Blog: That Shaping Music – 01/23/19

Like a lot of people, I do my best to avoid ever having to open iTunes, but unfortunately a situation arose in which I had no choice.  After the absurd amount of time it took to boot up, the several update notifications, and me needing to refresh my login credentials, I was finally face to face with my music library.  A library that I’d been building on since my teenage years and oddly enough, hadn’t outgrown.

So I thought it would be a fun trip down memory lane to just highlight a few of the artists that influenced me in some way or another.  To prepare, you’ll have to transport back in time, to the distant year of 2007(-ish).  This isn’t a comprehensive list at all, rather it’s just to give you an idea of what 2007 Ari was and probably is still into.


I loved Brand New back in the day.  I say loved because in 2017, shortly after they released what would be their final album, the lead singer was accused of, and ultimately admitted to, being a creep earlier in his career.  I won’t go into it, but because of this, I no longer know how to feel about my former love for the band.

But up until this news came out, I thought the world of Brand New and the music they produced.  I appreciated how they evolved and drastically changed their style from album to album, layering in more effects driven and experimental elements as time went on.  It felt as if their music was growing up with me, and each album served as a bookmark in my life that I can distinctly remember where I was and how I felt when they were released.

Despite the gross revelations about the lead singer, I still can’t help but hold a special place in my heart for the music of the band as a whole.  I just can’t listen to them with the frequency or the fervor in which I used to.


I remember hearing some buzz about Manchester Orchestra back in the day, wondering what was so special about this orchestra that the bands I listened to were going on tour with them.  Turns out, they’re a band; A really good one at that.

I’ll admit that I kind of lost the thread on the band as time has gone on, but that doesn’t diminish how I felt about them back in the day.  Early albums like Mean Everything to Nothing and Simple Math remain my favorites, with most of their newer work not connecting for me.  To my knowledge, they’re still out there making music.  That alone makes me happy.


In the same vein of Brand New, I think what I appreciate most about Thrice is that they were always evolving.  Early on, they were churning out some real gut punching, face-melting music that was loud and angry and would get any teenager ready to write some hardcore shit on MySpace.  As time passed, they stopped screaming as much and started belting out some real heavy and heartfelt stuff.

Eventually the band split, and the lead singer, Dustin Kensrue, went on to make some music that focused more on faith and God that was pretty good.  But I recently learned that they came back together at some point in the last few years and are putting out new music again.  Shamefully, I still haven’t listened to any of it yet.


This is a weird one for me, because it’s one of the bands that’s very existence carries so much baggage for me, and also I don’t think they ever had more than one good album.  But I will say that Say Anything was a band that an ex of mine introduced me to, and we bonded over.  There were lots of sing-alongs while we were driving around in my 91′ Saturn.

The lead singer doesn’t sing, but rather melodically speaks and makes edgy jokes that only a teenager in 2007 would have really appreciated.  But hey, they knocked it out of the park with their album …Is a Real Boy and the eventual re-release with extra music, …Was a Real Boy, and I have some good memories associated with them.  Too bad every album after those are just head-scratchingly bad.


Yellowcard was so damn awesome and I don’t care what anyone has to say about that.  They were a band that was consistently releasing better and better albums all throughout my time in high school, and more importantly, taught me that even violins can rock.  And Paper Walls is their best album.  Fight me.


Like most things I did in high school, I listened to Metric because a girl I had a crush on was super into them.  We never actually ended up dating, or having extensive conversations, but I did get a rad new band to listen to out of it.

In my opinion, Metric is a band that has one of the strangest arcs ever.  The first albums of theirs that I listened to featured songs that fluctuated between coffee house music mixed with beat poetry, to driving pop-punk-esque singles.  Later on they released an album called Fantasies, which is easily the most digestible and listenable music they’ve ever made.  It’s filled with catchy pop-rock tracks that heavily lean on synth leads.

Now they’re kind of dipping back into the stuff that first got me interested in them, trying some more experimental stuff once again.  It’s been fun to watch them grow in popularity, especially around the time they had music featured in movies like Twilight and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Also I should mention that I was super into the lead singer, Emily Haines… kinda still am.


And rounding out this trip through my iPod Nano of yesteryear is Taking Back Sunday.  I remember having intense disagreements with a close friend of mine over which band was better, Taking Back Sunday or Brand New.  Turns out, they were both really good and we were idiots.

To my knowledge, Taking Back Sunday is still out there making music.  The last time I heard some it, I felt it lacked the punchiness of their older work.  I’m all for bands changing it up over time, but I never got the impression that they were trying to evolve their style, rather just trying to recreate what worked in the past.  Maybe I’m off base with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that their music still gets regular play in my car.

There’s way more to tell about the music I used to bump on a regular basis that I might get around to one day, but for now, this is a good and broad look at some of the more popular acts I followed back in the day.

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