Bayside – The Walking Wounded
Victory Records (2/6/07)
“What we mean by ‘Walking Wounded’ is to reflect on all kinds of survivors, not necessarily what we survived. Everybody gets wounded at some point or another as they go through life. Most of this record is about keeping your head up and getting through tough situations. Everybody has to get over being wounded.” Strong words from this Long Island band’s singer/guitarist Anthony Raneri, explaining the thematic elements of Bayside’s (Oh how I hope they are named after the high school in Saved By the Bell) fourth release. Many will jump at the chance to label this band emo and move on; just compare them to Fall Out Boy and call it a day.
I think you need to give these guys more credit than that. That album really is about not wallowing and moving on with the pain. It’s post-emo, or po-emo as I like to call it, with a breathless wish that it will catch on. I listened to a few of Bayside’s past recordings and it seems like these guys did a lot of growing up. Perhaps unintentionally when dealing with the loss of their drummer John “Beatz” Holohan in a car accident, and their own subsequent recovery. Their melodies grew out of the basic angry stanza/sappy chorus amalgamation that has plagued my local radio stations. With new experimentation at the clever hands of producers Shep Goodman and Kenny Gioia they have opened themselves up for, not only a wider audience, but also a more dynamic approach to making rock music. With the playfulness comes a richer sound that actually matches the tone and feeling of the lyrics. The band truly steps up on this album (They deserve a strong credit: Jack O’Shea â€“ Guitar/Vocals, Chris Gugliemo â€“ Drums, and Nick Ghanbarian â€“ Bass) and shies away from just making a musical mess behind an angry singer.
Lyrically I think they triumphantly falter. Every song is a baptism of the past; a relinquishment of the wrongs that does grow quite repetitious. To be fair, each song does have a completely different thematic topic. I can’t give them credit for something they haven’t done yet, but I feel that the shedding of this emo skin with this album with make for stronger and wiser albums to come. One of the more powerful tracks is “Choice Hops and Bottled Self-Esteem” in which the band calls out desperately to a girl plummeting into alcoholism. I really do wonder if they sent this single to our dear shorn-scalped Brittney Spears in rehab.
The one true misstep are in the songs “I and I” and “Head on a Plate”, where Raneri dives deep into self-indulgence yapping about how The Man wants to change him, make him sell out, and that his lyrics are his children that won’t be changed for nothingâ€”even if he offends everyone. I don’t care about the plights of a front man. I’m sorry, I just do not. Prove to me that you don’t care what people think with the sub-text of your lyrics like you did in the rest of the album. He even tilts a quick nod to reviews like mine who call him on it stating, â€œI’m really, really not that conceited. I swear I’m just trying to bring the music back to music.â€ Who you trying to convince, Raneri? If you had to write that you know what you did. I’m not going to rub your nose it in, just bring the music back to music with the music. It feels like Bayside questioned their own motives and these weak tracks were born in an otherwise powerful album.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT…
Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)
As I scanned though my now defunct iTunes catalogue (See my previous article) looking to find an album for this piece, I kept passing Nick Drake and there was something, perhaps the hope, in Bayside’s album that kept reminding me of Nick’s music. I figured this was a fluke and I was kidding myself. People would think I was crazy comparing Bayside to Nick. So, I cheated. I went to Allmusic.com to see what they had down for similar artists under Bayside. I figured that might help jog my memory for a good suggestion. I swear to God it happened in that order. The page came up and under â€œInfluenced Byâ€ there was Nick Drake. I couldn’t believe it. I have got to have a little faith in my instincts.
Here is a man that didn’t make it out of the depression and move on. This album, though, feels to have a mother vein of hope running though itâ€”that there is a possibility everything will get better. But that’s depression… isn’t it? Just when you think it is all over it comes back even harder. Like the end of that book Go Ask Alice. Ever read that? Depressing stuff, man.
I will fight with people for hours as to whether Jeff Buckley and Elliot Smith were actually talented (they were not) or just famous for dying (they were). No matter your opinion of them, Nick Drake was the real deal.
“There Stands the Glass” by Webb Pierce, from the album That Wondering Boy (1956)
The best drinking song ever written. â€œThere stands the glass, that will ease all my pain, that will settle my brain, it’s my first one today.â€ Even the guitar sounds drunk.