I'm far from the first person to discuss Tumblr of the past as a tool for music fandom. I reference it all the time when I discuss my personal journey as a teenager trying to get into whatever music I could find. I loved tumblr. I loved the anonymity and the fan to fan interaction aspect. I dated someone I met on tumblr for years and feel mostly warm about that experience. It's an intimate memory book of the things I loved, thought about and thought were cool from about 13 to 19. It's also deeply embarrassing, but that's kind of part of the charm.
Today I'm reminiscing for a couple of reasons:
- 2023 marks the 10 year anniversary of a lot of albums I loved that I found on tumblr.
2. Today it was announced that Balance & Composure is back.
I've been thinking for a little while about songs that got reblogged a lot on tumblr. Those are the songs I think about most when I think about tumblr. That's what this post is about. I recognize that everybody had a different experience on tumblr, so this is more for people who followed blogs called like "seaxhaven" and "towritecontent" and "manxunderboard" than people who reblogged heavily edited photos of Lana Del Rey with a flower crown. This is, for better or for worse, deeply formative music.
Honeybee - Seahaven (2011)
Something fun for me and only me is imitating Kyle Soto's voice. Is it mocking? Maybe. But I considered Seahaven my favorite band for at least 2 years so it's done with a level of love. I loved Winter Forever and Ghost so much and you know what! I think both those records hold up incredibly well for the time period. There are people who don't agree, but I think they still sound interesting and dynamic in a way that a lot of the RFC stuff at the time kind of doesn't for me.
That said, this song sucks and this song always sucked, but people posted about it CONSTANTLY. I feel like acoustic songs that don't represent the band well ended up doing very well on tumblr. It's sort of an "If It Means A Lot to You" situation, I guess. Every loud band has their one acoustic song.
I Don't Mind - Defeater (2011)
I never liked Defeater, but this song was inescapable for me on tumblr and I definitely had it on a bunch of playlists in high school. Once again, it's their acoustic song. The lyrics are so sickly sweet I bet someone had a first dance with their first husband to this song.
This song kind of reminds me of "Dear Bobbie" by Yellowcard. [derogatory]
Honorable mention to the other quiet Defeater song that was inescapable:
I liked "Headstone" better.
I Feel Exhausted + I Feel Fine by Everyone Everywhere
We'll jump to some I stand behind. When I first heard an Everyone Everywhere song I was floored. I thought they were the coolest band. They broke up immediately after I found out about them.
But that was fine. These aren't my favorite EE songs anymore, but I thought it was just so cool when I was in high school and still developing an understanding of emo and what sort of emo I liked. These songs make sense for tumblr just because there are easy lines to pull.
Let me like myself sometimes
Let me be narcissistic sometimes
I'm not like this all the time
I want to smash things
I want a coffee
I want to punch myself repeatedly
Tumblr fodder for days! For years! I'm so goddamn lucky I don't have any of those words tattooed on my body forever.
House Warning Party - Joyce Manor (2009)
Could put pretty much any Joyce Manor song here, but this is the one I think of first outside of "Constant Headache." That one is certainly an icon of tumblr and 2010s punk music more broadly, but "House Warning Party" feels like the one people held up as this If You Know You Know song because it wasn't on streaming services before the comp release a few years ago. Of course, everybody Knew because we posted about it three times a week, but it's more about a feeling. I think I learned about Sophie's Floorboard because of this song.
Let's take a moment to remember Nervous Energies Sessions! Lovely!
How Do I Tell A Girl I Want to Kiss Her - Modern Baseball
This is another Damn Why Isn't This On Streaming, precursor to type song that got posted all the time. I think it's actually a Bren Lukens song, but was always credited to Modern Baseball and the EP has a lot of shared DNA with later Modern Baseball stuff. I'm being true to tumblr by crediting to the band. This song has a bunch of clips from movies about love and it's pretty lo-fi and very teenage puppy love about it all. It's kind of charming, but represents Modern Baseball's less redeemable, more cringe tendencies.
Let's Talk About Your Hair - Have Mercy (2013)
I think this is still a good song. I was always inclined toward Have Mercy and my vinyl collection really, desperately reflects it. I still think the songs on The Earth Pushed Back are respectable. Or maybe I just have a lot of nostalgia! Who knows! This one still gets stuck in my head when I think about it, though.
