Take a step outside of musical comfort

Richard Kelly

Song lyrics are what tie us all together. Yes, songs content depends on much more than just a good message, but at the heart of all good music is a strong lyricist, in my opinion.

Roughly four years ago, my music taste consisted of nothing more than radio singles, songs you’d hear at sporting events, and Weird Al Yankovic. Yeah… the guy with the big hair and the goofy parodies, that’s him.

But now I’ve grown to enjoying anything from Styx, Alan Jackson, The Devil Wears Prada (yes, that’s a band, not just a movie,) Cartel, Bloc Party, Anthony Hamilton, and obviously many more.

What I’ve really grown to love though is “screamo,” as many call it. I have a lot of other names for it, specifically small genres within it, but I won’t waste my time with all that. Truly though, this was a genre that I never thought I’d like. When I first heard it, I heard only noises and thought everything was so angry.

After training an ear, I discovered how awesome of the music of my genre is. But it took some time. Originally, after taking a recommendation from a friend, I started listening to 96.5 The Buzz, a Kansas City alternative station. Here I heard Anberlin’s ‘Paperthin Hymn’ and Saosin’s ‘Voices.’ These aren’t “scream” but from what I was used to listening to at that point, it was quite a departure.

Both of them stuck with me, and somehow lead eventually to Emarosa in 2007 right after their “This is Your Way Out” EP was released. When I heard ‘Armageddon,’ despite the heavy screaming from frontmas Chris Roetter, all I could focus on was the lyrics and his clean singing. Each grabbed my attention and held it. I found the EP at my local Hot Topic for cheap and found myself wondering how I had grown to like such a different band from my usual liking.

Knowing I enjoyed this band, I checked out their label Standby Records, who hadn’t released much at this point. But they had a collaborative effort with label Rise Records, who’d released more at that point. This led me to the experimental and post-hardcore world Dance Gavin Dance lived in they created their original “Whatever I Say is Royal Ocean” EP.

I was so caught off when I heard it. Jon Mess screamed with a style that was very inaudible most of the time and Jonny Craig had one of the most unique sounds in his singing I had ever heard. ‘The Robot with Human Hair Pt.2′ just made me want to keep listening though. Lyrics such as “this will be a light that I run from/ you thought you were so strong/ you pleaded to never be wrong/well now that you go I sit here and wonder” kept me interested.

From there it continued. Next was The Devil Wears Prada, which brought me to other record labels. And with a little assistance from friends who had a similar music taste, I now found myself in love with bands that for the most part had no connection to the mainstream masses.

Before I finish, I’ll go back to the beginning to remind everyone, I still listen to plenty of other music. But when you jump to a new style so quickly, captivated by only lyrics and a small piece of a song you enjoy, it’s amazing to see where it’s grown to now.

Anymore, I try to listen to everything with a grain of salt. While I am not perfect, I ask that before you rule yourself off from any music type, give it a chance first.

You may end up like me: Confused as to why you’re listening to something so totally different, but intrigued that you’ve began to develop a unique sense of self and style when it comes to selecting songs to nod your head to while driving across town.