Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Triggered Memory - "Loser"

This week my roommate and best friend got a girlfriend. This was a major blow to my self esteem as this means I am the final "single" friend in my circle of best friends. Last night while he and his girlfriend were out for the night I picked up a DVD that best described how I felt, also it proved the strangest feeling of comfort for me for many years. Last night was no different.

I'm just going to be straight forward here. I didn't have a ton of friends growing up. From Elementary School on up until High School I can maybe think of 2-3 people that I still talk to on a semi-regular basis. I spent many weekends with my family. 

Our friday nights basically involved one of two things. We'd either watch TGIF together or if it was rerun season we'd go to Blockbuster and rent two or three movies to watch as a family. At the time I thought this was completely normal but now at 28 I realized I was quite blessed to have such an insanely close and loving family.  It was on one of those Friday nights that I saw Loser.

The first time I watched it, I didn't really think much of it. I thought the scene featuring David Spade was funny but never thought much more about it. That didn't stop me from buying the VHS tape. I could come up with a million excuses for why I bought a movie but it basically boils down to one thing… I was in love.

Dora Diamond (Mena Suvari) has for 14 years remained one of my three biggest fictional film character crushes (also on the list Kat from Casper and Sam from Garden State…more about them in the future I'm sure). I bought the VHS because of that character. All I wanted in Junior High on into High School was that punky weird girl with a heart of gold. It was in this "love" that I connected so strongly with Jason Biggs' character Paul.

Jason Biggs' early career was basically him playing characters that I could see myself in. I saw myself in Jim when I saw American Pie and I saw myself in Paul.

What started off as a movie that I bought because of a crush turned into a movie I watched once a week because it gave me home. I remember my lonely summers. It wasn't uncommon for me to order a cheesesteak from the steak shop behind my house and eat while watching this movie. I memorized this movie, every line, every musical queue, everything. The soundtrack truly is amazing and introduced me to at least five songs that are among my all-time favorites. 

So why? Why would I watch something that much? Because every time I watched it… it'd give me hope of my happy ending. Despite my loneliness, despite the lack of girls that showed an attraction to me… every time I watched the movie it made me believe that one day I'd find my Dora Diamond. I still do.

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Songs From the 90's You Probably Forgot Existed

I absolutely love the 90's. It's my favorite decade by a long-shot. I've said multiple times on various places that what impresses me the most about the 90's is the fact that the most popular music and films also were (most of the time) the most critically adored. Think about the most popular things of the 70s and 80s and you'll see how rare this is. However for every amazing song and artist that has stood the test of time and remains popular 20-25 years later there's plenty of great songs and artists that we completely forgot about. Here's ten of my favorites.

10. Dog's Eye View Everything Falls Apart

For a brief period of time this was my favorite song. What's most impressive about that I had no clue who the artist was for at least a month, all I knew was that I heard the song on the radio once and for 20+ years haven't been able to get the chorus out of my head.

9. Coolio C U When You Get There

This was Coolio's last pseudo-hit single. It's actually one of his best songs but sadly it's one of the only decent songs on an otherwise lackluster (and more unforgivably… long) album. This also predates Vitamin C's sampling of Panchelbel's Canon in D by three years. That's gonna count for something right?

8. Lisa Loeb & the Nine Stories Do You Sleep?

I might be the only person who heard this song before Stay (I Miss You). I have a bizarrely specific memory of this song. When I was kid and my parents first got MTV I'd wake up super early on Saturday mornings and end up watching Oddities: The Head, The Brothers Grunt and the MTV Top 20 Countdown. This song is one of the only songs that I distinctly remember being on the countdown. I'm sure there's a few that I could simply guess were on the countdown by thinking of hit songs from 1995 but this is the only video I 100% remember on that list.

7. The Rentals Waiting

I remember the first time I heard Friends of P I couldn't wrap my head around the song or the video. I always thought Waiting was far more marketable but at this point the closest thing to a claim to fame it has is being in Joe's Apartment (yea I know… that's one hell of a stretch). It wasn't until years later with the help of the internet I found out this was a side-project of Matt Sharp (formerly) of Weezer fame.

6. Semisonic Singin in My Sleep

In my last Second Spinning article I mentioned that this was the song that got me really into SemiSonic.  I still think this is the better single but obviously the world remembers Closing Time and this catchy track has just disappeared from the memory banks of everyone except a singular weirdo in PA.

