October 12, 2004

Saves the Day "Ups and Downs: Early Recordings and B-Sides"

I dismissed this band as being capable of making interesting music sometime around 2001. I was never a huge fan, however, about 4 years ago, I was intrigued by all the punk kids at the mall wearing their tee shirt; it made me check ‘em out. I’d heard their first album at a party; I thought it was o.k. Didn’t really think too much about it. I remember noticing that most of their songs tend to have that annoying punk rock drum beat. Y’know….the one that Pennywise uses a lot.

My next exposure: a friend (said friend was yours truly--ed) had made me a copy of their acoustic EP, I'm Sorry I'm Leaving. He told me I’d like it a lot. Upon the first listen of that tape, I had decided they were fantastic. I played that tape so many times it broke. I’d kind of forgotten the fact that I was unimpressed when I’d heard them the first time. So when my tape broke, I went to Best Buy to pick up a copy of that on compact disc. They didn’t have it, so instead I thought I’d take a chance and buy a copy of their new release at the time, Stay What You Are. While it seemed the band had matured, having dropped the annoying Pennywise drumbeats in every song, they also seemed to drop the great lyrics and catchy hooks included on the acoustic EP. I was disappointed with that album, and I hadn’t really thought of the band since.

Somehow, I wound up with a copy of their new disc, Ups And Downs: Early Recordings and B Sides. It is a compilation of early recordings and B-sides. I thought this would be a good opportunity to listen to this band again and reevaluate my attitude toward their music. There’s nineteen songs on this bad boy, and five of them are included on the acoustic EP I loved so much. I hadn’t heard them since my tape broke. That made me happy. I listened to those tracks first. They sound just as good as they did when my tape still played. Lyrics like “Pick the nicest lawn and imagine the two of us rolling around down on the ground” and “how shitty this town would seem without you in it” almost inspired me to write some decent lyrics of my own!

Then I started from the cd from the beginning. The first three songs are actually pretty good. Yes! The band has redeemed themselves! The first three songs are definitely better than anything that was on Stay What You Are, being both clever and catchy as all hell. I listened to the acoustic songs all the way through a second time, well…because they’re awesome. The next eight songs have that annoying Pennywise drumbeat. I guess I’m getting old, because I wasn’t digging it. On the other hand, they do a decent job covering the Descendents’ “Cheer” and the Clash’s “Clash City Rockers”. There’s also a pretty good live version of “Jesse and My Whetstone” from 2003. So, if you are a die hard Saves the Day fan, then this disc is for you. If you’re not, I would recommend just picking up their acoustic EP, and maybe that Vagrant sampler that tracks 2 and 3 were on. Who knows, maybe in the process, you’ll find you really DO like that whiny emo stuff.

--Kyle Sowash

Artist Website: http://www.savestheday.com
Label Website: http://www.vagrant.com

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