Tuesday Ten: Our Favorite B-Sides

By | August 12, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The days may be long gone of rushing to the local record store, money in hand, to grab the latest radio hit’s 45rpm single, but the excitement of flipping that record over and — if you were lucky — discovering the non-album track that lay on the other side will never wear off. Whether you’re finding today’s b-sides as true-to-form 7″ exclusives or in modern incarnations like the iTunes bonus track, the lesson throughout the years has been unwavering: a track that might not fit onto an album could still be one of an artist’s most special songs. In this week’s Tuesday Ten, we’re exploring some of our writers’ favorite b-sides.

Brand New – Moshi Moshi

My best guess as to why Brand New’s “Moshi Moshi” was released as a b-side and not an album track would have to be the fact that it’s an actual love song. Don’t get me wrong, Brand New do love songs, but they’re—how do I put this gently—dark? morbid? unsettling? Usually when the popular emo group writes a track, it’s something along the lines of “I love you, but you hate my guts,” or “I used to love you, but now I hope you get an STD.” But “Moshi Moshi” is lyrically sweeter and genuinely heartfelt with lines like “Well you’re wasting your time / If you’re trying to impress me / I waste all my time just thinking of you.” Even the instrumentals feel a bit uplifting, providing a more upbeat canvas for Jesse Lacey’s puppy-eyed words. The b-side comes from a split with former labelmates Safety In Numbers and was released between Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, a time when the band was at the height of their mainstream breakthrough, so it’s no surprise that the track has become a fan favorite. To this day, “Moshi Moshi” is still a staple for the hopeless romantic in every bitter emo kid (myself included). (Alyssa Dempsey)

While you’re reminiscing on this hidden gem, be sure to also check out Tigers Jaw’s cover of the song over at Nervous Energies. The female vocals are a great addition to this already charming tune.

Good Charlotte – Face The Strange

Every time I hear this song, I say to myself, “Why on earth didn’t this make the album?” A b-side of Good Charlotte’s fourth album Good Morning Revival, this is the song-equivalent of therapy. It will guide you through the three stages of life: nostalgia for the past, regret of the present, and finally, the hope of change for a better future. Whoever said music couldn’t heal? Good Morning Revival was a much more experimental version of Good Charlotte than we had heard before, and “Face The Strange” fits right in simply because it’s not designed to fit in, offering up the chance to explore a heavier focus on synths. There are still the classic pop punk riffs we all recognize underneath, but it’s the fast-paced bass and dancier beat that will get your heart racing. The simple chorus, “We all need a little change / I guess it’s time to face the strange”, is the perfect mantra for anyone who is at a crossroads in their life; it will send you running to quit that boring job, to take that road trip, to follow whatever you spend your days dreaming about. This kind of song is so important—while it might not provide all the answers, it will help you on your way. The balance between the staccato and spiralling guitar riffs are kept in sharp contrast, reflecting the roller coaster of emotions this song rides—so hold on tight and try to keep up. Coupled with the sweet acoustic breakdown in the bridge and the effortless harmonies from the Madden twins, “Face The Strange” encompasses everything from a classic Good Charlotte anthem, with that added synth-filled edge that maybe pushed it from fitting in with the overall vibe of the album. One thing’s for sure—it’s an incredible shame it didn’t make the cut, because it’s one every fan should hear. (Alex Bear)

The Maine – So Criminal

Few bands have gone through as drastic a change in recent years as The Maine. Trading in the deep v-necks and poppy choruses since 2012’s Pioneer, they really seemed to find their new identity and portray it perfectly with Forever Halloween. While the entire album seems to be a step in the right direction, you really get a sense of what the future holds when you listen to the bonus tracks released earlier this year, most notably “So Criminal”. John O’Callaghan has always had one of the most unique baritone voices in the alternative music scene, but on this track his raw emotion comes billowing out while he belts the chorus—just for the verses to be your hypothetical safety net. All the while, the lyrics keep tugging at your heart strings, guiding you through a story of love that has become toxic. Expect The Maine to continue this trend towards the Weezer/Foo Fighters side of alternative while they continue on their journey to re-create their image. (Joseph Britton)

