Posts Tagged ‘The Lines of the Cars’

Los Toxicos is a monthly feature where we get to know a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event. To nominate a fan (or yourself) for a future month, e-mail us.

Sarah with The Airborne Toxic Event

Name: Sarah McCullough (@linesofthecars)

Where are you from?

South Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia.

Tell us about yourself (who you are, what you do for a living, hobbies, etc.).

I’m a 20 year old student, and I study and work part-time at Rowan University. I love to read (TATE book club anybody??) and I love playing music and going to see live music. I’m always trying to become a better writer myself because I admire that so much. I also like to do crafts and make food and coffee and stuff and I’m pretty much an old lady on the inside.

How did you become a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event?

When I was like 12-13 I used to watch music videos on TV every day before school, so I was hooked from the very first time I saw the “Sometime Around Midnight” video. That was also around the time that I started to play guitar. Not only was I captivated by the song, but I was so excited to see a girl in an awesome band, and I’ve truly been obsessed ever since.

Do any of your family or friends like The Airborne Toxic Event? Did you convert them, or did they convert you?

My boyfriend’s a super fan like myself, and we actually met through our obsession with the band. My brother likes them too, and my mom got into them through me. The first few times she heard them she said they sound like The Clash and kinda Springsteen-y, which I thought was cool because she was spot on with a few of their influences.

What does your Airborne Toxic Event collection include?

Several shirts and sweatshirts, CDs, a DVD, vinyl, a setlist, a few picks, some guitar strings. Plus a few things that I’ve made. Always in the market for more though!

Sarah's Airborne Toxic Creations

What’s your favorite TATE song, and why?

This is the question I was dreading! It truly changes constantly and every album has been my favorite at one point or another. I actually just wrote a paper for my Spanish composition class about “The Lines of the Cars,” and that’s one that I’ve always really liked because of how much I like White Noise too. That, “Half of Something Else” and “Duet” are a few that I haven’t seen live yet but I really want to. Those two would for sure give me goosebumps because they’re just such gorgeous songs. As for album, I think I’ll say their self-titled may be my favorite, but ask me tomorrow and it could totally be a different answer.

Have you ever had a special experience at a TATE concert? Tell us about it.

Aside from the obvious answer of all of them, two in particular come to mind: the Chicago show on the Dope Machines tour, and the Keswick show on the Whisky Machine tour. The Chicago show was like a dream, better than a dream, and I even had fun in line talking to new friends. Plus it was my first time meeting them! The Keswick show makes the list not only because of the Shazam pre-show that I was lucky enough to win my way into, but also because I was able to talk to all of them after like a normal person, which I was too nervous to do before that. I could talk for hours about these two shows, and in fact I’m sure I have.

What’s on your Airborne Toxic Event bucket list?

Ah, still so much! I’d love to see an acoustic show as well as one with an orchestra. There are also several songs that I’m dying to see them play, and if possible I’d love to see them in L.A. and even abroad. And I think I’m too much of a shy nervous wreck to make this happen, but I’d love to let them know just how much their music has meant to me.

Are there any other bands you would recommend that Airborne fans check out?

Definitely My Morning Jacket and The National if they haven’t gotten into those already!

Sarah's TATE jacket

The Airborne Toxic Event Releases One Time Thing Bombastic Video

By Glen

A dearth of news from The Airborne Toxic Event as the calendar turns to summer has us pondering a number of unsolved mysteries in this week’s installment of Toxicity.

Mystery #1: The Case of the Half-Released Bombastic

Excitement rippled throughout TATEland Wednesday morning when a brand new bombastic video for “One Time Thing” surfaced unannounced on a number of German websites.

The fact that the clip debuted in this fashion is odd, considering that all previous Airborne acoustic videos have been released worldwide through YouTube. Nevertheless, we assumed that the video would quickly become available for viewing by fans outside of Europe.

48 hours later, it still hasn’t happened. Having tricked my desktop into thinking that it is in Germany, I can confirm that the video is real and it is spectacular. Hopefully it will be available for all to enjoy in the very near future.

