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12 by The Get-Up Kids

12 by... aims to summarize an artist's career in 12 songs. This week features... 

Missouri's The Get-Up Kids came on the scene with an appealingly raw pop sense. As I stated in my Promise Ring feature, I'll forever regard them as part of the Holy Trinity of Emo. After 4 memorable albums, they broke up in 2005, but reunited just three years later. They've been going strong since.

1. "Woodson" (from Woodson EP, 1996) 
The first song the band wrote together is noisy guitar soundtrack for your minor mental breakdowns. Matthew Pryor shows off his knack for memorably tortured lines: "You build me up / And break me down again / And I take it." 

2. "Shorty" (from Four Minute Mile, 1997) 
I've seen these guys 6 times and counting, and this one never fails to garner a collectively-wonderful crowd reaction. Imagine 200 sweaty hipster kids bobbing their heads in rhythm and you'll get the idea. 

3. "One Year Later" (from Red Letter Day EP, 1999) 
Any of the 5 songs from this EP could slot in here. It's just gold from beginning to end. 

4. "I'm A Loner Dottie, I'm A Rebel" (from Something To Write Home About, 1999) 
One of the best song titles ever. I never noticed this until now, but Pryor's singing voice sounds a little bit like Pee Wee Herman's speaking voice on this one. Coincidence? 

5."Ten Minutes" (from Something To Write Home About, 1999) 
The best song from their best album? I love the line, "It's like you're fallin' in love while I just fall apart." 

6. "Out of Reach" (from Something To Write Home About, 1999)
If you hear them do this one in concert, the whole audience is going to sing along for the entire song. Be prepared.

7. "Campfire Kansas" (from On A Wire, 2002) 
What I said hearing "Out of Reach" in concert? Same goes for this one. I don't even like camping and I love this song.

8. "Overdue" (from On A Wire, 2002) 
The Kids got shit for going acoustic on On A Wire, but you'd have to have a block of ice for a heart not to be affected by this tearjerker. 

9. "How Long Is Too Long" (from Guilt Show, 2004) 
The boys successfully married their punk and acoustic sides on their final album, which makes it that much sadder that their break-up came so soon after. It's songs, like this one, are polished and charming.

10. "Regent's Court" (from There are Rules, 2011)
The band's first album back after reuniting didn't sound anything like The Get Up Kids had ever sounded before, as evidenced by this Strokes-y rocker. That said, the chorus is a dead giveaway.

11. "Lou Barlow" (from Problems, 2019)
On the 2018 Kicker EP and this second post-reunion album the Kids finally embraced their musical legacy, making an album that sounds like a logical follow-up to Guilt Show. This particular song uses a chance encounter with the Dinosaur Jr. / Sebadoh / Folk Implosion frontman as a framing device for a relationship that's - what else? - falling apart.

12. "Symphony of Silence" (from Problems, 2019)
Jim Suptic takes lead on this tune that seems to be about writer's block and the litany of doubts that come up when one takes on a creative endeavor. It's his very own "Hungry Heart"!

*

The above was revised in 2021. Here is the original entry:

1. "Woodson" (from Woodson EP, 1996) 
Noisy guitar soundtrack for your miniature mental breakdowns. Matthew Pryor shows off his knack for memorably tortured lines: "You build me up / And break me down again / And I take it." 

2. "No Love" (from Four Minute Mile, 1997) 
At this point the band were like a cool little drawing you made while daydreaming. The lyrics are pure emo, lamenting a relationship that can never be: "If I came home one last time / Think of what the two of us could do / I guess we'll never know." 

3. "Shorty" (from Four Minute Mile, 1997) 
I saw this band about 5 times during their career, and this one never failed to garner a collectively-wonderful crowd reaction. Imagine 200 sweaty hipster kids bobbing their heads in rhythm and you'll get the idea. 

4. "One Year Later" (from Red Letter Day EP, 1999) 
I have to tell you that I was verrrry close to including all 5 songs from this EP. I wore that sucker out! This one has to be the first song they play at the inevitable reunion show. 

5. Red Letter Day (from Red Letter Day EP, 1999) 
This is about the point where Pryor's lyrics began to become more puzzling. They were clearly ABOUT something, but it wasn't as easy as girl-I-love-you or girl-I-love-you-but-you-don't-love me. 

6. "I'm A Loner Dottie, I'm A Rebel" (from Something To Write Home About, 1999) 
One of the best song titles ever. I never noticed this until now, but Pryor's singing voice sounds a little bit like Pee Wee Herman's speaking voice on this one. Coincidence? 

7. Ten Minutes (from Something To Write Home About, 1999) 
The best song from their best album? I love the line, "It's like you're fallin' in love while I just fall apart." 

8. "Up On The Roof" (from Eudora, 2001) 
The Kids got some shit for adding keyboard James Dewees to their permanent line-up, but the results showcased here make it hard to knock. 

9. "Overdue" (from On A Wire, 2002) 
The Kids got more shit for going acoustic on On A Wire, but you'd have to have a block of ice for a heart not to be affected by this tearjerker. 

10. "Hannah Hold On" (from On A Wire, 2002) 
Another beauty, but you can see why some fans cried foul. Really, at this point what was the difference between The Get-Up Kids and Pryor's side project The New Amsterdams? 

11. "How Long Is Too Long" (from Guilt Show, 2004) 
12. "Sympathy" (from Guilt Show, 2004) 
The boys successfully married their punk and acoustic sides on their final album, which makes it that much sadder that their break-up came so soon after. These two songs are polished and charming and show what might have been.

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