Manchester Orchestra – After The Scripture

For a record as a potent and severe as Cope, you might assume that its bonus tracks would be just as bone-shattering. After all, the band were aiming to pack this album full of relentless rock tracks (which they succeeded in doing). Instead, “After The Scripture” strikes you by being startlingly bare. Vocalist Andy Hull sighs through a bleak melody, but delivers raw lyrics that ring out cold and clear. The utter simplicity of the track is reminiscent of a hymn—but not a happy one. This song bleeds with some underlying tragedy that, though not obvious in the narrative, is blatant through stinging emotion. This song was made to listen to in perfect silence, if only to give rise to a sea of shivers (which I still get every time I hear it). My favorite line is the bitterly ironic, “The candle that burned me / delivered me light,” which seeps into the deep, crescendoing guitar that truly sets the tone. I understand why “After The Scripture” didn’t make it to the final tracklisting for Cope; it’s not the hard hitting, gut punching rock that Manchester Orchestra designed for their fourth album. But I am glad that it was added as a b-side, because this kind of stark beauty should not go unheard. (Hannah Pierangelo)

Pianos Become The Teeth – Hiding

“Hiding”, Pianos Become the Teeth’s latest release (heard on a split 7” with their contemporaries Touche Amore), is more of a foreshadowing than anything. At this point, we embrace the concept of screaming vocals over twinkly guitars, but even Pianos Become The Teeth know that change is vital when a sound becomes too oversaturated. “Hiding” adds a new dimension to the genre by using an alternate vocal approach alongside the band’s traditional intensity. Pianos’ niche is their ability to raise tension and keep us on our toes as we hop on board the emotional rollercoaster of love, pain, and struggle. “Hiding” proves that this band can stay consistent in their sound, even as Kyle Durfey steps out of his comfort zone to introduce a singing voice that has never been showcased before. And surprisingly, it works incredibly well. I think Pianos understand that you can’t write the same album three times and this track was a trial balloon to see how fans would react to subtle changes in their sound. The new vocal spotlights the band’s lyrical intent and Kyle’s heartfelt words no longer have to hide behind a wall of screams. Instead, the clean vocal builds tension as the lyrics are stated clearly and candidly, the shouts start to boil your blood, and the screams tear your heart in two. This new approach creates a hierarchy of emotion that gradually eases you into emotion and passion of the song without having sensory overload from all the chaos. “Hiding” teaches us that a crescendo can be just as effective as a power chord, and a vocal melody can be just as haunting as a gut-wrenching scream. As a b-side, “Hiding” allows the band to reveal a new melodic approach to their songwriting, and it is subtle enough to not turn everyone off to the direction they are inevitably headed toward. (Ethan Rose)

The Story So Far – May

If you haven’t heard The Story So Far’s EPs, you might not even recognize Parker Cannon’s voice in this less-than-two-minutes bonus track from Under Soil And Dirt. Arguably, what makes the band’s records so distinct is his voice, with violent, yet singable vocals that goes along strikingly well with aggressive riffs and a sense of urgency. In “May,” it’s a stark contrast, as illustrated with a lonely harmonica melody and soft acoustic guitar that complements Cannon’s wistful voice as he croons, “I wish you’d stop running from your problems and run to me instead.” As beautiful as this song is, it doesn’t fit in the midst of bold, energetic tracks from the album that get the crowd psyched up—“May” was made for stripped-down, raw acoustic performances that will leave you thinking for days to come. (Emily Yee)

