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Other People Write: Advent of a Miracle by Strongarm

Christine’s comment on my last post inspired me to throw out some song lyrics, as a type of poetry appreciation. The video for the song is at the bottom of this post, but don’t click play unless you’re prepared. At the very least, you can admire Mark deSalvo’s artwork in the video thumbnail, which appears to be from the vinyl version. The CD version just had the glowy hands on the cover.

I had a copy from the first pressing of this CD, which came to be known as the “boob pressing.” The face of the actual CD had a painting of the woman naked, holding her arm up. Her boob was supposed to be in the middle of the CD, where the hole is, but it didn’t turn out like that. So a lot of hardcore punk rock kids got a flash of nipple when they got home from the Christian bookstore. I’m pretty sure the band mentions the nip slip Travis’ podcast on the album’s 20th anniversary.

You’re my beloved, and altogether lovely
As a gift that can’t be bought, as if gold could favor outweigh
Your meaning to me, the secrets of the heart made manifest
Even beauty’s priced beside thee, proportioned by lot the less

Wishes fade, dreams break, promise made

Takes away your will, takes your whole heart captive
Just for one promise, sell it all for one true word
To hold on to, face the shame of it all
Safer to neglect than open your calloused heart

Piece by piece, you’ve lost a part of your self
You share to gain, but lose at love, and learn to hate yourself
More and more each day, and all the days thereafter
They labor to put back together and regain what’s gone forever

Wishes fade, as dreams break, promise made, tomorrow takes

The most costly mistake is to try to change the past today
The filth and the shame, they all wash away
For you, Christ will clean the slate

Only love can fill the void when the world has taken its toll
Hand in hand, by your side, we’ll walk down this path together
I’ll take you to the place where promises will never break
To the advent of a miracle

True love is to die for, and is why I cry for you
And the pain you feel and feed can heal
If you’d just walk with me toward the light

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An Old Further Seems Forever Review

In honor of Further Seems Forever’s new album as a reunited band, Penny Black, I thought I’d post a review I did of their first album, The Moon Is Down.

I wrote it in early January of 2010, as part of the top albums of the 2000’s, for Buzzgrinder. The site is down but I was able to grab it with Google’s wonderful caching functionality.

At the time the review was something of mine I actually liked, especially since I’m not really the record review kind of guy. Reading back on it, though, there are some things in there I wouldn’t type today. Weird how a few years changes things.

Partnering with releases belonging to their scene’s peers — like Thursday’s Full CollapseThe Moon Is Down bridged the crucial gap between the feet-shuffling self-effacement of ’90s emo and the power-pop emo that would come after and propel the genre’s three letter appellation into mainstream, household use. The band — essentially Strongarm with a different vocalist (the singy-note kind) — and their debut full-length with the strange pink and white color scheme, acted as a stabilizing fulcrum that kind of kept either side of the seesaw from knocking everyone’s Buddy Holly glasses off.

Over a rolling bed of chord voicings — heretofore unused in indie rock circles — and drummer Steve Kleisath’s creative, trickster skin work, then-unknown vocalist Chris Carrabba wailed in his almost-falsetto about romance found dead or gettin’ dissed by once-good friends. So it seems, anyway; one can’t exactly tell.

There was an overhanging theme of alienation brought about by physical separation: a recurring rite of passage that bookended the college experience (Carrabba joined the band just shy of his quarter-century mark). His attempts to reconcile romance and friendships with incompatible geographies borderlined on the obsessive. To him, time may have healed all wounds, but distance ripped them back open. Travel was his savior.

His word choice and delivery were neither too forlorn nor too saccharine (a delicate balance that he obliterated, in my opinion, in Dashboard Confessional), but it was sufficiently sincere enough to make it attractive and unspecific to just about anyone yawning from all the screaming metal bands.

From the power waltz 3/4 of the opening title track to the jazz-slide seagull guitar of the album’s closer, “A New Desert Life,” the Colbert/Dominguez/Neptune signature songwriting is writ large. Further Seems Forever converted droves of hardcore kids into their kinda-sorta Christianized denomination of amalgamated emo and rock. For those still unfaithful to FSF, try listening to Carrabba’s optimism and the guitars’ hopeful echoing in the last half minute of “Snowbirds and Townies,” and feel your doubt drain away. I know it still gives me the shivers.

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