Notes From The Underground: The Lawrence Arms Review Their Own Records – Part Three, ‘Cocktails And Dreams’

This has got some pretty formative moments for our band on it, and a bunch of my favorite songs. The songs on here that were originally released as a split with Shady View Terrace were the first songs we wrote that I think represent what we are able to do as a band, which is to say, those five songs were the first uh… modern TLA songs. To use a Darwinian analogy, those tunes are like the earliest humans. That said, they’ve got a special place in my heart.

The other release prominently featured on here is the split we did with the Chinkees, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying those are four of the best songs we’ve ever written. That was a strange time. We were on Asian Man and all our friends seemed to be getting signed and popular and we were kind of treading water. That record wound up encapsulating all the desperation we were feeling and it really kind of all just came together. Those four tracks were the ones that Fat Mike ended up hearing that eventually got us onto Fat. I remember I wrote ‘Quincentuple Your Money’ right before our first (nine-week!) European tour, and I was so sure it was the best song I’d ever written that I sung it to myself about 10 times a day just so I wouldn’t forget it while we were over there.

The rest of the stuff on this record is odds and ends, some stuff that I think is really, really surprisingly good and a couple of throwaways. A good example is the re-recordings we did from ‘Ghost Stories’. Turnstiles turned out amazingly well, one of the best recordings of a single song we have, while ‘The Old Timer’s 2×4’ couldn’t be a bigger waste of time. It wasn’t that great of a song to begin with, and this new version doesn’t really add anything, does it? Nah. I love most of the comp tracks on here and those hidden country tracks are just fun ways to fuck around. Overall, I’d say this one came through the back gates to be one of our best records, despite not actually being an intentionally cohesive piece.