It should come as no shock that I can get very particular about music. In fact, I don’t believe that it is a rare trait for any music lover to have their quirks about what or how they choose to listen. I have tinkered for hours on end to make a playlist just right, laying out each track to play out like it’s a new experience, a new story, a new something. It’s always something I enjoy doing for the fact that it feels like putting together a puzzle with the pieces, in this case songs, already written. It’s almost something original by the end of the process and I’m often proud of myself until I throw in on shuffle, rendering the whole “story” concept unnecessary.
One of my go-to themes for playlists/mix CDs (yes, I still make them) is year-end best-of’s. I do my best to gather as much as I can from that calendar year and make a CD for my girlfriend or someone else I am trying to impress for them to listen to. The parameters are that I have to purchase the albums or tracks. I hardly ever use a streaming service to discover music, so I get most of my recommendations from podcasts, blogs, and places like Reddit. When making the playlist for 2015, I kept reading and hearing a lot about Beach Slang.
Beach Slang’s debut album was well received from critics and fans alike, and it was nearing the end of the year and, well, if it was going to make my best-of list, I would need to buy it. So I did, and I never really gave it much more than a few spins. I mean, if it was good enough for the gang at Sound Opinions, then who am I to put in the extra work?
This bears repeating: I developed horrible listening habits and I am trying to break them.
My initial listen to the album didn’t do much for me. Sure, it was loud and bold and it certainly did not have a problem getting in your face. Again, I was more than likely trying to find an appropriate track to throw on a playlist and couldn’t find one fast enough.
And that’s where I’m wrong, again.
The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is an energetic twenty-seven minute call to arms. Not a moment was wasted and I don’t feel like there was room to add anything else. Once the opener, “Throwaways”, starts, you are taken on a journey that singer/guitarist James Alex has laid out for you whether you were ready or not. Coming back to this album three years later, I was able to see how careful the steps of Alex’s journey really were.
The album is basically telling the listener to live “aggressively present”, never to dwell or get hung up with the past or unknown. It’s now. It’s tonight, and we’re going to make the most out of it. There’s no better declaration of living aggressively present than the lyrics, “Too young to die, too late to die young”. Dude, same.
What really makes this album shine for me is the pacing of the tracks and how the songs line up with each other seamlessly. It climbs when needed and is also brought down if that’s what is called for. In essence, this debut offering is akin to that opener band you never heard of yet they totally rip and you leave a fan afterward. If this album were a live set, the track listing would make for an outstanding setlist.
Perhaps James Alex was one of those who understood the magic of a perfect playlist.