5. The Space Monkeys Sugar Cane

I fucking LOVED this song when it came out. I asked for the Space Monkeys album for my birthday and my parents got it and dear god did I hate that CD. There was one other song I dug (Acid House Killed Rock N Roll) but hated the rest of the album. Eventually I sold it to a used CD store, over the years I still think about Sugar Cane and how much I love the song. It appeared a decent handful of teen flicks from the late 90's and it really is a catchy little track. I just checked Amazon and the albums is available used for a penny, maybe it's time to buy it and give it another chance.

4. Better Than Ezra At The Stars

This was one of the last Better Than Ezra hits (it might actually be their last hit… there's a good chance I'm the only one who remembers the song Extra-Ordinary from their following album and just assume it was a hit). Better than Ezra was a weird group, I loved their singles and then bought their albums and was almost ALWAYS disappointed. When I think of this song I always think of this cassette tape I had (I probably still have it) of songs recorded off of y100 (the local alt-rock station at the time). All these years later this song still makes me feel something in my heart when the chorus hits. I'm not sure what that feeling is, probably just nostalgia, but it hits me every damn time.

3. 1000 Clowns (Not The) Greatest Rapper

The only reason I know this song was because of the Box, and even then it wasn't that popular of a song. I don't know who the two or three people were who ordered this song were but I'm eternally thankful towards them. As far as I know there was never an official 1000 Clowns album (god knows I looked) and the song only existed on the Good Burger soundtrack. I still try to force this song down people's throats by randomly playing it at parties just to watch the looks on their faces as they all slowly remember that this song existed.

I just checked out the 1000 Clowns wikipedia page (yes they have one), turns out not only did they have one album but they're originally from Philadelphia. So that's pseudo-cool.

2. Marvelous 3 Freak of the Week

This is the strangest story I have for any song. In the late 90's I had a friend who would make me burnt CDs. He was the only person I knew who (a) knew about things like Napster and (b) had a CD burner (those were simpler times). MTV used to do a thing about "BuzzWorthy" songs where they would play a 10 second clip of a video that they thought would be a huge hit. This was a BuzzWorthy song… but I don't remember them ever playing the fucking video! I loved the 10 seconds I heard in the clip so when I was making a list of songs for my friend to burn on my next CD I put this on the list. I ended up loving the song. I need to actually pick up the full album one day and see if the rest of it is as good as this song. If you've never heard the song before listen to the song and tell me it's not completely and totally infectious.

1. Black Lab Time Ago

This is my 90's nostalgia song. There is no song from this decade that reminds me of the summers in the 90's quite like this Black Lab song. Shit it's basically the inspiration for me doing this list. There's a good chance I would have forgotten this song years ago if it wasn't for the cassette tape with that Better Than Ezra song. When I first got my license in 2004 I had an old Buick LaSabre that only had a tape-player. Thankfully I had stacks of old cassette tapes. I remember the first time this song came on in my car. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I shit you not… I might have cried a little bit. Not like a full out sobbing but this song brought back wave after wave of positive memories that I missed the simple times.

In the summer my family basically lived at my cousin's pool house. They had this gorgeous outdoor pool, with a big deck and a huge grill and outdoor sound system. Y100 was always on and this song was on CONSTANTLY. I simply can't hear this song and not think of a long time ago (hehe) when I believed anything was possible. I've heard one other song by this band (Tell me what to say on the Can't Hardly Wait soundtrack) and I have no interest in tracking down their other songs. Regardless if this is their best song or their worst song… no song of theirs will ever hold the level of importance to me that this song manages to.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.

Friday, July 25, 2014

RetroActive Book Review: Animorphs #1 - The Invasion

Animorphs Book #1: The Invasion

If I’m going to be completely honest I was disappointed that the Goosebumps books didn’t hold up better. I had such a genuine love for those books that I wanted them to be as good as I always remembered. Perhaps it was that disappointment that lead me to go into Animorphs with low expectations.

Most of my childhood was made up of Goosebumps and Animorphs books, I was expecting that reading this series would somehow destroy my memory of the series (which I never finished). I was very much wrong. 

K. A. Applegate never speaks down to her readers and goes out of her way to make the stakes actually matter. In this day and age when most children’s entertainment centers around the dangers of ‘not being popular’ or ‘the guy you like not liking you back’ it’s great to be remembered that some children’s authors chose to write hero stories.

