"It Doesn’t Get Worse, It Only Gets Better"
20 Thoughts on Going Grey
Earlier this month, the Front Bottoms released their fourth album, Going Grey. Here are some thoughts I had on it.
#1 Thought: Okay, Let’s Get This Out of the Way
First of all, I’m sorry. Chances are if you’ve mentioned the Front Bottoms around me I have shared the following things:
1. I first stumbled upon the Front Bottoms when their self-titled album was released around the same time as Kevin Devine’s Between the Concrete and Clouds. I heard their song “The Beers” and I was instantly a fan.
2. Soon after that, my old band opened for them at Cicero’s in St. Louis. They were, of course, super nice. They played “The Beers” twice in their set when we asked them to.
3. Maybe a year later when they were opening for Kevin Devine and Say Anything, I reached out to them on Twitter since the STL date was sold out and they were kind enough to put me on the guest list.
4. Our band got to open for them again on the Talon of the Hawk tour date in STL.
5. If the conversation is really stalling, maybe I’ll even mention that one time we saw the Front Bottoms open for Bad Books and the drummer was wearing a really cool Weatherbox shirt.
So yeah, thank you for letting me get all that out of the way because as I was trying to type the intro to this thing, I kept getting hung up on saying that stuff again. I guess it’s hard for me to listen to new albums by bands I really like without thinking of my history of listening to them and how that may relate to whatever new thing they’ve made.
#2 Thought: First Listen/First Take/Worst Take
After just one full listen through Going Grey, I’m not sure I like this as well as their older stuff. The production here is like a pop album or something.
#3 Thought: A Preference for What Came Before
Listening to Going Grey kind of makes me want to go back and listen to Back On Top. Which when it was released, only made me want to listen to Talon of the Hawk. So maybe each subsequent Front Bottoms release after Talon of the Hawk will only make me better appreciate the album that came before.
#4 Thought: Third Listen/Second Take/Correct Take
No way, this album is awesome. These songs are so much fun to sing along with.
#5 Thought: There’s Comfort in a Community Swimming Pool
“Peace Sign” could surely rival everyone from LFO to “Despacito” for the best summer song of the last twenty years. I don’t care that it will never get the radio play those songs got or still get. I don’t care that it was released in October. It’s literally 90 degrees outside as I type this. Like the Postal Service once sang about global warming, “Now we can swim any day in November.”
#6 Thought: Current Favorite Song
Has to be “Vacation Town.” When this was released as a single, I only allowed myself to watch the video once so I wouldn’t be burned out when the full album came out.
This is one of the few instances where Past Dane did Future Dane a solid and I appreciate his restraint here as now I get to listen to Going Grey from start to finish with it all feeling fresh. Now, if only Past Dane could show some restraint nearly anywhere else in the name of helping out Future Dane.
#7 Thought: Instagram Captions are the New AIM Away Messages or “You Take Pictures of Everything/ So Afraid of Remembering”
Recently, it was the sixteenth anniversary of Brand New’s Your Favorite Weapon, and with that, I saw several pieces that talked about how so many lyrics from YFW were used as AIM away messages back in the early 00s.
AIM hasn’t existed for a while, but as I listen to Going Grey, I can easily see people wanting to use some of these lyrics to attach to their Instagram posts.
And when I say “people” I mean me.
I’m the people.
Because I thought about doing that as I listened today. Then I thought of this Guardian article about how social media is making our brains worse and I felt bad for thinking that and I decided that I need to just listen to music without thinking of how I can caption vacation pics this week with lyrics from “Vacation Town.”
I’m probably still going to do that though.
#8 Thought: Is that a Friends Reference or is the Girl in the Song Actually Named Rachel?
Lyric in question: “You be Rachel and I’ll be bong-rips.”
See, every time I hear this I think Sella is going to sing “You be Rachel and I’ll be Ross/ and we were never on a break” ….or at least something like that, you know, the idea being that they’re an iconic couple or something.
But I really don’t think that’s what the lyric means. That’s just where my mind goes every time.
Still, it would be cool if that was Sella’s intention, like he knew that everyone loves Friends so he set the listener up to be like “OH, Rachel and Ross!” but then switched it to bong-rips, which then plays into the playful nature of subverting the predictability of every-day life by not falling into typical societal norms.
Or, what’s more likely, I’m just reading too much into a lyric about doing bong-rips.
#9 Thought: Actually, Wait, I Think I’ve Got It.
