This Week In Badass: Blue October Gets Personal

This Week in Badass is going to take a look at all the killer music that has reached my ears in the current week, whether it be music that was just released or items coming out in the near future. You might even get some vintage badass to get you through your weekend as well. Music will be ranked on the badass’ness scale — which of course goes to 11, the only true way to measure if something kicks ass. So throw your horns up and get ready to headbang along. Bands are bolded the first time they are mentioned if you want to scroll through to see if there’s someone you like.

Before we get to the review part, I’ve been really into Spotify lately. If you don’t have an account, go sign up for a free one at their site. You can listen to so much music for free, it’s simply amazing. And, you can share playlists with others – so each week I’m going to put together a playlist of things I’ve been listening to in the past week and if you have an account, all you have to do is click on the link below and it will take you right to that playlist to listen to the tracks. Cool, huh?

TWIB Week of 8/8

Anyway…when I wasn’t playing around with Spotify, I was listening to the new Blue October record which has fucked me up. Actually, Justin Furstenfeld has fucked me up. This whole courtroom’s out of order! (Wait, that doesn’t work here? It felt right, but it might make more sense later).

August 16th marks the release of the 6th album from Blue October, Any Man in America (badass’ness: 9/11).  I’ve never been a huge fan of the group but I’ve always respected them a bit. They dabble in so many genres that it’s always been tough for me to listen to one of their records. None are very consistent due to this genre hopping but at the same time I give them props for continually trying to not sound like every other alt-rock band out there. I’ve always thought of them as the “AAAA” band. You know those guys in baseball that hit like .350 with 30 HRs in the minors and then come up to the majors and hit .087 (I’m looking at you Dallas McPherson) – they are known as “Quad-A” players, too good for the small time, not good enough for prime time. Blue October has had one hit, 2006’s “Hate Me,” and a bunch of other singles that got airplay here and there and I’ve just always thought they could be bigger if every single didn’t sound completely different from the last one. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t really.  But if consistency was what I was looking for then that’s not an issue with Any Man in America. This album is actually remarkably consistent. It’s a concept record which should have a parenthetical title of (Can Get Screwed By the Legal System) as the entire record is about how men (Furstenfeld in particular) face a losing battle in the courts when getting divorced and fighting for custody of their children. The lyrics are written specifically about his divorce and the fight for his daughter.

Here’s the thing and why I say he fucked me up. The album is his personal account of this time in his life. But there aren’t just little sly references here and there about it. It’s like you’re sitting in the courtroom during the trial or interrupting a one-on-one conversation he’s having with his ex-wife. It’s that personal. In the title track, he sings about Eminem and how he opened up the doors to sing about family but there’s a huge difference between Eminem and Blue October. With Eminem, when he sings about putting his wife in the trunk of his car, no matter how angry he sounds on record, you still sort of shrug it off as entertainment. On Any Man in America, this stuff feels real. You don’t get a sense that Furstenfeld is putting on a character or making a joke. Right from the start you get that this whole ordeal has really messed him up and he needed an outlet to talk about.

Upon first listen, I mentioned to a few people that it was making me slightly uncomfortable. Now on the 5th listen, I’m terribly torn up about this disc. I’ve tried for three days to write this but there were 10,000 things going through my head every time I heard the disc that I didn’t really know where to begin.

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about – like “Money Tree”

“With two houses, both cars / I paid off your fucking credit card debt / did you already forget / huh, you threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, huh / just fucking leave, find a man who’ll put up with…”

or “For the Love”

“I missed the tour when you told me not to come home again / an ex-boyfriend was talking my place at the first Lamaze (you gotta be kiddin’ – no!)”

“The Flight: Lincoln to Minneapolis” begins with a conversation between him and his wife, with her telling him how much he’s failed at being a husband and a father. The song presumably is about the trip he was about to take to go home after he found out his wife was screwing another man.

“Please help me understand / why you can’t talk man to man / but you can stand with your dick in your hand / and you’re acting like a pussy.”

And finally, “Any Man In America”

“My first and only Billboard hit was going to pay for my two-year-olds college / I should have hid that shit / so she couldn’t spend that shit” and “Yeah fuck that judge / fuck the county / fuck your family too / yeah, fuck everybody who took my baby girl, Blue.”

I’ve always said that I’m not the guy who hangs on every word to determine if I like a record or not, but it’s hard not to be affected in one way or another by lyrics like the above and well, really 80% of the rest of the record.

The most interesting part for me is that the music behind the lyrics is actually fantastic. Most songs are mid-tempo but take a somber and sometimes angry tone based on the lyrics, but a song like the title track is an insanely catchy pop tune. And the label has done the right thing by releasing “The Chills” and “The Feel Again” as the first two singles. While both follow the same personal mode, neither are as directly biting and frank as the examples I gave. For me, musically this is the best Blue October record by far but the success of the record is going to come down to how well “The Feel Again” does as a single as emotions are already pouring out over this pretty heartbreaking tune.

