Review Summary: Mayday Parade acoustically leave the jury hung, not ready to hang just yet.
Of all the bands releasing a new album in 2011, Floridian quintet Mayday Parade are right near the top of the heap when it comes to having something to prove. Bursting onto the scene in 2006 with their impressive debut EP ‘Tales Told by Dead Friends’, the pop-punkers followed it up with the phenomenal ‘A Lesson in Romantics’, an LP which showcased the dual contrasting vocals of Jason Lancaster and Derek Sanders. When the huskier sounding Lancaster subsequently departed the band however, many were left disappointed – if not surprised - by the dip in song-writing quality on the poppier ‘Anywhere But Here’. The jury were ready to hang, but with the release of the six track acoustic EP ‘Valdosta’, the jury is now hung.
Containing two new tracks and four fan favorites which have been re-worked acoustically, ‘Valdosta’ appears to suggest that Mayday Parade have realized which areas of their game required improvement. Of the two new tracks, closer ‘Terrible Things’ impresses most, almost being a half-brother to the much-loved piano ballad ‘Miserable At Best’. Poignantly touching on love, death and family, it is more mature than any song off ‘Anywhere But Here’, and is delivered in a surprisingly convincing and emotional fashion by Sanders. The cut then unexpectedly adds a full band climax to proceedings, closing the EP in a rousing and satisfying fashion. At the opposite end of the spectrum, opener ‘Amber Lynn’ attempts to interestingly – if not entirely successfully - distinguish itself by incorporating more of a country feel via the use of slide guitar.
Of the four re-recorded tracks to be included on this EP, the two which come from the Lancaster era are likely to be the most polarizing. ‘Jamie All Over’ succeeds on the back of the original version’s immediately infectious hooks, if not by this specific performance. Meanwhile, the older ‘Your Song’ only comes to life in its second half, despite an infusion of piano and violin. The vocal accompaniment provided by drummer Jake Bundrick on these songs can best be described as solid, without going anywhere near matching Lancaster’s distinctive rasp. Of the two more recent re-workings, ‘Kids In Love’ is the real revelation here, with Sanders markedly elevating his performance so as to turn a cheesy pop-rocker into a heartfelt ballad with emotional depth. ‘Bruised and Scarred’ doesn’t fare quite as well, although the violin melody which intermittently floats in is a winner.
It may be a stretch to suggest that Mayday Parade sound rejuvenated here on ‘Valdosta’, but it could be exactly the venture which was required to give the band a reality check of sorts. Vocally, melodically and lyrically forced to resort to a bare bones framework, there is little place to hide behind noise and gimmicks. Hopefully, the lessons learned from this exercise will assist the band in distancing themselves from the hundreds of similar outfits crowding the scene. Sure, ‘Valdosta’ is unlikely to appeal to too many non-fans of Mayday Parade, but it could well set up their next LP (expected mid-year) as a release which will not only win over some new fans, but also many of the stubborn “No Jason, No Mayday” doubters!
Recommended Tracks: Terrible Things, Kids In Love & Jamie All Over.
yeah, i'm actually liking it quite a bit. jake isn't as good as jason, obviously, but he holds his own fjust ine on jamie all over. terrible things wasn't really my thing though. but maybe when they put out their next album, the (slight) increase in maturity they show here will be present. cuz anywhere but here wasn't that great.
But Winsomniac, many other bands have done similar acoustic compilations before, while adding a new song or two. Look at Bayside (although, granted, that had a few more tracks). It's not as if the poppier pop-punk bands usually do such a thing, so I think this is better than nothing... And IF it helps them get back on track, that's an extra bonus.
snerefedsav, I guess if you don't like 'Terrible Things', then it would be difficult to rathe this EP too highly... It's sort of the lynchpin. But yeah, let's hope they learn from this.
mayday should not try and sing songs from the lancaster era. your song was miserable at best, but jamie all over scrapes by as barely ok. imo, the song's beginning hook, the way jason sings "...see las vegas" as well as "san francisco" in the following verse really get you into it (especially on the song's original version, http://www.purevolume.com/kidnamedchicago), and derek just doesn't have it.
the two new songs aren't bad, terrible things is better than it probably should be and amber lynn would have been one of the better tracks if it was on anywhere but here.
such a shame for this band, because everything about a lesson in romantics was brilliant.
judge, whether they should be singing Lancaster era songs is always going to be hotly contested. I can see both sides of the debate, but was surprised they played so many live when I saw them last week. I think we both know those songs are not as good without Jason, but that doesn't automatically make them bad. I just hope they move on come mid-year.
Disagree about the cheap cop-out statement Winsomniac. Many bands release similar types of EPs a few months before the LP comes out. Yes, I would have liked at least one more original, but you can also go the other way & release half your LP on an EP. As I said in the review, if this is what was needed to make them wake up to themselves, then this is what was needed. As for my rating, well you already know I'm just a nice guy! ;-)
Thanks Acanthus. Glad you can see what I was aiming for with the review.
Adam, doesn't Parades count? Nah, probably not, since it took you 6 months to like it.
And there's more to come Thomas.
StarClassic & Adam, if you disliked 'Terrible Things', then there won't be much for you here. But I have to respectfully disagree. Adam, will you stop holding out for another 'Miserable At Best'. Go Radio are more likely to achieve that.
robertsona clearly wishes he was in this band. And yeah, when I saw them last week, chicks were everywhere.
In other words DiceMan, you didn't like 1 album. Go on, give 'em another chance!