Check This: The Front Bottoms & Manchester Orchestra – Allentown


This single, released in 2018 is an excuse to talk about two bands that we should’ve been listening to of a long time before this.It’s hard to stay abreast of everything that is happening in the music world- so much slips by.

The Front Bottoms are another one of those bands that I missed. The have an Indie folk- punk sound that’s evolved over the years into a more toned down indie rock flow.  But when they rant in their verses at times barely holding onto a rhythm (“Vacation Town” on Going Grey) it’s great. It’s the immature, off-kilter style combined with a bevy of folk instruments played very well that capture some kind of everyman magic. There’s frustration in a lot of songs but there’s joy in the difficulties.

Then there’s the Manchester Orchestra, who’ve risen to be a favorite for their songwriting, warm harmonies, and swelling, music hall filling sound. From their incredibly titled 2006 EP You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, But Brilliance Needs a Good Editor their talent was obvious. Since, they’ve continued to grow writing incredible records with insanely beautiful singles.

While listening to Weezer’s Teal Album, I was lamenting those former indie darlings and their shitty career arc. But, as the album ended, “Allentown” came on and caught my attention- filling that sad space. Perfectly paced might not be the sexiest thing to say about a song, but there you have it. And, before you worry I’m talking about a cover of Billy Joel, don’t— this is an original song. However, as that song is a metaphor for the difficulties of life this song relates.

Where Joel’s is more about financial strife, this version is about dealing with the past and coming to terms with what you’ve done. There is an effort “to be free of all…demons.” The collaboration musically is more Manchester than Front but the harmonies between the lead singers and the warmth of the back up singers make this a good song. I suggest you use it as a launch pad into what The Front Bottoms and Manchester Orchestra have done before.

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