Big Waves

We're only four months into 2011, but I'm quite sure Rival Schools' Pedals will be talked about as one of my favorites of the year.

When I started rating albums as top favorites of the year, I knew I had to have a deep personal bond with it. Not in the sense that it's what I think best represents rock or what my friends will agree with. No, it's got to be the soundtrack of my year. If I were to sum up my year in an album, it had to be this one or that one.

Rival Schools' 2001 debut, United By Fate, came out at a critical time in my life. I was preparing for my final semester in college and thinking about my post-college life. In order for me to have a smooth transition between those two, I was convinced I had to do another internship in radio. The marbles were in place, but something almost derailed the train.

I came back to school all ready to turn in paperwork for this internship. Then I got an earful from the head of the RTVF office about what and what should have been done that I didn't do in terms of registering for this internship. Not giving in so easily, I had to take a few meetings and drive back to and from the radio station and school to see what could be done. Rules were not necessarily broken or bent, but I did get to do my internship.

What was in my car's CD player when I wasn't blasting the then-new Ash CD? Why, Rival Schools' United By Fate.

Maybe it was the lyrics, how the lyrics were sung, or the diversity in the material, but Walter and company's opening bow made an indelible impression on me. I had the drive to keep going and not give in because one person was having a conniption fit. We're talking my future, right? Better fight for it, right?

Now ten years later, there's a new Rival Schools record out called Pedals. And it's serving as my soundtrack to anticipating good things coming my way . . . because everything has a point. All the elements that I like about the band are back, plus it seems like the lyrics reflect where my life is these days. I keep listening to it, knowing full well that it's not United By Fate Part II. It's an album that stands on its own. And it's something I have a hard time putting away.

I don't mean to sound like I'm in denial or have my head in sand, but no matter how troubling certain matters are right now, there's a mountaintop to reach. And I can see myself on it, but I don't know when. That's part of the enjoyment and frustration of life. I'm glad I have some good music to listen to as I'm finding it.