I was 13 going on 14 in 2003. I was wearing two belts at a time to make sure my skinny jeans stayed put just under my arse so everybody could see my rad H&M girl boxers, pouring bubbles into the fountain outside City Hall every summer Saturday and getting all my information about music either from my family (I have a cool family), friends, Kerrang! or by randomly buying CD’s from Virgin based exclusively on the artwork.
Once I had gotten over the initial depression of being forced to revisit bands I was obsessed with to ten years ago and subsequently having to deal with my age and the fact that ten years ago was TEN YEARS AGO, I was actually surprised by how many albums I would now consider “life defining” were released during that period. Here are two of them (although the former massively outweighs the latter in terms of influence, content, longevity and pretty much everything):
Brand New – Deja Entendu (Released June 17th, 2003)
If you went through your teenage growing pains without Deja Entendu, I feel bad for you now, bro. It was – still is – the manual on‘The Art of Growing Up’ containing chapters on love, loss, sex, selfishness, insecurity, arrogance and everything in between that comes hand in hand with the overwhelming self-consciousness that begins in your pre-teens and continues pretty much forever.
Like so many others who hit high school with the turn of the millennium, this record is intrinsically woven into memories of my adolescence, and with that comes a wistful montage of sickly clichés; For what felt like years it was the soundtrack to every sleepover, the noise that poured from the windows at every house party, the lamentable life-lesson learned by that one friend who drank so much before the Brand New show in ’04 she fell asleep inside Newport TJ’s and missed their whole set…
The same can be said of Your Favorite Weapon, to a certain extent. It shares the same sense of self-discovery that darts hormonally between thrill and spite, but Deja Entendu was the record that made an emotional seasonal turn so strong that neither fans nor critics could have anticipated it. Brand New had retained the same chunky riffs, the same trademark harmonies and the same arresting songwriting, but the mood was entirely different – musically and thematically. They were a band in the process of maturing held up largely by a generation of fans who were unconsciously going through the same transformation as individuals.
I can guarantee there was not a single boy who listened to Deja Entendu without hoping the line “I’m paid to make girls panic while I sing” could or would apply to him, not a single girl who listened to that line without instantly panicking and not a single Brand New fan who wouldn’t lose their absolute shit if the band were to tour this record in its entirety.
The Ataris – So Long, Astoria (Released March 4th, 2003)
Without a shadow of doubt, So Long, Astoria is one of the most innately nostalgic records of its kind. I can’t count how many hours of family holidays were spent in the backseat of a car shovelling it into my ears. Ten years later, it still provokes the same feelings of longing and homesickness for people, places and things – some not yet encountered – as it did then. The only difference now is I’m old enough to drive the car myself.
Significantly, So Long, Astoria is not an album for making memories to. It’s an album for reflecting on memories already made. ‘In This Diary,’ ‘My Reply’ and ‘Looking Back On Today’ are the sort of songs you play at the end of a trip, a relationship or an era (the clues are in the titles, duh).
The name of the album refers to the town The Goonies was set in, and just like the film, So Long, Astoria perfectly captures the transition from a childhood in reverie into considered adulthood with the lyrics: “So long, Astoria/ I found a map to buried treasure/ And even if we come home empty handed/ We’ll still have our stories/ Of battle scars, pirate ships and wounded hearts/ Broken bones and all the best of friendships.”
And if there’s one message we can take from this record as a whole, specifically the lines “Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up/ These are the best days of our lives” it is surely: to hell with growing up.
Dear Kris Roe and gang, please do all us overgrown children a favor and tour this album.
You can read the other entries including Blink 182, Fall Out Boy and The Used on Alter The Press.