I'm being honest when I say that very little happened today. February 1st wasn't very eventful, though I did find out the kitten's name: Hemlock! And if you know Lainey, it fits. Other than that, the day was a Monday, which are notorious to me for being a friggin' no go for interesting events. So in the spirit of writing whatever amuses me, I'm going to do a music review.
Back in October/November of '09, I got a hold of an album by a band (which consists of one man) called "Beaujolais". But really, the guy's name is Joe Ziemba, and his first album, "Love At Thirty," is one of the most amazing albums I have ever owned. It will probably be in my Top 5 Favorite Albums of all time until I kick the bucket. I'm not kidding. I haven't listened to one album from beginning to end on a non-stop rotation like this since Weezer's Blue Album. Nor have I been as emotionally involved as I have with this piece of art in a long time. One of the main reasons I'm so close to this album is the back story, which is tragic and absolutely true.
So let me tell you a story about a boy and a girl.
Circa 2000, Joe was in a band called Wolfie. In this band he met a girl named Amanda, who was the drummer for the band. If the fact that she's a hot drummer is not sexy enough on its own merits, they also made great music together. They soon got married, and they decided to try living like responsible adults and get day jobs and try being together without the music. This just didn't seem to feel right for them, so they quickly formed a band called"The Like Young." Joe and Amanda were the only members, making a pop rock version of the White Stripes. (On a side note, I also love their music as The Like Young).
They made three albums as The Like Young, but kept their day jobs as well. They didn't tour very far from their Chicago roots since they had a mortgage and were trying not to let the stresses of the music scene get to them. Joe seemed to be very content and happy at this point in time. But suspicions came up, and he discovered that Friday the 13th really is an unlucky day.
Yeah, I'm in the future, too.
So, I will explain each track musically and story-wise. Love At Thirty is 15 tracks long, but believe me when I say it's worth listening to each and every track.
01. Nightmare In a Healthy Brain
This track is very contemplative. As though Ziemba is looking back at the entire ordeal, but in the form of a prologue. The music starts off cold and isolated. Cerebral, even. It feels as though he's trying to put all his thoughts together, to decide how best to explain his actions and reactions. I can feel his struggle to not give in to the anger and despair swirling within him. He needs to be a better person than whatever has been thrust upon his shoulders. For himself, if nothing else. But in the end, its a proclamation that he's not done living, no matter how much pain living, and loving, can bring.
One of my favorite tracks on this whole album. It has a beautiful, yet simple melody and it has a wonderful Beatles touch that makes it instantly catchy. But its the story in this song. Its about wanting to be close that person that you should be the closest to. This song felt as though Ziemba was trying to ignore the feelings of doubt he was having. To disregard the suspicions that he was starting to feel. The title says a lot. "Confidants" means putting your trust in someone, good or bad. But it almost doubles as "Confidence," which was starting to waver at this point.
03. Contemptual You
I love the use of bass in the beginning of this song, and tempo of the song does a great job of trying to hide the under current of driving bass and hard drums. The guitars are playful, but it feels like its trying to fool the listener. This is song about seeing a change in someone. Ziemba feels as though his wife is giving back less and less as he gives more and more. Their relationship seems very strained, with more holes forming each day.
04. Birthday Card
One of the most Beach Boys/Beatles influenced songs on the album. The song sounds so very happy and upbeat. The acoustic and electric guitars play off each other well, leaving you to think that everything is okay. But a sudden burst of piano shakes up the song, making you take a second to let the lyrics sink in. The entire song, Ziemba was reading a birthday card that he had found. It had been written by his wife. But the only problem was that it wasn't for Ziemba. The words of the card weren't truly damning, but they put his teeth on edge for two reasons: The use of the word "Love" and a pet name that his wife used. It felt wrong somehow.
05. Please Don't Let This Be True
This song is driven mostly by a cello, a keyboard, and a mandolin. Its a slow contemplation and plea to be wrong. The title is very self-explanatory. At this point, Ziemba is desperately hoping to be incorrect in his suspicions.
06. What Have I Found?
But all the clues are coming together now. He can't concentrate on anything else unless he knows the truth, good or bad. Its becoming his obsession. This song has a great use of flute and piano. They sound almost as though constantly bugging Ziemba. Goading him to do something, once and for all.
07. Friday the 13th: The Loft
Another of my favorite songs on this album. Everything comes to a head in this song, with powerful guitars and a relentless drum beat. This is the day that Ziemba apparently saw something that could not be denied. His wife was cheating on him. Nobody else knew, and now he had to choose what his next step would be.
08. The Grim Weeper
This song is begins with utter despair and exhaustion. And suicide is quietly being contemplated. But as the song continues, you can feel Ziemba slowly pull himself out until he openly defies the notion of hurting himself. He makes a decision to confront his wife. With the first half using slow musical choices that languish, the second half jumps out so much more, with guitars and soaring vocals.
09. May I Have The Honor?
The beginning of the song is Ziemba pumping himself up to confront his wife. But when he finally drops some science on her, he comes out so much stronger. He's grabbing a hold of his own destiny, telling her the situation, telling her its over. More importantly, he's actively not taking any of her crap. He even pities her a little, with her little side-life hidden in the shadows and in small lies.
10. The Burnings
Now the the confrontation has reached its end, Ziemba wants to destroy everything he had ever shared with this wife. Specifically, their bedroom. None of it seems worth keeping... until he realizes that that path only leads to pettiness and empty revenge. He just wants what's left of their relationship to be over.
11. Autumn Nocturne (Time Passes & Sleep Returns)
This song is an instrumental piece that truly, deeply feels like the passing of time. Of growing older and coming to terms with past pain. Of healing. Its heartfelt and inescapable: Time heals all.
The aftermath the loss of a love that Ziemba thought would go on for the rest of his life and beyond. This is him coming to terms with who his ex-wife Amanda was and is. With all her flaws and favors and everything in between. He wishes it hadn't gone the way it had. But it was her choice, and he decides that's the way it will have to be. She wasn't perfect after all.
13. I Do Go In The Woods Alone
But now what will Ziemba do with himself? Be alone, it seems. Or at least be okay with being alone again. And he'll start to find his strength again. He'll start to see that he has hope and a new life awaiting him.
14. Love At Thirty
And now Ziemba looks back at it all. From beginning to end. But he looks even further past where he was with his wife, but who he was before her. He looks further into the future from where he is now. He's not in love. Not anymore. But that's not a bad thing. Because now he's free to start over again. He accepts all that he is, and all that he can be. This song was a wonderful arch to it, with a touchingly pained intro, but a determined middle point.
15. When One Is Together
Not only the last track, but also another favorite of mine. This song is full of understanding and hope. A true realization that he survived something that almost killed him. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. So how can he not be stronger because of it? And he knows what love feels like, and has no doubt he will feel it again. This time with someone ready for a more mature and honest love. The Like Young may be gone, but Beaujolais is ready for the future.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the review. But in hindsight, its not so much a review as it is a completely over the top geek-out by yours truly. Either way, if you want a copy of the album, let me know. If you want a copy to purchase all for yourself, just let it be known that getting a hold of an actual physical copy of the album is a little tricky, but it is available on iTunes.
Here's some links to help you out:
Beaujolais on myspace!
NATE NOTE: Oh, yeah, just so you know, the title of today's blog is french for "F**king Amazing Album!" Rawk on!