Summer School of Rock: Shout Out Louds

Alright class, we’re going to start off this week’s blog with a classic set of analogies. Raise your hand when you know the answer.

1. “Ice cream” is to “the best thing in the world” as being unemployed is to ___________?

That’s right! The correct answer is “the worst thing in the world.”

That was an easy one. Let’s kick these bad boys up a notch.

2. “Spending all day at the lake” is to “fun” as “watching TV all day while your friends are at work” is to __________?

No Billy, “exciting” is not what I’m looking for here. The answer is “boring!” Alright, here’s the last one.

3. “Taking a vacation” is to “laying on the beach with a beer in your hand” as “having gargantuous amounts of free time in a house where you haven’t lived in nine months” is to __________?

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Boooooorrrrringggggg.

That’s exactly right! “Summer cleaning!”

It’s official. I’ve hit that point in the summer where I’ve memorized the TV show schedule, leaving the house to go outside is a daily goal (and a tough one to reach at that) and even starting a new series on Netflix doesn’t excite me. THE HORROR.

Sure, I’ve tried to shake things up here and there. Sometimes I try out new cookie recipes. Sometimes I dedicate time to restocking a particularly bare board on my Pinterest. I even bought one of those paint-by-number sets at Walmart the other day. Who knew they were so challenging?! In other words, it’s sitting on my coffee table, half-complete after I got distracted by my need to take a nap. What a life, huh?

So the question remains, what does a 19-year-old unemployed college student whose friends work during the day, who doesn’t want to appear lazy by sleeping in until noon, and who doesn’t want her brain to turn to mush do with herself for the remaining six weeks of summer? Class? “CLEANING!!!”

Don’t be deceived. I’m not as excited as I sound about the massive amount of organizing, sorting, throwing out and restocking I have gavel1ahead of me. I mean, come on, I have a typical college girl’s closet, the basement storage of an 80-year-old hoarder and a laptop filing system with the organization of a 3-year-old’s toy box (I’ve spent quite a bit of time with them, I would know). I’m fully aware that I have more than six week’s worth of work ahead of me. Can I put that on my resume?

First up on the cleaning list: my iTunes library. Naturally, it’s a hell hole, full of untitled songs, repeats and bands that witnessed the birth of my first iPod. That was probably the last time they were played too.

I start with the task that requires the least amount of work: deleting old, dried up bands that my 10-year-old self insisted were the bee’s knees. Snoop Dogg? Gone. Clay Aiken, deleted. Goodbye to Terror Squad, Nickelback and even Ashlee Simpson. Wow, I really had terrible taste back in 2004…

Even after I really get rolling and delete some things accidentally (sorry Ryan Cabrera), there are those old bands that I just can’t get rid of. Dashboard Confessional? They may not have won any Grammys, but I can remember listening to nothing but A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar for three straight family vacations and writing their lyrics on my bathroom mirror. They’re staying.

Photo courtesy of last.fm.

Ahh, Dashboard. The love. Photo courtesy of last.fm.

Well what about Sublime? Can’t. What I Got served as the background music for my annual end-of-the-year picture slideshow in seventh grade (yes, it’s actually a thing).

Lesson #8: The best way to display your music taste is through a slideshow.

“Reallllllllly?”

No.

Lesson #8: Songs full of memories are worth just as much as songs full of award-winning brilliance.

I can tell you right off the bat that there are a lot of music critics out there who would 100% disagree with this statement. I understand completely! There’s no way to excuse straight crap even if it evokes some sort of deeply-rooted emotion for one person. I get that.

I also get that we can’t patronize the greatest bands of all time by putting them on the same level as your brother’s garage band who played the song that you and your boyfriend first made out to at senior prom. From the bottom of my heart, I really hope your first kiss was more romantic than that. No offense to any die-hard Brother’s Garage Band fans out there.

But the fact is, there are some things out there that can’t be explained by an analysis of instrumentation and lyrical narrative. It’s called emotion. This might be hard for some people to believe, but a brilliant use of keyboard doesn’t tear at everyone’s heart strings. Ingenius raps don’t make everyone cry. In fact, I don’t think they make anyone cry. But that’s beside the point.

Photo courtesy of last.fm.

Photo courtesy of last.fm.

This week’s band has a special place in my heart. Sure, they aren’t number one on my Top 25 Most Played playlist. They aren’t the first band I put on mix CDs. But they did survive my iTunes purge and are, without a doubt, a band I always stop for when my iPod’s on shuffle. And that’s really saying something. They are the Shout Out Louds.

Hailing from Stockholm and with four studio albums under their belt, these guys know how to work their way into a person’s soul. With a heart-on-sleeve mentality, complete with raw synth-guitar sounds and the honest vocals of Adam Olenius, the Shout Out Louds have a way of remaining in your memory.

For example, I remember the first time I heard “Very Loud.” It was on one of my sister’s mix CDs, and I danced around the kitchen to it while my mom made dinner.

https://soundcloud.com/mbtrs/nick-and-norahs-infinite

I remember seeing that my best friend from second grade and I both had “Impossible” as our Myspace song and using that to catch up with her after about five years of not speaking.

https://soundcloud.com/brunodalvi/02-shout-out-louds-impossible-album-version

I listened to “Tonight I Have to Leave it” on the way home from my favorite day of seventh grade, a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium.

https://soundcloud.com/whatbear/shout-out-louds-tonight-i-have-to-leave-it

“Wish I Was Dead” will always remind me of my trip to the beach after graduation.

“The Comeback” was one of the first songs I tried to play on guitar during my “I’m 16 so it’s about time I taught myself how to play guitar” phase that lasted all of about two weeks. It was a nightmare. But really, you should go for it!

Sure, we could talk about how Olenius’s lyrics are cry-worthy, how innovative the wood percussion is on Our Ill Wills and how the chorus of “Very Hard” was quite possibly the best thing released in 2003, but for me, the Shout Out Louds are enough without all that. It’s about how they make me feel. No amount of trumpet use or bridge harmony is going to save songs from an iTunes purge. But the song that played in the car on your way to graduation? The backdrop of the night you met your best friend? The opening song from your favorite movie?

Yeah, those can stay.

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Mary Yuengert