It’s the time of year when we rehash the year with lists, so here’s my year in music. It’s courtesy of Spotify Unwrapped again, which is still a goofy, app-only, mess of a user interface. But oh well, the basics are there.
I listened to 47,914 minutes of music (more than 91% of users), accounting for 5,964 songs, 2,691 different artists, and 83 different genres. (Here are last year’s stats for the sake of comparison.) I play music while I work, often tuning the music out if I’m really focused, so that’s why I have such ridiculous stats.
Supposedly my top five genres are indie pop, pop, stomp and holler, rock, and alt z (what is alt z?).
“Hot & Heavy” by Lucy Dacus (41 times)
“Holiday (Green Day)” by Half Past Two
“Glowing Review” by Maisie Peters
“Love Me More” by Mitski
“The Story of Us” by Taylor Swift
I’m always looking for a good ear worm, so here are some highlights from my top 100 songs:
“The Last Great Sweetheart of the Grand Electric Rodeo” by Sarah and the Safe Word
“Cannonball” by Avril Lavigne
“My World” by Koren Grace
“Who Are You” by Diet Cig
“Growing Up” by The Linda Lindas
“Raise Up” by Semler
“Got Away” by Kady Rain
“Under You” by Charly Bliss
“F*****g Up What Matters” by Tegan and Sara
“Road to Paradise” by TAT
“Rehab” by People Planet
“Full Metal Black” by The Royal They
“Irrelevant” by P!nk
“Gay Kids” by Rachel Kurtz
“Scotty Doesn’t Know” by Maddie Ross
My Top 5 Artists:
U2 – I listened to 2,236 minutes of their music. That puts me in the top 0.1% of their listeners. No real surprise there.
Five Iron Frenzy – I listened to a lot of Five Iron leading up to their Denver show, so no big surprise there either.
Maisie Peters – She’s one of my favorite new discoveries this year.
Taylor Swift – I don’t even think I listened to her new album that much, so it’s probably older stuff.
Tegan and Sara – Between their new album and the debut of their High School TV show (which is 1990s retro wonderful), I’ve had them on repeat.
Last year my top 3 were Five Iron, U2, and Taylor Swift, so I guess things haven’t changed much?
I took a solo vacation the second week of September for mountain biking, Colorado, a concert, and to visit my grandparents. I’d been wanting to get back to Colorado for a while and my new mountain biking obsession opened up a whole new world of stuff to do. My grandparents also moved into a senior living facility at the beginning of summer, so I wanted to see them. The rest of the family were busy and not super excited about this kind of trip, so I opted to do it myself.
I also hoped to see a bit of fall color, but going for the concert in early September meant it was way too early for much. That just means I’ll have to get back to Colorado for a bucket list fall color trip.
So Spotify does this clever thing where they look at your listening stats and spit out a bunch of fun data. Unfortunately, they do it in this goofy app experience that’s pretty awful. But I pulled out the fun bits…
I listened to 43,344 minutes of music (more than 90% of users), accounting for 2,358 different artists, and 166 different genres.
Supposedly my top five genres are indie pop, ska, stomp and holler, bubble grunge, permanent wave. (I don’t know what half those words mean.)
I grew up in an fundamentalist Baptist church in the 1980s and 90s, that espoused—among other wacky things—that drums were evil. Yes, straight up devil-worshipping, possessed by demons evil. As goofy as that sounds, it was genuinely believed and strictly enforced—though maybe not widely known. I’m also convinced, decades later, that it was blatantly racist.
I’ve waited two years for this. In 2011 Five Iron Frenzy launched a Kickstarter project for their comeback, raising a pile of money and ensuring a new album. Today the album officially releases. You should go buy it.
As a Kickstarter backer I’ve been listening to it for a couple weeks. It’s good stuff. Here’s the band talking about the new album:
Five Iron Frenzy was my favorite band as a teenager and it was the end of an era when they called it quits in 2003. Ten years later they’re back and it’s kind of incredible. I don’t think I ever expected Five Iron to get back together. They ended with such finality (out with a bang, not a whimper) it was clear they had seriously thought about it and were ending their career on their own terms. In some ways breaking up the way they did made it easier to put it all back together, assuming the right pieces were there. Five Iron has never been a band that would do some aging comeback tour, and it shows. They’re writing new material, and while it’s different, it’s still very much Five Iron Frenzy.
I’m curious to see how the new digital economy and a decade of difference will change things for Five Iron Frenzy. They don’t have a record company and they’ve all got day jobs. It did take two full years for the Kickstarter project to actually come to be. Will this be a one-off comeback? Or can we expect even more Five Iron in the future? I have no idea, but I can only hope for more.
Last night I witnessed the return of Five Iron Frenzy to the stage. The late ’90s/early ’00s ska band played their first show in Minneapolis in nearly 10 years. The band called it quits in 2003 but came back in 2011 thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $200,000 to record a new album. Since then they’ve been touring and recording said album, which is set to release in November.
Five Iron Frenzy was the favorite band of my youth, the soundtrack to my high school and college years. They’re still one of my all-time favorite bands (I say that for the sake of clarification—Petra was another favorite band of my youth; not so much anymore). I reflected on what Five Iron has meant to me before, both before and after their 2003 show in Minneapolis.
I spent my youth rocking out to Five Iron: Singing along in the car, learning to skank at concerts, laughing at their hilarity and feeling anger at injustice right along with them. I went to every concert I could, probably a dozen between Detroit and Minneapolis. I interviewed various members of the band nearly half a dozen times. I wrote a lengthy, self-indulgent article chronicling the band’s history back in 2003, which was mostly a form of personal therapy.