Though, maybe, the lyric mentioned above could totally be seen as a thoughtful act of consideration on the part of the narrator to his companion, like “Hey, you don’t have to be anyone else, just be who you are, but, if it’s okay, I’ve had so much of myself lately that I need a break so I’m going to just delve into this pseudo-destructive-behavior as a means to escape from myself.”
That’s probably what it is.
Or, what’s more likely, I’m just reading too much into a lyric about doing bong-rips.
#10 Thought: Get Your Shine Box
Okay, let’s draw a completely logical conclusion based off a few facts.
Fact: The Front Bottoms are from New Jersey.
Fact: The Sopranos, a popular HBO series about mobsters, was also set in New Jersey. Boardwalk Empire? Also set in New Jersey. Thus, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that there may be a lot of real life mafia guys living in New Jersey.
Fact: In the 2011 song, “Bathtub,” Sella sings: “He says his grandpa’s in the mafia/He is the nicest guy I know.”
Fact: Six years later in their new song, “Raining,” Sella sings, “You went flying over all the trees/See a house built by a mafia member.”
Logical Conclusion: The grandpa mentioned as the “nicest guy” he knows in “Bathtub” is the same person who built the house they metaphorically or literally fly over in “Raining.” The nice-also-mafia-guy-grandpa always felt bad about the work he did for the mob, though it did leave him considerably wealthy, thus he helped fund several Habitat For Humanity projects (especially following Hurricane Sandy) in order to help give back to a community that he had taken so much from.
#11 Thought: Awaking Jason Biggs
If the universe were one of order, next summer there would be a new American Pie movie coming out so that “Everyone But You” could play during the trailer.
It seems like the movie script could write itself, Jason Biggs could be the dad now with his own teenage son or daughter, Eugene Levy will be the weird grandpa. Gross awkward moments of sexual discovery follow. Yeah, this shouldn’t be that hard.
Though, honestly, I don’t care about American Pie movies one way or another. I’m sure they haven’t aged as well as I have. More than anything really, I just want the Front Bottoms to have a song in a movie trailer because they deserve that and these songs do too.
#12 Thought: Lyric That I Related to the Hardest
Oddly enough it comes from a song titled “Bae” at the end of the chorus: “I gotta wake up early/ I gotta move your couch.”
It’s easy to see myself in any song where the narrator is complaining about waking up early to do anything, as this is something I constantly do.
#13 Thought: Indie Darling Dream Score
If “Everyone But You” is teen comedy trailer music then the intro chords and vocal melody of “Raining” should be in a small indie movie. Which would fit the DIY ethos of the Front Bottoms more easily.
#14 Thought: Tell Me What You Think About Kanye West
Much like Joyce Manor’s Cody, a lot of hooks from this album get stuck in my head so much so that they play through my dreams at night. Sometimes it’s not even the chorus that sticks with me.
Top Five Catchiest Lines
1. “Empty wine bottles in my room/when I wake up I think of you.”
2. “It doesn’t get worse/it doesn’t get better/you just get old/it lasts forever.”
3. That part in “Bae” where they just sing “Bae” but it’s more like “Bae-a-a-a-ay” before the chorus.
4. “You take pictures of everything/so afraid of remembering”
5. “So fill up the space that I don’t need.”
#15 Thought: Who Exactly is Marth?
Here’s what we know:
From the second verse of “Far Drive”-
“Hi, I’m Marth from Hell,
All of the flutter
I got diamond-dust shoes on my feet,
I got New Orleans blood in me.”
Breaking down this verse line by line it gives us the following information:
“Hi, I’m Marth from Hell”— Marth says “Hi” whenever they are introduced to someone, and they promptly announce where they’re from. This strikes me as a fairly considerate thing to do, even when the person in question is from a place as unusual as Hell. It’s a good conversation starter if nothing else, because all of a sudden I have way more questions. Let’s look and see what information the other lines provide us.
“All of a flutter” —Perhaps, Marth is kind of nervous about meeting you. This makes sense and would explain why they would explain themselves so much in their own introduction. If you were from Hell you would probably want to dispel any misconceptions someone had about you pretty quick by being cordial and upfront. That’s what Marth does here.
“I got diamond-dust shoes on my feet”—Maybe this is a continuation of being nervous and upfront. If I had diamond-dust shoes on, I would also want to talk about them with others. This Marth is becoming more relatable by the second.
“I got New Orleans blood in me.”— This is Marth saying, “Yes, I know I’m from Hell and kind of nervous. And yeah, I’m wearing these weird shoes, but, hey, listen, I’m not that different from you. Because even though I’m from Hell, I have ancestors from your planet.”
