All My Friends Who Play Guitar

I remember I liked Starflyer 59 before I’d even heard them. All the teenagers I respected had their shirts and even the band’s name sounded cool. I knew they were a Tooth & Nail band like some of the other bands I’d been introduced to, like MxPx and Ninety Pound Wuss. So I assumed it’d be something along those lines, but I was pretty surprised by what they actually ended up being.

I’d never really heard anything like shoegaze before. In a small town and an evangelical bubble, you don’t really have many opportunities to encounter it. But it immediately resonated with me. The sounds were similar to the grunge and alternative I’d heard on the radio, but being used in a totally different sonic purpose. It was loud and powerful music, but not aggressive or biting. It felt like a nice chaser to the punk music I was already deeply into. So I immediately became deeply invested in their work and have followed them for years since, even after dropping out of the faith.

As the 90s ended, the band began to expand and move to more complex territory taking what they’d used in dream pop and shoegaze into indie rock. 2001’s Leave Here A Stranger has all the dripping reverb from their earlier work, but it’s paired with distant organs and singing saws. It’s deep and evocative, but approachable. Doesn’t hurt that it was produced by the lead singer from one of my favorite bands growing up, Daniel Amos. I love all their albums for different reasons, but Leave Here A Stranger is the easiest to recommend.

I was already driving by the time the album came out and it never left my car. I don’t even know if my friends liked it, I just played it all the time when we drove around (sorry if you didn’t). And it’s still a staple for long trips for me. It’s perfect highway music. It sounds like recycled air smells.

One of my favorite tropes is ending an album with a song you could roll movie credits over. It fits the way albums can work narratively and also reminds you that they’re wrapping things up that they need to clean the theater. Your Company is the perfect credits roll song, typing up the musical and lyrical themes of the album. After the album, can just see the album credits scrolling down the screen as you listen.

January 25, 2021

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