Beating out Boyhood


Author: Elaina Niederer

Top Tracks: Bleed, Oh My God, Sink, Rot, Sweat and Tears

The album Accept by Dead Calm is the soundtrack of the season, perfectly suited for anyone who needs a good cry or finds comfort in incredibly depressing music. Accept gifts lyrics of resentment and sorrow wrapped in crisp and golden guitar melodies. It is an album about a boy’s depression due to loss of love; expressed through dejected, heart-wrenching, metaphorical lyrics of death and torture. 

Dead Calm is a pseudonym for the artist’s most frequently used name ‘sign crushes motorist’, which is a pseudonym for his real name, Liam Mccay. A friend of mine initially sent me a song titled ‘Rot’  from the album Accept. When I first started researching, I thought, “He’s essentially manufacturing his own lore”. This teenage boy’s music exists under multiple artist names on Spotify including Hold, Take Care, Birth Day, Miserable Teens Club, sign crushes motorist, Make His Ribs Show, and of course, Dead Calm. Every Gen Z-er loves a good internet rabbit hole to dive headfirst into, and I’m no exception. Turns out, I have listened to other songs by this artist from earlier years, but they sounded different than Accept. They were cold, morose, and lethargic.

I liked Accept immediately after listening to the album on a walk home from the gym. Every song was just different enough to stay interesting, yet not too stimulating to get sick of quickly. Although the lyrical themes are like Liam’s previous works, the words are sung over brighter, up-tempo tracks. A mix of guitar, drums, and a bit of banjo make up all the tracks on this album, creating a warm-toned twist on his usual cool and wound-down sounds. Accept is an album about seeing the person you love end up with someone else. It’s about grieving, hating, crying, wondering why, and finally, accepting. Accept is an ode to beating out the hardest parts of boyhood with pure force. There is no getting around or numbing the anger and emotional damage of a bad ending to what could have been a beautiful thing. Liam takes the listener along for a ride of regression, resentment, and self-pity. The first and most listened to song titled ‘Bleed’ rolls over a layered guitar track.

you’re killing me with your words

you’ve chewed me up and spat me out, and boy it really hurts

to see you and him, be so in love it makes me sick, leaves bruises on my skin

The third track features Widowdusk, an artist I’ve been a fan of for a while. I know them as ‘boy band that desperately screams over a track in the most emotionally-appealing way possible’. The song, ‘Oh My God’ follows suit with the album, regret accompanied with imagery of death. My favorite part is when they scream together ‘Oh My God!’, naturally.                                    

I’m hanging by my neck

And you’re tightening the knot

And all you can say

Is oh my god

The second half of the album continues on a downward spiral in mood as Liam sings of his death, suicide, betrayal, or pain in various ways. ‘Rot’, the 8th track on the album,  imaginatively communicates Liam’s emotions as he deals with advanced stages of depression like self-destruction and the struggle towards acceptance. The last song on the album expresses his final woes as he comes to terms with his reality and begins to make small efforts to detach from her. The song ‘Sweat and Tears’, shares Liam’s conflicting feelings of no longer wanting to feel so hateful all the time yet struggling with sensory triggers and memories of the past. The passionate chant accompanied by Caspar Hill is a perfect close to the album, reminding the listener that acceptance doesn’t really mean peace or happiness, it doesn’t even mean changing your perspective. The lyrics reaffirm this point as they say, “But it’s nothing that I wouldn’t have done, for you.”

The majority of music created by Liam consists of solemn instrumentals with occasional voice-cracked or whispered woes in falsetto. Other times it’s monotone, dulled-down vocals that gently melt and merge atop the music. Think Duster, Salvia Palth, {some} Alex G, Have a Nice Day, dissonance, and Teen Suicide. ‘Sad’ and ‘Depressing’ don’t do much to give a unique enough name to this specific genre of music.  Attempts to better name the genre have been made, including ‘liminal’, ‘sad indie’, and ‘idk.’ They are noble attempts, and giving a name to a genre is a difficult task that I have no business with. I like to describe this genre as the soundtrack that accompanies taking a shower when you are severely depressed. The scalding water that instantly warms you as it seeps over your scalp. It pools in and overflows off the crevices of your body as you sit on the shower floor in a ball and cry your sorrows down the drain. It’s the solo drive home at night on a one-lane highway after seeing the person you adore all over someone else at the party. It’s music that suits the moments when life feels horribly, maddingly, unbelievingly, mockingly, ridiculously…unfair.  As winter sets in and the days become darker and frigid, I highly recommend giving a listen to Accept. Where a teenager’s sorrows are sung, shouted, whispered, hummed, and cried over warm guitar tracks, beauty is rampant.

Elaina Niederer | KXSU Arts Reporter

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