New Tunes Reviews, August 13: Yellowcard, The Wild Feathers, Washed Out

Continuing the trend of nostalgia-laced albums, Yellowcard released Ocean Avenue Acoustic this week. This is song-for-song re-do of their classic album from 2003. Because I did not remember the original release all that well, I put each track side-by-side in my queue to compare.  

Overall, these two recordings are pretty similar. Yellowcard was an acoustic(y) band to begin with so this “stripped-down” production really isn’t anything new. As a whole, it isn’t as much re-imagination as Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends Acoustic from earlier this year. In general, I think if a band is going to do this type of release, take chances! Do something different! Some of the instruments are deconstructed once you reach the chorus, like in “Breathing,” and as expected, “Ocean Avenue” and “Empty Apartment” are all great. The guitar and violin-style in “View from Heaven” makes the track seem as a country song. 

(Random thought: If Yellowcard embraced the finger-picking violin and guitar tone used in this song on future albums, they would probably be lumped in with successful bands like Mumford & Sons and Lumineers. Was this is the plan all along?!) 

Final thought: I enjoyed this album more than the original.  It is more refined. It seems they took away all of those frivolous parts and just kept the essential pieces. 

Chill-wave never really appealed to me as a genre. But when I saw that Washed Out released a new album, I decided to give it a chance. This album, Paracosm, is in-line with the basic elements of chill-wave: lo-fi with looping effects.
washed out - paracosm

Another noticeably summer-time album, it captures the pool-party/drugged-up aesthetic with melodies and whimsical tones. One reviewer hypothesized that albums like this are a direct response to this generation’s float-along, paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. To me, it feels like background music. I can imagine situations where this album may be a good soundtrack. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t anything exciting. 

No doubt Paracosm will be considered for Album of the Year honors, though. 

Wild Feathers
The Wild Feathers was my stand-out of the week.  This Nashville alt-country band released a very strong self-titled album that reminds me of Lucero and Jason Isbell. With multi-layered instrumentals and harmonies, the songs do not feel tired.  If you are a fan of accessible alt-country with robust lyrics and good musicianship, check out this album (especially “The Ceiling” and “Hard Times). The Wild Feathers are definitely one to watch. 

Also, Rilo Kiley‘s rkives (released in April) is finally on Spotify! I was charmed by many of the tracks, including “Bury, Bury, Bury Another” and “Let Me Back In.”  The album, which was described as a b-side record, also includes “The Frug” (from Initial Friend EP) and “Emotional” (originally from “The Execution of All Things” single). 

Next week, Superchunk‘s I Hate Music comes out.  NPR featured this album on First Listen. I took a listen yesterday and it is very catchy, especially the opening track. I will most definitely post a full review for its official release date. 

Does It Hold Up?: Yellowcard’s One For the Kids (2001)

I have a very vivid memory of being in Asbury Park, leaving the Skate and Surf Fest and being approached by a young man who asked me if I knew who Yellowcard were. As i answered yes, he inquired if i could name any songs not from 2003’s “Ocean Avenue.” I replied by listing titles from “One For the Kids,” which came out two years earlier.  He was impressed, gave me a high-five and I continued to walk down the boardwalk. 

I loved this album in 2001.  I thought the use of violins was so “interesting” and cool. The lead singer was a hottie. That is all i needed in the early 2000s.

When I queued One for the Kids up on Spotify, I was immediately reminded how great the first track, “Starstruck,” is. I thought this was going to be a no brainer! Of course this album is great!  And then song #2 came on. “Drifting Away” is a nasely mess.  Skip!   “Something Value” is an acoustic gem. Okay, album redeemed. Powering through all the following songs was painful. “Cigarette”  was the only other track I could listen to in full. 

In a few words, this album does not hold up.  It has a few good songs.  But this is just an example of when teenage nativity takes over the eardrums.  

But boy did this band make violins cool….and I will always love “Something of Value.”  It is one of the meanest songs ever.