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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Crumbling Arches: Why do I love them so much?

Note: I originally wrote this as a livejournal entry back in October, and
I also posted it on Last.FM in December. Crumbling Arches has since become my favorite band.
**Warning: Longest entry ever ahead :D **

Nearly everyone that I talk to knows that I love the Athens band Crumbling Arches. I'll admit, barely a day goes by that I don't mention them in conversation. But what's so great about them? Why do I seem so obsessed with this one band? I think it's time for an explanation, a confession of sorts.

Up until a few years ago, I refused to claim any bands as favorites. I liked nearly all kinds of music, but nothing really impressed me much. I listened to the general fluff that was semi-popular music, bought several soundtracks from my favorite movies, and enjoyed whatever songs played in the background during the TV shows I watched. For me, music was just there. Important, yes, but not very meaningful. I was deaf to the idea that there could be more to music than what I heard on MTV.

Then, on YouTube of all places, I discovered a Boston band that changed my idea of music: Lemon Demon. This band's songs lived in their own world, far away from all of the pretentious lyrics of the top 40 hits. They had no true meaning, but for the first time in my life, I realized that a good song didn't have to spell it out for the listener. I could find my own meaning in these songs. This "indie" genre was new to me, but as I ventured further into this unknown world, I discovered true music: songs that held a different message for each person who listened to them.

During the next few months, I opened my ears to new music for the first time. I was on a quest to find something, some sound that truly meant something to me. Lemon Demon and an Atlanta band, Helios (now known as Stellate), served as foundations for my newfound love of music, but I had an insatiable desire to find more. Then, around March of this year, one of the school clubs I belonged to, Dawgs After Dark, gave me a simple task: listen to the music from a list of several different bands and choose my five favorites to play at Dawgstock, a school-sponsored concert. Eager to help out, I logged onto MySpace for the first time in months and searched for the first band, "Crumbling Arches."

Crumbling Arches? My friend Lisa had mentioned them before, but I had never really heard their music. I know it sounds completely overdramatic, but honestly, this band was exactly what I was looking for.

The first song I heard of theirs was Phantom. Being a Phantom of the Opera enthusiast (and, naturally, an owner of the soundtrack), I loved hearing their slightly twisted version of it. They managed to take a song that was already dark and disturbing and make it both humorous and vastly more terrifying than it had been before. But there was more.

For several years, I've felt that one simple phrase of three words describes me best: "Disney and darkness". I love the joy of childish delights, but I'm not complete without my supply of strange costumes, macabre decorations, and horrifying notions. I love it all, and Crumbling Arches managed to capture both of these ideas with their rock cover of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. The original song has always been one of my favorite Disney hits, and the fact that they performed this song the very first time I saw one of their shows - well, I can tell you that this cemented their place as "one of my new favorite bands."

But these are just covers. What about their actual songs? That's where it gets personal. The CD (The Somnambulist) I bought from them during their show in August was filled with songs that told the story of a man who dreamed of leaving his life behind and going to sea. This man refused to be numb to the monotony of the life society chose for him and instead sacrificed everything he had to pursue his dreams. This story is truly why I love this band so much. It's my story. No, I'm not a man who wishes he was at sea. However, I am a woman who dreams of being an author, a woman who is willing to give up the security of the corporate world and comfort of the suburban lifestyle to achieve her goals. Though I may drown in the sea of a million other dreamers, I'd rather suffer and struggle there than take the easy path to financial success and be miserable. I don't want to be the girl who might have been more. I don't want to spend my life wondering what would have happened if I had just stepped off of the lit path.

It's as simple as this. Crumbling Arches is everything I would want in a band. The members are the nicest people ever, they're genuinely talented, and they clearly love what they're doing. Best of all, their songs truly mean something to me. So the next time you see me writing about them on Facebook or hear me mentioning them to someone I've just met, you'll know why. I just want to share my love of them with everyone. I know their songs won't mean the same things for you as they mean for me, but true music divulges a different message to each listener and gains new meaning with every play.

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