You might be asking, “is Cullen serious?” A more respectable blogger would never stoop so low as to review music that they helped write, perform, and record. It’s not a classy look. I, however, am not so respectable, and I’m not above it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In all seriousness, I wrote this end-of-the-year series to highlight the music released this year that was most important to me, and this EP could arguably be my most meaningful release of the year for me on a personal level. I’m proud of these four songs and the effort the V’s put into to making something we could always come back to even if we were no longer able to meet at Jay’s house to make music together. Not everyone gets to experience the privilege of writing and playing music with four of your very best friends, but I am fortunate enough to say that I have. I wouldn’t trade the 3 years of making music with the Flying V’s for anything, and I’m not about to leave them off of my list of my favorite music of the year.
But We Were Just Getting Started… was sort of the grand finale for the Flying V’s time as a band. After playing music together throughout college, the time had come for all of us to move on to our next chapters. As the day when we would inevitably part ways for a while approached, we made frequent half-jokes about how we should all just drop everything and go try to be rock stars. Ultimately, we never worked up the courage to do that, but we still desired something tangible through which we could relive the good old days. We considered a few options to pay for recording and tried to take video of some of our final performances, but nothing felt like a proper representation of the last three years together.
Through Brad, Ladd, and Roc’s relationships with Dr. John Bass, the director of the Mike Curb Institute at Rhodes College, we had access to quality recording equipment and a creative space in the Harris Lodge on Rhodes’ campus. We decided we would use these things to create an EP by us, for us, on our own time. We pulled multiple all nighters in the lodge, recording and re-recording takes, adding embellishments, mixing, and goofing off. At this point, we had played together enough to know each others’ musical idiosyncrasies like the backs of our hands, but recording and producing our own songs was an entirely different animal. We had more freedom to explore sonically than we ever had, but we also did not have the luxury of hiding our mistakes in the energy of the moment playing live. It forced us dig deeper into our music than we thought was possible, and we learned loads about each other and the process of music making through it. Sometimes all five of us plus friends in the studio, sometimes only two of us, sometimes a number in between that, this EP was created through dialogue between the folks in that studio space, and the result showcases many individual contributions to create a cohesive whole.
The basic narrative structure of BWWJGS looks at a romantic relationship from its beginnings to when the two parties ultimately part ways. The four songs cover the relationship’s formation, its golden days in the sun, the conflict that begins to compromise its foundation, and the two parties’ wishes of good will for the other at the end of it all despite that conflict. It’s a simple story, but one we felt plenty of listeners could relate to. And while these songs may have been about love and our struggles with it when they were written, they came to mean something else to us through process of making this EP.
Our impending split weighed heavy on our minds as we recorded, and the message of the songs began to represent our time together as a band and in our broader community. We knew that our time was almost up, and instead of wallowing in disappointment about that fact, we chose to create something that encapsulated the natural sadness that comes with saying goodbye to a loved one. Additionally, had the sense that everyone involved would emerge from these relationships prepared to move forward with the things they learned from them. In “Finale (I’m Fine)”, we take a brief rest from the increasing momentum of the song to include an audio recording of us as we worked on “Sunshine Girl”. There’s nothing too significant about what we say in it, but I think it’s a perfect snapshot of the fun we had making music together. In the context of a song in which the narrator tells a former lover “You’re fine, so I’m fine,” the clip represents a nostalgic look back on being a Flying V. Our time together may be over for now, but that time has made me not only a better musician, but a better person. Can’t say thanks enough for that, V’s.
Favorite Track: “I. I Awoke”
“She can tell that he been studyin’ up
He second guessin’, he feel like he ain’t study enough
Now the pressure’s comin’ on strong, and she notice that his confidence is long gone” (“II. Sunshine Girl”)
Time(s) of the year it could be commonly found in my headphones: August- December (I’m not gonna lie lol)