State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

(Re)Discovering the Waterfront: A Retrospective

Silverstein DTWF

Silverstein DTWF

These memories will never leave me…

It’s been ten long years since the original release Discovering the Waterfront from Canadian post-hardcore quintet Silverstein, and the fans, as well as the band themselves are all celebrating the anniversary of a masterpiece. As Silverstein wraps up their anniversary tour, bringing the brilliance of DtW, in its entirety, to longtime fans in cities all over North America, a tour that this writer regrettably had to miss (“blame it on the weather”), we here at SITR are also celebrating the band and their flagship record.

Ten years ago, I, like many of you reading this, was in middle school. Encountering every painful adolescent endeavor with the same amount of angst and rebellion that most recent teenagers experience at that age. Luckily for me, and for everyone of my not quite Gen-Y/not quite millennial generation, we were growing up at the apex of music that reflected our feelings and emotions. In 2005 Van’s Warped Tour was more intriguing that Bonnaroo, My Chemical Romance and the All American Rejects were all over the radio, kids were still skateboarding and creating innocent mischief in small towns all over America. Times were tough for anybody growing up at that time, but that was the culture, we were tough. We were fighters. Our attitudes, our clothes, and most importantly, our music reflected that. That’s why Discovering the Waterfront is one of the most important albums of our generation.

silverstein

I wasn’t asking for the world…

Musically, DtW is a stunning, stand-out example of how raw emotion and superb musical expertise can so brilliantly come together to make an album that both aptly represents the culture and created an atmosphere of energy and introspection that to this day still holds strong meaning. Masterful guitar work from former Silverstein member and co-songwriter on the album Neil Boshart give the aggressive and memorable musical edge to the record, combining aspects of metal, punk, and other worthy genres. I remember (and my guitar teacher can confirm this, as I made him a Silverstein fan after a few lessons with Discovering the Waterfront) bringing this CD to my teacher week after week trying to get him to teach me the guitar riffs from jams such as “Your Sword Vs. My Dagger” or “Already Dead.” Such memorable and diverse guitar work is one of the core facets of the record, making it stand above other entries from this genre at the time. And the combination of Boshart’s creative guitar riffs and lead singer Shane Told’s songwriting and vocal skills make DtW absolutely unforgettable.

I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started…

Lyrically the record is a masterfully written, reflective and introspective journey that matures through each track as one listens. The aggressive and almost spiteful opening tracks such as “Your Sword” and “Smile in Your Sleep” lyrically reflect the emotions of a scorned person immediately following a harsh breakup of a flawed relationship. Then the album breaks into a more regretful and reflective tone, as portrayed through songs like “The Ides of March,” “Discovering the Waterfront,” and “My Heroine.” This section of the album so accurately illustrates the feelings of emptiness and hopelessness that the end of love creates. The anguish and hurt bleeds through these tracks and into our ears and brains digging up our own melancholic feelings of heartbreak. That is one of the greatest signs of good music. If the songs can make you feel real emotion at its deepest level, the artists have truly created something lasting and meaningful.

 

I wanted to dedicate an entire paragraph to the end of the record, particularly the deep cut “Call It Karma,” which I think is the album’s best song. The final tracks on the album represent the “moving on” stage of the break up. The song “Already Dead” evokes the almost ready to evolve but still bitter feelings of your ex, as you imagine them, hurting as much as you might be. And the final song, the aforementioned “Call it Karma” closes out the record. This, to me, is the most meaningful cut on the album, both musically and emotionally. Our hero has finally realized what must be done for him to move on. The character is no longer angry or depressed, but optimistic, and strengthened and for the first time on the record, hopeful. An absolutely perfectly crafted and beautiful closing to an extremely emotional album.

I’ll look back with honor and no regrets…

After ten years, we are all wiser to the world, hopefully stronger, and certainly more experienced.  And after living through one of the hardest decades that every young person must inevitably endure, Discovering the Waterfront is every bit as relevant and important as the day it was released. And maybe that is why I’m so attached to “Call it Karma.” I’ve experienced hard times, and while I may be more cynical for it, I am also stronger. But my cynicism is suspended, even now while listening to the outro of DtW remembering a time when I was more hopeful, and creating that feeling again as the final chords of the song come to a close. It reminds us that life can destroy you, and only introspective growth, inner strength, and deep soul searching can bring you back to life.  This album is an absolute staple of my life and of my generation. Cheers to the guys at Silverstein for creating such an incredible and lasting record and helping shape so many of our lives.

Stay tuned for our interview with the band on the road for the Discovering the Waterfront tenth anniversary tour, and if you missed them this time around, hopefully you (and I as well) can catch them on the 20th.