We’ve got some history.
So the concert last night was quite an experience. First off, I don’t go to concerts like I used to. The last concert I went to was U2, and before that I don’t even remember. Probably another U2 concert? We had to get a babysitter. When the opening band started playing I realized I’d forgotten my ear plugs. Needless to say, I was feeling old. Continue reading Five Iron Frenzy Returns to Minneapolis→
In December 2003 I wrote the following article for ReALMagazine.com, which no longer exists. Since Five Iron Frenzy has since risen from retirement, it seems appropriate to re-post it. Plus, you know, I want to link to it.
A long time ago in a square state far, far away there was a band named Five Iron Frenzy. Sadly, that band is no more. This is their final story.
On a cold December evening in 1996 I visited my local Christian bookstore and began a new musical journey. A funky new album called to me from the shelf, the debut album from Five Iron Frenzy, Upbeats and Beatdowns. I’d never heard of them before, but after hearing the first strains of “The Old West,” I was hooked. Later that night I listened to the entire album until 2 a.m.
This is the incredibly self-indulgent, and overly-lengthy final article about a band that has had a deep influence on my thinking and my mad dance skills. Before Five Iron, my favorite band was Petra, the over-the-hill rock band of the Christian ghetto. After Five Iron, my favorite band has been U2, the faith-friendly, biggest rock band of the world. I’ve seen Five Iron Frenzy in concert almost a dozen times, I own every major album release, and I’ve interviewed different band members at least five times.
I like Christmas music and I like free music, so I must double-like free Christmas music. And yes, I do. I’ve shared some free Christmas music in the past, but this year there are a few offerings worth mentioning:
Justin McRoberts: Right now you can get the Christmas Songs EPs from acoustic folk rocker Justin McRoberts for free from NoiseTrade. You do need to hand over your ZIP and an email, but otherwise it’s free. One of Justin’s songs made it on my top 5 list of Christmas songs, so it’s worth checking out.
Eisely: Over at Facebook you can download the Dupree Family Christmas Bundle, which is a collection of Christmas songs recorded over the years by members of the Texas-based band Eisley. How to describe Eisley? Hmmm… female-fronted, melodic-melancholy rock with a lot of harmonies?
Amazon’s Advent Calendar of Free Christmas Music: Every year Amazon gives away a song a day until Christmas for 25 days of free music. Some of it is worth a pass, but there are some gems here, including something for all tastes. We’re talking Bing Crosby to Twisted Sister, Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None the Richer) to the Flaming Lips, and Brian Wilson to Fitz and the Tantrums. Give it a try.
Five Iron Frenzy: OK, it’s not very Christmasy (at all), but I’d be remiss not to mention the new Five Iron Frenzy (they’re back) single you can get for free: “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.” It’s free and it’s close to Christmas, so let’s call it a Christmas present. (OK, if you really want some Five Iron Christmas, you’ll have to shell out for “Gotta Get Up.”)
Hope you enjoy yourself some free Christmas music.
And if you’re up for spending a few bucks on your Christmas music, I strongly recommend the Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas. I could rock around the Christmas tree to that indie-rock wonder collection all night long.
The Internet and the power of social media has breathed new life into the corpse of disbanded and broken bands, allowing reunions of the long lost music of your youth. When record company economics made it too difficult for those struggling bands, the Internet has found a way. Of all the recent reunions, none has excited me more than the rise of Five Iron Frenzy. And none has garnered the stories.
A ska-driven, nerd-core band of Christians, Five Iron Frenzy haunted the edges of the Christian music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, never quite finding full acceptance due to the two extremes of their off-beat humor and honest explorations of faith. But they had a rabid fan base.
That fan base proved itself by supporting Five Iron’s return, fully funding their Kickstarter goal of $30,000 in just 55 minutes. The band has since raised nearly $170,000 from more than 2,700 fans to fund their next album and tour. You have until Jan. 21 to support their effort.
In typical Five Iron fashion, it’s all a little weird. The headlining video on Kickstarter—usually a crucial marketing piece that should be well planned and produced—is a nearly 8 minutes of Five Iron lead singer Reese Roper wandering around in the desert pretending to be on a survivor show. It’s not until the final minutes that he actually talks about the reunion. Or there’s the second Kickstarter video from drummer Andy Verdecchio, a much shorter and—if possible—weirder video that tries to spoof pledge videos. (Though from the times I’ve interviewed both Roper and Verdecchio, I wouldn’t expect anything else. One time I was interviewing Verdecchio and two other band members and Verdecchio never said a serious thing in the entire interview.) There’s also the Relevant magazine interview with Roper made it sound like the band got back together because they had nothing better to do.
Justin McRoberts is back. Never mind that he already put out an album this year (welcome to the new musician-controlled music industry). Now he’s revisiting his second album, Father, originally released a decade ago, and offering rearranged versions of four songs from that release. You can get them for free from NoiseTrade (you can also score $3 off his latest covers album).
Twelve years ago this month Justin lost his father to suicide and depression. These songs explore his father and the experience of losing him. But this time around there’s something deeper:
“Every May 6th since has a surreal quality to it; as if the day should have been retired for all its wear and tear. But this May has a different shade to it than the past 11, as my first child, a son, is due May 31.”
So this collection marks the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one. As a father myself, that’s pretty cool. I started listening to Justin McRoberts more than a decade ago (has it been that long?!), and it’s been cool to watch him stretch and grow as an artist and person.