Over the course of the last week I have found myself just for fun going back and listening to some of the old bands that I used to listen to in the search of the great summer soundtrack. I haven’t found an insane amount but let’s face it, summer is the time for more pop laden music, and just because I said pop doesn’t mean I am referring to acts like Taylor Swift or One Direction. Pop music is found in all genres from pop-punk (blink 182,Taking Back Sunday), indie pop (Belle and Sebastian, fun), pop-rock (Mayday Parade, Green Day) and many more. These being just slight examples.
The diversity of music is such a fascinating thing to think about. When people ask me what I listen to I simply respond with just indie rock, but what about the other stuff that I will occasionally listen to based on my mood? That brings up a question for further debatge later but I usually explain that I can listen to anything as long as it is a sub genre of rock and isn’t by Nickelback.
I have jumped from my original point. One of the bands that I had fallen back in love with was/is Motion City Soundtrack. I started listening to MCS back in 2004 right around the time of their sophomore record, Commit This to Memory. That record will always be my favorite record of theirs because of the lyrics front man Justin Pierre put out, it’s their style, eccentric and odd with the mogg synth mixed in with pop-punk/indie rock stylings. It wasn’t until after meeting the band at Warped Tour in 2006 that I really enjoyed their music. They are totally cool guys and they took their time to talk to me and my group of friends which most bands wouldn’t do.
With the release of their last record that I would get at the time, Even if it Kills Me, I had stopped listening to them in exchange for heavier more angst ridden acts like Chiodos or Silverstein. But in my quest for finding a new band to wrap my ears around for summer tracks I stumbled upon my copy of Even If It Kills Me and after one listen to their entire catalog it was love again.
MCS sounds more like indie-pop in their more recent record and at times pop-punk in earlier records but to label Pierre and his band mates is a challenge that most people can’t do. So without further ado here is in my honest opinion the ten best tracks from their five albums.
10. Hangman off of Commit This To Memory
Let’s kick off this list with a solid pop punk track off of the solid sophomore record. What I love about this track is well everything The song has the classic blink sound to it, the fast paced rhythm guitars and mogg set up a fast and short song that features one of the more catchy choruses on the record. The cameo from producer Mark Hoppus is really nice. “Hangman it’s not your fault/Commit this to memory!” is a line that ends up in your head for a while. When Hoppus jumps in with it’s a nice shock and totally cool change, Hoppus’ part features some of the more challenging lyrics in the song.
09. Hold Me Down off of Commit This To Memory
The final track on the sophomore release is a nice slower track that takes the final five minutes and just slows things down. Pierre sings in a semi-falsetto voice which is a nice little change of pace. The mogg is no where to be seen until the bridges and it’s a soft guitar driven track that is vocal heavy. This is one of the best written tracks lyrically that Pierre has ever put out the whole concept is that it can be taken as a love song or a break up song and it seems more and more like it’s a break up song, “how can I break the news to you?” is the main sentiment of the softer track and it’s one that is repeated over and over. A fitting end to a solid record.
08. Broken Heart off of Even If It Kills Me
The first single from Even If It Kills Me has stuck with me all these years later, the catchy guitar laden pop sounds so sweet to my ears that I still know all the words. Even though the whole subject matter is totally and utterly depressing Pierre and company do a good job blending the up tempo guitar/mogg combination with the upbeat vocals. A chorus as catchy as this ends up stuck in your head for a while but not as bad as some of the other songs on this list but it’s the verses that I find much more in depth as compared to the chorus. “I’ll express myself with ease/With confidence/And character complete/With fingers crossed they’ll talk to me” is just one of my favorite lines on the song.
07. Pulp Fiction off of My Dinosaur Life
This song should have been a single, with the heavy guitar riff that opens up the song then the soft blending of the rest of the band and then Pierre’s fast paced vocals with references to Miami Vice and Inspector Gadget all in the first verse. While the chorus is a lot of catchy words mixed together it’s a lot heavier, more rock oriented. I enjoy the reference to what the title references, pulp fiction novels and comics and it’s mentioned in said catchy chorus. The plot sucks but these killings are gorgeous Pierre will say but at the same time while it sounds like nonsense it’s quite nice social commentary.
