Welcome to Yesterday’s Jukebox! In this column, I’ll be taking a retrospective gaze through a wide selection of disparate genres and artist discographies (particularly those with a sizeable back catalogue), with a keen eye for the deep cuts, hidden gems, and certified bangers. This month, we’re running through a list of ragers from New Jersey post-hardcore heroes Thursday. – Owen Morawitz
“Dying In New Brunswick” – Waiting (1999)
This is Thursday at their most primordial. Working with producer and future long-time collaborator Sal Villanueva (who would go on to work with acts like Taking Back Sunday and 36 Crazyfists), Waiting channelled the band’s elemental form into a raw and angsty sound that perfectly reflected the turn of the millennium.
This track was written by vocalist Geoff Rickly about his girlfriend at the time, who moved to the New Brunswick area and was raped shortly after arriving. Rickly’s lyrics are overflowing with hatred for the city, grief and sorrow for his partner, and how “he felt like he was dying whenever he was there.”
[Rickly’s album ranking: #6]
“Standing on the Edge of Summer” – Full Collapse (2001)
I’ll be honest: Pretty much all of Full Collapse could fit on this list without any issues. It’s a near-flawless record and true time capsule for the early ‘00s post-hardcore and screamo boom. It’s often referred to as a classic emo record, and one of the most influential post-hardcore albums of all time. As Rickly said of the album, which also ranks as the front man’s favourite Thursday record:
“Even though I couldn’t sing that well, I love the way it sounds because I sound like a totally inexperienced naive kid that has a lot of hopes and passion and sincerity and it hadn’t been ruined yet. I didn’t feel sarcastically like the world was a shitty place yet.”
While “Understanding in a Car Crash” would be the obvious go-to here, I feel this unassuming back-end Side B cut towers above the other tracks on Full Collapse. It encapsulates the ephemerality of life and the bitter understanding that follows the passing of youth, without leaning into the crutch of a cheap nostalgia for an idealised time now gone.
[Rickly’s album ranking: #1]
“Jet Black New Year” – Five Stories Falling EP (2002)
An aggressive cut featured on the Five Stories Falling EP, “Jet Black New Year” feels like a throwback to Waiting, despite coming a year after the success of the band’s Full Collapse album cycle.
The track also features a young man named Gerard Way on backing vocals, delivering some real throat-shredding screams. (Gee, I sure hope he decides to take up a career in music…)
“Asleep In The Chapel” – War All The Time (2003)
While their second LP is the clear classic, War All The Time is the most ambitious and—I would argue—important record in their entire discography. It’s super dark, heavy, wordy, instrumentally rich, and it was also their major-level Islands Records debut. A ballsy move for sure.
Much like Full Collapse, pretty much any track off War All The Time could go here. However, “Asleep In The Chapel” is a powerful example of the band’s narrative complexity. Bookended by a simple acoustic refrain, guitarists Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla unfurl soaring melodic leads and jagged rhythms, while Rickly excoriates himself over an internal crisis of faith and the lack of divine providence.
[Rickly’s album ranking: #4]
“At This Velocity” – A City by the Light Divided (2006)
This track feels like Thursday performing an exorcism over the ghost of At The Drive-In. It’s all present in Rickly’s vocal layering, the scattershot screams, the smattering of keyboards from new inclusion Andrew Everding, and the eclectic lo-fi freak-outs.
While A City by the Light Divided had a difficult release in 2006, the album has since gone on to become a favourite both within the band and among devoted fans.
[Rickly’s album ranking: #3]
“Ladies and Gentlemen: My Brother, the Failure” – Kill the House Lights (2007)
Included on Kill the House Lights, a compilation album released on the band’s former label Victory Records, “Ladies and Gentlemen: My Brother, the Failure” is one of the more interesting entries in the larger Thursday discography.
Sporting an uncharacteristic groove, disjointed chorus structure and melodramatic atmosphere, the track also features a great cameo from Cursive frontman Tim Kasher.
“In Silence” – Thursday/Envy split EP (2008)
Marking the start of the instrumental-driven detours the band would embrace wholeheartedly over the next five years, Thursday’s split with Japanese screamo pioneers Envy is a great example of the New Jersey sextet’s compositional dexterity.
“In Silence” embodies this transformation through swirling atmospherics, dense layers of electronics, and towering, post-rock crescendos.
“Fake Nostalgia” – Common Existence (2009)
Probably the starkest sonic departure from the rest of this list, “Fake Nostalgia” is brash, punkier cut from the band and a bonus track included on deluxe editions of Common Existence.
While the band never lacked for energy both on record and on the stage, this one packs a totally different feel to a traditional Thursday song, but it still hits home all the same.
[Rickly’s album ranking: #5]
“Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart” – No Devolución (2011)
Evolution is a powerful force of nature. Thursday’s progression from the youthful angst of Waiting to the bold, expansive experimentation on display in No Devolución is truly something to behold. One listen to “Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart” and that power is undeniable.
[Rickly’s album ranking: #2]
“Rape Me” – In Utero, In Tribute: A Tribute to Nirvana’s In Utero, In Entirety (2014)
While it’s been a decade since their last full-length, we’ve gotten a little taste of the group since then (not to mention some great anniversary streams to tide us over).
Alongside other legendary acts like These Arms Are Snakes and Ceremony, Thursday contributed a searing cover of a Cobain & Co classic for this In Utero tribute album.
Stream the Yesterday’s Jukebox Spotify playlist here.