Review Summary: A collection of 5 better than average songs that fans of Bayside will probably enjoy, but won't love.
With five well-received full-length albums under his belt and his numerous stints at Warped Tour, it's safe to say Anthony Raneri is a well respected figure in the pop-punk community. Few bands in the genre have been able to match the energy and consistency found in Bayside's discography. Much of this is due to Anthony being an incredible vocalist as well as a gifted song writer. For this reason, I had high hopes for his solo EP, "New Cathedrals." And although his first solo effort doesn't disappoint, it doesn't exactly leave a lasting impression.
Packed into this EP are five tracks clocking in at just 16 minutes. While none of the songs are bad, unfortunately this album is lacking the gems that are ever so prevelant on any of Bayside's 5 LP's. Even its best tracks just aren't really up to par with the average Bayside song. Thankfully, there are several musical influences from country to ska which help make "New Cathedrals" more enjoyable. Ironically one of my favorite tracks, 'Lead, Follow, Fail' was actually meant to be on Bayside's latest effort "Killing Time." This suggests maybe Raneri is most effective when he's doing what he knows best; fast-paced, angsty pop-punk.
Even though this is far from Raneri's best work, his vocals do fit these songs quite well. Opener track 'Sandra Partial' has a simplistic country feel to it and his voice sound great. 'Charleston' also proves to be a good fit for him with it's almost ska feel accompanied by Anthony's signature sound. The other two tracks are just more of the same and don't really stand out from the bunch.
All in all, "New Cathedral's" should have been better. The first two songs are enjoyable but in the end none of these songs are amazing. Perhaps it's unfair to compare this to Bayside, but it's inevitable. Having released exceptional pop punk for over 10 years with his band, Raneri set the bar high for this release, and quite frankly he couldn't meet the standards he set for himself. Hopefully next time Anthony Raneri will manage to blow me away. Until then, I'll be listening to the Band that truly showcases his talent as a vocalist, "Bayside."