Wednesday, January 27, 2021

9 songs: Brian Carley (Penfold, The Moirai)

 Brian Carley talks about 9 songs that not only got him into emo, but also shaped him as a musician and deeply affected his life.


This was really tough. I did this chronologically because all of these songs, in some way, helped me progress towards being a musician and a songwriter, and without them happening, in this order, who knows what would have happened. It’s hard to pick only 9 songs but rather than these being my “favorite” songs, they do represent seismic shifts in the way I thought about listening to and playing music and had a major impact on my life, our band and our role in the broader scene. 

Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven

This is kind of where things started for me. My older brother was really into underground/alternative music. I first heard him listening to “You’re Living all over me by Dinosaur Jr probably sometime in 1990  and this really got me into other styles of music beyond what we could find on MTV and in mall record stores. I had already been a fan of The Cure but when I heard Dinosaur Jr’s cover of “Just like Heaven”, it blew my mind. Here was the brit-pop shoegaze-esque song redone as a punk song with the craziest hardcore sounding breakdown during the chorus. It somehow started to mesh together sounds and genres that I previously didn’t think belonged together and so I really wanted to learn how to play music that could do that.

Nirvana - Sliver

My brother had this single on vinyl. What a weird track, the lyrics made me uncomfortable, the guitars sounded so raw and the dynamics between quiet and loud were something I had not really heard before, at least not with as much passion and energy as they had on this song. This is before Dave Grohl was in the band, before Nevermind came out and so obviously it was easy for me to be a fan of their music coming off of this song, but I really sparked with thy dynamism of the music which again, had an impact on my writing style directly. I wouldn’t realize that until much later in life.

Quicksand - Head To Wall

Again, my same and seemingly now, very cool, older brother got me into this by way of the NY hardcore scene. We grew up pretty close to New York City so he would spend a lot of time going into the city to buy records and to see hardcore shows. He was a big Gorilla Biscuits fan and so I also enjoyed their music. Quicksand was a big deal for me, but specifically, when I heard this second track on SLIP I was instantly taken with how seamlessly it went from heavy to melodic and the hook of the chorus really grabbed me. I listened to this song way too many times.

Sunny Day Real Estate - Seven

There used to be a show on MTV called "120 Minutes". It ran from midnight to 2am on Sunday evening. My parents wouldn’t let me stay up that late and we only had one TV in the house, so every Sunday I would set the VCR to record the show and every Monday after school I would come home and watch the tape. One Monday the video for “seven” came on and I was completely taken aback. I think it was the combination of Jeremy’s voice, the guitars that managed to be so dynamic and powerful. It was somehow the culmination of everything I had wanted to hear. I went to the local mall and found Diary at the music store on cassette and played it until it no longer worked.

Smoking Popes - Rubella

Around the same time as hearing Sunny Day, I was getting exposed to a lot of other music and the Smoking Popes had such an awesome sound. Punk meets Sinatra. Like a sponge, I was absorbing as much music as possible and this is right around the time I actually started playing music so I would take anything and everything that sparked my interest.

Hot Water Music - Translocation

These guys totally blew me away. I don’t actually remember how I got introduced to them, but I do remember the first time I put on Forever and Counting and heard Chuck and Chris’s voices together for the first time and was completely hooked. It was wild to hear this together, it sounded so new and different to me and I just wanted more and more.

The Blacktop Cadence - Last Night… After I Bought the Wine

Penfold had just recorded our first 3 songs, two of which would appear on our first 7”. I was spending as much time as I could going to local shows to hand out our 3 song demo on cassette to anyone who would take it. I went to a show without knowing who any of the bands were. I was super excited when the first band realized it was Chris Wollard and George Rebello from Hot Water Music’s side project. They opened with the first song from their only album and they sounded phenomenal. I bought the record and sunk deeper into this world of music. I loved it. There was no turning back.

Texas Is the Reason - Antique

This song popped up on a mixtape that my good friend made for me and I loved the way it sounded. The chords were really reminiscent of the way I had been playing guitar and it all really clicked with me. I loved how soft and romantic it began and how angsty and fast it got by the end. It was really inspiring for me and I immediately started searching for more music by this band.

The Get Up Kids - Shorty

This song was on the same mixtape as the above and I instantly loved it. The drums sounded crazy, their voices were so raw and scratchy and it was so immediately catchy to me. You could hear the guitars making mistakes and it just felt real and unpolished and made me realize that a song could make me feel instantly connected in some way without being perfect or over-produced as long as you could really feel the emotion coming through, you could hear the intensity and the honesty and that was exactly what I had always hoped to achieve through music.

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