Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It seems like every time I write about The Subjects, every time we run into another person who knows the boys from Brooklyn, the conversation and the words get epically descriptive. It becomes something of a telling or a pageant of exploits that everyone marvels upon and vicariously lives through. It's an endless collection of stories that are larger than life and too good to be true. They often involve lethal amounts of alcohol, nights that never end and can involve older women. The stories are hyperventilated, blurted out with great excitement because Cobra, Pickles, Joe and Dave do not live out a normal life and the even crazier part of it all is that they find a way to even go beyond the depraved and out-of-control activities that normally occur on the road for touring musicians in a constant state of boozy insomnia. They drink ALL night. They live for it. They really do. They live for gathering all of the inane and hard-to-believe stories that they somehow stir out of these cities that are far from home. They get into confrontations. They get emotional. And they have raging parties in their hotel rooms (when they have those, which is a rare night) with menopausal flight attendants. They groggily wake up the following morning after all of this - not to mention a 45-minute gig somewhere in there, where they went onto a stage and generally thrilled everyone in the room with their bouncy, smart pop that feels like summery temperatures and the time of a party - and they do it all again, starting early to get back to the deep buzz that faded out when they passed out or eased heads down to pillows or the hard wood. Everyone who's ever met the four men in The Subjects has stories, all of which are swollen with unbelievable twists and turns, but there's nothing far-fetched about the band's impeccable, if loose and tumble, songs. It's as if all of these efforts made to get into as much playful trouble and to bait out the very last bit of abandon that any of the group might have talking to them, telling them this isn't such a keen idea, are done so that there can be some intelligent reflection about it when things get a little calmer, when they get home and the diversions are less intensified. David Sheinkopf and Matty Pickles are singers with idiosyncratic voices that fluctuate in interesting places and tell these stories of extra level love woes and of late 20s growing pains. So many of the songs that The Subjects write are mediations on what's before them and what's the best way that it can all turn out, if that's even an option. The songs featured in this session - three of which are crisp and new since the recent release of the group's new EP "New Soft Shoe" - are miniature bumps and bruises that involve missed signals and miscommunication. As Pickles sings during a slowed down bridge on "The Hard Way," one of the band's best songs to date, "I'm jealous/She's angry/We both know that's changing," we hear a person (or two people) recognizing that their actions do affect others and the gravity of such heavy thoughts is paramount in so many Subjects songs. People are hurt and people are redeemed after the hurt. Wild nights ring for days and weeks and yet, the good souls at the ends of these songs find their ways to those redemptive spots, turning horseplay and gallivanting into wisdom - wisdom with jangling guitar tones and a backbeat that will start any night off and running again.