Best of ’08: BYOP

When you have an iPod that holds only 8GB of music and you’re an obsessive music listener…you learn to prioritize.

Only the BEST bands will remain constant on your iPod. The rest will be rotated out and back in when the situation demands.

From the moment I received Get Awkward from Amazon months ago when the weather was still sunny and snow was a mythical legend, I’ve been obsessed. It was a hesitant obsession.

Be Your Own Petis definitely my pick for best album of 2008. At the same time, they’re ’08s biggest loss. In August, the band announced their intentions for the band-breakup. No longer will Jemima Pearl (vox), Nathan Vasquez (bass/backing vox), Jonas Stein (guitar/backing vox) and John Eatherly make beautiful music together. Never will I get a chance to see this brilliant band in action.

2008 has been a good year in music. A lot of renowned musicians have released new albums. Joni Mitchell came back. Sheryl Crow came back with her album Detours. Ani DiFranco came back with Red Letter Year. And then we have the new acts. Civet crashed onto the scene with loud guitars matched only by the band’s defiant voices, making them an easy favorite. Santogold came onto the scene, her poppy tunes more easily accessible than the music of her counterpart, M.I.A. Meanwhile, both Sia and Missy Higgins proved that Australians are quite talented and worth watching out for.

Despite the massive amount of music I’ve found this year, I have kept consistently coming back to Be Your Own Pet. The band isn’t new by any means. Get Awkward was their sophomore album on what I was hoping would be a long road.

Be Your Own Pet, with Jemima Pearl at the forefront, harkens way back to the 90s with bands like L7. These bands exuded confrontation and were only too happy to be loud. Be Your Own Pet shares these characteristics, but do fit in easily with the current pop/punk standards.

The themes on Get Awkward are….well…awkward. Themes about life, love, superstardom, and….food fights?

Pearl turned 20 when they were making the album, and that fact isn’t hard to believe when listening to the CD. It’s a mixture of excitement you can only have in your early 20s–or earlier. It’s mischief. It’s awkward. It’s raw. And best of all, there’s a song about a food fight and there’s a song about a zombie graveyard party.

Yet, the album isn’t mired in buoyant fun. There is the slight hint of the existential search for the self.  In “Creepy Crawl” Jemima sings, “I’m not the girl that I was before/ Feel like I’m lying each time I walk through the door/Sleeping in my own bed feels like a sin/It’s hard to sink back into my life again.”

Get Awkward was also one of the most controversial albums of ’08. So controversial that certain songs were left out of the full CD due to violent lyrics and released separately on the “Get Damaged” EP. The main song–“Becky” was deemed too violent for mainstream release–and the dose of swearing didn’t help either. The song is like a camp-filled horror/revenge movie where the story is: Two girls are BFFs. Then, to the other girl’s dismay, her BFF decides to ditch her and become best friends with a girl named Becky. The forlorn narrator decides that she’s been had and plots her revenge, which includes waiting with knives after class. Then the ex-BFF is murdered and the narrator ends up locked away.

Like the campy b-rated horror movie, this track isn’t all that controversial. It’s obviously over the top and it’s not going to persuade girls across the nation that the proper answer–when their best friend turns traitor–would be to kill them.

Taken as a whole, Get Awkward is like a roller coaster ride through the thoughts of a girl resisting adulthood. The garage punk rock instrumentation is the perfect match for the lyrics and Jemima’s voice.

It’s the kind of music that you listen to when you’re on a sugar high. It’s the kind of music you listen to when you need a sugar high and don’t have any candy around. It’s the kind of music you listen to when you need to get your frustrations out. It’s the kind of music you listen to because it’s just that good.

And that’s why Be Your Own Pet has my pick for best album of the year.



“The Kelly Affair”:


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