UTG ESSENTIALS: Anberlin Favorites And Memoirs

Just yesterday, Anberlin announced that they would be finished with their run as a band this year following a final album and one last tour. Immediately their fandom lit up in a flurry of tweets and wall postings, expressing their love for the band’s career.

I too contemplated their lifetime as a group and their impact on my life. To say that it was important would be a complete understatement. There are few bands I’ve held close to as long as Anberlin and I know that, in that, I wasn’t alone. So I sent word out to my friends in the music industry who have also been touched by the band, in the hopes that they would share with me a song and a message regarding it or the effects the band has had on their life. The response was overwhelming.

What you’ll find here is a list of 21 songs chosen by 25 industry individuals. Some are writers, some are producers, and some are musicians — all, in their own way inspired by Anberlin and their legacy. This isn’t a goodbye. We have one last year with the band before they’re finished. This is a thank you. A thank you and a congratulations on all that they’ve accomplished.


“Dance, Dance Christa Päffgen” Jack Appleby (Marketing and A&R, Siren Records / Staff writer, Absolutepunk.net)

I’d never realized how a song’s structure could be manipulated to create slow builds or massive finales until “Dance, Dance, Christa Paffgen” came along. The track opened my eyes to songwriting’s intricacies, greatly changing my views on quality craftsmanship while cementing my love for Anberlin. The epic closer became an Anberlin staple following Never Take Friendship Personal, and though the formula was perfected with “(*Fin)”, the blend of the band’s ’05 pop-punk sound with their sonic aspirations hit for perfect musicality on my favorite Anberlin song – and one of my favorite songs, ever.

“Paperthin Hymn” – Tyler Common (Owner, Common Revolt)

I remember first hearing that song back in freshman year of high school right after my very first break up with my very first girlfriend. I was devastated but that song really helped me out, even as a 14 year old kid. That song will always hold a spot in my heart and bring back memories, no matter when it is that I hear it.

“Adelaide” Aaron Sprinkle (Producer, Blueprints for the Black Market, Never Take Friendship Personal, Cities, and Vital)

One of my all time favorite Anberlin tracks. This song encapsulates everything fun and romantic about these guys. Some of my favorite memories making this record.

“Time and Confusion” – Daniel Rinaldi (Former Singer, Bedlight For Blue Eyes)

I remember the first time I heard Anberlin and the song “Time and Confusion.” I was on the road with my band and must have listened to that song over 100 times. Anberlin inspired me to think and write deeper.

“Stationary Stationery” Dan Schein (Bassist, Late In The Playoffs)

When I heard the song “Stationary Stationery,” I knew Anberlin was a special band, and Never Take Friendship Personal was a record that just hit me. Something about this song really does feel personal, and will always take me back to a very specific time and place, and being around certain people that I’ve made a point to reconnect with. This is a song that I can listen to on repeat forever and just doesn’t lose the raw power and emotion that Stephen had the first time he sang it.

“Dismantle.Repair.” Alex Reed (Ex-Guitarist, Go Radio)

This band was consistent with each release, which I cannot say about a lot of bands, but this song stood out to me amongst the rest. Songs mean different things to different people but I can truly feel the emotion singer Stephen Christian felt in writing every word. It’s almost a battle within himself and the love for another. Most of us can relate in some way and this song depicts it beautifully.

“Feel Good Drag (New Surrender version)” Kevin Fletcher (Singer, Uh Huh Baby Yeah!)

I’m a sucker for hooky pop choruses. This song, as well as the album its on defined the band. This was the band at their best, and it’s sad seeing them go.


“A Day Late” Emily Williams (Publicist, Catalyst Publicity Group)

DLF is one of those song that is relatable on many levels. It’s about a situation involving love that I think most people experience at some point in their life. Anberlin was able to create a positive message to people. Making songs that fans can relate to has always been something Anberlin succeeded in doing and I think that’s why people have stood by them for so many years.

“Never Take Friendship Personal” Matt Dalton (Producer, 37 Studios / Owner, Dirtfest)

What really grabs me about NTFP is the fact that it was a PERFECT transition from the end of their Blueprints record (which I love) into a flawless kick off to their sophomore effort; an album so full of beautiful melodies, energy, and conviction throughout. This song helped solidify and define Anberlin’s sound to me, which has carried over into my love for every record they’ve put out since. I’ve had the opportunity to record Stephen in the studio, and I specifically remember telling him “hey can you trail your voice on that last line like how you do on NTFP?”. It’s quite surreal to work with one of your favorite singers, and this song is what solidified him as one of my all time favorites.

