Tuesday, August 6, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 26. Weston - Got Beat Up


This is not the first time Weston has appeared on this list (#52 - Matinee). However I could practically be writing about two different bands, the Weston that recorded Got Beat Up and the Weston that recorded Matinee were two very different bands. I’ll try not repeat too much of what I said on my Matinee write-up but simple version is this. By the time they recorded and released Matinee guitarist/vocalist Jim Snyder had pretty much taken over the lead vocals and song-writing role of the band and brought them into a more Indie Rock style reminiscent of Pinkerton era Weezer. Before that they were the punk band with the best harmonies around.

I once read a review on a blog that said ‘Modern punk music owes more to Weston than they’ll ever get credit for’. I don’t know if I 100% agree with that statement but I will say that Got Beat Up is one of the most flawless pieces of 90’s punk music. Much like their debut full length Real Life Story of Teenage Rebellion the CD has a slight ‘concept’ album style from the perspective of a high school student. However unlike RLSOTR every single track fits the concept.

The album opens with the un-PC love song Retarded, one of the few songs sang by titular member Dave Weston. The song declares ‘You are so retarded, I must be retarded too, I can’t believe it, I’m still in love with you’. This catchy track could never be recorded in this day-in-age where Robert Downey Jr can be completely in black-face but controversy is him saying ‘go full retard.’

The theme of the stupid things that love can make us do is continued in the following track Me and Rene. This is the first (but certainly not the last) time we hear guitarist Jim Snyder singing. He speaks of his love for someone who consistantly makes his life difficult declaring ‘Sometimes it’s hard to be in love with you’. It’s not the worst song on the album but it’s far from the best.

Bassist Chuck Saltern ‘s first vocal track on the album is one of the stand out tracks. No Kind of Superstar is a goofy song dedicated to the outkast geeks in high school. He sings about Star wars, Dungeons and Dragons and being picked up by bullies on the bus. In the extremely catchy chorus he belts out ‘I know I’ll never be the cool kid that everyone wants to talk to, I know I’ll always be the fat kid on the bus everybody’s a jerk too’. I know within my circle of geeky punk kids this song is a semi-anthem proclaiming how little we care about being 26 and still playing D&D when we get a chance. 

If there were a song that Weston was known for, it’d be the next two tracks the super short New Shirt that leads immediately into the pop punk sing-along Heather Lewis. These songs were my first introduction to Weston, but I’ll discuss that further later.

My best friend Shrop has always said that if Weston was smart they would have released Your Summer Dresses Bore Me as a single. I can’t disagree with him. The song is a nice little Alternative track the reminds me of a Gin Blossoms b-side. The song sounds insanely out of place on this record, but makes perfect sense when you consider every album that came after this. 

The rest of Got Beat Up is short songs about high school crushes (Teenage Love Affair, Varsity Sweater) and being bullied (Got Beat Up, Running Stupid) finally ending on Heartbreak Sandwich, my least favorite song on the album. However seeing this song performed live is always a treat. During it’s live performance it feels just ridiculous enough to be funny, recorded it just sounds like really poorly written lyrics trying to sound witty.

My favorite song is Clumsy Shy. It’s also the song that made me track down this album. This I will cover in just a second, first let me talk about New Shirt/Heather Lewis as I promised.

In the early 2000’s I was in high school, but most of my close friends had already graduated. One of my friends (Mike) had formed a band with a group of guys named Begin to End. They would always cover New Shirt/Heather Lewis at shows. When I first saw them live, I assumed it was them. Mike was the one that told me otherwise. New Shirt is goofy and hilarious, it’s like a G-rated song you’d hear Blink 182 play in between songs during a concert. The song immediately leads into Heather Lewis a song about a girl going away to college and never visiting or calling. Since the song only has about 5 lyrics it’s an easy to learn sing-a long song. Both times I saw Weston live the closed with this song and both times the crowd lost their shit and took to the stage grabbing microphones and singing along. For those of you too young to experience something like that, that’s what punk music used to be like.

What’s ironic about Begin to End is that a few years after they broke up, I became closer friends with the other 3 members than I was with Mike (who introduced me to them all). One summer a bunch of us went on a vacation in the Mountains. Ant (The bassist of Begin to End) was one of the people who went up. While we were driving he was flipping through his iPod and turned on Clumsy Shy. I immediately fell in love with the song. With my next paycheck I purchased the whole album. Since I’m willing to doubt any of my readers have heard this album before, I’m going to post Clumsy Shy here now in the hopes it leads you to purchase the album.

Pretty fucking great right? Now buy all their albums.

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