19. The Rocket Summer: Hello, Good Friend
Rocket Summer has released some very good albums. I will never take that away from them. However most of them I listen to, enjoy and a year or so later I forget all about it. There is however one exception. Hello Good Friend. An album that should be praised with the same level of intensity of Fall Out Boy’s Take This To Your Grave or The Ataris Blue Skies and Broken Hearts.
This album is never presented or advertised as a concept album and I don’t really think it is, but in 13 tracks Bryce Avary paints us a picture of love, heartbreak and friendships in Suburbia.
It’s impossible to even pick just one song to highlight, there’s not a single song that outshines another. Rarely does someone put out an album so perfectly pieced together and full of passion that you find yourself depressed and wanting more when the album ends.
If I had to highlight anything on the album (though like I said, it’s next to impossible) I’d have to put out the sadness of Never Knew, the anger of Story and the feel good sing-along nostalgia of Brat Pack.
Brat Pack was the song that first introduced me to The Rocket Summer. I was checking out the song because I love 80’s Teen Flicks and thought the song may potentially be a comedic track about the 80’s (like 1985 by SR-71/Bowling For Soup). Instead I found a song that spoke directly to my torn emotions about my hometown. I’m sure other people will interrupt the song differently (and most likely more accurately) than myself. But when I hear the song I think of how after high school I wanted to get out of my town as quickly as possible... but as I built more and more memories with friends I concluded that while my town is boring it’s home.
Meanwhile Story was the song that stood out to me most when I listened to the album for the first time. This has a lot to do with the speed of the song compared to the rest of the album. Bryce is pounding on the keys and spitting out a rapid-fire rhyme filled chorus a particularly frustrating friend (possibly ex-love). It’s a song that literally makes you just want to jump up and dance.
Finally Never Knew. This song for whatever reason took a special meaning to me in the summer of 2011. We had just finished what I at the time believed was my last vacation with my friends. In a month I’d be boarding a plane and fly home. I had my iPod on shuffle and my friend Ed and I were singing along with the songs that came on. For the most part it was goofy stuff like You’re the Best and Final Countdown. Then Never Knew came on. While most of the lyrics don’t really pertain to two best friends saying goodbye when we were singing there was an emotional moment when we got to the line “Hello, Good Friend. I want to be next to you”. I doubt Bryce will ever read this write up but regardless I want to thank him. I want to thank him for writing a line that summed up a simple sentiment that I wanted to say to my friends. I didn’t want to leave them and while I could have racked my brain for days to come up with the perfect words... those 9 words summed it up better than I ever could.
The Rocket Summer has release some good albums after this but Hello, Good Friend is a magic moment where everything clicked at once. It’s Pinkerton, it’s Take This To Your Grave, It’s Keasby Nights and any other icon album that was impossible to top. As I said previously; this deserves all the praise in the world.