Taking Back Sunday – Your Own Disaster


Taking Back Sunday are no strangers at turning a heartbreak into an anthem; in fact, the early years of their career were built on that very ability. But “Your Own Disaster” might just be the most heart-wrenching track from across the band’s discography. The song first grabbed ahold of audiences in its demo form when it was released on the Warped Tour 2003 compilation, but it’s on the studio re-recording (first seen on the Japanese edition of Where You Want To Be, then more widely released on 2007’s Notes From The Past) that it truly comes to life. From that very first piano chord, the music sweeps you off your feet — but it doesn’t take you to the romantic place that phrase is usually associated with, even in its prettiest moments. Instead, it pulls you deep into the darker side of love, its stripped-down musical arrangement backing layers of raw vocals and the brokenhearted refrains of “I don’t think that you know what you’ve been missing” and “Just forget me, it’s that simple.” This is a song that is as beautiful as it is devastating, a song that will make you reach for the repeat button with as much urgency as you’ll be reaching for the nearest box of tissues by the second verse. And if it’s not a staple in your music collection yet…then I don’t think that you know what you’ve been missing. (Eleanor Grace)

Thursday – Even The Sand Is Made Of Seashells

Try as I may, a description of Thursday’s “Even The Sand Is Made Of Seashells” will always be unattainable. I could explain to you how the song’s piano introduction washes over you slowly at first, like standing barefoot at the ocean’s edge, then rolls into a tidal wave as the vocals kick in, stealing your footing and robbing your breath. Details could be divulged about the way each lyric fills the entire world around you as it’s being delivered, then lingers nearby for some time to come. Something could be said about how the four minutes and thirteen seconds spent listening to the song seem to come and go far too quickly. But all these words and every point made would add up to nothing in comparison to the sheer force the song packs in its every note. While Thursday’s catalog is no stranger to a haunting track, this might be the one that contains the most of that quality, and maybe that’s why it was released as a b-side. It could have been easily introduced to listeners as a title track, or possibly even a single, but isn’t it more special this way? Coming across it by chance, whether it be from purchasing the “Counting 5-4-3-2-1” 7” single, seeing lyrics on your Twitter feed, or, in my case, by the recommendation of your editor, makes it that much more exciting. It’s like the prize at the bottom of a cereal box—only way, way better. You can feel this song, and it makes an impact that will never fully leave you. Isn’t that the way music is supposed to be? If you listened to the song while reading this love letter to it, I bid you good luck in finding a way to stop pressing “replay”. I would assist you in this effort, but I am also still looking for the solution. (Emillie Marvel)

Wet – Move Me

Hotly-tipped Brooklyn trio Wet may only have one EP to their name, but that was enough to win them a worldwide audience and see them playing gigs both stateside and abroad opening for bands like CHVRCHES (and one of 2014’s brightest stars, Sohn, later this fall). It was a more than welcomed announcement, then, when the band shared the new song “Move Me”, a track from Kitty Cash’s latest mixtape Love the Free II released at the tail end of July. It’s a slow-moving and seductive song that fits right in line with the sound of their self-titled debut EP. The whisper-quiet percussion gives it the slightest hint of R&B as a backbone to build upon, while vocalist Kelly Zutrow’s smooth voice will send chills down your spine with the way she asks her lover, “Can you save me / or move me?” With the rise of groups like Broods and even Lorde who bring a minimalist feel to pop music, it seems that Wet are right on the cusp of stardom. The band are currently hard at work in the studio, but while we anticipate the results, “Move Me” has me more than held over. (Tarynn Law)

The Wonder Years – Living Room Song

A bonus track on the deluxe version of Suburbia: I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing, “Living Room Song” is a short and sweet acoustic jam that sounds straight out of vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s diary. With lyrics like “It goes down around May 20th / So I guess this song is pointless / You’re never gonna hear it,” and “I’m going to bed tonight in my New Found Glory hoodie,” the song sounds even more uncontrived than the already signature raw lines comprising the initial full-length. Inspired by Harold Camping’s prediction that the world would end in 2011, the song is heavily attached to the time when the album was released, which might have been a reason why it was excluded from the original tracklisting. The lyrics are also surprisingly positive, as gang vocals defiantly shout, “We don’t have trouble sleeping / We know, we know who we wanna be,” somewhat contrasting with the existential crises Soupy so often sings about. Although it doesn’t always fit in the right places, “Living Room Song,” is a catchy, motivational track that has just as much emotional impact as the rest of the album. (Catherine Yi)

The band recently re-recorded the song full-band for the No Sleep Records benefit album A Comp For Mom; check it out here!

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