In the first installment we have the origin story of the Animorphs. A group of 5 friends (Marco, Tobias, Rachel, Cassie and our narrator Jake) encounter a dying animal when cutting through an abandoned construction site to get home from the mall. The alien (called an Andalite) warns the children of an alien invasion in their town. Slug like creatures called Yeerks have landed, they enter through your ear and take over your body turning you into a ‘controller’. You know longer have any free will or thought. He knows that he will be killed shortly by the evil Vissar Three (the only yeerk to control an Andalite body) and gives the children his power to morph into any animal. The only rule is don’t remain in a morph for longer than 2 hours or you will be trapped in that body forever.

The Yeerks witness the children running away (but luckily don’t see their faces). It’s at this time that they start to realize that their own family members, teachers and police department are under Yeerk control. While reluctant at first they decide they must fight or Earth will lose this war. Their first goal is to save Jake’s brother Tom who is a controller. While trying to save Tom they discover (a) that the local organization The Sharing is ran by Yeerks as a means of finding more people to control and (b) that the Yeerks must soak in a Yeerk pool every three days. The Yeerk pool is located under the school. 

With the plan of saving Tom while his Yeerk is in the Yeerk pool the 5 sneak in and attack. A bloody battle ensues and the animorphs save one woman and kill a controlled Police Officer who knew their true identity but fail to rescue Tom. While hiding Tobias overstays the 2 hour limit and remains trapped as a Red-Tailed Hawk. 

The group make a pledge to fight until more Andalite’s come and help them. 

I’m genuinely excited to re-read the other 54 books (yes you read correctly, it’s a long fucking series). 

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Second Spinning (Round 2)

I've been buying albums like crazy ever since I was in 3rd grade. There's been albums I've loved and albums I've hated. Some from local bands, some from big names and even more from my 8 year Christian Music age. I've decided to take a stack of 20 albums that I disliked in my collection each month and give them another listen to see if over the years my opinion has changed.

Here's my breakdowns and reasons why

My Opinion Didn't Change On:

Green Day: American Idiot Green Day was the first band I ever loved and they have remained one of my top 10 favorite bands ever. Despite this I could never get into American Idiot (an album many call their masterpiece). What's weird about this is I'm not a hater of new Green Day. I loved Uno, Dos, Tre (I might be the only person who did) as well as 21st Century Breakdown. I thought that maybe American Idiot took me off guard and that going back I'd like it more, but that was not the case. My opinion remains the same it's too stylized and the concept too heavy handed. The song American Idiot is still my least favorite Green Day single, the rest of the singles are great as is Jesus Of Suburbia but I think the rest of the album is just forgettable.

R.E.M.: Automatic For the People I'm a big R.E.M. fan when it comes to their singles, however every album I've purchased by them I disliked (excluding Document). The band is capable of writing great singles but in general their music ends up boring me more than anything. This will not be the only time they pop up on one of these lists as I have about 4 other albums by them to revisit.

Primus: Pork Soda Much like Green Day Primus is one of my all time favorite bands. Pork Soda is one of their most popular albums yet it's always been my least favorite album by them. It's mostly an issue of being too long with not enough catchy material to carry the album. I love stuff like Welcome to This World and My Name Is Mud but the album hits a drawn out part midway through.

Albums I Appreciated More But Still Don't Love

Mae: Destination Beautiful This was the last Mae album I purchased and I think that had a helping hand in me not loving it the first time around. This is a perfectly fine album and all things considered a great debut. It's unfair of me to have compared it to their masterpiece The Everglow, if I heard this album before The Everglow I probably would have loved it. Regardless of my opinion the song Sun is a masterpiece.

Collective Soul: Dosage I always had a love hate relationship with Collective Soul. I adored their self-titled album and felt "meh" towards everything else they ever released. With Dosage I remember only liking two or three songs but I actually found myself enjoying this album when listening to it. Afterwards though I couldn't remember any songs I liked beyond the two or three I've always loved as a kid. However I will be giving this album another spin sooner rather than later.

Bright Eyes: Fevers & Mirrors I find myself frequently getting bored with Bright Eyes midway through his albums.  Regardless if it's an album I love or an album I hate there's always a song or two that just goes too long or gets too weird or is too stripped down. I remembered Fevers & Mirrors being all songs like that (with the exception of The Calendar Hung Itself which is why I bought the album) but actually the whole albums is filled with someone interesting stuff. The issue is mostly that the opening and closing songs are what I was remembering. As the end caps of the album it makes it feel like the whole album was like that.

