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Friday, May 25, 2012

Track of the Moment: This Close by Flyleaf

Oh God, here’s Wildcard Eric talking about bands and genres nobody likes or cares about, even though every time he’s shown a different and more musically talented side to those things. Today, we have a Christian metal band. And that was the sound of everyone reading this article throwing their laptops through a window. Come on, do we need to this every single time? It’s like you don’t understand what this blog is about – sharing music interesting music that we like. And I wouldn’t like Flyleaf without a reason.

Everyone knows their hard-hitting pseudo-metal debut album. With songs like “I’m So Sick” coming over the radio and hitting MTV, people were taken aback; this little 5 foot tall girl with such a sweet voice breaking into scream as some metal or very hard rock guitars and drums crash around it. Many people wrote them off as some gimmicky, emo band who favored a more abrasive sound after that first listen. But, I was in my From First to Last, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance phase (I look back at that period with a touch of embarrassment), so I stuck around and discovered a varied, hard rock band. And then I never heard from them again.

However, one day about 2 years ago, I decided to check back up on them. It had been 5 years since the release of Flyleaf, and I was curious to see what they had been up. Much to my surprise, they had released a new album in 2009, so I immediately picked it up. And the new material was interesting; it was a slightly different, softer album. Lacey Sturm, the lead singer, had dropped the scream (for the most part, it’s there in the background on a few songs) and the guitars went more for a standard hard rock/harder alternative sound.

Now, before I get to the actual music, there is an interesting story behind the band, and, more importantly, about the music they made. Born in 1981, Lacey Mosley began to try drugs at the standard age of drug use, 10 years old. She then began using heroin in a bad way when she was 13, probably in an effort to mimic the lead singer of one her favorite bands, Nirvana. A few years later she was kicked out her home for fighting with her mom so badly that the police were called (in a move to mimic Courtney Love, or so I assume). She was sent to live with her grandparents in Mississippi, where she became depressed and suicidal from losing her friends, family, boyfriend, and, most importantly, her drugs. Usually, this is the point in the story where she becomes a crack whore and eventually is found dead in a cheap motel. Obviously, something happened to change that. In a movie-like twist, the day before she was going to kill herself, her grandmother dragged her to church, where she found God, accepted Jesus into her heart, and became a devout Christian. I’m not very religious, but it’s stories like this that make me glad that there’s something that gives people a reason to continue living, even if I don’t believe in the same thing.

At some point during her musical career, she met Joshua Sturm, a guitarist for the band Kairos, a Pittsburgh based outfit. In 2008, Lacey Mosley became Lacey Sturm, and in 2011 gave birth to Josh Jr. I know what you’re asking; what does this have to do with her music? Well, it explains the emo stuff of their debut album, their hardcore leanings, and the softer, more love and Christian focused Memento Mori, released in 2009. It also explains the lack of new music in the past few years, other than an EP in 2010 (there’s supposedly an album coming out this year, but who knows). And it’s one of the more interesting musician stories of the past few years and one that we can all relate to.

While I do suggest you take a look at Flyleaf, particularly if you like a more aggressive or hard sound, I’ll be looking to Memento Mori for today’s track. As Mark pointed out, this album sounds like something Paramore would make. I’m not in complete agreement, but it is a reasonable enough comparison for you get an idea of how the album sounds. As for the track itself, “This Close” is definitely a good mix of old and new Flyleaf. Minus the creepy stalker-ish vibe of the chorus, it’s semi-emo, semi-angry song. It features a heavy bassline and a wailing guitar riff that sounds more at home on an Armor For Sleep album, it really showcases Lacey’s emotional vocals and range. I particularly like the dark but open instrumentation during the verses, which really helps add a punch to the chorus. But if you’re a fan of alternative rock, the entire album is a solid listen.

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