It’s hard to know how fans are going to react to this once they hear the full thing. I wasn’t a fan and ended up being uncomfortable but still enjoying the record. You know single dads are going to relate to this album but I’m curious to see how women take it. Will it end up alienating them or will they sympathize with his plight? My wife knows the songs on the radio but also wouldn’t consider herself a fan and was completely put off by it. And what will his daughter think when she listens to the record as a teenager as Dad tells the whole world about his relationship with Mom via a CD? I guess Eminem has that issue as well though.

So you might ask, if I’m so uncomfortable with the record why did I give it a 9 out of 11 on the badass meter? Any Man in America is designed to evoke a reaction and generate emotions out of everyone that listens to it. And there are so many emotions going through my head right now that I don’t even have the desire to write up another disc this week. Mission accomplished.




  • Kaldun

    Bluebell – name of Tim Palmer’s daughter, who draw the cover-picture. Justin’s daughter is Blue

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    You’re right – my bad. I’ve made the edit. Thanks

  • Dee Ireland

    What a great article. Thanx for writing such a positive review of the band’s talent. I especially appreciate that while not a fan to start with, you praised the work the band produced and made me even more excited to get the cd.

  • Bluepeep

    Great article very honest, I like that. To be honest I think all the music Blue October writes and sings effects you in some way on some level. You either like ( usually love) them or you don’t, not much of an in between. I truly connect with this band and I am guessing most of their fans feel the same way.  Justin makes you feel like you are not alone and he opens  up like so many of us want to , but can’t. It takes  more then one listen to a song or album to truly understand and most important to feel the message they deliver.  

  • Bluepeep

    Great article very honest, I like that. To be honest I think all the music Blue October writes and sings effects you in some way on some level. You either like ( usually love) them or you don’t, not much of an in between. I truly connect with this band and I am guessing most of their fans feel the same way.  Justin makes you feel like you are not alone and he opens  up like so many of us want to , but can’t. It takes  more then one listen to a song or album to truly understand and most important to feel the message they deliver.  

  • Andiedanley

    I don’t think that as a woman I would be put off at all. I’m all for it. As a product of divorce, I know what parents do to each other, especially when its messy. I also know what its like to be denied to my father. Girls need their Daddies. So I say, bring it. Justin’s struggle, and those like his, need to have them out in the open. There is a need for justice, finally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jinxcatblue Raquel Gomez Savoy

    i really appreciated this. you ask how the female fans will react? i say with resounding applause. most of us ‘blue meanies’ know the garbage Justin has had to put up with and have followed him throughout his struggles in the system. none of these words are surprising to us because we’ve known about his experiences since they began. anyone can see what a great dad he is and know of his devoted love for his Blue. we wanted him to get a fair shake in the system and he didn’t. we love this band because Justin tells it like he sees it. while most of the time, we see things eye to eye, it isn’t a necessity for a true fan. i want to be blown away. these guys always do that for me.
    your article was very well written and i appreciated your honesty. while you couldn’t shake the effect it had on you, i must say, that is what most of the lyrics by Justin Furstenfeld do to me (and most ‘true blues’). the unadulterated emotion and candor in this band’s music speaks for itself. i must also say, the talent ALL of the boys have is stellar. Ryan’s violins? superb. i really hope people who have written this band off come back around and give them a listen. they just may realize Justin speaks for every person who has ever been damaged and not just Any Man in America.
    Great job, Dave.

  • http://www.bastardradio.com steed

    Thanks for commenting. I’m definitely seeing the outpouring of love for the band from males and females alike – especially the ladies.

  • Bluepeep

    It is so hard for me to understand how anyone can write this band off. Each one of their albums is unique in its own way. Justin has a way of almost bringing the album to life and the more you listen the more you understand where Justin has been. He speaks for so many of us through his music, things we would not share with the world. His struggles become such a large part of the music, and so many of us relate to that. Blue October is not just a band, they almost become part of your soul it was for me anyway. I have such anticipation for this new album, and I look forward to Justin showing the world just how flawed our justice system can be when it comes to fathers. Bravo Blue October yet another album that will touch so many and tell some the world your story <3<3<3!   

  • Bluepeep

    Thank you for such a honest article !

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    Blue October came up during the time of Staind and bands of the style, and people seem to write them off having been lumped into that bowl. I know I did, and I also know that I don’t really appreciate music that has to go straight to rough language to prove a point. However, I think I’ll be willing to give this CD a try. This is not “golly-gosh” subject matter, so in this rarest of cases I think the vitriol might be warranted. I’ll try the band out again.

  • Onceknown

    I’m 53 and can’t help but love this band.  The feelings are as raw as my own.  

  • http://twitter.com/Nerioska Rosaeli Rojas

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have my family together and can’t imagine having my life without my father in it. As a woman I’m big enough to accept that women much to often use their kids to try to control or hurt their husbands, not everyone is like that, but still. The only ones who get hurt at the end are the children. Luv Blue October and their songs speak to me, they are beautiful, is not only the sound but also the lyrics. I luv the fact that each song is different from the other and yet there are elements that identify them as a Blue October song, like the honesty of the words, or the beautiful but different violin sound or simply Justin’s voice that is able to deliver true emotions. After reading this review and more than eager to listen to Any Man in America, and can’t wait ’till midnight to have it!