This video represents a real era in Topshelf videos, too! All their videos looked like this. I could spot a Topshelf band from a mile away because of it.
Dogwalk - Pity Sex (2012)
One of the greatest songs of the era. Maybe THE greatest song of the era. And one of the more formative, important songs of my life. Pity Sex did everything better than everybody else and even had a floral motif that looked oh so pretty on your tumblr blog. I think the floral nature aesthetics might have been like 40% of the success Seahaven and Pity Sex and Citizen had on the website.
The Night I Drove Alone - Citizen (2013)
Citizen was never my band, but that's okay. This song was everywhere and I think that comes down to both the aesthetics of the album art and the quotability of it. It's very visceral. It's very dynamic. I get it.
You hang me up as a souvenir of what I couldn’t be.
And I should’ve crashed the car when I was all alone.
Escape from all I know.
Like come on, of course the kids loved it! Still their most popular song which is, frankly, crazy. They did this song as an encore when I saw them with Drug Church and Glitterer in 2021 and you do have to respect a band that will play the hits even as they change as a band.
Honorable Mention for Mat Kerekes' acoustic solo songs that people also loved to post.
Pinky Swear + Anchor - Into It. Over It. (2009)
Into It. Over It. is a defining band of my life and I have a lot of thoughts on which songs are the best on 52 Weeks, but neither of these are one. "Anchor" does it for me sometimes, but as a general rule I prefer a bitchy Evan Weiss song to a cutesy Evan Weiss song.
School Friends - Now, Now
I don't know if this one is as heavily engrained in the memories of people the way the other songs are, but I loved it and reblogged it constantly. I still think Threads should be given endless retrospective praise. If I was to pick anything to get a Numero style release, it would be this.
And an all time great Audiotree.
Tiny Raindrop - Balance and Composure (2013)
This one was usually more in the format of a gif of Jon Simmons from the music video. Not my favorite B&C song, but I actually like it more upon listening now than I did in the moment. I'm pretty harsh on a lot of more recent RFC stuff because I always just think "if I wanted to listen to a band that sounds like Balance and Composure, I'd just listen to Balance and Composure" which is true, but I'll admit it's not totally fair.
I prefer "Quake" or "Twenty Four" to this song, but this was the one for a while. So it goes. Welcome back.
Seasons - Major League
I'm prepared to admit I liked Major League way more than most people. Forgive me if it doesn't spark memory for you, but this is my list. This one references a Wonder Years song.
When I was in high school my best friend and I went to a show in Joliet Illinois to see Major League play with Handguns and Light Years. Real pop punk posi jump vibes. This was the worst show experience of my life. When we arrived at this venue, it was announced that another tour made up of metalcore band Vanna and their support bands Alpha & Omega, Betrayal and The Greenery were also set to play this show. What they did baffles me to this day. The order of sets went like:
Alpha & Omega
This was not what I signed up for. I know I've told this story like 8 times publicly but what the hell was that! My 3 band bill grew to a 7 band bill? My best friend's dad drove us to that show, though, so we stuck out most of it. Also, the singer of Major League at the time jumped for the entire set. Dude looked like he was gonna get shin splints.
I listened to The Upsides B-Sides!!!! Looking for the answers!!!
Clairvoyant - The Story So Far (2013)
Soft boy pop punk. I never liked TSSF that much, but it was fun back when Kelen Capener was real active on twitter. Maybe he's still out there saying funny shit, I don't know. This song is cloying.
Neck Deep - A Part of Me (2012)
Soft boy pop punk feat. girl vocal this time. This song is even more cloying.
Such Small Hands - La Dispute (2008)
As an occasionally fervent LD fan, I don't know if I like this song. It was kind of just the one. I think I saw you in my sleep DARLING. You know the words. My high school boyfriend got a La Dispute tattoo.
Thank you for looking into the past with me. Here's a little lyric edit for one of the new Balance and Composure songs featuring a photo I took in 2014 for old time's sake. I am so 25 years old it's crazy.
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to hear more about other people's newsletters: @mirandareinert. You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. As always, thanks for reading!