Mystery #2: The Case of the Disappearing Tour Date

Last week, show-starved fans on the East Coast received a pair of pieces of good news, in the form of a July 31 TATE date in Baltimore, and a Sept. 29 date in Harrisburg, PA. The latter appeared on the venue website and was up for a couple of days before disappearing into the ether.

Was it real? Was it wrong? Was it announced prematurely? We’re not sure, but we’ll keep a weather eye on the situation.

Mystery #3: The Case of the Unrequited Rumors

It is now six weeks since the band intimated that a major tour announcement was set to be made within a week or so. Thus far, said news has yet to arrive. The delay has some fans wondering if there will be a fall tour after all. But don’t despair. Remember, this is the same band that sprung a mini Dope Machines tour on us back in March with scarcely 10 days notice.

We do know that Anna Bulbrook will be keeping herself busy in August, playing a free weekly residency at The Satellite in Los Angeles with her band The Bulls. Fans outside of Southern California continue to cross their fingers that her new outfit will venture beyond the borders of their home state before too long.

Toxic Gold

One thing that’s no mystery whatsoever is that whenever The Airborne Toxic Event does hit the stage, it will be a sight to behold. Witness “The Lines of the Cars” from last month’s Songs of God and Whiskey gig in Orange County, courtesy of Johnny.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

By Glen

“We’re kind of genre-less. I think we play lots of styles of music… We’re musicians in the purest sense in that we’re not stuck to a genre. We just like music. If we liked polka, we’d probably play polka.”
– Mikel Jollett

The Airborne Toxic Event, Songs of God and WhiskeyNo, you’re not imagining things: that is the same quote we used as the lead to our review of The Airborne Toxic Event’s Dope Machines. It’s entirely fitting, because if Dope Machines pushes TATE to the extreme end in one direction, Songs of God and Whiskey proves their versatility at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

In case you were sleeping under a rock yesterday, The Airborne Toxic Event floored fans with the announcement of a surprise second album to drop the very same minute that Dope Machines hit virtual shelves in North America. Billed as an acoustic rock ‘n’ roll record, Songs of God and Whiskey is currently only available for purchase through the band’s website, as a digital download packaged with Dope Machines in various physical formats.

Here’s what Airborne had to say about the project:

The songs from Songs of God and Whiskey are taken from 10 years of songwriting. Some are quite new, some are quite old. All were recorded by us as a group in a small studio on a hill in Los Angeles (Mount Washington, to be exact). We’re not doing any tricky chicanery on the tracks to make them hard to copy or send or reproduce. We’re quite aware that makes them easy to be traded on file-sharing sites, but hey I guess that’s the world we live in. We trust you’ll be cool and buy it if you want it. It’s seven bucks—the same amount we would get from iTunes if we sold it there.

It would be fashionable to say we decided to forego the long process of promotion and distribution of the modern music industry as a way of doing our part to attempt to realign the music world to be a more artist friendly environment in which the blah blah blah… But it’s not really true. (Even though we very much agree with those principles).

With this, we just had a simple idea in mind: make it and put it out.

With minimal time to digest the news, let alone the songs themselves, we offer up our first impressions.

On first listen to Songs of God and Whiskey, I was immediately struck by the presence of something I didn’t realize I had been missing: the sheer fun of it all.

The past year has been in many respects a heavy one for The Airborne Toxic Event. Sure, there have been huge highs: a rain-soaked performance for the ages at Lollapalooza, the legendary three-night Fillmore residency, an electric fall tour across North America, and the introduction of exciting new material. But there have also been developments that cast a shadow over the whole enterprise, most notably the release of Noah Harmon (and the subsequent flood of “Where’s Noah?” questions that won’t seem to stop) and the trepidation of a significant portion of the fan base over the electronically-infused stylings of the new album. While the band has admirably soldiered on through the clamor, there has at times been a sense of having to prove themselves all over again.

While the getting here has not been easy, that’s part of what makes Songs of God and Whiskey such a joy. It’s a throwback to the days of five friends in a room, banging out tunes between laughs and beers.

