“Day Tripper” is a new column of reflections on music and their connection to important times, places, dates and memories by A.T. Bossenger. Each entry will use a relevant date on the calendar as a reference point for these discussions. Mark your calendars and queue up your soundtracks.
Date: March 15, 2014 Occasion: The Ides of March
March fifteenth, 44 B.C.E. Idus Martiae. The Ides of March.
This is the day on which Julius Caesar was assassinated, stabbed to a bloody pulp by members of the Roman Senate. Sure, there are convincing arguments that Caesar had it coming. Nonetheless, this tale of conspiracy and murder is one of the most iconic stories of betrayal in the Western world; arguably only second to a certain betrayal that would occur within the following century (coughJudascough).
There’s a good reason why stories like this still resonate over two millennia later. People value trust highly; we put faith in the people and things we respect, and we feel a lingering sense of betrayal when that belief is broken. And as music lovers, like it or not, we run into betrayal pretty often. OK, so maybe it’s more like disappointment, but the fact is that when you obsess about artists and their discographies as much as we do at Treble, you set yourself up for the occasional letdown.
So sure, there’s a fair share of artists who have let me down. But, save a brutal stabbing at the hands of dozens, betrayal doesn’t have to be a finite state. So, today I’m going to take the first step in loosening my grudges and share a couple of my biggest musical letdowns. Warning: Things might get a bit mushy — promise not to jump me, alright?
1. WTF Weezer?!
I confess that by the time I started listening to Weezer (as an awkward 7th grader, no doubt) they were already dishing out the not-so-sweet sounds of Make Believe. But I became introduced to Weezer in the purest way possible. It was right before digital music really broke through on a massive level, and I still relied on CDs for most of my musical intake. Someone gave me their self-titled blue album and I was hooked by its clean-yet-dynamic appeal. On to Pinkerton and I was taken away by the record’s rougher edge and painfully honest songwriting.
Listening to Weezer, I felt this strong pulse you feel when you listen to the early work of a young band and think, “these folks are going to be life-changing one day.” I looked forward to hearing what amazing output had and would surface beyond Pinkerton and Weezer. Unfortunately, to this day, I haven’t made it all the way through a Weezer album past those two.
Sure, there are decent singles scattered here and there, but Rivers Cuomo et al. have massively failed to deliver an album that comes anywhere close to their original triumphs. It’s not that they sold out, or switched their target demographic either. In fact, live performances and killer cover sessions (ie “Paranoid Android”) prove they’re still mad talented musicians. They simply stopped writing good music; or more accurately, they quit making music that I am capable of enjoying.
2. Matt Tong: Benchwarmer
Bloc Party’s debut, Silent Alarm is, to this day, one of my favorite albums. Its genre bending post-punk embraces moments of chaos and beauty in unexpected turns that were particularly sophisticated for such a young band. On follow-up Weekend In The City, the band mellowed out a little bit, but the tone and talent were still present; not a better album than Silent Alarm but a valiant effort all the same.
The press for 2008’s Intimacy originally promised a return to form: The songwriting chops of Weekend combined with the raw energy of Silent Alarm. Unfortunately, the band changed their mind at some point in the process, and instead decided to pair some of their weakest material to date with subpar drum machines. I was so excited about that album that I don’t even want to tell you how let down I was when I bought it on vinyl without hearing it first. Major bummer.
It gets worse. Matt Tong is one of my drum icons for his tight-yet-bombastic work on Silent Alarm. Along with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty and Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale, he pretty much shaped the way I view a trap set. But on Intimacy, if they even used his original drum tracks they weren’t recognizable, warped until they resembled extremely lame dance music. I know that I took it a bit too personally, but that one really stung, Bloc Party.
Et Tu Readers?: Have you ever felt betrayed by music? Has an artist, album, or live show let you down? Let me know in the comments section, and we’ll have a little chat.