If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.
Two things that no one I know can shake are the fear of death and the fear of the unknown. Some try to drown these demons in alcohol or religion, maybe even both, but we all end up spending countless nights looking at our ceilings trying to answer the one question that plagues us all: Why? Why are we here? Why are we born if our only option from there is to die? Why do we love? Why do we believe we have any say in how others live or love? Why do they believe they have a say in what happens to us? We all struggle with these questions and we rarely, if ever, discuss our personal journeys as they relate to these topics with one another. The reason for this is not due to a lack of concern, but rather an abundance of fear. We may claim to seek ‘the’ answers,’ but all we really want are ‘our answers,’ and we worry someone else may come across a truth that forces us to spiral even further away from the inner peace we seek.
Enter Holy Ghost. The third full-length recording from Philadelphia alternative rock favorites Modern Baseball, Holy Ghost is a condensed indie punk infused ode to the philosophical questions that plague all humans and the way those struggles reveal themselves in our everyday lives. From battles with depression and the feeling you will never be able to free yourself from the anger you feel inside, to stories of love stretched between state lines and the terror you feel when you realize you have to say goodbye, there is a song for everyone’s current place in life strewn somewhere amongst this twenty-eight minute record.
Now, before you going believing this record is the ultimate downer because it ruminates on tough topics, just know this is a record still born from the same creative minds that gave us Sports and You’re Gonna Miss It All. Modern Baseball know that before they can tackle tough subjects they first have to pull you in with catchy melodies and original ideas, both of which are abundant throughout Holy Ghost. This is not a pivot in the band’s approach to songwriting as much as it is a great leap in the evolutionary sequence. Rather than releasing an album that felt like the next logical progression the band has jumped ahead three spaces, and in doing so put themselves in a position to explore several new ideas without having to completely abandon the sonic foundation they established on previous releases. It’s quite a feat, and it’s executed well.
When listening to Holy Ghost it’s incredibly hard not to compare the band’s progress as musicians to your own development as a person. Many people fell in love with Modern Baseball because of their unabashed approach to sharing deeply personal moments and thoughts through music, many of which aligned with feeling or experiences that everyone encounters as they begin to reach adulthood. Their journey mirror our journey as listeners, and it continued again with You’re Gonna Miss It All. Songs like “Graduation Day” addressed the sweet taste of nostalgia and how it offers an escape from the present whether or not you actually need it. The album also addressed the challenges of adulthood, and how chasing your dreams often requires a personal sacrifice in the form of relationships or your general interconnectivity to the world you’ve known for the majority of your life. Holy Ghost takes things even further, as we all must do eventually, by putting down a metaphorical foot and proclaiming that our fate is in our hands.
Maybe there is a God, or maybe there is not. I don’t know and neither do you, nor do the members of Modern Baseball. In a way, it doesn’t matter where you stand because at the end of the day you have to save yourself from whatever it is that keeps you up at night. You can pray to the heavens or beg to the world around you until your throat is too sore to speak, but the decision of whether or not to continue living is yours and yours alone. The only thing that is certain is what you are experiencing right now, and sometimes that truth may be too much to bare – but Holy Ghost hopes to convey that we are all stronger than the sum of our opposition. We can be and do whatever we want, as long as we put our minds to it. That doesn’t mean the road ahead will be easy. In fact, it almost certainly will get harder from here, but as long as you have hope and faith in yourself there is a way through it.
James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Manager for Haulix and host of the Inside Music Podcast. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine. When not working, James can be found in Minneapolis with his two fat cats, Paws Von Trier and Chub E. Chubs, watching old police procedurals and eating copious amounts of popcorn. You should follow him on Twitter.