The title of Orlando emo band You Blew It!’s new record is a German word with a number of attempted English translations. According to singer-guitarist Tanner Jones, “abendrot” can mean sunset, afterglow, or “the reddish pinks and purples after a sunset.” Jones also sees the word as a synonym for transition — a perfect one-word summary of the band’s foray into 2016.
While previous You Blew It! efforts relied heavily on pounding power chords and hooks made for bopping around basements with your buds, Abendrot is casting its reel a bit further. The band’s last full-length — Keep Doing What You’re Doing, which we named one of 2014’s greatest albums — is built from songs about parties and breaking up a sour friendship and sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek lyrics like “You can’t tell me that you kiss your mother with that thing.” Two years later, Abendrot ditches the power chords and settles into more complex, layered guitar parts as 26-year-old Jones reflects upon his transition into full-on adulthood.
“At some point you start to become less pleased with songs you wrote for basements and living rooms,” Jones says. “It feels more natural and a little more fun to bring things down a bit and to try and make more of an art out of it rather than just playing so you can be heard above the blown PA in your friend’s basement.”
A close listen unfolds the band’s departure from mosh pit soundtracks in their most recent EP Pioneer Of Nothing. The EP’s three songs, which the band released enthusiastically on longtime emo supporter label Jade Tree, serve as a teaser for Abendrot’s softer, perhaps more mature rendering of a “revived” emo genre. Politically, the band isn’t sold on continued association with pop-punk, either.
“There’s definitely a negative connotation attached to pop-punk,” Jones says. “There’s misogyny, assault, and harassment attached to that. That’s something we’d very much like to get away from.”
Though the make-up of You Blew It! has looked a bit like musical chairs over their seven-year streak, Abendrot shares the same lineup of players as Keep Doing What You’re Doing, and both were produced by Evan Weiss of Chicago emo heroes Into It. Over It., who Jones calls a “super, super close friend” of the band. Yet despite the unusual consistency in personnel, the new album represents this band’s biggest stylistic leap.
Abendrot’s first single “Autotheology,” which we are premiering today, embodies a lot of the shifts one can expect from new You Blew It! The song crawls along a dark, twangy pluck pattern and stiff drum hits. We hear Jones’ voice under a previously untouched vocal distortion. “We just want it to be known right out of the gate that we’re changing gears a little bit and going in a different direction,” he says. “I feel like of all the songs on the record, that one is more obvious. It’s our big thing.”
This isn’t a party banger; it’s Jones’ interpretation of the biblical story of Job, punctuated by the memorably droning lyric, “When God dies I’ll skip the funeral.” Although “Autotheology” follows Job’s relationship with God through life’s successes and hardships, it’s not intended as a reflection of Jones’ relationship with religion. He identifies as a “lazy agnostic” but has found inspiration from emo heroes like David Bazan of Pedro The Lion in his bible exploration and interpretation.
Not all of Abendrot draws from outside inspiration or texts. Longtime fans be comforted: Jones delivers a hearty dosage of something he does best — hard-hitting one-liners. And this time, he’s not analyzing or critiquing others; he’s taking a good hard look in the mirror, face to face with his own insecurities and uneasiness. “I don’t feel like myself/ Or anyone else,” he admits on “Like Myself.” “Sundial Song” explores a similar notion: “I’m alive/ Or something like alive.” Over several albums of writing, Jones has mastered giving the listener a clear sentiment to take to heart. Both of these lines start confidently with a proclamation, then back down, softening them to the reality of the situation.
The record’s prevailing self-doubt stems from a particular timestamp in Jones’ life: the years immediately following college graduation. “It’s that slow gradual panic that sets in after you graduate,” says Jones, who holds a degree in advertising and public relations from the University Of Central Florida. “Once you’re out in the world, you’re perceived as an adult, and you realize that you don’t feel that way.”
As these feelings dominated Jones’ mind space, the band was writing the record, which sent his perfectionist work style down a spiral of anxiety and depression. “There’s got to be something wrong with me,” he sings on “Arrowhead.”
Though it wouldn’t be an emo record without crippling emotional turmoil, Jones snuck a self-declared love song onto the otherwise downtrodden Abendrot. “Greenwood” is a toast to Jones’ home city of Orlando. The name comes from the city’s historic Greenwood Cemetary where Orlando’s founding fathers are buried.
“I had never really explored the cemetery, but one day I was just riding my bike through it and contemplating death,” Jones says. “It’s hard not to get swept up in.”
With 2016 being arguably the most tragic year Orlando has seen, it’s understandable why a band with roots there would feel closer to the city than ever. The band’s Twitter bio reads “Florida doesn’t suck,” and they released a benefit EP following the killings at the Pulse nightclub. Though You Blew It! may be drifting from their pop-punk origin story, their unfaltering hometown pride is a constant. “I love this city so much,” Jones says, so passionately he’s almost short of breath.
02 “Like Myself”
03 “Sundial Song”
11 “Basin & Range”
You Blew It! tour dates:
09/20 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater^
09/21 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom^
09/22 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s^
09/23 St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room^
09/24 Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall^
09/25 Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club^
09/27 Cleveland, OH @ The Agora Ballroom^
09/28 Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero^
09/29 New York City, NY @ Irving Plaza^
09/30 New York City, NY @ Irving Plaza^
10/01 Pawtucket, RI @ The Met^
10/02 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club^
10/04 Amityville, NY @ Revolution Music Hall^
10/05 Washington D.C. @ 9:30 Club !
10/06 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle !
10/07 Atlanta, GA @ The Loft !
10/11 Nashville, TN @ Exit/In !
10/12 New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues^
10/13 Houston, TX @ Numbers^
10/14 Austin, TX @ Mohawk^
10/15 Dallas, TX @ Trees^
10/18 Mesa, AZ @ Club Red^
10/19 San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park^
10/20 Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre^
10/21 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory^
10/22 Santa Cruz, CA @ Rio Theatre^
10/23 San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s^
^ = w/ Taking Back Sunday
! = w/ Taking Back Sunday, Mammoth Indigo