Dear The New Transit Direction,
Hi guys, my name is Jon. Much like yourselves, I'm a true believer. Music has been a way of life for me since childhood. I play it, I read about it, I write about it, I buy it, I talk about it, and, above all else, I love to see it live. I'd like to say up front that I'm glad that we share this. I also want to congratulate you guys on your dedication to the cause. We're gonna call rock 'n' roll a cause from now on, but we'll talk more about that in a minute. You guys packed up all your shit, left Salt Lake City (my deepest sympathies, by the way) and headed to DC to lay some tracks with J. Robbins. That was a ballsy move, no doubt about it. You guys wanted this pretty bad. You took that three-song EP and toured the country with it, opening up for pretty popular bands like the Used, Taking Back Sunday and the Blood Brothers. I bet that made you even hungrier didn't it? Those guys were playing for some packed houses, weren't they? I can't blame you.
So you stuck with it, you kept touring and look what happened: you got signed. Some Records ain't the majors, but it's a damn fine place to start. I mean Walter Schriefels owns that label, doesn't he? That guy is, like, one of my all-time heroes. And do you know why? Because he's been doing his own thing for years now. And that's what I want to talk to you guys about. There comes a time in every true believer's life that he or she has to come to see rock 'n' roll as a movement that spans the last 100 years. It started down in the Mississippi Delta cotton fields and backwater juke joint and hillbilly ho-downs as works songs and blues and country and bluegrass and from there it found its way into recording studios. It went overseas and drove the kids wild and they brought it back over here and a social revolution erupted. And that revolution keeps erupting every few years. There were hippies and punks and new-wavers and hardcore maniacs and hip-hoppers and that lineage has led right to the four of you. It's truly amazing how blessed you are. To witness this amazing journey is a daily joy for me as I'm sure it is for you. But what each and every one of us needs to keep in mind is that unless you contribute directly to the advancement of the cause then you are in the way of progress. One way to impede progress is to limit your focus. Another far worse way is by curtailing your expectations and settling for duplication. If, for instance, you aim to sound like your favorite band from the past 10 or 15 years, thus ignoring the hard work of previous decades, then you are not only selling yourselves short, you're making it far too easy for the rest of us to ignore your efforts. I'm sorry guys, but it had to be said.
Now don't get upset. You guys don't have a bad sound. I like Jawbox. And Jawbreaker, too. Your songs are angular, which is fine with me. They might be a little cold and intellectual in their arrangement and dynamics for some, but that's their loss right? One problem is that your vocals are all cuddly anger. It's popular right now, but I really don't think it's gonna hold up over time. Rock has prospered because of people who weren't afraid to be themselves and make a distinct statement. And I'm sure that's your intention, as well. You've got the energy. Your rhythms are quite propulsive. The guitars snarl in fits and starts and you've got plenty catchy choruses and cool riffs, but these individual parts don't add up to an identity outside of your chosen genre. Look backward for inspiration. If you don't you just might fall prey to the pimp machine that makes bands like the Used and Taking Back Sunday into minor celebrities. I don't want you guys mooning over stadium shows and video game soundtracks when there's more important work to be done. If you fail to put in the time we're all gonna suffer. Don't let that happen.