I’ve Got Friends – Manchester Orchestra

When I was in college I discovered Manchester Orchestra through Pandora. The first song that I ever heard from them was “I’ve Got Friends.” Andy Hull’s voice was sweet, but it had anger behind it. The lyrics were like poetry – I could relate, but I wasn’t always 100% sure of artist intent.

After delving into their catalogue, I went to Shake-It and bought the two albums they had out at the time: I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child and Mean Everything to Nothing.

I have mixed emotions about what Manchester Orchestra means to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had severe depression. I would soak their music in –  it was like a drug for my depression; it made me feel better, but sometimes it just made things worse. I remember screaming along to many of the songs, thoroughly upset, and unsure why.

I’d drive around Cincinnati at night listening to these albums, crossing the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge. During the day, I’d play them on repeat in my car, and even the sunny summer days are cloudy and dark in my memory. I was floating through my life, existing, but detached from myself.

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“I’ve Got Friends,” was ironic to me at the time. I did have friends, but my depression made it hard for me to appreciate them, or feel their impact – to feel anything. My life was a jumble, and I just couldn’t figure out how to unknot it.

Now, I can easily say that I’m surrounded by SO many fantastic people that I’m lucky to know. I’m able to see them, feel their support, and acknowledge when it’s my depression talking and not reality.

For me, Manchester Orchestra was that weird place between being asleep and awake. I knew that something wasn’t quite right – something didn’t add up. They helped me get through that time, but not in a wholly healthy way. Maybe someday, now that I know these things, I’ll be able to dig into Cope and Hope. We’ll see.

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If you or someone you know or love is experiencing depression, please seek a local mental health professional – I promise it’s worth it. If the situation is dire, please call 1-800-273-8255. This hotline is available 24/7. 

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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