Review Summary: 24 minutes to save Long Island.
I don’t fucking remember Long Island. I lived there for the first six years of my life. I was too young to understand my family’s turmoil that would eventually lead to my Dad dragging us to Georgia in the search for a new job. I was too young to understand why my brother hated my Dad, why we could only rollerskate in the house when he wasn’t home, why my mom would seem extremely anxious - as if the world rested on her shoulders (it might as well have), why we had to move to a state I’d never even heard of. Even today, I still can’t relate to a lot of Jeff Rosenstock’s lyrics. I’m petrified of alcohol, I’ve never been drunk, I’ve never been fired from a job, I’ve only been to a handful of hardcore shows. Yet, there’s so much in his work that I can relate to - I have a tendency to overthink my relationships with others, I know the feeling of a panic attack, I’m afraid of dying and/or losing everyone close to me, and - maybe most importantly - I want to be happy, even if I’m not all the time.
“Happy Anterrabae Day” is a tune that gleams with agitation and anxiety - pleading for violent mob mentality to take a break for the duration of a hardcore show. It’s an exhausting start to a record I’ve heard plenty of times at this point. Maybe I’ve listened to Adults…
more, but I think I’ve felt something different with To Leave or Die in Long Island
. A connection that reminds me of my connection to AJJ’s The Bible 2
or Ween’s Quebec
. It’s a record that covers a lot of ground in a mere 24 minutes. From the neck breaking pace of “Showerbeers!” and “Congratulations, John, On Joining Every Time I Die!” to the slower, yet still burningly passionate, “Stand There Until You’re Sober,” and “Bomb The Music Industry! (And Action Action) (And Refused) (And Born Against) Are Fucking Dead!,” Bomb The Music Industry don’t waste a single second of runtime, even with samples from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
and The Office
finding their way before tracks.
And, while the songs seem to be about very specific things, they cover entirely universal themes. No, I’ve never been in a band where a member almost moved onto bigger things (like on “Congratulations, John, On Joining Every Time I Die!”), but I have worried that new opportunities would come in the way of my friends and I - even if those opportunities were huge for us (college, new relationships, et cetera). I’ve never been in a situation where I can’t get drunk no matter what I try (“Stand There Until You’re Sober,”), yet I often wonder what my funeral will be like and I dwell on past and future sadnesses more than I’d like to admit. I sure as hell can’t grow a beard (“Brian Wilson Says SMiLE A.K.A. Beard of Defiance”), but we’ve all felt like we want and should be defying some kind of force bigger than us. That’s why so many follow Rosenstock's often too personal stories - we can all see parts of our own human condition in his intimate stories.
So, no I don’t remember Long Island, even if that’s where I was born. It’s sure as hell different to Georgia, no matter how you cut it. I do remember the sting of rejection and failure, though. I remember my dad getting laid off like he didn’t fucking matter, leading him to a low point that still seems to haunt him. I remember feeling powerless and insignificant just because I’m a dumb kid. I remember feeling like I was at rock bottom, but I also remember feeling life was going to get better.
To Leave or Die
’s crowning jewel is it’s triumphant closer, “Syke! Life is Awesome!;” a powerful acclamation of hope and accomplishing one’s dreams. It’s a perfectly inspiring song that stands out as a highpoint in Bomb The Music Industry!’s long, legendary career. It’s about finding yourself, after years of hard work and depression, among friends and personal achievement. It shows the weird progression of life and how one thing leads to another, slowly building up who we are. Jeff’s progression to his place in punk rock is detailed, it’s the story of how heart break and trials can be overcome. It’s a powerful ending, showing that, while he can’t change Long Island as a whole, he can change his “Long Island,” his everything. Maybe we can too.
“I realized sometimes things are great…”