Maybe it's a failing of our own energy and spirit that's to blame for a history of apathy for Yellowcard. When we discovered the band we were in the last of a desperate attempt to patch things up with MTV. We've always been a music video fanatic and the death of that aspect of the channel has always kind of been like a bad break-up in our heart.
Yellowcard's, "Ocean Avenue" was the final good video we saw on the channel. We were intrigued by what we were pretty sure was an homage to Run Lola Run, and that of course is awesome. Still they just seemed like one more pop punk group, x-game soundtrack fodder, and even adding in the amazing violin stylings of Sean Mackin seemed like just another gimmick.
We're some years down the line, and now a dedicated publicist has dragged us kicking and screaming back to Yellowcard and their music. It's been long enough that we can feel nostalgic for the bands that were popular when our biggest problem was still getting to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on time, but we're also mature enough now to know who was faking it, and who was really worth something. Yellowcard falls firmly in the latter category.
The band released their latest album When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes in March earlier this year, and acoustic companion record last month. This far it's the perfect opportunity to rediscover the group, and now we lament all we've missed since our brief meeting years ago.
Though you can't call their music anything but pop punk, the ups and downs of being a band constantly creating, constantly playing, and constantly adapting have clearly made a difference in Yellowcard's output.
"The most important part of this chapter has been staying positive," said Ryan Key via email. "After everything this band has been through, ups and downs, we are so lucky to have this opportunity to keep doing what we love. So I think what is different is our awareness of what it is that we have, and staying grateful every day."
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The loss of bassist Peter Mosely does not appear to have done any permanent damage to the songwriting process of Yellowcard. Choice tracks off of When You're Thinking show a strength in the compoisition that can't be denied. Mackin's ability as a violinist has only grown, though he keeps his contributions nicely woven into the otherwise standard instrumentational line-up. When bowing in the background he brings Yellowcard close as any punk band will ever be to orchestral greatness, and when he takes center stage on the melody such as in "Soundtrack" he commands a brilliant presence.
It's "Sing for Me," though that best illustrates that Yellowcard remains a group to be reckoned with. Plaintive and heartbroken, simple and sincere it is destined to be the salve to a million wounded souls as its molecules gutterball into the ear canals of the lost. The song is dedicated to Key's late aunt.
"I found out last year that my Aunt Stephanie had inoperable brain cancer," said Key. "She has always been a very positive force in my life. She was a very determined and confident woman who always knew what she wanted to say. With this song, I wanted to explore what it must have felt like for her to find the words to say goodbye to her son, my cousin. She passed on October 25th. I just hope the song helped her fight a little harder against that horrible disease."
To someone who sports a tattoo featuring the name of a cancer victim on our back as well as in the name of our daughter we can understand how the loss of someone who inspired you to the demon of the disease would create a hole you'd try to fill with song.
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If you really want to have your heart strings yanked upon then the acoustic version released last month will likely pull hard enough to knock you down. While you lose something in the energy, the honesty comes through even stronger, plus it really gives Mackin a chance to shine in the comparative quiet. We asked Key why it was necessary to release an acoustic version of the album.
"It wasn't necessary," he said. "It was something we to do for our fans. We are trying to rebuild our career right now so any opportunity we have to give back to the fans we are going to take."
Currently, Yellowcard is back at work with another album pending next year. Where so many of the contemporaries have failed, either artistically once the initial fire died or altogether in the attrition of the business Yellowcard has continued to grow. We look forward to more work from them.
Yellowcard plays Saturday November 12 at House of Blues with Every Avenue and Go Radio.