Ace Troubleshooter: Madness of the Crowd The biggest issue with Ace Troubleshooter is that while every song is great, 90% of them are completely forgettable. I loved listening to this CD and by the time it was over all I remember was 2:00 Your Time

Audio Adrenaline: Some Kind of Zombie The last Round Audio Adrenaline's Bloom fell into this exact same category. That being said I enjoyed revisiting this a little more than Bloom. I remember loving the album as a kid, then as I got older hating the album and now I like it more than I used to… but I don't love it as much as I used to (if that makes sense at all). I will say that I forgot how weird the background noises were or how People Like Me is arguably the best song The Rentals never wrote.

Busta Rhymes: When Disaster Strikes Busta Rhymes is an awesome rapper (or was before Pussycat Dolls came into his life) but his CDs always felt too long. I remembered liking two songs (outside of the two singles) when I got this album but in retrospect there's a ton of great material here. The album suffers from the same thing many rap albums of the 90's suffer from, terrible skits that run too long. That being said So Hardcore is the best song Busta ever recorded.

Albums I Really Enjoyed More Than I Remember Being Possible

The Offspring: Conspiracy of One I always loved The Offspring but for some reason this album and it's follow up Splinter never sat well with me. Not sure why though, beyond the fact that it has Want You Bad (one of the best songs the band ever wrote) on it, the album is every Americana was. I will definitely be listening to this album again in the near future.

Jason LeVasseur: Driver is the DJ Since I was such a big fan of LeVasseur's Watching the Girls Go By last time I decided to revisit its follow-up. This album is more polished and packed with even more catchy songs. The only crime is that it didn't have Steps of Saint Patricks on it. Seriously if you haven't yet look that song up. It's a masterpiece.

Semisonic: Feeling Strangely Fine I'm sure you're familiar with SemiSonic for their lone hit Closing Time but that's not why I bought this album back in the day. Don't get me wrong, it's a great song but I was a bigger fan of their less popular follow-up single Singing In My Sleep.For a while the two singles were the only songs I liked off the album but looking back on it there's a ton of really great catchy songs. It's not a perfect album but it's definitely a good one.

Barenaked Ladies: Maroon It's weird to me that the reason I disliked this album was that it didn't sound enough like Barenaked Ladies. The fact of the matter is that BNL never had a specific sound, it evolved every couple albums. This album actually was part of my favorite sound so I'm not sure why I walked away from my first listening thinking it had two good singles and a bunch of forgetful tracks. This album is all great tracks minus one or two forgetful songs.

Cat Stevens: Mona Bone Jakon I wrote about this album a few days ago so I'll keep it short. Beyond the person connection it's a great album. I still dislike Lady D'Arbanville but the rest of the album is pretty great. The best part is that at least half the album was written for my all time favorite movie Harold & Maude. That alone is enough to baffle me on why I didn't like this album from the start.

Nerf Herder: My E.P. This one I understand. This was my first ever Nerf Herder album and they are a band that takes some time to grow on you. Plain and simple. I heard the song High School, I liked it, I bought the album. You also have to factor that I bought this when I was still pretty religious and why I don't remember being offended… I'm sure there's a chance I was by the vulgarity of the songs. Now I love them all.

Ben Folds: Songs for Silverman I loved this album from it's first track, then I hated the rest of the album. Not sure why that was because now I listen to it and of all of his solo albums this is the one that sounds the most like a Ben Folds Five album. While nothing on this album could be considered Ben's best, none of them are his worst either. That being said Bastard and Landed are the stand out tracks for sure.

David Gray: White Ladder This is another one of those CDs that my general childhood attention span made me miss out on. I picked up this album because I loved the song Please Forgive Me but was bored by the slower songs and never listened to it again. This is a beautiful album plain and simple, it's only crime is a song or two that overstays its welcome, but otherwise I need to track down more David Gray albums.

Now I Love This Album

Arrested Development: 3 Years, 5 months and 2 Days in the life of… For years I told people this album was boring and that Tennessee was the only good song. I have no clue what the fuck I was thinking of (maybe I confused this album with the PM Dawn album I bought around the same time). This CD is everything I love about 90's hip-hop. It's the perfect laid-back summer album for a long car ride. Maybe that was my issue? The first time I listened to this was in a basement while playing a video game. This is 100% a driving album.

Katie Todd: Changing Faces Just like Jason LeVasseur I heard Katie Todd through my college concert series. There's a song on this album called Unreachable that is beautiful. I bought the CD because I loved that particular song. Much like Steps of Saint Patricks by Jason LeVasseur that song was so good that it set a high standard for the rest of the album that was impossible to reach. Revisiting the album though I found the whole CD to be a  beautiful album. If you're a fan of Regina Spektor and early Fiona Apple you should definitely check out Katie Todd.

