First impressions kinda matter, they at least do a bit to color our impressions. My first impression of a band called Podacter and album called Plays the Millennial Blues was to run far, far away. I thought it would be bland indie from a bunch of pretentious brooklynites. But man, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The music is fantastic punk rock with a pop punk leaning and the songs are full of self awareness and substance.
The sound and feeling of this album makes me feel young again. Back to those times when I was a bit lost, when I was in between a kid and an adult, making enough money to live on my own, yet having no other responsibilities than rent.
Plays the Millennial Blues starts off with Living Infants a high energy track that lays naked in front of us, “I don’t wanna lose myself inside this panic in my soul / I try to fix the bad chemicals in my brain with other chemicals / ... deep down inside we’re all just sad and alone.” And with that, we have been properly set up for the rest of the album. It is full of songs that discuss the common struggles that most never vocalize. Absurdity in Everything takes the idea of aloneness as a mass problem and calls for some action, “it’s all fucked then be the change / past and future crash like waves” and “don’t let your heart grow cold / when the punchline hits”. Connections shows the cynical side, in a killer upbeat song, “I wanna stand as close to the edge as I can / I wanna breathe life back into these lungs / there’s a great leap forward that we can’t seem to make” and “when life hands you lemons and pisses in the lemonade” yet still musters that small bit of hopefulness, “recognize there’s a different path to take / won’t walk alone or have to regret / a simple song to try and be supportive”.
H8 is self indulgent lost song about not having a direction while all of your friends are all moving forward (both planned and by accident) - we have all been there at some point. What is super interesting about this song, is that it is not whiny or angry or even moody; it has a killer beat and energy that really moves you forward. Die, Yuppie Scum, has a Bouncing Souls vibe to it (a live recording Souls sound, not the smooth recorded sound) which seems pretty fitting for the NYC song on the album. It also has a moment in it, referencing not giving a crust punk a cigarette and in turn being called a yuppie, that totally resonated with me. I remember living in my shitty 5th floor walk up where the heat didn’t work on Avenue B and being looked at as a yuppie by the crust punks that used to hang out in Thompson Square park. In my early 20s it was a confusing place to be, the rest of society thought I was a punk kid with my subpar apartment, but to those that didn’t have a roof, I looked pretty well off.
I Still Get So Goddamned Low is one of my favorite tracks on this album. It has strained passionate screaming and an awesome sing along section full of hooks. The first line makes this song feel the way that it does, “aas there a fire burning words that you wanted to say”. It is strained and desperate for a connection, the vocals are just spectacular in this song. The Millennial Blues is the most culturally aware song on the album, taking the personal experiences of the other songs and acknowledging that they are a larger feeling. “Swallow your entitlement and privilege / play the millennial blues / for all the times that you can’t shake these feelings”.
Hard Dying Habits has a great opening of this monotonous chord and bellowing vocals, it makes the whole song feel large and robust, even before the rest of the instruments kick in to fill it out. Soundwise, I love where this is placed in the album, yet lyrically I wish it was closer to the beginning, “I was born in a no name town that runs along the Delaware river / I’ve got all of these vices / and hard dyin’ habits”. I just think that these straightforward lyrics would be so identifiable to so many listeners that it would draw them in deeper, faster.
Bastards and Bleeding Hearts, is the last song on the album, and it starts with the same first lines as Hard Dying Habits, but then goes into a different narrative. I am a super huge fan of this. It continues, “I was given my father’s name / the fourth in a line of German-Irish descendants / and there’s a constant sad reminder in all these smiles that I know”. We know now that this is the extended story, this extension or cutting of the same lines conjures up Marianne Moore and her approach to her poetry. The idea that poems, and in this case songs, are living things and can repeat themselves without saying the same thing. “And these ghosts drag on for miles / they wrap around your legs and bite at your ankles / some are bastards and bleedin’ hearts / if nostalgia doesn’t kill you first / they know where you are”. The track also has some of the best hooks of the album, this is my pick for the strongest track on the album.
The strength of these songs lies in the garbly full layers of music and vocals, full of unrest and honesty. I just want to listen to this over and over and blast it out my car windows for everyone passing to hear.