Standout Track: No. 3, “Just Die Young,” one of several memorable, moody rockers from Daddy Lion’s free self-titled EP. Over a cascade of piano, synths, and bluesy guitars, frontman Jeremy Whitman embodies a character who despairs over life in his boring suburb and decides to kill himself, before deciding that would be boring, too.
Musical Motivation: The song’s narrator soon escapes to travel around the country but realizes with horror that America’s cities aren’t any more exciting. From strip malls, fast food, and tidy lawns, it turns out, there is no escape. “In a town that lives the same/As every town that lives the same/Why’d imagination become some damned?” Whitman sings. The track also riffs on the ill-considered suicidal impulses that many adolescents feel at one point or another. “I’ll just die young/No, that ain’t what I’ll do.”
The Suburbs Are Killing Us? Currently working toward masters degrees in philosophy and social policy at George Washington University, Whitman came up with the guitar riff for “Just Die Young” in his parents’ Bethesda basement when he was 17. These were years of “semiemotional turmoil,” he says, and after college he briefly returned to the basement to record the song. The angst came flooding back. “There’s a lot of teenage-y suburban influence,” he says. It wasn’t that anyone had died, or even that a girlfriend had stomped on his heart. “It was just hormones raging. Now I think, ‘Were things ever that bad?’ And no, they weren’t.”
Daddy Lion performs at the Red and the Black Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8:30 p.m.