You know that feeling when you hear a song for the first time and it moves you? You can’t stop listening to it and you feel compelled to hear everything that band has ever produced. Sometimes you find that in your eyes the artist is only a one hit wonder. But other times…well, sometimes you fall in love. You pour over their catalogue, you soak in song after song, and then you eagerly await everything they will do in the future.
That amazing music moment has happened for me a scant few times. I can still remember the very first time I happened upon, completely by accident, “October Nights” by Yellowcard. An energetic mix of rousing guitars, heartfelt lyrics, catchy beats, and the unique sound of an electric violin. Here was this unique pop-punk band, little known outside their Florida hometown, touring the country relentlessly in support of their indie release One for the Kids. That title is, to this day, one of my all time favorite albums.
The years have been interesting for Yellowcard. Knowing a good thing when they saw it (and capitalizing on a genre rising at an amazing rate) Capitol Records snatched up Yellowcard and gave them quite a bit of say to record their major label debut, Ocean Avenue. That album spawned a mega-hit in the title track, Yellowcard was all over MTV, and their fans grew in massive numbers.
Three years later, after a too-long absence and yet more touring, YC was back with Lights and Sounds. For long-time fans the album was a bit of a surprise, jumping from the extreme pop sensibilities of Ocean Avenue to a much harder sound. And, for the first time, Yellowcard spoke out on politics. It was a much more mature album, but many felt it was too much too quickly and Lights and Sounds faced disappointing sales.
Now, just one and a half years later, they are back with a new guitarist, and what seems to be their most creative collaboration to date, Paper Walls. An album self-described by violinist Sean Mackin as the best of what Yellowcard has to offer, pulling from the upbeat rhythms of One for the Kids and Ocean Avenue, and the more mature themes and musicianship of Lights and Sounds. It is, without a doubt, their best album to date - tightly put together, moving, and most importantly, a unique vision that is the culmination of a band’s learning curve of creation.