Every Silverstein Album Ranked From Worst To Best By Frontman Shane Told
“To be completely honest, I think about this all the time,” says Silverstein frontman Shane Told when asked to rank his albums “just because I interview other bands myself and I’ve asked them this question. Especially when you get down to an artist who’s put out almost 10 records like we have, I think it’s a really interesting question to ask someone — to see where the classics fall in line.”
For a band with a legacy like Silverstein’s, putting one’s entire discography in order is a hefty task. The Canadian screamo pioneers are celebrating their 20th year as a band in 2020 with the release of a new album — A Beautiful Place To Drown, out next month on UNFD — and a massive anniversary tour. With 10 studio albums under their belt, no-one would be surprised if Shane found the ranking process a little daunting, emotional, or maybe even cathartic.
“I think I go back to what the songs and what the albums mean now, and how it’s held up over the years, more so than my personal experience,” posits the vocalist. “You can put yourself in an uncomfortable position and great things can come out of it — or, sometimes you can put yourself in an uncomfortable position and you just cannot do it, you cannot work. I think both of these things can happen in different places — my least favorite record was a horrible experience, and some of my favorite records were horrible experiences too.
“I don’t know about cathartic,” he continues, “but it’s definitely nostalgic thinking about where you were when you made the record, personally — and how the record has stood the test of time… or hasn’t.”
10. Arrivals & Departures (2007)
“It’s the most money we ever spent on an album. We went to California, just like we did with the album before, and it was just a horrible experience making it. The songs never came out the way I wanted to production-wise. Even lyrically, I was very strained in terms of writing what I wanted to say. There was a lack of inspiration making this album — we’d come off of our big album, and we had to force this one. I think every band in their career, it happens to them, but for us it came at a very critical time. It happened at a time when all eyes were on us. It was disappointing.”
9. Rescue (2011)
“This record has some great songs on it. I think it’s some of our best work ever. However, cohesively as an album, it misses marks. It doesn’t feel like an album to me — it feels like a collection of songs. And part of the reason it does is that’s exactly how it was made. We finished our first contract that we had with Victory Records, where we’d put out four albums. Then we had time to figure out what we’d wanted to do next, and we’d always wanted to do demos.
“So we wrote this record over a very long period of time, like two years. So it wasn’t like, ‘Okay, this is a snapshot of a time in our lives,’ it was just, ‘Here’s a song I wrote. Here’s a song I wrote six months later.’ There was nothing coherent about it. Some people say it’s their favorite record, but it feels very lifeless to me. I don’t feel a lot of connection to this album.”
8. Short Songs (2012)
“I guess I’ll go with the weird one for number eight. It was kind of an interesting record, because after the last album, Rescue, we had a lot of time to be creative. Rescue was written so far in advance from when it was put out that we decided, ‘Oh, we have time — what can we do that’s fun?’ And I had this idea to make a concept album based on duration of time of songs. It started out that we’d do five original songs and five cover songs, and we’ll call it Short Songs based on the Dead Kennedys song of the same name.
“Then once we started writing, we had 11 originals and 11 covers, 22 songs in 19 minutes. I love this record — it’s so fun, and it’s funny because so many people over the years who’ve said, ‘I wish the songs were longer!’ And listening back? I kind of agree! It’s hard to get a clear feeling of a song when it’s 45 seconds.”
7. When Broken Is Easily Fixed (2003)
“The inexperience on this record shows, not always in a great way. There’s definitely moments in this album where I’m like, ‘Wow, we were so green, and we had such… not very great communication artistically, and with our producer.’
“With Giving Up, I wanted each of these guitar chords in the beginning to swell in, and I told him that. He thought I meant the whole intro swelling in. So there’s this weird… like, the guitars start super-quiet and then get super-loud when the vocals come in, and I didn’t want it, but I didn’t know how to communicate that. So there’s just this great example of youth and energy, but in terms of translating into amazing debut records, we weren’t there. We weren’t ready yet.”
6. Discovering the Waterfront (2005)
“It’s our best-selling album, and album we’ve played all the songs on many, many times. An album near and dear to my heart because so many people got introduced to our band with songs like Smile In Your Sleep, My Heroine, Call It Karma… I think this album is really solid, and I think when we made this record for the first time in our career, I said, ‘Oh shit… I think we’re a pretty big band. I think people are going to like this album.’ And it turns out I’m right, and here we are 15 years later about the play this album start to finish on tour!
“We feel really good about our catalog and our legacy, and though this record is down the list a little bit, I still feel this album is pretty solid. And if I didn’t think so, I’d say fuck no, we’re not playing this.”
READ THIS: 15 Myspace bands you probably don’t remember
5. I Am Alive In Everything I Touch (2015)
“I think this record fell through the cracks a little bit in terms of people digesting this album as a whole. Conceptually it’s a pretty cool idea that we came up with — the first song is Toronto, and the last song is Toronto, and we go through all these different songs that represent cities. It’s kind of how you do it on tour.
“It’s an amazing story and collection of snapshots and different experiences that we had gone through in the first 15 years of being a band. I hold this album near and dear to my heart, and I think there are some incredibly moments we’ve captured on this thing.”
