Let me preface this whole thing by admitting that, as far as I’m concerned, Yellowcard can do no wrong. They played a very important part in my formative years, as I learned what music was and what it means to me. I was sucked in by the pure energy of “October Nights” and my mind was blown by how much punk awesomeness could be made by a guy playing an electric violin. In fact, learning about an electric violin, and the fact that magnets and coiled wires are the basis of nearly every audio transducer led me to tinker with guitars. Electric guitar guts are a gateway drug to the mysterious world of electronics, and ultimately pushed me towards building this site. I guess I owe more of my identity to Yellowcard than I realized until now.
Anyways, their latest LP, Southern Air, is awesome. There is nothing earth-shattering here, but every track is solid, and representative of different stages of the development of Yellowcard, the band. The opening track, “Awakening”, as in their more recent albums, kicks things off with heavy power chords, and fast drums, and slightly melodramatic lyrics, and of course, a melodic, almost mournful violin. The statement is clear; “This is our formula, and, while we may be growing up, we still know how to rock”.
From there it leads into more Yellowcard. There is a lot here that would have fit in on Paper Walls, or When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes. “Rivertown Blues” sounds like a lost track from Ocean Avenue, and “Ten” combines the sad, emo lyricism from One For The Kids, with the more orchestral style of Lights and Sounds. They finish the album off with the title track, “Southern Air”, hitting the last bullet point for a Yellowcard LP: pining for another region of the country. So far, they left the Big Apple [heartbreak], to seek fame and fortune in Rock Star Land, to realize that they wanted to go Back Home, but admit that that is part of the Life of Leaving Home. Suddenly, the south “will always be home”?
The production value is excellent. Except for a couple rough [landing, holly] spots, Yellowcard’s last few albums have been mixed really well, without too much compression, and very good layering of instruments.
If I haven’t beat you over the head with it enough, Southern Air is just an extension of the post-hiatus Yellowcard. If the last time you heard them was Ocean Avenue, and you want to try Yellowcard again, start with Lights and Sounds, and then listen to Paper Walls, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, or Southern Air in whatever order you want, because they are all pretty interchangeable. Good, but interchangeable.
I give Southern Air four nearly identical Yellowcard albums out of five.