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The album that broke TikTok during Summer 2023: “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)”

Steven Depolo
Laken Kincaid writes about summer 2023, where Noah Kahan took music fans by storm.

Summer 2023 was shaped by multiple events: the billionaire submarine debacle, the rise of cinematic double features through the likes of Barbenheimer and Colleen Ballinger made ukuleles even less cool than they already were as we boarded the “Toxic Gossip Train.” However, when looking back on these pivotal three months, one album release dominated not only my brain but also those of the masses all over social media. On June 9, 2023, my music taste and life were changed forever with Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever).”

Launching on Spotify a year ago, Kahan’s “Stick Season” album was expanded with seven more tracks, each with their own beautiful and stirring melodies. No doubt, I am a fan of the earlier collection and have been since I first heard the title track on The Heights last fall; my adoration for ballads such as “Halloween” and “The View Between Villages” soon followed as I delved deeper into Kahan’s discography. His sound is iconically folk and indie – tunes that remind every Southern Belle of the simple life listening to a guitar on a front porch while drinking sweet tea.

It was going to be hard to top the smooth but biting words of “Growing Sideways” and the hard hitting message behind underlying “Everywhere, Everything.” Yet, Kahan did it eloquently without disrupting the artistry he had already woven. “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” features songs that compliment the tracks from the original release rather than trampling over them like other artists may do. 

“Your Needs, My Needs” pairs well with the previously mentioned “Everywhere, Everything,” illustrating the dichotomy between a toxic relationship that drains you and a healthy love that makes you want to be with a person until your “food for the worms to eat.” “No Complaints,” a favorite of mine, shows the darker sides of mental health recovery, something Kahan prayed for months earlier in “Growing Sideways” and “Orange Juice.” In a similar vein, “You’re Gonna Go Far” serves as a capstone to the previous works of “Northern Attitude” and “Stick Season,” exploring the positives to leaving your small hometown and exploring the world.

Additionally, Kahan experiments with new elements to his music. “Paul Revere,” while still maintaining Kahan’s string sound, implements a new beat that reminds the listener of a horse trotting down a cobblestone street, playing into the song’s namesake. “The View Between Villages (extended),” while building off of its predecessor, incorporates narration from older members of a small town. They talk about how they have everything they need in their tiny little community, serving as an interesting juxtaposition to Kahan’s disdain for the simple life inside the walls of this seemingly cozy settlement.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the tracks that took TikTok by storm. 

“Dial Drunk” was one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Its catchy tune and memorable lyrics had audiences memorizing the song before it even was available online. Personally, I have found myself both screaming along to this track in the car with the windows down and humming along to it while just walking across campus, which demonstrates its versatility for audiences. The bridge is also one of the best that I have ever heard and that is not an exaggeration. “Dial Drunk” has been at the top of my “On Repeat” on Spotify after four months post drop, so that shows just how much I adore the song. 

On a different note, “Call Your Mom” is more somber, but just as jolting. The amount of tattoos with lyrics from this track is startling to say the least, but it is because the words are just that powerful. While we see Kahan’s own struggles with mental health throughout the album, this ballad is a voice of comfort amidst the depression. Instead of discussing his own struggles, the artist takes on the persona of guiding the listener through their difficult moments, offering to drive all night and call their mom to ease their pain. The best descriptor I can find for “Call Your Mom” is haunting but in the best way possible. 

I assume I am not the only person with this newfound love of Noah Kahan as his tour tickets sold out rapidly. When I was in the queue to get passes for his show at Blossom next summer, I suddenly felt like I was a Swiftie fighting the Great (Ticketmaster) War. However, I think that shows just how pronounced Kahan is in making a name for himself. His music was a staple of my summer and I cannot wait to see what he creates next.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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