4. A Shipwreck in the Sand (2009)
“This was the follow-up record to Arrivals & Departures which I put dead last. I think this record was very reactionary to that one in a lot of ways — we made Arrivals & Departures in California, we made this one in Canada. We wanted the producer we worked with before on Discovering The Waterfront; we didn’t want another LA hotshot producer. We went in with a really crazy concept, which was the story that I wrote. We just did everything opposite of the last album. It was extremely difficult to make.
“There was a lot to be done on my end, figuring out where these songs were going to go musically, how the lyrics were all going to work. I lost a lot of sleep over this record — if you watch our studio documentary, I’m always passed out on the couch. Because I wasn’t sleeping, I was in the studio up all night thinking about the record. It drove me crazy, but over 10 years later now, it’s amazing. It’s one of those things, where I think, How did we do that?”
3. This Is How the Wind Shifts (2013)
“This is the first album we made with Paul Mark. We came off of Rescue, which as I said was a record that didn’t have a lot of life to it. But with Paul joining the band, coming right in and starting to write songs and riffs and really good parts, lit a fire under me and inspired me more. We had this idea where we had the pairs of songs throughout the record, where Side A and Side B connect. The title-tracks, This Is How and The Wind Shifts, when you play them over each other they form a third song. Doing some of this radical stuff that I didn’t think I was maybe capable of earlier in my career.
“This record proves that anything is possible creatively. I was really curious whether this would really resonate with people, or if they just would not get it. But they did, and now it’s been out for seven years, and it’s probably our most-loved record. Our big fans love this record, and always ask me to play more songs from it or do an album tour. Which maybe we will, because this is a very special record to me.”
2. Dead Reflection (2017)
“This was our last record before the newest one, and an absolute miserable experience for me in every single facet. I had gone through the worst year and experience of my life, and it was very difficult for me to hunker down and write songs and summarize what I was going through. I rented this apartment in Toronto in the neighborhood where I used to live in, my broken home neighborhood. It was tough — I really hated myself when we started making this record.
“This album really helped me pull myself out of that funk. As much as I hate to say that being in that horrible state contributed to great music, I think it did. I think going through the horrible experiences that I did made me able to pull out some of the lyrics and musical ideas that I did. A song like Aquamarine wouldn’t have happen without the pain I endured. It’s great how people have latched onto this record — Afterglow has become a staple of our set, as has Retrograde. It’s really cool that we’re able to make some of our best records almost 20 years into our career.”
1. A Beautiful Place to Drown (2020)
“Our records, over the years, have taken natural progressions, natural steps from one to another. I think if you take Album #8 and Album #1, people might hear them and say, ‘Oh my God, this isn’t even the same band.’ But if you look from #2 to #3 to #4, it kind of makes sense. With the new record, we took the biggest step of our career. There were things on this record that were crazy for me, to wrap my head around having been an artist for so long. Things that make me say, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t do that! We don’t use synth! We don’t use midi drums!’ And it took me a minute to say, ‘Well, why don’t we?’ It’s like you’re trying to make dinner for somebody, and you’re saying, ‘We don’t use salt.’
“We’ve been holding back — for what? Because these are tools we can’t use for some reason? Because emo bands in the ’90s didn’t use them, so we can’t? And I think once we got over that, we decided we were going to do what the song called for. And once the floodgates opened, we made some incredible songs, songs that speak to us so much more than anything we’ve done before, and that will speak to our fans. I don’t think everybody’s going to understand this record right away when it comes out because it is different, but I think it’s absolutely our best album.”
Silverstein’s A Beautiful Place To Drown comes out March 6 on UNFD, and is available for pre-order.
Catch Silverstein live at one of their 20th anniversary shows later this year:
11 Munich, DE @ Backstage Werk #
12 Frankfurt, DE @ Batschkapp #
13 Berlin, DE @ SO36 #
14 Hamburg, DE @ Markthalle #
15 Cologne, DE @ Carlswerk Victoria #
28 London, ON @ London Music Hall *
29 Montreal, QC @ Le National *
01 Quebec City, QC @ Imperial *
03 Boston, MA @ House of Blues *
04 Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall *
06 New York, NY @ Webster Hall *
07 Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom *
08 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore *
10 Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live! *
11 Charlotte, NC @ The Underground *
13 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade *
14 St. Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Live *
15 New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre *
16 Houston, TX @ Warehouse *
19 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live *
20 San Antonio, TX @ Vibes *
21 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom *
22 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine *
24 Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl *
25 Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee *
27 Los Angeles, CA @ Belasco *
28 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues *
29 San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom *
31 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom *
01 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox *
03 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot *
04 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre *
05 Kansas City, MO @ Truman *
07 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall *
08 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts *
09 Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre *
10 Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues *
11 Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall *
18 Dessel, BE @ Graspop
23 Milan, IT @ Circolo Magnolia
26 Ysselsteyn, NL @ Jera On Air
27 Munster, DE @ Vainstream
28 Gräfenhainichen, DE @ Full Force Festival
03 Stockholm, SE @ High 5ive Festival
# w/ Hawthorne Heights
* w/ Four Year Strong & I The Mighty
Silverstein are planning something special to celebrate their anniversary next month
Sharptooth vocalist Lauren Kashan on why we should all use International Women’s Day’s theme of Choose To Challenge to question ourselves and confront our own internal biases.