06. Antonia off of Even If It Kills Me
It’s safe to say that Even if it Kills Me is a phenomenal album after looking back at this list. There is something about the lyrics in this song that make me love it. It’s so simple. It’s a song about a girl but much like the Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly” it’s about a quirky song. Pierre’s voice just seems to fit this exact style of music. The mixture of guitar to mogg ratio is really well done in this track as well, the mogg is most noticeable in the chorus which I enjoy. I also enjoyed the Ben Folds Five reference because I had forgotten about them after all those years. Jumping from a slower to more faster pace style is another thing that stands out in this track as well. And while this track doesn’t feature a strong catchy chorus it, as a whole is a song that I rather enjoy.
05. Hello Helicopter off of Even If It Kills Me
Even if it Kills Me as mentioned earlier was the first record Pierre wrote that he was completely sober doing and the end result is some deeper and more heartfelt tracks. “Hello Helicopter” stands out due to the fact that the very beginning of the track is just Pierre and a piano which makes this feel really intimate. The lyrics though, while maintaining the classic MCS semi-nonsense are most likely deeply personal. Not only is the track one of the softer ones on the record it’s also the band’s only overtly political song and it works because it is so subtle in terms of the message they are trying to convey.
04. My Favorite Accident off of I Am The Movie
The striking of several keys before the guitars strike in with the heavy mogg turn what was going to be a soft soothing melody into a harder jam that slows right back down as Pierre eases into the first verse about what is seemingly a mistake of a relationship. With a slower moving chorus that still has the catchy words the true highlight of this song is the instrumentation and mogg playing. This is one of their more punk rocking sounding songs at least until the bridge leading into the final hooray of the song. Even if some of the lyrics don’t make sense it’s a rocking sing a long that you want to sing with live.
03. Her Words Destroyed My Planet off of My Dinosaur Life
I was pleasantly surprised by how good My Dinosaur Life is on a whole. The record reminds me of Commit This To Memory quite a bit and this song is the one that does it for me the most. Pierre has sharpened his voice in terms of writing and this one seemingly about a bitter break up sounds so damn happy. As usual the pop culture references amuse me greatly, “I fell asleep watching Veronica Mars, again.” The chorus is another strong one and it seems that the band puts out the most catchiest choruses in the genre, sorry Fall Out Boy but yours sucks. The mixture of the pop sounding chorus and then the rock sounding verses and then the mixed bridge that combines the two create a solid song that ends up being the highlight of the record.
02. The Future Freaks Me Out off of I Am The Movie
“I’m on fire! And now I think I’m ready to bust a move. Check it out I’m rockin’ steady!” Pierre croons as the track kicks off with the subtle electric guitar that goes into the full fledged sound that we come to have known to love. The mogg is on full display and it is a nice accompaniment to Pierre’s voice. One thing I always love about what MCS does is that somehow they make references to pop culture in a vast majority of their songs in the first verse alone there is a mention to the film Footloose and the then hit TV show, Will & Grace. With a chorus that is so catchy it stays in your head for days “The Future Freaks Me Out” is not only the most memorable track on a solid debut but one of the best the band has put out to this date.
01. LG FUAD off of Commit This to Memory
LG FUAD doesn’t hide what it is. A quick strumming of the acoustic guitar to start off the track with Pierre singing “let’s get fucked up and die!” essentially states the purpose of the song. It’s a nice blend of acoustic indie sounding music with the pop laden vocals of Pierre and the quirky lyric writing he brings. “Like the last time that I committed suicide. Social suicide” is just one of the many gems of straight forward yet subtle lyrics that is brought to the table here. It doesn’t help that this was the first song that I had ever heard before from the band via MySpace nearly a decade ago. The origins of the song date back to a tour the band was on in 2003 when one of their management got really drunk and blurted out, “let’s get fucked up and die” and thus the humorous track was born. The track is all about going on a bender fueled by booze and that is what makes this song so great, it’s all humor, tongue in cheek so to speak.