasn’t just taking them home to listen to. But they never said anything.

civicpubliclibraryharrisonbranch02

It’s not like all this pirating was for nefarious reasons. I was a high school kid who was sonically starved and something had to feed that addiction. At least I was nerdy enough to hang out in the library instead of other places.

More than any other, I remember my first New Found Glory album. I’d been bullied A LOT by a jock in middle school. He would harass me virtually every day, and the teacher didn’t do anything. I was angry, hurt and felt violated. My mom knew about it, so when we went to Bigg’s one evening, she bought me Sticks and Stones. She gently asked me if I liked it when I took my headphones off briefly in the car.

Even though I was a shitty, bratty, angry teenager, I appreciated her act of support. She felt helpless watching her daughter be picked on. But she knew what made me feel better and wanted to supply that to me, even if she didn’t fully understand.

The main thing that ties all of these albums together is that they served as different milestones for me. Whether I’m embarrassed to admit that I like those artists or not, I can’t forget the effect that the music had on me. It served as my therapist, my solace, my friend, my ammunition.

I think it’s incredibly important to pay homage to the albums that inspire us and get us through rough spots. There’s no reason to feel sheepish when an artist or album resonates with you. That means there’s a chord to be struck, and not everyone has that depth or emotional awareness.