Review Summary: Destination: B-Sides is just what it says it is: a collection of b-sides, remixes, and live songs from the Destination: Beautiful recording sessions/tours. It goes hand in hand with Destination: Beautiful and serves as a great addition to the collection o2 of 2 thought this review was well written
After the Vans Warped Tour 2004, Mae was riding on the success of their debut record "Destination: Beautiful" and enjoying their expanding fan base. So what do you do one year after the release of your debut album, coming fresh off the Warped Tour with a new group of fans waiting to hear more from you? The band had yet to go on a U.S. tour as a headlining act and they were in the process of writing their sophomore record which would be titled "The Everglow." So what else to do except to release a compilation of b-sides, live songs, and remixes entitled "Destination: B-Sides." Many Mae fans found themselves making the purchase to get their hands on this compilation. Many Mae fans also found themselves convinced to buy the next Mae release after "Destination: B-Sides" hit the shelves. The result: Mae went from an underground, semi-unknown Christian rock band with no chart recognition with "Destination: Beautiful" to peaking at #51 on Billboard's Top 200 albums and #1 on Top Christian Albums with "The Everglow." So was "Destination: B-Sides" successful? Well, Mae is still riding on the success of "The Everglow" more than two years later, so you can decide for yourself.
But was "Destination: B-Sides" just an attempt to increase sales for their then upcoming release, or is there actually legitimate music on this compilation. One can't deny that monetary gain had something to do with this release, but this review will focus on the latter.
The compilation opens with a remix of "This is the Last Time." The song is very technical with a lot of electronica/pop influence. The voice of Dave Elkins is the highlight of the song. "Suspension," the second track on the collection is one of the three b-sides present. Mae didn't know when they released the slightly above average lyrics and sub-par recording quality that is "Suspension," that that very tune would get them out from the underground scene and onto the iPods of trendy adolescent girls and fans of Reliant K and Jimmy Eat World. It is true that the song is one of Mae's best, but with this almost demo version, the instrumentals are the highlight. That song leads into the probably the best song on the collection, the acoustic version of "Sun," one of, if not the most beautiful and bright songs that the band has ever released. When played with only acoustic instruments, there is a new light shined on the song, perhaps making it even more listenable than the original release.
The album continues with the second "Destination: Beautiful" b-side, "Tisbury Lane." This song is heavily jazz-influenced, a first for the group. Some would say that they went out on a limb with this five-minute song, but most were very impressed with what Mae was capable of doing. Connoisseurs of Mae and music in general who heard this song, no longer considered Mae as the pop/emo-influenced band that they were previously considered as; they are now thought of as a band that has some genuine musical talent and a potential to stick around for quite a while and become even more successful than they already are. Fans were even more shocked as the album progressed, with Rob Schwietzer as the vocalist for the following track, "Awakening." When Mae fans first heard this track, many of them said to themselves, "What? This doesn't sound like Dave Elkins; who is this?" Fans that gave the song a chance rather than initially skipping over it found that "Awakening" was truly an awakening. It was, along with "Tisbury Lane," an eye-opener that hinted at Mae's potential.
Now, for the live versions; after "Awakening," the compilation leads into live versions of "Futuro," "Sun," and "This Time is the Last Time." "Futuro" is definitely a pop/electronika-influenced instrumental with Rob Schweitzer's keyboards as the most noticeable part and the highlight of the song. The song is above-average at best, but the live version of "Sun," just like the acoustic version, shines yet another light on the song. Needless to say that many Mae fans walked away from this compilation with "Sun" being their favorite Mae song. The song has a nearly two-minute piano introduction with Dave's voice then entering and leading into, for many, the best live version that this collection has to offer. The live version of "This Time is the Last Time" is like the live version of "Futuro." It's not really anything different than the original release of the song other than the use of electric instead of acoustic guitar.
The collection finishes with a bang. The second to last song is the acoustic version of “Giving It Away” which is very beautifully done. It is arguably better than the original version, depending upon whether you’re looking for a more laid-back song. It is mostly done with Rob Schweitzer’s acoustic piano, but acoustic guitar enters later into the song. The last song is the remix of “Goodbye, Goodnight.” This is a perfect choice to end the album with. It doesn’t sound much different than the original, but it was still a very good decision to end the album with this. There is a bass in the song that sounds like very loosely tuned acoustic strings slapped with someone’s hand. It makes a very unique sound.
Overall, I was very impressed by this collection. I would recommend this to any fan of Mae. It kind of goes hand in hand with Destination: Beautiful though, so you may want to pick up that one before this one, but nonetheless, this is still very well done. So go pick it up if you like the stuff I’ve said about it.