The Cars: Heartbeat City There isn't even a doubt in my mind that this was the best album of the 20 this time around. I bought this CD for one reason You Might Think and I think that was the only song I listened to. That's the only way to justify how this hasn't been one of my favorite albums of all time. The saddest thing is knowing that for years I've not been obsessing over how perfect the song Magic is. Seriously, that song should have been on every MixTape I ever made for a girl who had no interest in me.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ode to Kim

11 years ago today my cousin Kim died in a car accident. I wouldn't know this until a few days later. It's not a fun story, it's not a very long story… but since this blog is all about reflecting on the past I suppose I have to take the good and the bad.

In 2003 I was at the peak of my church involvement. I was on the missions trip to Tennessee as I had done basically every year since 7th grade. It was always a sad time leaving at the end of the week. My week long visit to S.o.S. (Service Over Self) was the closest thing I had to attending summer camp. Each year you'd meet new people, develop friendships and then promptly leave to never see them again. This year was no different.

I rode back home sad to have said goodbye to another group of new friends, proud of the work I had done on someone's house and excited to curl back into my own bed. There was another level of sadness as this was my last year going on the trip as a high school student. I was about to begin my senior year a month and a half later.

It had been the rule every year that when you got home no one could leave until everyone's luggage was removed from the back of all the vans. When we arrived at the church we opened up the church van and my luggage was the first ones you saw. I helped pull them out and started helping other people. That's when I was told I could leave. I was confused and reminded them of the rule and they said "It's really important that you leave now, your parents need you."

So I walked over to my parents car, put my luggage in and got into the car. My mom asked me if I had any clean clothes (I said I did) and asked if I still fit in my suit (which I had noticed at that moment was in their car). I told her as far as I knew I still fit into my suit (I wore it just two months earlier for Junior Prom). Thats when I noticed we weren't heading home. That's when they told me "We're heading to Aunt Marge's house, Kim died while you were gone".

My dad has always been known for his sick sense of humor so I laughed. But then I caught his eye in the mirror, there was no humor on his face. For the next hour or so we rode to my aunt's house as I prepared myself to face a woman who had just lost her 18 year old daughter. It was a surreal night having to piece together information.

I'd be a liar if I were to say that I was always really close to my cousin. Despite her only being a year or so older than me we never had much in common. That didn't make it any less sad, if anything it made it sadder. I remember hearing my other cousins sharing memories and I had nothing. It really hit my sister the hardest (much like my grandfathers death two years prior hurt me in ways I'm still piecing together today).

I hate that 11 years later I'm sitting at this computer and I still don't have the words to formulate my emotions. But this is what I do (and will always) remember. Kim was this wonderful loving person, full of talents and who had more friends in 18 years than I could collect if you gave me all eternity. More importantly, despite the little we had in common she loved me and I loved her in return. She was supposed to attend Neumann College (just a stones throw from my house). When I mourn the loss of my cousin I also mourn the loss possibilities. She would have been living right in my backyard, she would have probably been over my house all the time. I can't help but wonder how close we would have become over those next four years.

This tragedy taught me a lesson, don't take your life (or anyone who's in your life) for granted. That senior year was easily the most involved I was in High School. If it wasn't for me stepping out of my box I would have ended high school with one or two people that I was friends with in my grade. Instead I have a dozen or so people that I still speak to on a regular basis.

Life is to be lived to the fullest. While her life was cut tragically short it's impossible to say that Kim didn't live her life to it's absolute fullest. I miss you Kim.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Triggered Memory - "Cat Stevens: Mona Bone Jakon"

I'm preparing to do another round of "Second Spinning". I collected my 20 albums that I had mixed feelings on and I started listening to them this week. One of the albums was Cat Stevens Mona Bone Jakon. The opening song on the album is easily my least favorite Cat Stevens single Lady D'Arbanville.  The second the song came on I groaned. Then a weird thing happened…

I own well over 3,000 CDs. I remember the circumstances in which each CD came into my life. I remember what I got from yard sales, what I bought on my own, what was a birthday gift and who got me that gift. Mona Bone Jakon was a gift from my Aunt Lisa when I was in high school. I remember opening the gift and running upstairs and listening to the CD and being disappointed that I didn't like it as much as I had hoped I would.

When I was in high school I discovered my fathers record and cassette collection. One cassette I fell head over heels for was Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits. I listened to that tape constantly down in the basement while doing my homework. I could have been more excited to listen to Mona Bone Jakon (Even though I wasn't familiar with any songs).

