Everything Matters But No One Is Listening [Quiet Slang]

by Beach Slang

/
1.
The sound of your heart is wired to break. Too fucked up to love, but too soft to hate. The hum of your lungs is my favorite thing and the air you shove out into my mouth. I've always felt stuck, alone or ashamed. The gutter's too tough, the stars are too safe. I'm always that kid always out of place. I try to get found, but I've never known how. I'm tracing the lines on your handsome face, the scars on your arms, the shape of your veins. We are not alone. We are not mistakes. Don't whisper now. We're allowed to be loud.
2.
The night is alive. It's loud and I'm drunk, kissing a mic and singing about us. The songs I make, I barely rehearse them. They're hardly mistakes. They're meant to be honest. I'm way out of tune, turned up to eleven and floating around this noisy heaven. Most of the words get stuck in my mouth, but I mean all the ones that punch their way out. Our heads are blurry. Our hearts are sure things. I bet on you to make me nervous, to stay dangerous. Good love is not safe. The night is alive. It's loud and I'm drunk.
3.
Play it loud. Play it fast. Play me something that will always last. Play it tough. Play it quiet. Play me something that might save my life. We’re not lost. We are dying in style. We’re not fucked. We are fucking alive. I hope I never die. Stick your heart on your sleeve. If it breaks, stitch it on to me. Bash it back into shape. You might be cracked, but I won’t let you break. We’re not lost. We are dying in style. We’re not fucked. We are fucking alive. I hope you never die. A generation waits to bleed. For broken kids no one needs there is heaven in these streets. I’m with you. Are you with me? We’re not lost. We are dying in style. We’re not fucked. We are fucking alive.
4.
I’m a slave to always fucking up It’s not okay, but maybe it’s enough Kids like us are weird, and more, we’re brave We tie our tongues and turn them into rage And the night’s still young And we’re dumb enough to fall Carve your name soft across my lungs I want to breathe you until I’m numb We’re not loved, well, hardly, anyway With filthy luck in such a filthy haze But the night’s still young And we’re dumb enough to fall Turn the amps up to nine I don’t want it too loud I gave you taste and a spine Now I hope you drown Is there a lie in the lights or the shine of this town? This guitar wants to die
5.
I write a lot, it's mostly lies I fall in love to pass the time I never fit, I never tried I need the struggle to feel alive All I want are records on my stereo I'm better off, baby, when I'm all alone, that's a lie Dirty cigarettes and a dirty soul Tell me I'm enough, I am dying to know what it's like This sound is fucked, but I don't mind It's wrong enough to feel alright I think a lot, like all the time I get in trouble when things get quiet All I want are records on my stereo I'm better off, baby, when I'm all alone, that's a lie Dirty cigarettes and a dirty soul Tell me I'm enough, I am dying to know what it's like
6.
Too young to die, too late to die young. I try to fight, but get high and give up. I ain't ever felt loved. The punks are wired and these records feel tough. It's loud and wild, but, I swear, it feels soft. Yeah, it's always enough. It's always been enough. There's honesty in these neon lights. We're animals, drunk and alive. I swear, right now I'm alright. The lowest lives, the desperate ones, you are the light of the damaged and fucked. Baby, turn your heart up. There's honesty in these neon lights. We're animals, drunk and alive. I swear, right now I'm alright.
7.
The radio is loud and wild. And l’m too drunk to spin the dial. Bathe my bones in alcohol so I don’t have to think at all. I was born at the bottom, but I never belonged. I’m hardly ever right, but I’ve never been wrong. I can’t get calm. Amplifiers sting my teeth and batter me with evil things. I take some drugs to fix my brain. They numb my tongue, but miss the pain. I was born at the bottom, but I never belonged. I’m hardly ever right, but I’ve never been wrong. I got dust in my lips and a limp in my charm, but got a halo on my heart.
8.
This crummy town is filled with wild boredom, a battleground rumbling like a wardrum now. It gave us guts. It made us saints of danger. It woke us up. It made us write to save us. The gutter’s alive with young hearts tonight. The nothing kids, the restless and forgotten, we never fit. It’s been our bravest weapon. The gutter’s alive with young hearts tonight. It made us saints of danger. It made us saints.
9.
No, these streets don't feel like love. They're not hungry or wild enough. It's a dead end town for trash like us, but I got a full tank and a couple bucks. I mean, I never got nothing and I never want much, but, man, we've got to get out. No, these streets ain't got no guts. They're like sad sex with clumsy tongues. It's a battlefield for restless punks. And the cops are jocks and all that junk. We just want to read our books and turn our stereos up. Man, we've got to get out. There's a light on those filthy streets where the throwaways get weird and free. Are you in with me? Does it cut you enough? There's a time to bleed and a time just to fucking run.
10.
Make a muscle with your brain. You’re not as broken as you are brave. All the things that fuck you up, knock them out and then come back to us. Tonight could be the roughest of your life. I know you’ll wake dying to survive. Don’t be afraid to want to be alive. Splatter warpaint on your cheek. Bare your heart without apology. Hang your anger. Cut it loose. Make this stick: I won’t give up on you. Tonight could be the roughest of your life. I know you’ll wake dying to survive. Don’t be afraid to want to be alive. Knock the pills out of your teeth. The way they’re kissing you gives me the creeps. Make a fist and ditch your doubts. I know you’ll die sometime, but it’s not now. Tonight could be the roughest of your life. I know you’ll wake dying to survive. Don’t be afraid to want to be alive.