  • http://twitter.com/Nerioska Rosaeli Rojas

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have my family together and can’t imagine having my life without my father in it. As a woman I’m big enough to accept that women much to often use their kids to try to control or hurt their husbands, not everyone is like that, but still. The only ones who get hurt at the end are the children. Luv @blueoctober and their songs speak to me, they are beautiful, is not only the sound but also the lyrics. I luv the fact that each song is different from the other and yet there are elements that identify them as a @blueoctober song, like the honesty of the words, or the beautiful but different violin sound or simply Justin’s voice that is able to deliver true emotions. After reading this review and more than eager to listen to #AnyManinAmerica, and can’t wait ’till midnight to have it

  • Lrathka

    I am a huge Blue October fan, and as with approaching normal, my first listen, there were a few tracks that stood out and I liked right away (the feel again, the chills, and the follow through), the others I had to listen to listen to a few times for them to grow on me. As someone going through a custody battle myself, I can relate, even though I am a woman. I think Blue October strikes so hard because everyone can relate to their songs and emotions at some point in their lives. Yes, the lyrics are profanity laden, but, really, think about someone you know in the same age group, don’t they speak that way when they are among friends? I know I do. I enjoyed reading this review.

  • Jromano31

    I understand what you mean about the “rough language”. I am, in general, turned off to music that speaks of such strong hatred. It seems to usually be the gang banger type rappers who do this a lot and it just doesn’t appeal to me. I have listened to this album and feel it wouldn’t have done justice to his depth of emotion without the harsh language. He’s experiencing things that cause people who generally don’t use this type of language to let it out without even thinking about it….like when you get your finger slammed in a car door kind of pain, only the pain is in his heart. I LOVE the album and can’t wait to see the band live next month is Utah.

  • http://twitter.com/Rock_Ash Ashley Rich

    I have been a fan since I heard “Hate Me” hit satellite radio. I was
    transfixed, I HAD to find out the band name… Then “Into The Ocean”
    came out and I fell in love with Blue October all over again. I went to see them in concert and afterward I tattooed their “foiled leaf” (red flame) symbol on my ankle, then purchased all of their prior CDs. I could not and still can not stop listening to them. They give me strength.

    Justin is one of the strongest men I know. This is coming from a woman and I have the utmost respect for Justin, in fact this album has made me feel closer not further away from them. I know Justin has been hurt badly, but he still respects and cares for women.

    I never had it easy, but I NEVER had it nearly as hard as Justin and yet Blue October speaks to me. I can’t even describe it.

    I think the reason they keep hitting up my CD players is because they ARE different in each of their songs. I never get tired of them. Thank you for giving them a shot.

  • Sweetlibbylou

    Fantastic review!  Really appreciate your POV, and I’m right there with you.  I’m a huge Blue October fan, and let me tell you, this album was no disappointment.  It’s true Blue, heartfelt and honest.  Speaking as a female child of divorce, I can say that for me this was not off-putting at all.  I feel for Justin and at the same time can respect that we’re only hearing one side of the story.  His pain from the loss of his family is real and it does create some heartache when you listen, but that’s how he draws us in.  He lets us be part of what is in him.  As ever, the music is phenomenal, especially Ryan’s contributions.  A beautiful album not to be missed.  Thanks for the great review of a band I love that doesn’t often receive the level of respect I believe they deserve.

  • blueskys

    Best album since history for sale. Foiled was great to. Only thing that bug me was in the review saying that hate was such a great hit but have not had a hit since then and that’s cuz there music is nite constant?? Wtf man? Your saying that today in pop music you need to sound like every one else to have a hit? That’s why blue is better than a lot of music on the mtv and the radio. Ppl just are scared to leave there lady ga ga and Katy Perry bubble and find music with meaning and heart to it. I’m glad to see blue get praise cuz they deserve it. Sorry just kinda erks me but besides that the review was great lol.

  • Jax

    What a great article!!!! I have been a fan for years.. I love this band because they are so different!!!

  • Someone Who’s Not Blind

    I think Justin is the most beautiful man I have seen in my entire life.  I love him and don’t even know him.  I am not a groupie, but his eyes are a story.  Most cases, brownish eyes don’t really stand out.  His do…they are so deep.  I love his honesty although the courts and his ex are and will try to use that same talent against him.  She’s fuckin useless and crazy.  I can’t imagane any mother who would pull that shit.  Why…scorned after her own affairs, obviously.  I would imagine she loves her daughter, but is it just a paycheck at the end of he day… does this other man put pressure on her?  I just don’t understand???  Although I haven’t seen any court proceedings, she is defienetely fabricating much bullshit.  It’s always convenient.  I think he’s gonna gather a lot more single mother followers than not.  He is makin an effort that a lotta men wouldn’t.  And please tell me how he has time to do bad things…when he doesn’t get opportunity to see his child??  Really judges, is she a dick sucker?  His music is raw to me and I hope he doesn’t change a thing…Fuck Lisa & Fuck The Legals!!!!  i can’t wait to see him in Orlando in March, highlight of my life…..

  • Someone Who’s Not Blind

    Oh P.S. This is for Justin….Blue October