10 Bands That Got Me Through High school


10 bands that got me through high school

Cameron Conner, Staff Writer

“It’s not a phase, Mom!”

The amount of times I uttered this phase, tight lipped in an angst-ridden grimace, throughout my four years in high school is almost immeasurable due to the vast amounts of shame the calculations would evoke…needless to say: it was usually a phase and my mother, in her infinite wisdom, was correct.

Throughout my time in high school I have cycled through a motley assortment of personas and styles, never being sure of who I was until the latter days of my senior year when I had what I like to call my Eat Pray Love moment where everything came together in my head (to be frank, it was more of me swapping caring about other’s perception of me for existential fear in the face of student loans and adulthood). However, I began to look back at these differing phases and the defining bands I listened to throughout all of them.

1: American Football- From the piercing timbre of Mike Kinsella’s raspy falsetto as it swirls around ‘Honestly’ to the iconic guitar waltz of ‘Never Meant’, American Football’s 1999 self-titled record still exists today as cult classic in the Emo genre and as one of my personal favorite albums of all time. Stunning musicality accompanies gripping lyrics to effortlessly transport the listener back to those Autumn nights when the world seemed younger and the burn of your first kiss stayed on your lips for hours.

2: This Will Destroy You- I was fifteen when I heard This Will Destroy You’s song ‘Quiet’ off their freshman effort, Young Mountain. It was winter and I was speeding along frost rimmed roads in the passenger seat of my friend Clay’s beat up old Civic when the chills ran up my spine along with the whirling delay drenched melodies for the first time. Prior to that moment I had found post-rock and instrumental music as a whole derivative and pointless at best, but my ever growing fascination with the genre blossomed after my first brush with This Will Destroy You’s slow-burning ambience. Since that cold day during my sophomore year, I have found myself still shaking slightly as a cold current of nerves flow through me where I traverse the echo laden soundscapes TWDY forms.

3: Bright Eyes- If there is one human being who can shake me to the very foundations of my emotional core with a passage of blatantly honest prose it is Bright Eyes front man, Conor Oberst. Whether it be the post-war blues of ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’ to the melancholy vibrato of Fevers and Mirrors, Oberst’s signature style propagates throughout every instance of his many records, weaving together to form something that can only be described as Bright Eyes.

4: The National- I have written about this band multiple times, and can always be known as a huge fan boy of The National. My love for everything about this group has grown since I first heard them at the tender age of 12 and wrote them off as “sad dad music” and has continued to expand and grow as I have. The grayscale slow-burn of The National has served to calm me down and fire me up throughout trauma and joy over the last few years, and will always be the first band I play when I wish to just sit back and enjoy music again.

5: Radiohead- I know what this might look like: eighteen year old boy that writes poetry, plays in bands, and has some strange hair must obviously listen to Radiohead, right? As pretentious as it may seem, I love Radiohead, everything about them. Any band that has put out a myriad of albums generally described as “genre-defining” again and again, and still continues to make some of the weirdest music is okay in my book. Their sheer ability to just not care about any critical backlash or label jargon is an inspiration to say the least.

6: Pianos Become the Teeth- Like a lot of other angsty, highly affected teens I went through a phase where any band that was loud with screamed lyrics was everything I desired to hear in music, but as I gradually grew in taste most of those bands became obsolete and I left them behind with my purple pants and dyed-black hair. However, Pianos Become the Teeth have proven to be a band hard to forget. After recording two of the heaviest, emotional records I had ever been exposed to, they decided to totally change their sound sonically and aesthetically. Trading in their screams and breakdowns for melodic singing and textured guitar passes, Pianos Become the Teeth’s newest record Keep You wound up being the soundtrack of my senior year’s winter.

7: Copeland- “If it’s not too late for coffee I’ll be at your place in ten”, if these lyrics are sang anywhere around my friends and me an impromptu Copeland jam session will be sure to follow. Since middle school, this group has been an almost constant presence in my life. I had my first kiss while listening to Copeland in my middle school girlfriend’s bedroom… I listened to Copeland when she broke up with me a few weeks later. I sang Copeland songs at my best friend’s engagement party and have seen them live so many times they know me by my face. I suppose this is the part where I want to thank Copeland and Aaron Marsh for making the beautiful music that I have had the pleasure to grow up to.

8: Sonic Youth- My infatuation with noise rock started at the age of eleven when my aunt first let me listen to a Sonic Youth cassette at my grandmother’s house; I was so confused. I had never heard music that blatantly massive before, and I had never had a crush on a female until I first saw Kim Gordon (still crushing, to be honest). This affection for the feedback howls of Sonic Youth and other noise rock bands only grew stronger as I started playing my own music, driving my neighbors insane as I chugged along to ‘White Kross’ for hours on end- desperately caught up in the manic pace of the noise.

9: Death Cab for Cutie- I first heard Death Cab when I was nine years old on a commercial for computers, and now, almost a decade later, I consider myself a diehard fan. Following Ben Gibbard and the other members of Death Cab for this long has developed as a sort of strange, symbiotic relationship. Every new period of growth in my life has been sound tracked by the quaint arrangements and elaborate lyrical whims of  Gibbard himself.

10: Los Campesinos!- “I heard he got his teeth fixed, I’m gonna break them. I’ve got a heart on fire.” The sheer angst of Los Campesinos! has made them one of the defining bands of my senior year. Since the first time their gritty, manic music filled my ears I found  myself singing along to lyrics I barely knew all day long. It can almost be described as validating at its finest- the over dramatic fervor of teenage heartache.