When I heard this song on July 15th of 2014 however… it made me cry. On September 2nd, 2013 my Aunt passed away. It was as rough as any death and much like when you lose someone you love there's little things that will trigger you. This Cat Stevens CD did it for me. Why this album? I've owned (and listened to) literally dozens of albums my aunt bought me over the last 20+ years but this one was special.

I never told my aunt I wanted a Cat Stevens album. I never even told her I was a Cat Stevens fan. I never bothered to ask her how she knew but I have my own theory. My family is close, my aunt came over for dinner a bunch. I think she heard me listening to that cassette and decided to get me a Cat Stevens album… maybe it was even her favorite Cat Stevens album. These are the questions that I'll never know the answers to and that makes me sad. It was tonight I realized that this CD is a symbol of love, a very special symbol of love.

At her funeral all of her co-workers and friends would come up to me and my siblings and tell us how much she "loved us as her own children". I know I believed it but tonight, I know it.

Sorry this isn't from Mona Bone Jakon Aunt Lisa… but thanks for everything.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Triggered Memory - "I'm Free" by Kenny Loggins

Today I heard the song I'm Free by Kenny Loggins for what was arguably the 2,000th time. Every time I heard this song I'm reminded of 10th grade. It's at this time that I should remind my readers that I was born in 1985 and admit that I didn't see the film Footloose until 2011. I'm sure that people in their late 30's this song is an obvious reminder of their high school times, however I think a decent chunk of 28 year old straight men don't even know the song exists (it's definitely not Kenny Loggins most famous 80's soundtrack song).

So what does this song trigger exactly? The school play. While I managed to avoid seeing the original Footloose until my mid-20's I was on the stage crew for a high school production of Footloose The Musical.

This poster is much cooler than Sun Valley's 2002 Production Poster

I was on the stage crew for 3 of the 4 years of high school (I made a decision to not be involved in Grease my senior year since I felt like doing Grease was played out). I have distinct memories of all 3 years. My freshmen year I helped make the stage look like the front of a boat for our production of Anything Goes (this is still my all-time favorite musical because of that experience) or playing Bill Murray's character in the junior year production of Little Shop of Horrors being part of stage crew and drama club was always a fun and memorable time. However Footloose will always be my favorite experience. To put it simply it was the perfect blend of cast and crew. Everyone got along and as far as I can remember it was the only year I choose to attend the after party of a show.

I think one of the biggest reasons that I loved being a part of that show (and why this song in particular always connects with me) is that I had a massive crush on one of the background dancers. She was a cute girl named Julie who as far as I can remember never said a word to me. I'm Free was one of the bigger dance numbers in the play and from my position backstage I could see her perfectly. It's weird how I still remember exactly how most of the dance steps went despite not actually being on stage doing the dance.

It was around this time I downloaded the song on Napster (or maybe by now things had shifted to Limewire). I remember hating it for not other reason than it didn't sound EXACTLY like the way our drama club performed it. I remember thinking that Sun Valley's Drama Club's 2002 performance of "I'm Free" was the greatest version of that song the world has ever heard (I found a VHS tape of the show recently… it in fact… was not the greatest version the world had ever heard). Over time I grew to appreciate Kenny Loggins' version as it always reminded me of that period in my life.

I'm not sure why I didn't watch Footloose until I moved to L.A. Well… let me correct that, I know why I watched it in L.A. I just don't know why I didn't watch it before that time. I guess I just had no interest in it. Much like how I convinced myself that no version of I'm Free would be better than my high school's version I think I feared that watching the movie would tarnish the memories of that high school performance. I probably would have never watched it if it wasn't for my roommate in L.A. being freakishly obsessed with the movie.

My roommate was a man who I'd (not so) lovingly compared to Eeyore. There are some people who only focus on the fact that one day or another… it's gonna rain, and its better to assume it will every day  and be prepared. I can't pretend that I haven't had my own experiences in having a negative outlook on life but I've never been that negative. This roommates negativity greatly affected me and my ability to enjoy my experience in Los Angeles (and directly influenced my stay being so short-lived… though I don't regret returning home). However the only shining light in this man's life was dance. He fucking LOVED to dance and it all stemmed from seeing Footloose as a child. He could not wrap his brain around the idea that I had never seen the movie and made me watch it. I'm glad he did because it really is a pretty great movie.

