When I find an album that hits me in the little teenage spot that still lives in my booze damaged and cholesterol addled heart, I get pretty fucking excited. And that’s what we’ve got going on with the new record by The Ellie Badge, Horse Stories + Personal Fables. The shining blend of early 2000’s emo, blended with frantic pop punk and an overall low-fi yet painstakingly crafted tone has thoroughly kept me intrigued over multiple listens the past few weeks. It’s also made it really hard not to email private Soundcloud links to other people to hear (I didn’t). This is one negative about my job.
The Ellie Badge is the moniker of Jeremiah Matthews, one of the nicest and hardest working guys currently running around Memphis, Tennessee. The format of Horse Stories + Personal Fables, with songs weaving in and out of each other through singles, intros and outros, and fantastically curated audio sampling, reminds me of 80’s Daniel Johnston tapes in the best way. Throughout listens, I’ve felt like I was a kid again the summer I turned 16, listening to Deja Entendu and driving around with my friends trying to Hey Mister people into buying us cigarettes. I really like that feeling.
The album is book ended like a cassette, with the opening, “A Foreword By The Author,” and the center track, “An Abdication By the Author,” acting as our side transition. The beginning of this record acts to lull you in with the low hum and glisten of ballad “How To Be Cool At Parties,” and then immediately hits you with the intensity of “Grawlixes From The Book Of Job,” which raucously explores romantic drama.
This is the nature of the album, swinging wildly like a relationship from quiet and loving to harsh and passionate. On my first listen I immediately felt that “All The Pretty Horses” was my favorite track, only to immediately question it with the following song, “811.” As that one comes to an end, you’re met with “AAA,” a beautifully quiet number whose songwriting wouldn’t seem out of place on Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Over time though, I’ve found that I enjoy pretty much every track with the same consistency.
The Ellie Badge has something that I’ve been missing in music for a while. It’s that passion and determination that make the songs believable, and a nostalgia for a time sometimes I think might not have even existed. Listen to this record.
Horse Stories + Personal Fables is available on Spotify and other streaming services July 4.