39. Last Resort, Part III
38. The End, Part I
36. Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog
35. Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection
34. A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration
33. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning
32. Last Resort, Part IV
Music was never written for this group of songs. These were the last songs on Leonard Gardner, and the band was basically drifting at the point we got to these songs (I was unemployed, Jeremy was dating, Carl was kicked out, Vin was on the prowl, and eventually I moved back to Arizona). So, we never got a fair shot at completing these songs. Nevertheless, they would have been challenging songs because they were incredibly wordy and in a free verse style. I think we originaly envisioned that musically we would probably be in a different place by the time we got to these songs, and they would fit better with a more adventurous electronic and ambient style such as Radiohead's Kid A. We just never got that far.
31. Moment And Moment II
There is a single recording of an abstract guitar riff Jeremy played that supposedly goes with this song. It was a rare occurance for Jeremy to pick up the guitar. Usually, he'd come back to this same riff, which is actually tabbed out on the back of the lyric sheet, I believe. It's not great by any means. It's only advantage over the previous songs is the fact that it has any music associated with it.
30. Room 203, Part II
This is an LG song that we actually spent some time on. It had a sort of Pablo Honey-era Radiohead type of riff going on. Unfortuately, although we were at the computer desk as we always were, this one was not recorded, though the lyric changes were written down.
29. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part II
The lyrics to this song are identical to the lyrics to Part I. Only the music was intended to change. I wrote and personally recorded the alternate music performance for this song, but that was as far as it got. I'm not sure Jeremy ever heard me play this version in the flesh.
This song is really at the genesis of TMINM, and actually ties together an even earlier era of recording history. This song was created based on samples recorded in the living room of my first Arizona house, in late 1999. Mike Palermo came over with a vision of a song in his head. He rotated between the drums and organ, and in a way directed my creation of a biting guitar. It was only after TMINM was founded that these recordings were dug up, assembled, and a small vocal sample from Jeremy was recorded. The resulting 45 seconds of noise certainly has sentimental value, but questionable musical value.
27. A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning
This is the lowest ranked actual song from JLA. The song started out as somewhat of a picked/strummed folky song with alternating verses by Jeremy and me and ended up an annoying sequenced keyboard and drums affair that became an instant skip-ahead everytime I listened to our JLA demos. It simply illustrates that the song never really had any direction, and doesn't have a ton of potential. The lyrics don't very impactfully get across the failing relationship, but do capture the malaise involved. Malaise isn't a great thing.
26. Last Resort, Part II
This is a simple riff-based song that never had a very strong riff. The riff just sort of goes back and forth in a narrow range, and has grated on me over time. In terms of bombastic riff-based songs, this is the worst out of a numebr that we wrote. The final recorded version did have some interesting aspects to it, but in the end it leaves me cold.
25. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I
This is one song where the first take may very well be the finest. Regardless of which version we're talking about, this songs weakness is the fact that the only riff in the song is basically four variations on E chord. Many of our songs lack for variety, but having one riff based on one chord really takes the cake. The final recorded version added some crazy drums, multi-tracked vocals, and even a solo, but it can't compensate for a weak structure and musical grounding, along with run-on lyrics without a real signature phrase. The original version shines above all for its spontenaity.
24. La Fin, Part II
This song has a simple but catchy three-chord acoustic guitar riff and is sung in French. In English, the lyrics just wouldnt' stand up, I think. Neither does our French.
23. Last Resort, Part I
Here is another song that has some interesting details, but has gotten very old with time. Jeremy told quite an interesting story about the progression and meaning of the choruses to this song. Great. We "sampled" our young cousins playing and incorporated that into the song. Cool. Beyond that, the song lacks for variety and has little in terms of melody. It rates this high due to the finer points, along with having a more adventurous baseline than some other, but all in all another very old, very annoying song.
22. Come And Gone
This is the song that started it all, and it hasn't changed much since the steamy day in July of 1999 when we wrote it. A nice start, but I've moved on long ago.
21. The Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things
Here is another riff-based rock song, this one more along the lines of The Rolling Stones. It rates higher than a Last Resort, Part II, for instance, because it has a more complicated riff, and when played had some interesting aspects to the interplay and coming and going on the bass and drums. The most transendant version of this song was one night with Graham joining in, and a five-man round-about of the "money money" bridge. So, while perhaps never captured in its glory, this song has potential.