Dance, Dance Christa PäffgenTarynn Law (US News Editor, The 405)

This is the final song from Anberlin’s second LP, Never Take Friendship Personal, and the first album where they thought “hey, let’s give this 5+ minute long closer a try!” and boy, did it work. I’ve seen Anberlin perform 14 times now, and the most recent time I saw them in Minneapolis I was able to hang out with Deon before the show, where I’d mentioned that I’d never heard them play this song before but I was fine with it, as it’s a pretty lengthy track and I’d never really expected them to. One of the last songs they performed that night was “Dance, Dance” and to say it was perfect is an understatement – Anberlin will always and forever hold a special place in my heart. They’ve been one of my all-time favorite bands since middle school (so roughly ten years) and while I’ve never been this torn up about a band breaking up before, they’ll definitely be going out on top come the end of 2014.

“The Unwinding Cable Car” Adam Cowsert (Artist Manager, New Age Media Management)

As a longtime Anberlin fan, it’s difficult (near impossible) to pick my favorite song. Over the course of 12 years and six records, there isn’t just one. One of my favorite things about Anberlin is how fan centric they have always been throughout their career… while in production for Cities Stephen Christian even reached out to fans asking to personally call them and ask what they wanted to hear on the upcoming album. Featured is “The Unwinding Cable Car,” a track I can listen to on repeat for hours on end.

“(The Symphony of) Blasé” –  Tanya Gelman (Producer/Writer Manager, Advanced Alternative Media Inc.)

Anberlin was one of the first bands that I think I found for myself – no one had to tell me about them. “(The Symphony of) Blasé” quickly then became one of my favorite songs by them because of how much emotion and heartache you can hear in Stephen’s voice and lyrics. I don’t think I knew those emotions existed until I was 15 (when the album came out) until I heard this song.

“Impossible” Mike Gunzelman (Host, The Gunz Show)

One of the most important bands that this genre / scene (whatever you want to call it) has ever had… Anberlin. I remember my good friend John Frazier from Drive Thru Records telling me about a new band he was interested in working with called Anberlin. This was over 10 years ago. John later went to T&N and Anberlin was signed. At first, Stephen’s vocals were different. Unlike anything else I had heard…  But from that opening track and the guitar riff in “Stationary Stationary” I knew that I fell in love. I’ve seen them countless times – from Warped Tour when they headlined main stage with Angels and Kings, to seeing Stephen do acoustic performances. And one of my favorite songs that means so much to me, is “Impossible.” This song is amazing… it’s got the slow build up in the beginning… to Stephen’s beautiful melodies in it. The melodies and the calmness in the verses… hit me SO fucking hard.”Do you ever SEE… what you do to MEEEE…” And the repetition of, telling that girl that she’s impossible to you. That no matter what you do, she won’t let you in and that she’s just not worth it anymore. You’ve done all you can and you can’t get her back.

“Paperthin Hymn” Zach Schweizer (Guitar, Stages & Stereos)

I grew up in Orlando, FL. I was going to Anberlin shows before anyone knew who they were. I thought it was so incredible seeing a band so talented coming from my hometown. When I first heard “Paperthin Hymn,” I was blown away. The tone and dynamic of this song is everything I want in an Anberlin song. Stephens lyrics and melodies are so iconic.


“Ready Fuels” Steven Kopacz (Ex-Drums, Go Radio)

I don’t know if many people know this, but when I was 18/19, I was in a hardcore band called Embraced on Theory 9 Records (Copeland was also on the label at the time). We took Anberlin on one of their first tours. It was Copeland, Anberlin, and us. I remember walking in the first venue and they had already started. They were playing “Ready Fuels.” Since then, that song has always had a special place in my heart.

“Godspeed”  – Benjamin Wentworth (The Heavy Empty)

There is absolutely no denying this band at this point, obviously…and that’s why we all will miss them, but what I think started it all for me was how much they owned the scene when Godspeed came out. Great song, amazing energy…driving. The production is great as well as the mix. Listening to the song instantly brings me back to these glory years for EMO. Admittedly, I was never “BIG” into Anberlin, but the Cities record really grabbed me. Being from the Tallahassee scene myself, I always have had a great respect for Florida bands that have taken it all the way. I’ve seen Anberlin play live a handful of times and they always brought it. Much love and respect, you will be missed!

“The Resistance” Kobe Amoh (Staff Writer, Officially The Hottest)

I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Anberlin live, but if I did, and were they to pnly play “The Resistance,” I’d die a happy man. The song is a gateway drug to the band: the quiet intro that roars into a fantastic start, the swells and crashes – it all blends together to make a beautiful song. After the 3+ years I spent putting Anberlin on the backburner, it was a great way to transition back into their trademark sound. Every music fan has a song they think of when it comes to an individual artist, and when I look back on the quintet years from now, it’s always going to be “The Resistance.”

“A Day Late” Mike Gentile (Guitar/vocals, Rescue Kid / Ex-guitar, Hey Monday)

It’s really difficult to pick one favorite Anberlin song; they have so many that I’ve grown attached to over the years. If I had to pick one I would probably choose “A Day Late” off of Never Take Friendship Personal. I first heard of Anberlin in 2005 or so, and ever since then their music was always something that inspired me. In my opinion, Anberlin is the definition of a band that defined a genre/movement/scene. Anberlin is that band that pioneered intricate guitar riffs, awesome hooks and melodies, and very well crafted songs all tied in and based around the most melodic elements of alternative rock music. A Day Late was one of the first songs I heard from this band, and I can remember listening to it on repeat over and over again. Still to this day, it’s one of the many Anberlin songs that I relate to almost too well!