I do want to tell a side-story. His love of Footloose was so strong that around this time the Footloose Remake was about to be released. If he saw an advertisement for the remake he would flip it off and scream "fuck you", this didn't matter if it was a trailer at the movie theater or a billboard on the street… he'd do this every time. It was … bizarre.

Anyway, eventually I purchased the Footloose soundtrack from a used CD store and was reminded how much I love this song and the memories it provided me from the second I heard the opening notes. Each time the song plays I'm immediately reminded of that 15 year old convinced that a 17-year old dancer would fall head over heels for the geeky stage crew kid who admired her from a distance. I wish I could say my romantic life has advanced over the last decade but alas I still find myself being that guy in the shadows, admiring someone while listening to the songs that remind me of them.


Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Second Spinning (Round 1)

I've been buying albums like crazy ever since I was in 3rd grade. There's been albums I've loved and albums I've hated. Some from local bands, some from big names and even more from my 8 year Christian Music age. I've decided to take a stack of 20 albums that I disliked in my collection each month and give them another listen to see if over the years my opinion has changed.

Here's my breakdowns and reasons why

My Opinion Didn't Change On:
Toad the Wet Sprocket: Fear - In college I was downloading random songs and discovered an acoustic version of the song Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket. They were a band I always knew the name of but didn't know any songs by (it wasn't until a few years later that I discovered they wrote the song Good Intentions which I always loved). I picked up Fear for that song and was disappointed in general. For starters I preferred the acoustic rendition and found that the only other song I liked was the other single All I Want. The only thing that changed this second time was that I found a 3rd song I liked  (In My Ear)

Violent Femmes: 3 - I also bought this album in college. I was just getting into the Violent Femmes (although I had been a fan of Blister in the Sun and Add It Up for a while at this point), this however was the first Femmes album I ever bought. I purchased it because of the song Fat (which I had heard in the film Super Size Me earlier that year). In the end I thought Fat was the only good song on the album. The second time around I heard two or three other songs I enjoyed but in general I still think this is the worst Violent Femmes album I own.

I appreciated the Album More but still don't love it:
Fanmail: 2000 - Fanmail was a pop punk band on Tooth & Nail records. I was a big fan of their first album The Latest Craze but was disappointed by their second (and last) album 2000. The only songs I liked were their Backstreet Boys cover and the closing acoustic song Other Side. This second time around I actually enjoyed the whole album but it's a pretty forgettable record and still lacks the catchy hooks found on their debut.

Audio Adrenaline: Bloom - Audio Adrenaline at one time was one of my favorite bands. As I started to shift away from Christian Music I became less and less interested in them. Eventually the only album I enjoyed by them was Underdog. I decided to revisit their 3rd album (their first as a straight up rock group), there's definitely a ton of songs that I still enjoy but in general the album still feels very cheesy to me.

Sum 41: Does This Look Infected? - Arguably their most popular album this has been one of my least favorite Sum 41 records. I'm not sure why since Still Waiting is one of my favorite songs from the band. Upon a second listening I found that I enjoy all the songs but much like the Fanmail record I think in general the songs are too forgettable.

The Juliana Theory: Emotion is Dead - I got into Juliana Theory when I found them on a tooth and nail comp. I purchase the record and found I only enjoyed the song I heard on the comp and never listened to it again. The only reason I decided to go back and relisten to this was in the last year I've fallen in love with their debut album Understanding this is a Dream. Relistening I found a ton of great songs but there's just as many bad songs. This would have been a great EP.

Outer Circle - Just like Juliana Theory I found Outer Circle on a tooth & nail comp and just like Julianna Theory I ended up only liking the song from that comp. I enjoyed this album more this time but like Sum 41 and Fanmail it's pretty forgettable. I literally listened to this album twice yesterday and the only song I remember is the one from the comp.

Shaded Red: Red Revolution - Shaded Red I discovered through a late night christian music video show I used to watch. I loved the song and found the album on sale at a concert. I ended up only liking maybe 3 or 4 songs on it. I recently joined a group called "90's Christian Recovery Group" and a question was posed of what albums do you still love from that time period. ALOT of people mentioned this album and I gave it another listen. I definitely enjoyed it more and will probably listen to it again sometime soon but in general there's just too many boring songs (4 of the 12 tracks to be exact).

Ben Folds Five: The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner - Ben Folds is one of my favorite musicians, I got into Folds around junior year of High School and bought the first 3 Ben Folds albums and his solo album in one month. I fell in love with 3 of those albums but was always disappointed by their 3rd (and for many years final) studio album. It had too much filler. When the album was good, it was incredible but still all these years later I still hate the random points where it drags. However I can't avoid the fact that I'll always revisit this album simply for Army, Narcolepsy and Lullabye which are three of the best songs Folds Ever wrote.

