Oh hey. It’s another one of these.
It’s funny because I am not musical in the slightest. I can’t sing to save my life, I can’t play any instruments, I know nothing about creating music. Yet music is one of my favorite things. Heck, I’d even call it a love language. I don’t know why it means so much to me, or why I attach myself to certain words accompanied by specific melodies. But I do.
Which leads me to the men of the hour, AJR. They’re the type of band that I can put on shuffle, and with every song that plays, I’m stoked.
“Ahhh I love this one it’s a bop.”
“I – I think I’m getting this tattooed on my body.”
“This one is pure art I swear.”
Each one is amazing and bouncy and 97% of them are made for dancing. (the other 3% are songs to sway to while trying not to cry.)
AJR is made up of three brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan, all in their twenties. They produce all of their music in their living room which blows my mind. Though they’ve been performing covers and occasional original music for over ten years, it was in 2013 their single ‘I’m Ready’ from their first full length album started to get popular.
(the below video is a peek into their writing process, and their living room)
Now I’ve been listening to them for a few years unknowingly, which is heartbreaking to me if I’m completely honest. A friend put a few songs on a playlist for me, I listened and really liked them, but never thought to go binge listen the album or pay attention to the artist. (stupid me, missed opportunity) But! I finallllyyyy got around to doing so, and now look where I am.
I’ve reached the point of not just lip syncing, but I just recently discovered that I lip sync the instruments … totally totally normal … right?
I’ve been wanting to talk about them for a while, so I decided to finally just sit down and talk for far too long maybe about some of my fav people at the moment.
It’s a few things that make them the band they are. They stand out from the music that is popular, even though yes, a few of their songs are played in stores, malls, and on radio stations. Which is incredible!
In general though, their music seems to reach and find people who don’t really listen to what’s “on the radio.” But rather people who like to be surprised by music, they’re not just bopping with whatever is popular at the moment.
So here’s a few reasons as to why they’ve very quickly climbed to the top of my current (and all time) favorite artists.
I’m always and forever attached to lyrics. Whether they be super simple and blunt, or complex and poetic, I love the different ways others try to express their feelings. I honestly think the reason AJR’s lyrics hit so close to home for so many, is because it’s twenty something year olds writing about being twenty something year olds. A song about being homesick and after a night out still just wanting to call his Dad, a song about how a show on Netflix saw him through every age, another song about balancing work and social life, one about moving out. And even another about a relationship ending.
They sing about things that they’re going through, and it ends up being stuff that older people remember feeling and living, or stuff that people (like me) are actually going through. But they have fun with it and that’s what makes it stand out.
(the video below is a fun talkthrough they did for one of their biggest songs, ‘weak’)
So, the music is what I feel like really makes it AJR.
THE FREAKING DROPS MY DUDES. Blow me away every time.
I’d be listening on the way home from work, tired and worn out. Only for ‘Burn the House Down‘ to come on, and next thing you know you’re wide awake bouncing in your seat, while buckled and attempting to drive one handed so your free arm can jam out.
Bouncy is the word that comes to me every time I try to explain their melodies and beats. Like I mentioned earlier, they produce everything in their living room, at home. But they take their time with every song, layering instruments, and recording the smallest noises to add elaborate details that make the song stand out from basically every other song you’ll ever hear.
On their newest album, (Neotheater) they actually hired a choir group to sing the opening to a song on a legit 1940’s microphone they found themselves. Sure they could’ve just recoreded themselves and put a filter over it, but they wanted it to be legit.
It’s the attention to details, and how much THEY love what they’re creating that makes it infectious.
I don’t know how they do it, but listening to the songs is almost like seeing them live. You can hear the energy in the songs, you can’t help but sing as loud as you can, head bop or just move. It’s contagious and genius and I’m in awe.
As you may know, I’m a sucker for melancholy. I love sad songs. That’s another thing that this band has tuned in to. Songs like ‘Don’t Throw Out My Legos’ or ‘Turning Out’ are odes to nostalgia and how even at twenty five, an age most people see you as an adult, you can still feel like a little kid. I am here for the bops, but the sad songs seal the deal.
Jack is the voice that most people recognize as ‘AJR’ I feel like. It was true for me until I listened to more of their old stuff, and was able to start separating all three of their voices.
Like I’ve said in other posts, the lyrics and the beats are what make music music, but the way the words are sung make it or break it. There’s a song of their’s called ‘Karma’ which is one of my favorites (all the songs are my favorites let’s be real here) because the scene painted is so simple yet vivid. It’s written as someone walking into a therapy session, lying on the couch and letting everything out.
But the bow that ties the whole thing together is the end.
Jack realizes the time is up in the session and he still has too much to say. So he goes off and doesn’t take a breath (thanks to editing). But he still sings this part live during shows, and though he does have to breathe then, it’s still so stunning to me.
Oh no we’re out of time,
But what if sad thoughts come and I can’t stop it,
Bye, I don’t wanna say bye,
If only I could keep you in my pocket,
To give me some diagnosis of why I’m so hollow,
Please give me instruction I promise I’ll follow,
I tripped on my ankle and fractured my elbow,
But doesn’t that mean that the tour’s gonna sell though,
I try to explain the good faith that’s been wasted,
But after an hour it sounds like complaining,
Wait don’t go away can I lie here forever,
You say that I’m better why don’t I feel better?
