New Music Tuesday!!
I have an odd personal history with Train. At first, I really liked them, when I was about 12. Then, some girls in eight grade used "Drops of Jupiter" to try to convince my boyfriend to get back together with one of them instead of me. Then, "When I Look to the Sky" came out and was overplayed and only served to remind me of my Grandfather, who had recently passed, and put me in a dark place for a 14 year old (which was dumb - that's a great and touching song).
I was anti-Train for a while. I just couldn't get passed the sour feelings from bad situations. Then, "Hey Soul Sister" came out, and my best friend in Nashville and I danced around our cars ("soul dancing!") and I finally had something good to associate. The other singles from that album, "Save Me, San Francisco" and "Marry Me" changed my world view - er, band view, and I appreciated them so much more now.
So now we get their latest, California 37. Their music, and my experiences with it, just has gotten better over the years, so I'm excited to see what's up next, especially given the first mega-pop song, "Drive By" that was released.
This album was basically written over the course of touring and three years. This is one that the members of the band actually say they enjoy hearing over and over again, which says something when you have to play them all so many times over.
"This'll Be My Year" takes a little trip through history first, almost al-ah "We Didn't Start the Fire," working through year by year, including the major events of them all. I don't think it necessarily goes year-by-year, but I haven't been paying the best attention. The chorus seems to have almost nothing to do with the verses - they could actually be parts of two totally different songs. I guess he's sort of counting down to the moment he's finally gotten the girl, because he does mention wishing she had been with him during each thing. Journey, not the destination, kind of thing... but a little reversed?
The primary single hits us next, "Drive By." I find this to be an awesome song because it's based on devotion. I like the grounded nature of the whole thing. I actually just saw this on the VH1 countdown this morning for the first time, and it's cute. I determined two things from viewing it there though: (1) the lead singer is really not terribly attractive, and (2) this is the first song since the Beastie Boys to reference a Hefty Bag. RIP Adam York. Regardless, this is a great groovy song, perfect for driving to, especially in the sunshine with someone awesome. Not that I'd know.
Ashley Monroe comes on for "Bruises," which is a very light sounding song. Love the first line: "haven't seen you since high school. Good to see you're still beautiful." Basically, it's a reunion of two people who've seen each other from the beginning. Small town story, for sure, and completely relatable. Pretty simple lyrical work in the chorus: "everybody loses - we all got bruises." They reminisce about their past and the people they've lost touch with. The most interesting part to me is probably the interaction of the voices - it really does sound conversational.
"50 Ways To Say Goodbye" starts off with this mariachi theme, and I have to say, it is really weird. They sort of return to the sound of "Drive By" a little, but now have this little Spanish-western sound accompanying. I don't know if it's be better or worse without these sounds involved, but the song just doesn't sit well with the normal ear.
I do have to say, the title "You Can Finally Meet My Mom" makes this sound more like a Lonely Island album than a Train album. Of course, that's not what this is. It's a song on what things will be life after death. He lists off people he could hang out with in heaven (including Chris Farley?), but how he won't, because he'll be with the girl he loves - who I'm guessing died? And how she can finally meet his mother. Interesting line: "even Bieber ain't forever." Again, a little inappropriate to giggle here, but so goes the writing. I think the end message is to value life while you have it. That, and name a hell of a lot of celebrities.
"Sing Together" is very cute, musically. It has that ukelele strum of the islands. This is what I'd consider Train to be now - cute songs that couples think of each other during. Some are a little too sickeningly sweet for the single crowd to appreciate. I guess the sentiment is nice enough though - as a final gift, after death (dear god, could this band be more twisted?) he says they can enjoy memories and singing together of the old times and good times.
I'm still, at two minutes in, trying to figure out the point of "Mermaid." I might be taking it too literally, but it sounds like a Spanish-music influenced song about meeting a mermaid and falling in love. Er, maybe just a beach-obsessed girl. This is one of those ones you tuck in the album and probably never release as any sort of single. It just doesn't have the selling power they probably need to make this actually work.
"California 37" sees Train go a little more electronic at the beginning, so kind of comes out of it as the song goes on, those his voice never does quite sound the same throughout the rest. Odd choice for an effect, but whatever. It's really a strange kind of sound throughout and completely doesn't fit with the rest of the album really. I want to say it would at least make for a good driving song, as that's what the song's title/album name is based on, but nope, not hearing that either.
"We Were Meant For This" kind of takes on the nicer youth perspective. I guess Train's always been pretty good at handling this viewpoint, even as the years go on. They have always been able to give something to the graduation playlists out there. The musical breakdown around two and half minutes in is probably the best part - love rock instrumentals like this. The bagpipes toward the end are a little odd, but hey, I guess when you're looking off into the future horizon, that's what you hear.
Final song time. This is "When the Fog Rolls In," aptly titled. It's a slower song, lots of lines about the past and moving on and whatnot. There's actually almost a gospel feel to the whole thing, giving a different sort of ending sound compared to the rest of the album. This has been an album with a lot of goodbyes, which is a little hard to take in a full-length album, but at least this one does feel right in place.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Drive By"