Yesterday was a big release day for music lovers. Not only did it mark the highly anticipated return of one Miss Jenny Lewis—did you see her star-studded new video for “Just One Of The Guys”?—but it also introduced fans to the debut album from Bleachers, the alter ego of singer/guitarist Jack Antonoff. Called Strange Desire, the LP features the alt-pop anthem “I Wanna Get Better,” which is a call to arms for anyone who has a permanent case of the Mondays and can’t seem to shake the black cloud overhead.
In recent years, Antonoff has become best known as one-third of the band fun. and one-half of the world’s most creative power couple (his girlfriend is actress/writer/director/goddess Lena Dunham). However, for anyone who was obsessed with the rock scene coming out of New Jersey in the early ’00s—coughmecough—then you’re probably well familiar with the singer/songwriter from his time as the lead singer of Steel Train.
It’s so great to see Antonoff back in front of the mic and fans should check out Bleachers when they roll through a town near you this summer/fall. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Strange Desire out now.
If you’re still not convinced you should give Bleachers a shot, then allow me to present the following five-point case.
1. You Miss Jack Antonoff’s Voice: As I mentioned earlier, Antonoff used to front Steel Train, a beloved rock band from the Dirty Jerz. They were signed to Drive-Thru Records, which was primarily known for its roster of pop-punk acts—like New Found Glory, Something Corporate, Midtown—but to a lot of fans who didn’t flatten their hair and shop at Journeys, Steel Train was an alt-rock diamond in the emo rough. Though the band slowly disappeared after the release of their 2010 self-titled album, the group did reunite in 2013 for a one-off concert at Bowery Ballroom in NYC. Fingers crossed there’s still hope for more shows in the future.
2. You Look Back At High School With Affection and Affliction: The name itself brings back memories of youth, revolt, insecurity, love, loss and overall confusion. For some, bleachers connote athletics. For others, bleachers signify tiny rebellions. Either way, it makes you remember the best—and worst—stuff about high school. “I think there’s something very suburban about the music. There’s something special about growing up in these places that are right outside the biggest cities in the world,” Antonoff said in an interview with ELLE.com. “I always felt like I was always outside looking in on the party. I felt sort of disconnected and left out. I think that’s a great way to go about life.”
3. You Love Grimes: In one of the album’s artsier tracks, “Take Me Away,” Antonoff gets a lil’ help from Grimes, a synth-pop performance artist who also happens to dabble in vagina ring design. Anyhoo, Grimes’ music is hard to describe, besides saying it’s “experimental.” (Wikipedia says she plays “witch house music,” but I have zero idea what that means.) Regardless, her voice is delicate and fragile, which is a great contrast to Antonoff’s more confident croon. In other words, if you like music that’s multi-dimensional and multi-media, then this is a track in Bleachers’ favor.
4. You Hate fun.: Don’t write Bleachers off just because you’re not a fan of fun. Antonoff’s voice couldn’t be any more opposite than the somewhat nasal vocals we’ve come to expect from fun. singer Nate Ruess. Plus, Bleachers is hardly the type of group that’s going to be playing inside CVS anytime soon—and that’s partly the point. Whereas fun. is radio-friendly alt-rock for the American Eagle masses, Bleachers is much more experimental and artistic. Let’s put it this way, would Yoko Ono ever appear on a fun. track? Hell to the no … but she does lend vocals to the Bleachers song “I’m Ready To Move On/Wild Heart Reprise.” So there.
5. You Can’t Afford A Therapist: The first single off Strange Desire is “I Wanna Get Better,” which is a somewhat self-explanatory ode of personal improvement. In the accompanying video, Antonoff plays a therapist who counsels several familiar faces—like Retta, Mary Kay Place and Arrow de Wilde—even though his own life is in shambles. In keeping with this whole self-help theme, Antonoff tweeted his own number to fans, asking them to call for a personal therapy session with the singer. Plus, in celebration of the album’s release, Antonoff hosted a 30-minute telethon that aired on 20 cable access channels across the country. The special, titled “Thank You Very Much,” featured new songs, special guests and a weird appearance from Antonoff’s booking agent, Mike Marquis. (Paradigm Talent Agency in the hizouse!)