Audio Odyssey: We Were Young and Needed the Money by Idaho, Up All Night by blink-182

Idaho is a band from California. It’s also the punchline of a weird joke a childhood friend’s mom used to tell when I was growing up, but that’s another story. My friend Eric recommended Idaho to me. He’s a bit of an Idaho fanatic. And I can honestly tell you, after having spent some time getting to know their We Were Young and Needed the Money, I can see why. This is 90s melancholy bliss, as far as I’m concerned.

We Were Young and Needed the Money is actually a compilation of rare and previously unreleased tracks, all written and recorded between 1992 and 2000. Singer Jeff Martin shines with his low, restrained, often moody vocals. This is another example of real music, which we’ve all come to learn is exactly what I want to hear. It usually just sounds like a bunch of guys sitting around playing music. Exceptions exist, primarily with the track Much Closer Now, whose slow-burn transforms into a dreamworld of reverse audio, taking the song to a whole new place. That is one production trick that I am 100% OK with.

Do I have any complaints about the album? Sure. One. While Martin’s vocals are moody and restrained, they don’t sound to me like they’ve been mixed properly. They’re a little bit too much louder than the music most of the time. Now, I’m no audio engineer, but I can definitely hear when something should’ve been tweaked a little more. My opinion? The vocals could’ve used a little more reverb and a little less volume. They would’ve then matched the recording’s mood and sound perfectly. That’s really my only complaint, and a very minor one for what is essentially an album of b-sides.

This album is raw, it’s moody, it’s a little rough around the edges. There are mistakes, but to me, they add to the overall feel of the album. I’m honestly tired of overly-polished music. We’re being fed so much of the over-produced, highly-polished stuff these days, I think we’re forgetting what real music sounds like. It sounds like Idaho, and it sounds good.

Now on to my next task. Here’s a little something I wrote up on my Tumblr a couple days before blink-182’s new single debuted, which I will follow with my thoughts on the long-awaited song, Up All Night.

Ever since All The Small Things was getting heavy radio play, I’ve been a die-hard fan of blink-182. Sure, I had heard of them back in the Dude Ranch days (which is impressive for someone who grew up in rural Ohio and didn’t have MTV). And yeah, I saw the video for What’s My Age Again?. But, for some reason, that hook, “na na, na na, na na, na na na na…” really grabbed me. It was stuck in my head for a week, until I finally broke into my older sister’s room and stole her copy of Enema of the State. blink-182 saved me from the clutches of Limp Bizkit.

After that, I followed blink-182 devotedly. I bought Take Off Your Pants and Jacket the day it came out, after an awkward conversation with my dad:

Me: Hey Dad, can we go to the mall so I can get this new CD that just came out today?
Dad: Sure, what’s it called?
Me: Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.
Dad: Wait, what?
Me: Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. It’s by blink-182.
Dad: What kind of crap are you listening to?

I didn’t realize the wordplay until he repeated it back to me, at which point I laughed quite hard.

I followed blink-182’s ten-month process of writing, recording and releasing their next album, the untitled/self-titled album that saw them adopt a more mature sound. I traveled to Chicago (again, from rural Ohio) to see them perform their Dollabill Tour, with Bubba Sparxxxxxxxxxxxx opening.

Then they broke up, and I was sad. Then they got back together, and I was happy! But then they kept talking about making a new album, they kept mentioning a new song, they kept teasing and hinting, but nothing ever seemed to be about to happen. The new blink-182 album had essentially become the new Chinese Democracy.

I’ve had a lot of memories with blink-182 as the soundtrack, many of which are too incriminating to include here. And now, after years of waiting, the time has come! This Friday, airing live from LA’s KROQ, will be blink-182’s long-awaited new single, titled Up All Night. I’m so psyched. I hope it’s about a Viagra mishap.

It’s not about a Viagra mishap. I listened to it. It actually ended up debuting on Thursday. What did I think of it? Well, in short, I liked it. But let’s go a little more in-depth here.

The opening chord progression is almost menacing. It’s kind of badass. Then there’s this weird electronic thing going on in the background, which I’m not into. It doesn’t add anything to the song to be quite honest. The instrumental tracks of this song remind me a lot of Box Car Racer, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker’s 2002 side project, which I was a big fan of. The vocals are a lot more like Tom’s other side project, Angels & Airwaves. Now, I don’t hate Angels & Airwaves, but it’s definitely my second favorite Tom Delonge side-project (he’s only had two).

Initially, I was unimpressed. Almost disappointed. “I waited 8 years for that?” But, knowing myself, I had to give it more of a chance. I listened to it again. And again. Over and over I listened to it, until I became familiar with it. I’ll be honest. I really like the song now. I don’t think it’s their best track to date. I don’t think it even ranks in their top five singles. But I think it’s a solid track for sure, and it makes me excited for their new album, Neighborhoods.

My complaint? Well, the biggest thing is the weird synth computer sounds in the background. The guitar tone is different from previous efforts. That menacing intro? The guitar could use a bit more volume there. Cut out the fake sounds, turn up the guitar and rock the [expletive] out.

If you’re not into the more socially-aware Tom Delonge, the Angels & Airwaves Tom Delonge, well, this will definitely take a little getting used to. But, when you do hear it, listen to it with headphones. My laptop’s little speakers definitely muddied-up the tone, it sounds exponentially better through a good set of headphones. Also, it’s for sale on iTunes, so you should go ahead and pick it up. Overall it’s a solid blink-182 track, and it has me more than a little bit excited for their upcoming album Neighborhoods, to be released September 27 in the US.

Take it easy in the following week, ladies and germaphobes. Next week, I’m gonna talk about an album I downloaded for free. It’s called Ghostfunk, and it’s a mashup of Ghostface Killah with African funk and psychedelic rock. I’ll include a link to the download page, as well.


About TR Snyder

I’m obsessed with The Beatles. I love fall and spring. I like to read. I like to watch TV. I believe in aliens and UFOs. My favorite movie is 500 Days of Summer. I’m a sucker for a good zombie flick though. I play guitar, bass, uke and blues harp. All at a distinctly mediocre level. I often forget to zip my fly. I love to cook. I went to school for poetry. Let’s see, what else? Long walks on the beach, the smell of the wind before rain, candlelight dinners, etc. I hate auto-tune. I can’t emphasize that enough. I also hate drum machines. I want to learn drums and piano. And a second language. Probably French.