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04 August 2008 @ 02:45 am
Music Monday: Straylight Run  
Hello, everyone! I'm xhrkbhrl, but it would probably be easier just to call me Lizzy. I hope you had a good time with wishpaper last month (I know I definitely appreciated those Midtown downloads), and that you'll have a pretty okay time with me, too!

This month, I'm going to be talking about musicians that have connections--in some cases, quite a few connections--to bandom, but that I haven't seen a lot of discussion about. I'll probably be encroaching on a lot of the other days' territory (sorry, fellow August reccers! Please forgive me), but I'll do my best to keep things music-oriented and not just flail embarrassingly at you about how much I love these people.

All right, introduction is over, let's get down to business! For my first Music Monday, I'd like to highlight a little band named

Left to right: Will Noon (drums), Michelle DaRosa (vocals, guitar, keys), John Nolan (vocals, guitar, keys), Shaun Cooper (bass).

A Maybe-Not-So-Brief History:
John and Shaun were originally guitarist and bassist, respectively, in Taking Back Sunday, but John and Adam Lazzara had some sort of tiff, as they are wont to do even to this day, and the two left (Wikipedia tells me it was actually Shaun who suggested this. I thought he was the quiet one!). They formed Straylight Run in May-ish 2003 and shortly thereafter recruited Will, formerly of Breaking Pangaea, and John's sister Michelle to fill out the band. Because John and Shaun were contractually obligated to do so, Straylight Run released two albums with Victory Records: their self-titled debut album on October 12, 2004, and the Prepare To Be Wrong EP on October 4, 2005. Michelle married Jeff DaRosa from the band Dropkick Murphys (he apparently tours with SR as a backup musician and is possibly the mystery man who keeps popping up in the live photos I've got saved) on October 8, 2006. John married Camille Nolan, a photographer, somewhere in there; I can't find Camille's maiden name or a date for that. They signed with Universal Records and released their most recent album, The Needles The Space, on June 19, 2007. Universal dropped them on December 8 that same year. On June 3, 2008, Michelle and the band posted two separate MySpace blogs announcing her departure from the band in order to pursue a solo career. From the tone of the blogs, it appears that this was a genuinely amicable split and not a Cobra Starship one; both Michelle and the band left the door open to playing together some time and were very supportive of each other's endeavors.

Bandom Connections!:
-As mentioned before, John and Shaun used to be in Taking Back Sunday.
-At one point while they were still in TBS, Adam and Michelle dated.
-Fred Mascherino, who took John's place in TBS, was lead vocalist in Will's old band Breaking Pangaea.
-John and Jesse Lacey of Brand New were BFF in grade school, and they (and occasionally Adam) have been Long Island's zaniest frenemies ever since.
-SR have toured with The Hush Sound, The Used, and Four Year Strong. I don't have pictorial evidence of the last two. :(

Finally, The Music:
I've included only a few songs from each of SR's records because I am all about buying the album, so if you like what you hear, do that! Or just bother me in the comments and I'll give you the whole thing, I'm kind of a pushover. Don't keep for more than twenty-four hours or I'm not responsible for what may happen, possibly they will explode, blah blah blah let's talk about music now! There are links at the bottom of this post for downloading all of the songs I've included or for picking and choosing individual songs, or you can go album by album (mostly this is because I was having fun trying to figure out how MediaFire worked).

Straylight Run:
-It's kind of a given, seeing as it's the songs John wrote while things weren't going well with TBS and after he and Shaun left, but this is so very much an album about loss. There are some songs about girls ("The Tension And The Terror", "Existentialism On Prom Night", "Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs"). There are some songs about leaving TBS ("The Perfect Ending", "Dignity And Money"). There's a song that seems like it's about a girl, but that I'm pretty sure is actually about leaving TBS ("Now It's Done"). Reportedly, John was drinking a lot while he was with TBS, and there are some songs about that ("Another Word For Desperate", "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making", "For The Best"). There's a song that may or may not be aimed at Adam Lazzara or Jesse Lacey ("Sympathy For The Martyr"), and it's not very nice. (While "Sympathy"'s target is unclear, "Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)" is significantly more uplifting--though not exactly happy--and definitely about Jesse. Rumor has it he cried when he heard it the first time because he was so moved.) John was not in a very happy place when he wrote these songs, and it shows--Straylight Run is a very good album with clever lyrics and tight musicianship, but it's not so much of a pick-me-up.
-Selected tracks (click to download):
2. "The Tension And The Terror"
4. "Another Word For Desperate"
9. "For The Best" (I adore the backup vocals on this, uggggh. I don't know if it's Will or Shaun, but they're fantastic.)
10. "Now It's Done"

Prepare To Be Wrong:
-John has mostly cooled off about his former bandmates, but now he's mad at the government--there's a reason the last song is a cover of Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side". "Later That Year" and "Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)" are pretty bluntly about the people in power. "Later That Year" has the added bonus of, like "With God On Our Side", railing about war as well ("I Don't Want This Anymore" could possibly be about the War on Terror, but it's fairly vague so I'm not going to say that's definite). I'm not too sure who "It Never Gets Easier" is about, but whoever it is, John's pretty contemptuous of them. This one's another angry album (John's one of my favorite screamers) with lyrics that are a little more pointed than on the first one--only a very tiny bit more, because they were pretty pointed the first time around. The songs are a little more polished, a little fuller, there's a little more synthesizer, but SR are still ticked off.
-Selected tracks:
2. "It Never Gets Easier"
5. "Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)" (Seriously, I love his scream.)

The Needles The Space:
-This time around, SR rant about a couple of new themes and continue to rant about the old ones. However! John is also--could it be?--hopeful, and maybe even a little happy (he's gotten married since the last album, after all). "We'll Never Leave Again" and "This Is The End" are practically love songs, and "The First Of This Century" is positively optimistic, if not for John himself, then for the future at least. The album's got its downers, though. "The Miracle That Never Came" and "Soon We'll Be Living In The Future" both deal with death. "Buttoned Down" may be about death as well or it may be another tirade against a person's character like "Sympathy For The Martyr" and "It Never Gets Easier" from previous albums. "Take It To Manhattan" is definitely one such tirade. "How Do I Fix My Head" and "Cover Your Eyes" take aim at artifice and phoniness; "Who Will Save Us Now" rails at the government some more. The Straylight beast is not yet tamed, but it's on its way to being a little cuddlier than before.
-Selected tracks:
2. "The Miracle That Never Came"
3. "Soon We'll Be Living In The Future"
8. "Take It To Manhattan"
9. "Still Alone"

Download all the music in this post.
Download individual songs.

Oh man, I am sorry for talking so much about things that aren't music this time around. It'll get better in weeks to come, I promise, now that I don't have to do all this introductory jazz again.

See you next week!
Kind of like a sneeze, only it feels good.xhrkbhrl on August 4th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Haha, I tried to keep it simple because I'm supposed to be talking about the music, but I couldn't entirely help myself.

I hope I don't disappoint! Some of the bands I've got planned for the rest of the month are very very baby bands, but I think there are at least two that people will know.