Jonathon Fraser, the mastermind behind Northbound, has teamed up with AltPress for an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of his latest release, Soul Kiss, out via Smartpunk Records Nov. 22.
Northbound pulls together the best elements of indie acoustic, emo and punk to create an album that explores nostalgia and heartache.
You can listen to Soul Kiss ahead of its release below.
1. “Very Long List”
“Very Long List” is a song about growing up and missing your younger self. Missing puppy love, simpler times and the invincible feeling that comes with being an adolescent. It lyrically paints a picture of me nearly begging to have that feeling back while calling back to earlier releases (“I can be the ‘suitor type’”), pleading to just be young, happy, wild and free.
2. “Bad Blood”
This song is mostly about an irrational anxiety of needing to be on good terms with people, even those who have done me wrong. I blatantly say that I wouldn’t write anything in “bad blood.” It’s quite a literal tune. On the surface, I’m totally aware that sometimes puzzle pieces just don’t fit, and that’s OK, but sometimes I am willing to paint myself as a villain and take the blame to keep the peace.
This is definitely the most experimental song on the album. The demo versus the final product is like a completely different song. Our producer brought a lot of life to this song as we entered the studio feeling skeptical, but it turned out as one of my favorite and standout tracks. Again, it’s quite literally about wanting to be alone but acknowledging the double-edged sword of feeling trapped, panicked or uncomfortable in that position.
“Honey” is the first song I’ve ever written from a perspective that isn’t necessarily mine. It’s based on a story of two people fresh out of relationships agreeing to be together for one day to cure their loneliness. I tried to think of how I would feel in that position. It’s the story of a drunken and movie-like idea to pretend to be in love for a day, but knowing me, I’d be even more brokenhearted when that day was over.
5. “Tall Buildings”
This track is your first breather on the record. We’ve been going pretty fast and in your face, and I specifically wanted this song at the end of side A to tone it down. I wrote this song a long time ago. It’s about feeling like you’ll never be enough in someone’s eyes.
6. “Hurt Today”
Side B comes back with intensity. This is the first song I wrote having this LP in mind. [It’s] another very literal song about those days when you wake up and you just know it’s going to be a bad day. It’s kind of a “Today is going to suck. I’m just going to accept it and soak up that feeling.” I’m accepting my misery. “I don’t want to ask about the way your day was,” because mine sucks. That’s why.
One of my favorites off the LP, “Cool” is an uber-sarcastic anthem for the rejected. As we learned with “Bad Blood,” I’m not a very confrontational guy, and this is about as rude as I’ll get. It’s about people not even giving me the chance to show them who I am. I’ve always felt like a pioneer of the uncool. I guess some people think I’m cool, but it’s mostly the other outliers who feel that way about me. This song is brimming with a childish and playful rage. Just kind of experimenting with my emotions.
8. “Same Book/Same Ending”
The demo title of this song was “The American Pie Song.” It’s just got a really fun soundtrack-to-an-inappropriate-teen-movie feeling. In the studio we decided to go all in on that vibe. There’s even a very early 2000s “woo” in the track. This is the song you jump to at the gig. It’s not super deep, but I don’t think art needs to be. It just needs to make you feel something.
Without question, the oldest song on the album. I wrote this in mid-2014 on a porch in Michigan while in the midst of young, unraveling relationship. This song really means a lot to me, but that’s all I’m going to say.
“Special” is without question my favorite song off Soul Kiss. This song is about feeling worthless to others, romantically and in the music industry. This song is so important because the second verse has a very empowering feeling, acknowledging my own worth with a line such as “You don’t get to have me.” This song is so important to who I am as a person and artist. It captures the feeling of realizing that you’re not for everyone and coming to terms with that.
11/20 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
11/22 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palladium
11/23 – San Diego, CA @ Soma
11/24 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
11/26 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
11/27 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
11/29 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex – Grand Room
11/30 – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
12/01 – Tulsa, OK @ Vanguard
12/02 – Memphis, TN @ Growlers
12/03 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
12/04 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
12/05 – Gainesville, FL @ High Dive
12/06 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
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