Yeah, Marth seems like a cool person. I would be their friend.
#16 Thought: Christians vs. The In— No, Wait, I’m Not Done with Marth, Yet
It’s hard for me to think about much else when I got Marth on the brain.
On Super Smash Brothers 4 for the Nintendo Gamecube and then later, the Nintendo Wii, I remember Marth as a playable character. They had a sword…wore black…maybe…had blue hair…maybe…
A Google search on “Marth from Hell” returned with a Wikipedia page stating the following:
“Marth (Marusa) is a fictional character from the Fire Emblem series , developed by Intelligent Systems and owned by Nintendo. He is the protagonist and Lord class character in the first and the third games in the series…he acquired more widespread national fame through his recurring Smash Bros. series of fighting games…and in part led to Nintendo to start releasing the Fire Emblem games internationally.”
So, what’s likely is that the line of dialogue that appears in the song, “Far Drive” is not actually spoken by Marth, but rather from someone else, probably while playing Smash Bros. I bet it was said off the cuff once and it was so hilarious that the Front Bottoms put it here in the song.
#17 Thought: “Tommy, I Love You.”
This past weekend I was in New York with some friends and on Sunday we went to this bar that was the “Official LA Rams” bar so that we could watch the Rams game with some likeminded fans. I sat at the bar next to a 72 year old man and over the course of the game’s three hours, we became absolute best friends. We talked about the maturation of Goff, the improvements of the Rams O-Line, his history of being a Rams fan and mine. But then we also talked about life stuff, our somewhat similar career fields, how he had never experienced anything as awful as Trump (despite being 72), how he never had kids, and jazz (though I don’t anything about jazz outside of the movie Whiplash and what Ryan Gosling mansplains to Emma Stone in La La Land. And if you’re thinking that I didn’t mention both of these things within thirty seconds then you don’t know me very well.)
However, here’s the sad part, I never asked for Joe or Major to take our picture. I never asked if he had Facebook so I could add him. I never even asked his name nor he mine.
It’s possible his name is Tommy, or, given his age, Thomas.
But I’ll never know. At the time, I didn’t ask for a pic, Facebook, or his name because I thought it made our three hour friendship that much more special.
Now though, I miss him and I’m kind of bummed I’ll never see him again. Maybe I should do a Missed Connections on Craigslist.
#18 Thought: “I Feel No Responsibility No”
When this line is sang on “Don’t Fill Up On Chips” it always makes me think of Canada. And then I do this awful Canadian accent while singing the last “No.”
#19 Thought: An Indie Band For Font Fans
In the three separate writing sessions I’ve logged trying to crank this blog out, I’ve accidentally typed “The Font Bottoms” several times and it’s possible that a couple of those snuck into this.
Whew. Man, we’re almost there and I’m really struggling.
#20 Thought: A Closing Where I Try to Bring All This Mess Together and Then Hastily Rank Their Four Albums
Hey! I like this album. It’s catchy and poppy while still being weird at times. I feel like this album is the kind of album the Front Bottoms have wanted to make for a while. A cursory listen to pre-self titled Front Bottoms songs from their early demos would prove as much.
Going Grey stands on its own as a nice addition to the Front Bottoms catalog. Still, I rank their albums like this:
1. Talon of the Hawk
2. The Front Bottoms (or self-titled)
3. Back On Top
4. Going Grey
What’s cool is that with a band like the Front Bottoms, each album doesn’t carry the crushing weight of expectation or career-defining-milestone that say a Brand New album does. At least it doesn’t for me. This is because I feel like (and hope) that the Front Bottoms will be around for a while, so each new release doesn’t have to hit all the emotional high points or connect with me in a way that their older stuff did. I can just appreciate each piece for what it is, another solid contribution to an artist’s career that I am happy to follow, wherever it may go.
And Thomas, if you’re reading this, I would like to propose that we meet at American Whiskey once a year every year to watch the Rams play. Also, I love you.
Thanks for reading.
 I feel like it was the exact same day actually, but there’s simply no way of knowing.
 If you bet <600 words before I mentioned Brand New, well, congratulations, you win!
 Or maybe it’s still around? Or recently was ended? I wish there was a way to find this stuff out.
 Yeah, I am as happy about how that lyric turned out as you are.
 I don’t think this word needs hyphenated, but I’m going to do it just to be safe. The last thing I want to do is to show how unintelligent I am by not hyphenating here.
 I know this is out there, but stay with me.
 I recently bought eye cream.