20. Three Fingers
This song is most interesting for its Pedro The Lion-esque guitar line that cooncides with the vocal melody. Woah, did I say vocal melody?! Sweet. Beyond that it feels somewhat thrown together due to a poor structure where there are no clear verses and what sound like choruses are sometimes sung over the gutar chorus part, and sometimes during the guitar verse part. It feels askew.
19. Ghetto Gap Gay Guy
This is a fine, somewhat atmospheric guitar song with an interesting bit of guitar and vocal interplay towards the end. The problem is that it takes forever to get there. The verses leading up are long and entirely devoid of variety. It's just the same thing over and over again. It has potential for something interesting combining bass and drums, provided it can be tightened up.
18. Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility
Also known as Heaven Express, this song is single plucked guitar sequence with a back and forth vocal between Jeremy and I. It's very interesting, but unfinished. It needs to go somewhere to close out the song, but we never figured out where. I envisioned a booming Hum-like space-rock explosion at the end, but never worked it out.
17. The Gradual Progression of Loss, Part I
Here's the original GPOL. It has a Cat Power-style guitar part, but suffers from line lengths that varies wildly. Somehow we pulled it together nicely when we played it as a band, and the song that started out with bongos and plucking transformed into a jazzy jam. Very nice.
16. On Account Of The Abuse
This song is also known the "I am ill" song. Here is a song that was really only played once, as a jam with Carl and Vin present. It has an interesting meandering guitar riff with a number of modifications throughout the song. Carl experiments on bass throughout, Vin gets random with the drums and other percussion. Jeremy does some stellar spoken word, and eventually everyone is cuing off Jeremy's words and jumping in with harmonies and chants. It was a lot of fun and provides a lot of options for what the song might become if given some time. This song is representative of the style of music that pleased me the most. There are others in this vein that are more polished and thus rank higher, but this is maximum potential to me.
15. A Common Path To A Common Problem
This is a later era song that nearly fell into the realm of our earlier songs in general style. Yet, there is something about the lyrics and melody that is so captivating to me. While I thought I had given up on this one long ago, I realized while assembling this ranking that it continued to creep up. It was stuck in my head and compared to the songs that have come thus far, I simply wanted to hear it more than any of the others.
14. A Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle
This is our original riff-rocking song. It actually has a number of parts, including the much-loved "ska" part. What it doesn't have is any verses, or a whole lot to say. It's just chorus after chorus, if you think about it.
13. Pity Versus Sympathy
This is one song that began and ended up very differently, yet both version are loved. The original had a lot of heart, the final version ended up pretty solid (and recently appeared as the cornerstone of The Peoples' Champion soundtrack). Yet, there is something mechanical and overly long about the final version. I'd like to find a middle ground where keep the heart and the listener's interest.
12. Quality Over Quantity
Come and Gone aside, this is the original TMINM song. It essentially forged our style of picked verses and strummed choruses. It lacks melody, and it ranks as high as it does because it has some very interesting and varied guitar parts, lots of potential to take the spoken word parts and melodicize them, and in a way is a song more akin to those later more adventurous songs. It's strange that in a way we ended up where we started.
11. Room 203, Part I
This is an interesting case of the variety in some of our early songs. It has sort of a jazzy feel to it. It has a simple but solid guitar part that varies at key points. It had a standout among Carl's early bass progressions as well, sort of a circular pattern that diverted from the guitar for a time only to return at a later point. Finally, when played live, it ended strong and built up in a little jazz jam. Lots of fun to play, and I haven't even mentioned all of the great lyrical points in this song.
10. A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find
It has been mentioned before that this is one of those songs that was sort of perfect from the moment we wrote it. It has a good intro and outro style, with a riff that includes some bends and a break that includes some slides. It has gourds, it has attitude, and what became a signature of our dual acoustic/electric attack. What's not to like?
Musically, this is an incredibly simple song. It is just two chord in progression over and over again, with some accents during the choruses. In a comment on Jeremy's thoughts on this song, I called it the best acting that TMINM ever did. The emotion of this song was perfectly conveyed through the style, rythym, and intonation of guitar and the feeling that Jeremy put into the vocals. If there is one song that makes the TMINM album in its original incarnation, this is it.
