MY 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS: Dante Robinson (Vague Advice)

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Pennsylvania rock band Vague Advice is releasing their concept EP, Time Travelers’ Continent in a few days.
This is one of those indie releases you don’t want to miss. Somehow this band is completely DIY and sounds like competition for any major act.
I spoke with Dante about what some of his influences are.

Brand New – Deja Entendu

“I started listening to Brand New at a pretty formative time in my life. Incidentally, it was at a time during which I was beginning to experience the darker side of myself (and learning what angst was). This record fit right into those emotions. In retrospect, it probably didn’t affect me in the best way. I often joke that a lot of the songs on this album taught me how to be an asshole. Of course, as an adult, I look back on some of those kinds of behaviors more or less regrettably, but these songs just kind of gave me something to do with those negative emotions. I could learn about myself through them, albeit in a misguided way. I could experience someone else’s darkness, and it allowed for this sort of weird catharsis for my own. I think a lot of the albums below did the same kind of thing, Deja just did it best.”

Say Anything – …Is a Real Boy
“This album kind of served literally the same function as Deja Entendu, but for more manic kinds of emotions, as opposed to melancholic ones. I was also really fascinated by Max’s lyrics. He just kind of blends that acerbic tone with these brilliant, beautiful, really dark metaphors, while also saying just outrageous nonsense. I remember being so amazed that he could do all of that in a single song or sometimes a single line. I’m thinking, “whoa, can you actually say that in a song? How is still so good? This guys is nuts.” So I was really moved by the lyrical content in a very literary way, and the music was so good, too, on top of being able to connect with the songs in this dark, fulfilling way.”

Speed of Sound in Seawater – First Contact
“This is a weird one. If you ask me my favorite TSOSISW songs, probably none of them are on this album. Yet, somehow, Chris (our drummer) and I, and some friends from college listened to this album when it released more times consecutively and over a longer period of time than any album I’ve ever listened to. Comparing it to some albums below, I’d probably say I like a lot of those songs more than the ones on First Contact, but I think the play count is worth something since it’s the most observable measure of liking an album. It’s probably their least technical record, but the songs were much better quality than their other release. The songs are just kind of fun, happy sounding, and pretty but have these really dark lyrics. Probably the only one of my favorite albums I listen to as a sort of escapism, as opposed to some of these other ones I might be more likely to put on when I want to feel something.”

From Indian Lakes – Able Bodies
“I think this is the first one that really earns its place on the list based on nothing else besides the music itself. I have meaningful memories associated with it too, but the songs themselves are just so damn good, and Joey Vannucchi is just an incredibly talented songwriter. Not just his musicianship and his voice, but his ability to make a song, holistically, is just unreal. Realistically, it’s probably an objectively better album than Deja.”

Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing
“I’m just enamored by Andy Hull’s voice. Or just Andy Hull. His lyrics, his ability to write these really simple chord progressions, but do something with them that nobody’s done. I think his voice is the most powerful thing to me. It’s so weird and kinda southern, but not really? I think his voice has probably influenced mine more than most vocalists I like. You hear it more in a lot of my solo acoustics, but not as much in the upcoming EP. For awhile, my favorite album by them was I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child but I got back into Mean Everything to Nothing a few years ago and that’s been my favorite ever since. It has this really cool blend of emotion throughout it. It’s like angsty, but also really composed? He manages to convey angst from this retrospective position, but then also diving all the way into these just brutal, intense parts. Some really cool ebb and flow. The tones are also magnificent. My ideal overdrive.”

Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre
“I got into this album around the same time I got into …Is a Real Boy in high school, and used to listen to them together. So, in a way, most of the reasons I love this album are the ones I explained about IARB. Sonically, though, these songs are quite different. I think a lot of Say Anything taught me that a song doesn’t have to be verse, chorus, verse, etc. Whereas IARB is more conceptual, this record was more aware of itself and where Max started experimenting with form. I was just won by the sort of literary approach he took with the songs, without necessary attaching a narrative arc to the album itself. It’s about genre and he actually uses the songs to deconstruct genre, and I think that’s brilliant.”

Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
“Even more so than the Say Anything records, when I first got into them, Devil and God and Deja just sort of blended together for me. It was years before I knew the difference the two; so again, it’s just a lot of the same reasons I loved Deja. In retrospect, I just love how dark this album. Brand New has managed to do this really cool thing with their discography: each album is radically different, yet at the same time, each album is sort of growing in the same direction as the last one. So the ways in which Deja was a dramatic departure from YFW, Devil and God grew up in the direction you’d expect it to based on that initial evolution. And then Daisy does the same thing. And I think that direction that each album grows in is defined by this overwhelming darkness, which I really appreciate.”

La Dispute – Wildlife
“Dude, I don’t even know where to begin. I also got into this album at a really dark time in my life. La Dispute is another band I really appreciate for the literary value of their music, and that’s the most powerful thing I get from this album. It’s filled with these kind of frame narratives from three perspectives and it’s, in my opinion, the most well constructed concept album I’ve ever heard. It’s really cool that writing itself and storytelling are core themes of the album. Jordan Dreyer is just really great at blending abstract concepts and these concrete, straightforward, really gut wrenching stories. I also just really love his voice. This is the album, I feel, where he really found his footing, balancing his screams and sort of spoken word style.”

Anthony Green – Avalon
“Another one of those albums that really just defined my adolescence. When I first got into Saosin and Circa Survive, Anthony Green was like my hero. He has that way of sort of building a cult following, and I was right there in line. He is still one of my heroes, honestly. So when he released his first solo album, I’m just this 14 year old sadboy stoked out of my mind. And every song was just so beautiful in its own way. At the time, I was also really partial to acoustic music. I didn’t listen to very much primarily acoustic music, but the acoustic track by all my favorite bands were usually my favorite songs by then. So I guess, at the time, he just kind of gave me an album full of favorite songs. At a time when you’re learning a lot about yourself, those kinds of songs can be really helpful. He also really motivated me to buckle down on teaching myself to sing. He was kind of my coach and gave me the best advice I could’ve asked for, which was ‘just sing constantly.’”

La Dispute – Rooms of the House
“This last one was between a few records. I had to double down on La Dispute. I had a relatively similar experience with this album and Wildlife as I did with the Manchester records. When I first heard this album, I immediately decided it was my favorite record by them. After getting back into Wildlife recently I wasn’t so sure and, honestly, never really decided until doing this. But I think Jordan’s voice in this record just continued to evolve. Here they started introducing some really gentle songs with mellow guitars and no screaming that you only really got from their EPs in between albums. It was cool to see that transformation, while maintaining these really good, technical guitar riffs. They’re just damn good songs and, again, have that really powerful storytelling element. Rooms of the House explores time and space (and also objects) in a way that really influenced the concept for Time Travelers’ Continent, so I really appreciate that too.”


Listen to Vague Advice below:

Stay tuned for an interview with the band and their EP premiere on Friday!

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