“Breaking” Brian Kraus (Weekend Editor, Alternative Press)

“Breaking” embodies the best parts of the band, their resilient rock spirit and upbeat pop energy that’s only magnified when seeing them live. The song’s rally of “You make breaking hearts look so easy” makes holding a grudge sound so good.

“Hello Alone” Zack Waggener (Drums, Shapes & Colors)

Hello alone is one of my favorite modern rock songs. I think it sums up everything I love about Anberlin. It’s aggressive, yet the melody stays with you. It reminds me of all the great times I’ve had over the years with that record, bonding with friends, going to shows, or helping me through something I was struggling with at the time.

“Creep (Radiohead cover, AOL Sessions)” Bradley Walden (Singer, Emarosa)

There aren’t 3 sentences that can describe how much Anberlin means to me. It’s ineffable, the way this band brought me into a way to feel music. I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. I remember them doing a cover of “Creep.” I bawled my eyes out because it was so beautiful. I’ll never forget this band.

“Inevitable” Jacob Tender (Editor, Under The Gun Review / Owner, Bottle Cap Media)

Anberlin made their first mark on me in my 8th grade year. In the years that followed, I spent countless hours with Never Take Friendship Personal and Cities. Soccer warm-up playlists, mixed CDS, and my Creative Zen MP3 player were loaded with the classics, ready for any occasion. Then there was “Inevitable,” a song I didn’t share with anyone. This one I kept to myself. You see, I’ve always been one of those romantic types you see on your sitcom of choice. At least that’s the self-perception. So naturally, any important romantic aspect of my life is accompanied with a soundtrack. This particular song has been like The Shins to Zach Braff’s career, reoccurring. It’s gushy, it’s slow, and it even sounds like Stephen had a bit of a cold while recording it. That’s all just fine with me.


“Adelaide” Adrian Garza (Staff Writer, Under The Gun Review)

I was a little late to the party with Anberlin, but somehow I came across a certain track off of their 2007 hit album Cities called “Adelaide” that made me absolutely fall in love with this band. I’m not sure if it was the massive hook-filled chorus or the soothing nature of the song that did it in for me, but either way, this is one track that’s been a staple for my road trip and study playlists over the years and will probably continue to be included for many more years to come.

“Other Side” Sara Scoggins (Staff Writer, Under The Gun Review)

I think Anberlin is just as passionate and innovative now as they were 10 years ago. Vital’s third track “Other Side,” always stood out to me because of how BIG the song becomes. It starts out calm and builds into a passionate anthem. I also love how beautiful Stephen Christian’s voice is. He has the ability to be soft and gentle, and then explosive and powerful. He’s such a talented vocalist and this song really highlights the shades of color in his voice.

“(*fin)” Jacob Testa (Staff Writer, Mind Equals Blown)

The first time I saw Anberlin live, “(*fin)” was the encore. The band wasn’t yet among my favorites, but that moment is the single best concert experience I’ve had. The sprawling, atmospheric epic built up naturally, drawing the entire venue together and allowing each person to get lost in the sounds and emotions spilling out of the five men on stage. Every time I listen to Cities, that memory is sparked just a little bit, and it reminds me of how special Anberlin is. With the announcement of the group’s end in 2014, I can’t think of a more perfect song to associate with the close of an incredible career. It’s a fitting reminder of all that this band has been to its fans throughout the years – the darkness and the beauty, expressed through fantastic lyricism and expert musicianship, in the form of something that means more than just a song. If you want to know how I feel like about the breakup, just go listen to the second half of this track. It’s all there.

There you have it. If you’d like to share your own memories and favorites, feel free to do so in the comments. You can subscribed to our Anberlin Essentials playlist on Rdio. Images courtesy of Mike Wilson Photography.

Jacob Tender
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2 Responses to “UTG ESSENTIALS: Anberlin Favorites And Memoirs”

  1. GoldenAvenger7 says:

    A great list of songs and commentary. Anberlin will always be my favorite band, ever since I heard them back in 2002 with the release of Blueprints. “Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen” likewise, will always be my favorite song of all time. It is quite simply the most intoxicating and beautifully written song I have ever heard. I will miss you Anberlin. Thanks for 12 amazing years.

  2. Keith Kevin Stein says:

    So hard to pick a favorite. I had the great privilege of working with Anberlin and getting to know them through the years. It has been an unforgettable journey and their music was a soundtrack for a large part of it. I’ve got every song they’ve ever recorded in my library and I lve them all. Amazing musicians and even better people. Thanks for the memories.