Social Distortion: White Light White Heat - I bought this album for one song and one song only. When the Angels sing. The first time I heard that song (on The Box of all places) I feel in love and saved up to buy the record. I don't know what my 12 year old brain wanted from this album, I guess I wanted 12 songs that sounded liked When The Angels Sing… technically I did get that but I guess I just genuinely wanted to hear When the Angels Sing 12 different times. This is actually a pretty great album. I'll probably revisit it soon but I still think that When The Angels Sing is the highlight of the whole album.

I really enjoyed the album more than I remembered:
Tom Lehrer: An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer - I got this album for free from an old man that used to come into the store I worked at in my local mall. I forget why, I think we were talking about old comedy stuff like Spike Jones and he told me I'd really like it. The only thing I remembered about the album was the song The Elements. Listening to it again I found myself laughing out loud multiple times. Tom Lehrer might have some of the best timed deliveries during his banter between songs.

Begin to End: Lonely EP - I actually knew I was gonna like this album still. It was a weird choice. Begin to End was a band my friends formed in college. I wanted to listen to it as if it wasn't an album from my friends band and just an album I bought. I still like the album a ton.

Hootie & The Blowfish: Musical Chairs - I bought this at Blockbuster (yea Blockbuster used to sell CDs) the year it came out (I want to say 1998) because I was obsessed with the song I Will Wait. In the end I only liked that song and never listened to it again. Now that I'm a little older and really like more folky music I can totally appreciate everything this album was trying to be.

Silverchair: Neon Ballroom - I got this album for my birthday the year it came out. Much like most people my age I loved the song Ana's Song (Open Fire) but what really made me love this album was the less popular single Anthem For The Year 2000. I was pretty disappointed in the rest of the album but now listening to it I feel like I just didn't like that it wasn't as heavy as their previous albums. To put it simply this is one of the most beautiful and sincere albums ever made.

Element 101: Stereo Girl - It took me a long time to get into Element 101 but when I finally listened to their debut album I was head over heels for it. I immediately bought their other albums and was completely let down. I'll be revisiting their 3rd album later I'm sure but I honestly can't understand why I was disappointed by this album, it's just as fun and catchy as their debut.

Rage Against the Machine: The Battle of Los Angeles - Much like Element 101 I have no clue why I disliked this album so much. It's probably still my least favorite of Rage's discography but when your worst album is still arguably a 4-star album theres' nothing to complain about.

Ghoti Hook: Two Years To Never - I can understand why I disliked this the first time around. Ghoti Hook was always a goofy pop punk band, however this record was a very serious album and also a straight up rock album. Much like how younger fans hate Blink's later work (only to look back at it in their 20's with a stronger appreciation… or maybe that was just me) I can get this album more. What Ghoti Hook was singing about in their mid-20's wasn't what a 15 year old wanted to hear… but at 28 this is exactly the type of album for me.

Jason LeVasseur: Watching the Girls Go By - My freshmen year in college I went to every live performance on campus. I loved Jason LeVasseur's set and bought both of his albums. From the first time I heard the song Steps on Saint Patricks I loved it. Maybe I loved it too much and held the rest of the album up to it's standard. It's the stand out track of this album but upon revisiting it I found about 6-7 songs that I loved (and found myself singing along with by the end of the song). Not sure how easy it is to find this record but if you can dig it up I recommend do so!

Love The Album Now
Lisa Loeb: Tails - As I become a fan of softer music more and more it's understandable that Lisa Loeb's bittersweet masterpiece was stand out to me. I bought this for two reasons Stay (the reason everyone bought the album) and Do You Sleep? (The single people forgot existed)… those were the only songs I ever listened to on the album I think. Now I listen to it and just hear 13 great songs about love and heartache.

Blind Melon - I always loved the song No Rain but what made me buy the record in High School was when I heard the song Change. Blind Melon was a weird group from the grunge era because they hardly classify as a grunge group to me, they're more a rock group with blues influence. I suppose that's why I disliked the album when I heard it. I either wanted an album that was all blues like Change or a grunge record with two slow tracks. However now I listen to this album and think "every song could have been a hit single." Much like Kurt Cobain and Brad Nowell I can't help but wonder what great songs we'll never know due to Shannon Hoon's tragedy death.