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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Brave Saint Saturn -- So Far From Home


About thirteen years ago, Reese Roper was left at the altar.  I am going to imagine this set off what he must now think of as his "dark period (he's married to someone else now, is a nurse, and seems to be doing great)." The only good to come out of his misery was some really great music. His main gig, Five Iron Frenzy released the best thing they ever made, and Reese formed this side band, Brave Saint Saturn.  That isn't to say that So Far From Home, or even the entire Brave Saint Saturn trilogy is based on Reese's breakup, but a major component of the anger, isolation, lonliness, and sadness found within takes form from it.
For instance, the song that kicks everything off compares Reese's feelings to those of a robot marooned in space...and it is quite sad.  When a song involving a robot can elicit tears, that song is most likely not about a robot.

While So Far From Home is the first part of a trilogy, the band hadn't quite yet formed its identity or the story it wanted to tell.  While some of the themes are in place here, the album overall is pretty helter skelter, and far less dark than the following two albums.  Those who've only heard those two might be surprised at the light-heartedness of some of these songs, particularly the unfortunate, but fairly humorous joke-rap of "Shadow of Def," or the random Michael W Smith cover. Despite this, there are some inarguably great songs on this debut, enough to make this a decent listen even with its misteps, and the closer, "Gloria," really hints at some of the expression to come.

2000 Five Minute Walk
1. Prologue 1:31
2. Space Robot Five 4:45
3. Indpendence Day 4:34
4. Shadow of Def 4:25
5. Resistor 4:19
6. Fireworks 3:41
7. Under Bridges 4:16
8. Data Stream One 0:38
9. Rocketown 4:45
10. Moon Burns Bright 3:08
11. Two-Twenty-Nine 5:40
12. Gloria 3:34


Jessica said...

You don't know the half of it, Nicholas. Roper proposed to (and was either denied or later somehow broke up with) at least five women (not including his current wife). I used to be on the FIF message boards back in the day, and someone once asked him how many engagement rings he'd purchased for how many different women. The count at that time was four or five, but that wasn't including the woman from the second BS2 album, "Anastasia" (I think she went by Stacy, but I can't remember for sure. If I recall, she's listed in the liner notes.)

The ironic part is that on that album, he wrote

"Her name means "the resurrection";
it's not too far from true.
I'm afraid that if I write this song
she might break my heart in two."

And then? She broke his heart in two. His wife, Amy, does sing on the third BS2 album, though.

Some of these songs are about different people, but the gist is that one of two things have happened in many of his relationships:

1. Roper meets girl. Girl breaks heart. Roper writes song.

2. Roper meets girl. Roper writes song. Girl breaks heart.

That said, BS2 is one of my all-time favorite bands (as is FIF), but their second album stole my own heart (the uncensored versions). "Enamel" is absolutely heart-wrenching in how bitter it seems, but I absolutely know that feeling and embraced it as part of the past. But I wholly relished feeling that gut twist of remembrance, which is the mark of something good in the writing and signing.

(Sorry if I got ahead of your albums. ;~) )

However, Neal and I did use FIF's "Ugly Day" in our wedding, even if it does mention "Christie" in it. :D

Neal said...

I actually enjoy Brave Saint more than Five Iron, even though both bands are quite good. Brave Saint is more introspective and less brash, scratching some deep-seated need in my soul far more. It probably says something that my favorite Five Iron albums are their later ones, where I would say they were affected by Roper & Co's work on Brave Saint, or at the least seemed to go deeper.

I would agree that this album is weaker/rougher than the following two. They both work much better, though this one has many great songs as well.

Nicholas said...

Jess, I should have consulted with you for fact/theory checking before I wrote these reviews! I'm glad Reese finally found love/stability. Also, I might have some feelings about that second album.
Neal, Shhh! I like them better than Five Iron, too. I love Electric Boogaloo, but as an overall body of work...well, I'll get to that in these reviews eventually...

Jessica said...

I'll admit that I was a bit of a FIF and BS2 nut (who am I kidding? I still am, and what a lucky girl I am! They are getting back together! In addition to FIF, there's been talk of a second BS2 trilogy. We'll see where that goes, since Keith isn't in FIF anymore and probably won't be in BS2 -- he died on the mission anyway. ;~) ), so maybe I know more than I should about Roper.

Brave Saint is an all-around better band. When I first heard them (this album), I wasn't sure. I really thought there were too many "doo doo"s on this album. (I called it "Roper's doo doo doot doot band.") When I heard the second album, I knew without a doubt that they were my band. (Also lucky girl that I am, I got to hear them live once at C-Stone, so I will bask in that until my dying day. It was, hands-down, the best concert I've ever been to. Even including the 11 previous FIFs and numerous other bands.)

Nicholas said...

Someone put some of that on Youtube...I wish I had been there!!! I know they claim those shows were terrible, but if anything, BS2 and FIF's main flaw is over-humility, if that's possible. The videos I watched match up to what you are saying! Awesome shows.