about

“Rock and roll is sort of my consolation prize for wanting to have been a writer,” says James Alex. It’s a humble admission from the frontman of Philadelphia’s Beach Slang, a fiery punk quartet whose raucous gigs often find the songwriter’s earnest lyrics bellowed back at him. Still, consider it a feat that fans are even able to hear those words from behind the trembling walls of distortion that serve as Beach Slang’s raison d’etre. “Play it loud, play it fast,” goes the mission statement that is the opening to “Future Mixtape For The Art Kids,” “Play me something that will always last.” Everything about Beach Slang is loud, from the guitars to its attitude to Alex’s weathered rasp.

Considering that, there’s something almost cheeky about the title of his new project: Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that’s set to drop on May 18.

The project’s seeds were planted just six months after Beach Slang’s formation, when Alex was asked to a solo Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. “That was just me, my guitar and a clumsy excuse for charm. But, yeah, the response was beautifully unexpected and really nudged my thinking,” he says. “Even now, at almost every show we play somebody's like, ‘I got turned onto your band from that NPR thing. You should make a record like that.’” A successful solo tour last year solidified the idea in Alex’s mind, but he says he wasn’t content to make a “campfire record,” elaborating that he “wanted it to have more weight than that.”

That’s when he turned to the project’s key influence: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. Merritt’s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. “Why do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?” goes the final lines of “100,000 Fireflies.” “We should be whispering all the time.”

“That just always stuck with me,” Alex says, “how quiet can sometimes be more powerful.” He continues, “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.”

Alex linked up with longtime co-producer Dave Downham for the project, who worked with him in bringing on cellist Dan Delaney and pianist Keith Giosa. Rounding out the crew were Stacey Downham, Matt Weber, Charlie Lowe and New Jersey quartet The Warhawks, who lent their voices to evoke what Alex describes as a “back alley choir.”

The songs that spoke first and foremost to Alex were songs that he feels never quite achieved the vision initially had for them: “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids” and “Warpaint,” both from 2016’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings.

“I was really proud of those things when I wrote them, but, once they left my home studio, something sort of slipped away. When they went loud, they never quite found the emotion I knew was tucked inside of them. For those two, specifically, I knew I wanted another crack.”

A good thing, too. “Future Mixtape For the Art Kids” is a rousing document of rebellion on A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, but the subdued strings and soft piano of Quiet Slang reveal a love story among outsiders, a midnight connection in dim streets as beautiful as they are cruel. And while the gritted teeth of “Warpaint” remain in its quiet rendition, the empathy coursing through Alex’s call to strength and spirit here conquers his anger.

“Warpaint,” and the album itself, closes with the last verse being played in reverse, a choice that helps to further distinguish Beach Slang from Quiet Slang. If the former is concerned with living as presently as possible, the latter feels like a spiral of memory, an attempt to remember the rush through the bleary eyes of a hungover morning after. It’s the walk home after a night that you know you’ll never live again, and the confusing mess of triumph and melancholy that covers it.

“I wanted the record to end not with a word, but a feeling,” he says, “even if it’s uneasy or hopeful or whatever. Just some weight of feeling.”

Though a new Beach Slang record is next up on Alex’s docket, he’s open to the possibility of more Quiet Slang. The project’s sophomore release, he notes, would contain original songs. “I guess I wanted to chase reinterpretation first. I dug the challenge of it. But, yeah, Quiet Slang deserves its own voice.”

Regardless of its future, however, he hopes the project can convey one simple thing: “Tenderness. I suppose that sounds overly simplified. But, still, it makes it no less sincere. Look, I’m trying to soften the world a little bit—there’s worse ways to be remembered.”

credits

released May 18, 2018

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Beach Slang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Guitar, bass and drums. Played loudly.

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