I’ve always had a love of poppy punk and rock songs that get me pumped up. In high school I dug bands like Blink-182, Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish. In college I found out about Sum 41 and dug them. And after graduating college in 2005, I came out to New York and got exposed to Fall Out Boy thanks to my buddies at Wizard, many of whom were really into the band. For whatever reason, I was kind of stand-offish to the band, but it was all around me and I wound up knowing a handful of songs just thanks to trips to the mall in cars and overhearing it played out loud in the office.
Soon enough I was hooked. The combination of head-bobbing, foot stomping rock and clever lyrics with even more clever song titles (perhaps too clever for their own good as I can never remember which song goes with which title unless it’s really obvious) had me dead to rites. I was a Fall Out Boy fan. I picked up their third record From Under The Cork Tree which had big hits coming out in the form of “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” Man, I dig those songs. “Sugar” is even one of my ring tones and it because a staple every time the Wizard crew went out to the bar with half of us singing at the top of our lungs and the townies looking they wanted to beat us to death.
I dug their high energy music videos, especially with all that jumping around and bass or guitar swinging around. I think one of them even does a flip at some point. However, I’ve heard that all these theatrics make for pretty poor live performances (I havne’t seen them and eye witness accounts vary, but their Live CD SUCKED, more on that in a bit). Anyway, I went back and picked up their previous record Take This To Your Grave, which is awesomely pop and rock filled, but also really bitter when you listen to the lyrics. However, there were a few tracks I was really relating to at the time thanks to missing some bros who left the company for other states and getting generally homesick like “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago,” “Grenade Jumper” and others. I liked listening to some upbeat music that still captured some of the things I was thinking about and going through as a dude who moved away from every person he ever knew to work in a new place and follow a dream. Don’t get me wrong, FOB’s not supplanting Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd on my all time favorites list, but they are definitely a go-to band when I want to get upbeat and sing along to some jams. A few years later in 2007, Infinity On High came out and I fell in love once again with a pop record. This one felt more polish, which sometimes is a bad thing, but it felt like they had a really good relationship with a producer who understood what they were trying to do. The first big single “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” came out and rocked my face off. It feels like a pop rock battle put on wax. I don’t specifically remember, but I would imagine that I picked the disc up on one of our weekly trips to the Palisades Mall for New CD & DVD Day and it was in heavy rotation on my long commute back and forth to work and on my headphones in the office. Once again I had a record filled with songs I could sing at the top of my lungs, plus, Jay-Z who I was just discovering how much I liked did a few little thing like introducing the band. When I saw that the first track was called “Thriller” and heard Jay’s voice, I was hoping they would team up and cover that Michael Jackson cover. It wouldn’t take long for them to team up with another huge name in the music industry to cover Jackson though.
As I mentioned, I don’t like Live In Phoenix which came out in 2008. I don’t generally like live CDs and this one turned out to be not so great with tempos seeming off, vocals not up to the par I expected from listening to the records and some timing issues. But, the huge plus was “Beat It” which they recorded with John Mayer as the record’s sole studio track. I bought the double disc (which came with a DVD I never watched), but sold it back to FYE recently when I realized keeping a whole CD and DVD for one song that I could get for a buck was kind of stupid. For whatever reason, I didn’t buy their most recent record Folie A Deux which came out at the end of 2008 right away. It wouldn’t be until that summer when I was schlepping back and forth to New York City in a daily four hour commute that I finally picked the record up and I really dug it too. Not sure what kept me away, but I liked how the seemed to be growing as musicians. Sure there were your usual word play songs about relationships, but also what sounded like some old school rock and roll (“She’s My Winona”) and “America’s Suitehearts” which had a lot of different elements going on. As with many of my other favorite bands, the new record didn’t replace any of the others in my heart, but it was a solid addition to the catalog. Far as I’m concerned, they haven’t put out a dud studio album which puts them ahead of some other bands in my mind. I get why people don’t like FOB on paper. One of them showed his junk online and also married a lipsynching pop star, but I don’t give a shit about any of that. Some people call them emo or hipsters and I don’t care about that either. I’m listening for the music and as long as the music is solid and makes me want to get up and dance around or helps me get through another round of cleaning the kitchen, then I’ll be a fan for a while. Just don’t start sucking. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.