8. Such Things to Such People
Here is another rather simple song that gets big points for emotion. It is two slightly augmented chords for the verses, and two other chords for the choruses. What makes it unique is that instead of being quiet/loud, it's subdued/intense, if that makes any sense. There is more of an urgency to the playing than a simple change in volume. It builds, and at the end of the chorus releases nicely.
7. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part II
In an attempt to improve the Part I version of this song, I came up with the riff that we used in Part II. It's always been a favorite, and, being that it lays it all on the line with regard to divorce, is something torn from the heart. It has an urgency, intensity, and realism that lacks in some other songs.
6. The Substance of Nothing
This may well be our most popular and requested song. If a hypothetical TMINM fan were to be singing a line from one of our songs, it would mostly likely be "we could make/we could make ammends/we could be/the best of false friends/the best of false friends" or a creative variant thereof. This song has a lot of parts to it. After first rearranging the song into convenient verses and choruses, tossing out much of the lyrics, we added the other lyrics back in at the back half of the song. After coming up with an original version, than a new version, we added the original as a bridge of sorts to the final song. Basically, we took every idea and put it together. This is good in a way, but the song is overly long, and not even that much to play in parts. The main riff itself is a fairly conventional progression that has been used in tons of rock songs, such as All Along The Watchtower. My thought here is to keep that feel and sound together in the bassline, but vary the guitar part a great deal in this song. Particularly of need are some tearing guitar variations during the back half of the song, to underscore the intensity of all and maintain interest so deep into the song.
The word urgency comes up again here. This is a very explosive and urgent song. There is a certain throbbing and writhing quality to it. The bassline is intentionally a step down from the guitar riff, which creates an interesting sound that is just off-kilter enough to disarm the listener. This song is an absolute blast to play and perform. We never quite recorded in up to its full potential. Polished up, this could easily be our most memorable and popular song.
4. Standard Issue
This is the part of my ranking that will get extremely controversial where Jeremy is concerned. Where Jeremy favors many of the JLA songs we wrote in the first couple months of our collaboration, what really excites me are the song that developed as a full band after we had more experience. These songs have a strange night music quality to them. Them exude desparation and morbidity, and I love them for it.
Standard Issue specifically, has a snaky off-timed guitar progression, with a number of unique parts. Originally the highlight of this song was Jeremy's freestyle violin solo at the end of the song. Later, Micah added some random drum stylings throughout the song that really captured the essense of the song, and I added an more intense jam at the end of the song. As of yet, the two unique aspects of this song have not yet been combined. When they are, this song will become our dark indie world-beater.
3. Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness
This music for this song came out of a Bad Larry jam entitled Half a Loaf of Baldwin (an homage to the jams of Half Visconte also called Baldwins). It is a haunting guitar motif with a loud and messy riff explosion and then back into quiet creepiness. Combine this with an absolutely nonsensical spoken word and screamed verse repeated a number of times at varied paces and you have one of the most unique and memorable of TMINM songs.
2. An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber
This is a song that ranks so high for me because the music and lyrics just really came together from the first playing. Despite the lyrics being quite a rambling narrative, it somehow meshed perfectly with the guitar progression. At times it has an uplifting quality that is odds with the dark subject matter in a beautiful way. Additionally, the song got better with age as Micah came into the fold and variations of the guitar parts were developed. "Headlights/feel the headlights" is a transcendent moment for me.
1. An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth
This song represents the pinnacle of what it is to be in a band. This was the last song the Josh/Jer/Carl/Vin combination wrote together. After nearly a six months of playing together at least once a week, we arrive at this song. I introduce he riff and structure of the song to the band, and from the first try, Carl and Vin intuitively nail this song in a way I couldn't have imagained. The bassline and drums were a 180 from what I might have come up with on my own, but the resulting song was the best we had ever done. For these reasons, the song best represents the band as a whole at a time when we were at our individual and collective best, equal partners in forging our sound. This song has all four members fairly represented, which can't be said of many our songs.
The lyrics to this song are about suicide. Like most of the This Is Normal songs, they are based on Sans Hands, yet this song can truly be said to be culled from events that were real, current, and personal, at the time they were written and sung. Of all of our ironic song where the music and delivery was happy or excited when talking about failure, dissapointment, and death, this is the one song that really delivers on that contrast in a meaningful, not simply mocking, way.
Despite Angie's moral objections, I have to believe this is the best TMINM song ever.