American Aquarium’s ‘Burn. Flicker. Die.’ Turns 10 Years Old

American Aquarium country music

You know those albums that, for whatever reason, just feel special to you?

Fundamentally, they may not be much different than several other great albums, but for whatever reason, the lyrics just grab you by the soul and the riffs and solos just seem sonically superior. The records that quite literally hit different.

It can be impossible to put into words what it is about an album like this that resonates with you or why it makes you feel this way, but it does. American Aquarium’s Burn.Flicker.Die. is one of those albums for me, and it just so happened to celebrate its 10th birthday yesterday, on August 24th.

Their fifth album out of a catalog that has now grown to nine, not to mention several live and cover albums as well, the Raleigh, NC alt-country outfit released Burn.Flicker.Die. on August 24, 2012. Recorded at the Nutt House Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL, BFD was engineered by Jimmy Nutt and its all star cast of contributors includes Jason Isbell as producer and his now wife Amanda Shires on fiddle and background vocals.

Equal parts head-banging and air guitar warranting rock and roll as it is lyrically deft country music balladry, BFD is the quintessential American Aquarium album. The eleven song tracklist features plenty for everyone, with fan-favorites and live show staples like “Burn. Flicker. Die.,” “Casualties,” and “Jacksonville” stacked alongside some of their most underrated tunes like “Cape Fear River” and “Savannah Almost Killed Me.” Throughout the entire album, there isn’t a single weak link.

Overall, BFD occupies a unique space in the ethos of American Aquarium’s progression. It may not contain their most streamed music, but the release of this album was when everything seemed to click for BJ Barham and the boys.

The founding frontman and chief lyricist took to Instagram to explain this phenomenon.

“Every band that has ever found success in the music business can tell you the exact moment in their career when their luck started to change and the momentum started to swing in their favor.

That breakthrough moment where the good shows started outweighing the bad ones. For us, that moment came with 2012’s ‘Burn.Flicker.Die.’”

If you’ve had the privilege of seeing AA live in the last ten years, or even if you’ve enjoyed listening to any of their post-BFD music, you have this album to thank.

This monumental turning point came at just the right time.

“What was supposed to be our last record as a band ended up being the breakthrough record that kept us in the game. When new fans ask what record they should start with, this album is always my first recommendation.

This was THE critical turning point for our band. This album turns ten years old today and I’m still just as proud of it today as I was back in 2012.”

Just as Barham mentions in the quote above, BFD is a great place to start for anyone not familiar with American Aquarium. Whether this applies to you or not, here is the full tracklist to Burn.Flicker.Die.

Celebrate the special album’s tenth birthday by giving them a listen.

“Cape Fear River”

BFD isn’t only the quintessential AA record, but one could argue it holds the same place in the scope of North Carolina’s country music. BJ Barham’s North Carolina roots are an important aspect of his life and it shows in his music, as he frequently makes references to people, places, and things throughout the state.

The Cape Fear River flows throughout parts of eastern North Carolina and enters the Atlantic Ocean near Wilmington.

“St. Mary’s”

Continuing with the references to the Tar Heel State, St. Mary’s is a historic church in Raleigh, NC, and the frequently mentioned Slim’s is one of downtown Raleigh’s oldest bars.

“Lonely Ain’t Easy”

“Lonely ain’t easy
Lonely ain’t kind
Lonely won’t leave me
Cause she’s a good friend of mine

She’s here in the morning
She’s in bed when I get home
Sometimes I wish lonely would leave me alone
Leave me alone
Leave me alone”

“Abe Lincoln”


Out of all of the great songwriting BJ Barham has done, these four lines may be favorite in his whole catalog.

“Well the powder picks me up and the pills, they pull me down
When the evening ends they’re the only friends that seem to stick around
I think I’ll spend the rest of my days with poison in my veins
Keep livin’ the lie that Rock ‘n’ Roll’s alive, that things are gonna change.”

“Harmless Sparks”


The album’s title track is an absolute force to be reckoned with, and this video from the recording of their Live at Terminal West album in Atlanta is one of the best on the internet.


Barham took to Instagram to share this video today as well.

“To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Burn.Flicker.Die, here’s a live clip of us playing ‘Casualties,’ live at The Ryman back in June. This is one of my favorite tracks from the record and a mainstay in our live set since 2012.”

“Savannah Almost Killed Me”

“Northern Lights”

“Saturday Nights”

Ten years down and the flame is still burning.

Long live Burn.Flicker.Die….

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock