Yellowcard
Ocean Avenue Acoustic


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
August 12th, 2013 | 92 replies | 11,810 views


Release Date: 08/13/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Maybe we’ll forget. I hope we don’t forget.

It’s amazing how a simple statement can mean one thing at the time it was said, and then something completely different a year and a half later. There was a moment the other day where my fiancée looked at me and said, “I love you” and I thought back to the first time she ever said those three words. We weren’t even dating at the time, and her ambiguity-shrouded expression of endearment left me wondering for too long whether she meant it in a slap-you-on-the-shoulder, “I’m right there with ya’ buddy” fashion of boy/girl friendship or whether she had finally taken the fully invested romantic leap that I willingly took more than five years prior. It was the kind of thing that would drive you insane if you were, well, already insane about someone. Looking back, I can still remember the color of her dress, the streaky clouds that plastered the sky like white paint splattered upon a canvas, the way the sunlight hit her brown eyes turning them hazel, and how I couldn’t stand to be with her like that for another second without kissing her. It was torture. Heart warming, heart wrenching torture. And even though I have memories far more pleasant to associate those words with now, it isn’t difficult to transport my mind back to that time – a time when earnest love and dire anguish were forced to live in harmony.

When listening to Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue Acoustic, I imagine that the band must have experienced a similar sensation during the recording process. After all, it has been ten years since the creation of that pop-punk classic, and it was most assuredly a time of heightened emotions for every member of the group. It was the first time that they recorded on a major label, worked with Neal Avron in the studio, heard one of their singles being played on the radio, or saw themselves on television. In short, it was a coming of age for a band that’s largest aspiration before that was playing at the warped tour. From the vantage point that 2013 has bestowed upon them - four albums and millions of sales later - it has to feel completely and utterly surreal to rework the same songs that launched them into stardom when they were essentially still kids. Based on how Ocean Avenue Acoustic sounds, it seems that Yellowcard hasn’t forgotten the feeling of being thrust into the national spotlight. The rebellious attitude, the themes of unrequited love, the struggle to transition into adulthood, the homesickness – it’s all revisited here, with the same energy and conviction put on display a decade ago.

Obviously, as the mind-blowingly creative title suggests, Ocean Avenue has been stripped down and redone acoustically. In order to enjoy the record, it is important that the listener doesn’t approach it expecting inventive re-workings of every single song. Admittedly, I initially indulged in the fantasy of an orchestrated, violin-swelling take on my favorite track ‘Back Home’, but just because Ocean Avenue Acoustic didn’t adhere to my exact preferences doesn’t mean it failed – or even disappointed, for that matter. It delivers exactly what it promises, and occasionally more. The album’s pedestrian moments (from a creative standpoint) actually tend to appear early, such as on the opening ‘Way Away’ and the famous title track ‘Ocean Avenue.’ Despite the rigid, often note-for-note tracing of the originals, these songs still offer a stripped down, more vulnerable sounding alternative to the full-band approach. If Yellowcard suffers any pitfalls on this record, it is certainly not in execution – their instrumental talent has never been overwhelming or impressive, but (as usual) they are on key and rarely find themselves missing a beat. In short, it’s Yellowcard doing what they always do, just acoustically – and that’s the worst thing you’ll probably hear on this album.

Ocean Avenue Acoustic is, not surprisingly, at its best when it ventures beyond what is anticipated. ‘Empty Apartment’ is the first such track to take that leap, toning down an already slower song and placing the emphasis squarely on Ryan Key’s improved vocals. He never makes the leap into a higher octave during the bridge, and even though it leaves the song slightly too even-feeling, it is a better fit to Ryan’s tone and it blends in with the atmosphere far more naturally. It’s the kind of move that seasoned musicians would make; not these guys in 2003. Yellowcard continues to show maturity with standouts like ‘Life of a Salesman’, ‘Twentythree’, ‘View from Heaven’, and ‘Inside Out’, where perhaps the most noticeable improvements come within the band’s strategies for conveying emotion. They’re subtle, ranging from a slight alteration in vocal inflection to an added emphasis on a specific section of a verse, but to the avid fan these progressions are unmistakable and thoroughly enjoyable. The band’s most daunting challenge here also turned out to be their biggest triumph, taking the strictly acoustic ‘One Year Six Months Ago’ and completely reworking it as a piano ballad. The lush, full sounding classical piano notes concoct an atmosphere unlike any other found on this record, and it ties together the wide spectrum of emotions that swirl about Ocean Avenue in a gorgeous, tidy little gem that just precedes the album’s curtain call. It is truly a work of art, and is arguably more special than the already poignant original. Songs like ‘One Year Six Months’ serve as irrefutable evidence of growth within the band, and even though the entire Ocean Avenue Acoustic wasn’t conducted in the same vein, it’s a shining examples of just how much Yellowcard has developed over the past ten years.