Last night I tweeted, “Only The Airborne Toxic Event could produce an album off the side of their desk and come up with something so awesome.” That’s how it sounds to me: as if Mikel Jollett, Daren Taylor, Anna Bulbrook, Steven Chen and Adrian Rodriguez gathered together in a living room with a couple of beat-up old couches, a few guitars and a viola, and emerged 33-minutes later with a new record. It’s that fresh.

And yet, that would do a disservice to the amount of work that no doubt went into this labor of love. The lyrical depth, for starters, belies hour upon hour spent alone with pen in hand. From “Poor Isaac” to “April is the Cruelest Month” to “The Fall of Rome,” this is no light snack: there is a lot to chew on here, as one might expect from alcohol-fueled musings on the Almighty.

Tonally, Songs of God and Whiskey is akin to an album-length bombastic video, with a charming demo quality about it. Hearkening back to the days of Taylor pounding out the beat to “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” on a car ceiling, or tapping out the rhythm to “Something New” with one hand while steering a boat with the other, there are moments of sheer gratuitous frivolity: Jollett’s playful chuckle at the end of “Cocaine and Abel,” his hilarious nerd and homey voices at the start of “A Certain Type of Girl,” and tongue-in-cheek lyrics galore, all presented in a musical smorgasbord of styles that runs the gamut from rockabilly to barroom country to big band to introspective ballad.

Songs of God and Whiskey is The Airborne Toxic Event’s gift to fans. Combined with the utterly thrilling Dope Machines, Airborne has offered up more than enough to satisfy even the most insatiable among us (*raises hand*) for a very long time to come. It may also be their greatest gift to themselves: a reminder of why they all signed up for this crazy adventure in the first place.

Songs of God and Whiskey: Track by Track

Poor Isaac: When I heard this old Jollett demo soundchecked in Vancouver last month, my jaw dropped. What seemed like an out of left field choice for tuning up an acoustic guitar makes a lot more sense now. “Poor Isaac” rocks as hard as a (mostly) acoustic track can, Jollett’s voice seething with a rage befitting the character he’s voicing.

Cocaine and Abel: An infectious little ditty about the good, the bad and the morbid of a coke trip. (PSA: Don’t do drugs, kids.) Jollett’s wit is on full display here, and never before has such a destructive topic been so danceable, with a brass interlude that only adds to the happy juxtaposition.

A Certain Type of Girl: Opening with Jollett goofing around, and with a rhythm established by what sounds like a pencil rubbing against paper, “A Certain Type of Girl” ramps up into a full-on country hoedown, complete with saloon-style piano. Pure fun.

Change and Change and Change and Change: Perhaps my favorite song on the album, “Change and Change and Change and Change” is strongly reminiscent of “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing.” The lyrics find Jollett at his self-deprecating best: “So I fucked it up like I always do, I was born to be alone/I don’t even know if the words were true that I screamed into the phone.”

April is the Cruelest Month: One of two songs known to fans through old YouTube videos of a solo Jollett performance, “April” is a quiet dirge that one can easily imagine being sung in a darkened bar next to an empty whiskey bottle.

The Lines of the Cars: This White Noise inspired tune was known as “Waves and Radiation” when Jollett performed it back in 2008. Found in much brisker form here, it draws its subject matter from the first part of the book from whence the band got its name.

Strangers: “Strangers” brings a little Mexican flair to the proceedings, opening with a Spanish sounding guitar riff and soft maracas keeping time. Another energetic album highlight, notable for Jollett’s falsetto and a singalong refrain that calls back to “The Way Home.”

Why Why Why: Traversing familiar lyrical territory of loss and regret, “Why Why Why” is a soft touch, moving along at a comfortable pace and contrasting Jollett’s voice with Bulbrook’s delicate backing vocals.

California: A lovely acoustic take on the poppy, popular Dope Machines track. Stripping the instrumentation down to quiet guitars and piano allows the exquisite lyrics to take center stage.

The Fall of Rome: Debuted on the fall tour, “The Fall of Rome” has had TATE fans clamoring ever since, especially once it was revealed that it would not be on Dope Machines. Lyrically, it joins “The Graveyard Near the House” at the top of a long list of Jollett’s most poignant poetry. Bulbrook’s subtle viola is a very welcome addition to a song that has typically been played by the singer alone on his guitar.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.