The universe works in mysterious ways,
But I’m starting to think it ain’t working for me,
Doctor should I be good, Should I be good this year? “
I’ve watched several interviews with them, and it’s fascinating to see how their brains work. How lyrics come, how beats come to life. Ryan did two videos where he walked through how they made snippets of each song off of their second full length album (The Click). For one song they got their Dad and neighbors to come in and sing in order to get a lot of different men’s voices (for the song ‘Bud Like You’).
Their voices blow me away too. They can go so high, they can contort their voices to scary lengths, it’s amazing.
But honestly the fact that they love their music more than any fan out there is what makes their music so lovable. Watching a music video, seeing them live, their entire bodies are moving to the music always.
I got to go to a concert of theirs a little while ago, and I was blown away. I laughed so many times watching them live, Ryan couldn’t walk across the stage without stepping to the beat or he would be almost head banging into the piano while he played. Jack’s dancing was everywhere, spinning, jumping, kicking. Adam never stopped moving his legs or bobbing his head.
And while it was funny, it was so so contagious. It felt wrong to sit, or to stand still, so dancing is your only option.
They used to do ‘Overtures’ for their albums, making a mashup of every song from the album in order to give a taste of what you were in for before listening. The one from the album ‘The Click’ is a bop and a half in my opinion, and I find the video so entertaining. I think it’s a pretty decent introduction to them and their energy … just to everything they are.
And for that reason, I’ve posted it in here, so go ahead and check it out! The transition from ‘Call My Dad’ (a slow melancholy song) to ‘Three-Thirty’ (a super intense beat orientated song) is so flawless to me, I’m in awe every time.
Also, fun fact. For their third album (Neotheater) they knew fans were going to be expecting another Overture. So they didn’t create one. They as a band want to keep experimenting with music and would rather surprise their fans as opposed to giving them the same thing every time. So instead they spread what would have been the Overture, throughout the entire album. A line from one song might be found in the background vocals of another song. A melody might repeat itself in the next track for a few seconds. It lead all the fans to listen to the album on repeat, analyzing the songs for snippets and nods to the rest of the album. Genius honestly.
And because this post isn’t long enough already, I thought I would share a few of my fav lines from a few of their songs:
” All of my life I have been starving,
Not for a dinner with friends,
More of a starving artist. “
– Come Hang Out (The Click)
” Have I done my best here, or,
Will I be here next year, or,
Are these my best years yet?
. . .
These things take time,
Mom and Dad they have a good life,
But what am I gonna do with mine? “
–The Good Part (The Click)
” I said it because I no longer want to hurt,
I said it back to you because you said it first,
And though I may be wishing it wasn’t true,
I think I probably wasn’t in love, I wasn’t in love with you. ”
–Turning Out pt. ii (Neotheater
” Maybe I’m stuck,
On what I see on TV,
I grew up on Disney,
But this don’t feel like Disney. “
–Turning Out (The Click)
” Cross my heart and hope to die,
Stick a needle in my eye,
My momma said to pick the best,
And you were it. “
–Infinity (Living Room)
” I’m doubtful I can get these lyrics out oh,
‘Cause I think fast, but I sing slow,
If I ever started rapping,
They’d be laughing,
They won’t believe me,
But I got so much to say so,
I’m thinking rappers,
They got it easy. “
– Three-Thirty (The Click)
” Oh no, Don’t throw out my legos,
What if I can’t let go,
What if I come back home,
Can we keep my legos at home?
‘Cause I wanna move out, I don’t wanna move on. “
– Don’t Throw Out My Legos (Neotheater)
” They wanted heaven from me,
I gave them hell,
Now they want something bigger,
And if you’re just as hopeless,
I wish you well
(We can’t wait to see what you do next) “
Again, listening to the words sung as opposed to reading them will give you pretty different opinions and feelings, so I recommend listening to them always.
There’s a million more things I can talk about, a million more details that have made me fall in love with this music. Like how amazing their trumpet player is and the fact that the trumpet brings extra life to the songs, or how passionate they’ve been about music since their first cover on YouTube. But I won’t.
I will end by saying, that AJR’s music makes me incredibly happy. There’s something so comforting about how boppy and upbeat they are. And the sad slow ones are just as comforting too to be honest.
These boys put on the most amazing show. I screamed and danced my heart out and loved (and miss) every second of it. So much so that I bought tickets to see them again in LA this Autumn. I know, I have a problem but my dudes it makes me happy (so so so happy) and I could use another AJR concert.
Concerts have become a love of mine, because it’s such a “once in a lifetime” kind of experience. Sure you can go to hundreds of concerts, but there’s something about going to see a band you truly know. Getting to hear all the songs you’ve listened to on a daily basis, the words you’ve memorized. If you get to a concert, and you know all the words, you have the beat memorized, you’re going to spend the entire time singing and dancing your heart out. You have absolutely no time to think about anything else except the music echoing in your chest and the words everyone around you are screaming. It’s a little window of time that you’re really truly in another place. You’ve checked out, you don’t think about work tomorrow, what time it is, nothing.
And let me tell you, an AJR concert is an amazing way to do just that.
Before I sign off, here’s a few more audio and videos from them if you were curious or wanted to listen to more:
- Sober Up (Music Video)
- Don’t Throw Out My Legos (Audio)
- 100 Bad Days (Live Performance)
- Infinity (Video with Other Musicians)
- Break My Face (Audio)
Have a fantastic week,
And may you have as much passion and energy as the AJR brothers performing their own music doing whatever it is you get up to.