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Five and Alive: The Lack Long After
Five and Alive: The Lack Long After
11/24/11 at 10:16 PM by Adam Pfleider
When you're young, music is really cool. But the reality is that you can't ever truly appreciate the music you love until the artists that created it disappear. The day they say, "We're not going to do this anymore. Do not expect new music from us until further notice," is punishing to many of us. There's a Bill Burr joke about appreciating a dog more when you're older, because when you're younger - everything is awesome! "Why wouldn't a dog be awesome?!" The same can be said about your favorite bands. Whether you're reading this and you just discovered that band, or you're an older person like myself who's halfway between giving up on discovering new music because "They don't make it like they used to," and still striving to keep an ear to ground - I hope this week's column sheds some light on why we're all going to be deaf at an early age or clutching our records when we hear about that one-off reunion and so forth.

I anticipated that 2011 would be an amazing year for music just like the rest of the staff and this fine community on the site. What I didn't anticipate was that I would lose three bands this year, that without them, I wouldn't have an opinion, wouldn't be writing and wouldn't devote my life to this thing. Whatever that thing is.

There's more than one reason why the RX Bandits, Thrice and Thursday are cuts in my musical Rosetta Stone. Thinking about it the other day as a third story came to a close, I couldn't have understood what I'm about to say without these three bands, and a few others that really have pushed what I think and continue to expand on my palette of tastes and audible experiences.

Without drudging on anymore, here are five things that I learned about music from three of the best bands I've come across in my youth up until their current indefinite hiatuses.

1) It's Not That "Album X" is Their Best Record, There's Just a Moment Attached To It…

Sometimes it's hard to meet bands and not say, "Hey, [album] is one of my favorite records of all time." Then you sound like every other asshole who thinks their new direction is boring, when in fact it is leaps and bounds above the aforementioned record. The thing is, that first record got you excited and all fan-like because either (a) you listened to really shitty music up until that point or (b) some records just reach certain people at a certain time. Maybe the disc had answers we were looking for or a conversation we just found interesting. The things we learned from it is what keeps it herald as such. We sometimes tend to stick to those bars that were set though. Unfortunately, instead of appreciating when the same bar is raised years later - we tend to get stuck in the first sense of awe from way back.

Which leads us to...

2) Progression Can Kill a Band or Make Them Stronger…

A lot of bands have called it a day after attempting something new and losing a large chunk of their audience. They're fighting a constant uphill battle. You can adapt and fade away or you can progress and lose as well anyway. The variable is how fast you will burn up or die out. If you're good at it. If you have the ability to shift your sound a bit and still turn heads - that's a feat that most can't pull off, and it's how some bands tend to go from a favorite band status to a cult one. This is a huge deciding factor for who my favorite bands generally are. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it is for most, because...

3) The Best Bands Will Challenge You, And It'll Be Rewarding…

I think the best bands - think about it, your favorite bands - will create new records that are not meant to be absorbed right away. My favorite bands - their new records - they never capture me the way that first one did. With time, I actually like chipping away at what I like about them though. When a new record does capture my attention with time though, I'll spin it and spin it and spin it and then go back to the band's whole catalog - see how it really stacks up. The results might just surprise you as you grow older. Those new tastes will reflect on other new tastes and will lead you to more great bands or different styles of music you wouldn't normally listen to. Most importantly, it will lead the best listeners to keep true in being open to new sounds.

Now, that all said, the following will happen...

4) You Will Most Likely Hate Some of What Comes Out…

That's okay. You disagree with your best friends at times? Maybe the sequel to a favorite movie just wasn't good at all. Your favorite beer didn't exactly knock it out of the park with their winter lager? It's okay. Just breathe. Does that mean you now hate a band when there's an extensive catalog of what you love? Absolutely not. This seems to be the one people get up in arms about the most with bands they hold close to. This is one of the negatives about being a person who dictates their life by the crescendos and decrescendos of their headphones. Then one day, you wake up, and see some awful news...

5) Goodbyes are Hard, But Can Be Temporary…

So many of us have gotten into bands long before our time. Bands that influenced the bands we listen to now. We got into them post break-up. It's a different feeling. We can't lose something that we never experienced first hand. (note: A reunion show is nice, but it is not the same thing as the past moment when it was happening.) It's times like these with bands like these that have had this sense of longevity (loosely defined for the sake of argument) that are shattering to many of us. As we've seen in the last couple of years, just because a band says it's over - doesn't mean that it's over too. So in the wake of a year that penned the final chapters (for now) of three amazing acts, I'll hold my discogs close, remember every moment and do my best to share my memories with others and hand them down to a younger generation of listeners. One day, they might get to see that reunion tour. I'll finally get to say, "I was there." I'll look like the creepy old dude in the back, but I'll have my moment one way or another.

- love and respect
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