Monday, December 24, 2012

Swearin', Swearin', 2012

Sunday Run Album Review

I saw a Facebook post the other day, by a music journalist I really respect, pointing out and kind of lamenting the fact that if one were to remove all of the twenty-something artists from Pitchfork's "Top 50 Albums of 2012" list, there'd only be five or six records left.  I wasn't particularly surprised or upset by this, but it started me wondering why most of the best pop / mindie music is produced by people whom I'd basically consider kids.  More to the point, why are these kids able to produce music that can connect with someone, like me, twenty years older than they are?

I think it's a combination of two things.  First, nobody ever really changes.  You go through your whole life with the same brain and all of its thought processes, insecurities, worries, etc.  Second, twenty-something kids haven't learned all the ways to rationalize those feelings and keep them bottled up inside.  Instead, they pour it all out on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or into their songs.  So, what you end up with is a bunch of kids creating music from their twenty-something year-old brains that is able to touch people of all ages.  That's important.  With most of us adults walking around and being socially acceptable, someone needs to speak up for the way none of us have ever really stopped feeling.

I thought about this while I jogged around my neighborhood for the first time in a while listening to the self-titled, debut full-length by Swearin'.  Kyle Gilbride and Allison Crutchfield (twin sister and former P.S. Eliot bandmate of Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield) share songwriting duties on Swearin'.  What they've produced is a combination of pop punk and 1990's indie rock that contains traces of Built to Spill, The Breeders, and early Liz Phair.  On many of the songs, Gilbride and Crutchfield touch on some thoughts that never quite leave you just because you get older.

On "Here to Hear," Gilbride (sounding quite a bit like Doug Martsch) sings, "Moving back here / Feeling too self-aware / I keep thinking, / "Is this as good as it gets?"  The pointedly titled "Fat Chance" sees Crutchfield promising, "I'll move out of this house. / I will get my own place. / Get noticed, get in pictures. / I will paint my face."  Gilbride sounds older than his years again on "Empty Head" as he says, "I collect the blurry past into my empty head, / And it’s sad to want it back…"

Swearin' is a solid debut from a band moving beyond its pop punk DNA.  The songwriting is wrapped up in the sounds of early indie rock, but it manages not to sound dated or nostalgic.

"No one likes you when you're as old as we are," sings Crutchfield on album closer "Movie Star."  She hits on something there.  People my age can be dismissive of these kids and all their whining.  If you think about it for a second, though, that may be because they're reminding us of things that we taught ourselves to forget about years ago.

You can stream or purchase Swearin' over at the band's Bandcamp page.

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