Any time an artist creates an acoustic cover album, it is aimed to please long time fans who will appreciate the minor distinctions and nuances that separate it from the original work. Yellowcard is no different here, but that doesn’t mean that this is a simple cash-grab or a ploy to relive their glory days. Ocean Avenue Acoustic is more than that. It’s an homage, a tribute to an album that has changed the life of every member in the band as well as millions of listeners. Each song is a ten year old statement about something - a relationship, a father figure, a place, a hero - and Yellowcard felt like it was time to reflect on those works and figure out what they still mean to them (and us). Yes, these are the same songs, but they just might carry an entirely different weight now that a decade has passed. That’s the magical quality about music and the memories that we associate with it - you never know how the meaning will change with time. To many of us, Ocean Avenue is a memory that’s begun to fade into our past. I hope we never forget.



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user ratings (68)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



15273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Trying to shake off all the layers of dust, hope this doesn't read too clunky.

This is streaming on YouTube for anyone interested, and will be released Tuesday August 13th:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuwZ6MJUWoQ

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2013



1479 Comments


Wow, incredible review. I actually want to listen to this now.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



15273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks hogan. If you aren't a huge YC fan it might not be worth buying, because there are no "new" songs per se, but no matter what I'd follow the link and give all the songs a listen.

My copy came in the mail 5 days early last Thursday, so I've been spinning this constantly.

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2013



1479 Comments


I've only heard southern air, and I really enjoyed it for what it was. One of my ex-girlfriends got me to listen to a bit of ocean avenue but I never went to in depth.

heyadam
August 12th 2013



1703 Comments


Dammit Sowing. Amazing review as always! This site seriously won't be the same without your consistent reviews. Congrats on everything again.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

joshieboy12345
August 12th 2013



5360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was going to review this, but Sowing beat me to it. Not gonna bother. Brilliant review as usual.

Digging: Rise Against - The Black Market

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



7134 Comments


HERE I GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

SCREAM MY LUNGS OUT

AND

TRY

TO

GET

TO

YOUUUUUUUUUUUU

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2013



6315 Comments


The first paragraph and two last sentences: d'awww

Digging: Sully - Blue

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
August 12th 2013



1584 Comments


"Obviously, as the mind-blowingly creative title suggests"

^^

*dead*

CameoLover
August 12th 2013



415 Comments


Not going to listen to this but dude, fantastic review.
That first paragraph :')

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



15273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks everyone, it felt good to write, but it might not be a while until I can do so again : (

@andcas: As much as everyone knows how much I love YC, they also know that you hate them.

@irving:YOU ARE MY OOONLLLLLLYYYYYYYY, MY OONLLLLLLYYYYYYYY ONEEEEE

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



8317 Comments


Perfect review Sowing, really insightful and inspiring writing. Oh and I echo heyadam's thoughts and wishes 100%. Take care, man.

Decayingmajesty
August 12th 2013



5394 Comments


i really dig southern air,so ill give this a listen.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



15273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Metalstyles, congrats on making staff by the way...that was a long time coming! I've seen the tag before, just haven't had a chance to congratulate until now.

cvlts
August 12th 2013



8954 Comments


review's just dripping with nostalgia. well done

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2013



8317 Comments


Thanks, it's appreciated. I need to find my writing groove again, though. Have been terribly devoid of inspiration lately.

Cygnatti
August 12th 2013



21349 Comments


"@irving:YOU ARE MY OOONLLLLLLYYYYYYYY, MY OONLLLLLLYYYYYYYY ONEEEEE"

best song on the album, by far.

Digging: The Avalanches - Since I Left You

theacademy
August 12th 2013



28221 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

i got this.

i just wish a different (read: better and more worthy) album could get this sort of treatment

Myrkur
August 12th 2013



164 Comments


Gay

JazzHands333
August 12th 2013



312 Comments


I dunno, this didn't really click with me the way the original did...which makes sense, of course. It just felt like it didn't carry the same level of emotion that its source material did, ya know?

But this is a fantastic review. Nice to see you still around and about, Sowing.



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