REVIEW: Yellowcard – Southern Air


Artist: Yellowcard
Album: Southern Air
Genre: Pop-punk
Label: Hopeless Records

Yellowcard is one of the bands that I grew up listening to. And not just, “Oh I love that album Ocean Avenue,” or, “Yeah ‘Only One’ is so good!” No. That is not me at all. Yellowcard was one of those bands when I was younger that I completely obsessed over, poured over lyric sheets, deconstructed songs, and was the soundtrack to my childhood. They are such a part of me that people frankly don’t really understand. My friends within the hardcore scene poke fun and say things like “You collect Yellowcard records and are excited to see them on Warped Tour? That’s nice.” I have never been ashamed of my undying love of the band, and I’m quite vocal about it. However when I heard Yellowcard was putting out Southern Air so close to last year’s release of When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, I was still nervous. I had still not properly soaked in that record because when the album dropped I was going through a rough patch in my life. A few other albums better fit my general mood of the time, and it fell somewhat towards the wayside. However despite my nervousness about how Yellowcard could turn around another album of quality after last year’s marvelous return to the pop-punk, I have been bugging my editor for weeks for this album. And now, I have it.  I could not be happier, full of smiles, and proud of Yellowcard’s release Southern Air, because it perfectly embodies everything I love about the band.

The best part about Southern Air is the fact that it lives up to it’s name: it’s a perfect auditory representation of the general vibe and feelings of southern, and what I relate to more, summer air. Yellowcard has always been known as one of those bands that is best listened to when you’re driving to the beach with all of your best friends, and the band embraces that whole-heartedly in this release. Southern Air is the kind of record that when you eventually hear it outside of the summer season, it makes you long for late nights around the bonfire. Some people have been saying this is album is comparable to Ocean Avenue, as in has the same weight as it. While I won’t know if it will hold until months later, I know that for some kids this album will be the record that will take over and close the rest of their Summer. This is due in large part to the tone and atmosphere created by the musicians in the band. Normally I try to single out the instrumentation of one person in the band, however everything within the record is so cohesive and fits so perfectly with one another, it’s hard to describe these guys as anything but one concise unit.  This cohesion is easily exemplified in the instant-Summer jam “Always Summer,” and “Sleep in the Snow.” The latter of the two aforementioned songs is absolutely huge, and I know that is definitely one of the songs that will be played tirelessly on my bus rides to and from work.

While Southern Air is a record with gorgeous musicianship from every single member of the band, the major leap musically has to definitely go to Ryan Key. I have never heard his vocals stronger, and I can say that with absolute confidence. He effortlessly hits a wide range of notes that flawlessly compliments the instrumentation behind him. A special note has to go out the song “Ten” where he absolutely ripped my heart out. I’m not going to talk to you about the lyrical content of the song, because frankly it’s better if you just experience it yourself.  It’s heartbreaking, and it’s one of those that is so hard to listen to but you can’t stop. Easily their most emotional song to date. Some of the lyrics on the album come across a tad cliché, but at this point to me most lyrics come across like that. That has nothing to do with the writing prowess of Ryan, more so my overconsumption of music. I still can see myself screaming these songs at the top of my lungs with the people I hold closest to me. While I haven’t had much of a summer other than a fantastic vacation and my coverage of Warped Tour, Ryan perfectly encapsulates summer and the themes that come with finding a home for yourself so well that it makes me feel a lot more comfortable and okay with how I spent these past few months.

The truth about this record though is for those 18 and below, Southern Air is going to crush them. Kids are going to fall in love with this album so fast, and Yellowcard will have yet another generation of kids that deservedly follow them to the depths of the earth. However the other half of music lovers, the 18-plus group, will listen to this album and hear it’s musical triumphs but still push it to the side. They will go, “Oh this is no Ocean Avenue.” And you’re right. It’s not. If it was Ocean Avenue I’d be pissed, because I already have one of those. This album pushes Yellowcard into new directions, and not in one of those experimental ways that nobody likes. They take all of the elements that make them special as a band and push them further, creating a unique work that showcases why they have been around for so long.  For the less jaded folk, this album is without a doubt going to be one of those records that not only puts smiles on faces when you first listen to it, but when you listen to it 5-6 months later and think of the happy memories you created while listening to it. I can say without a doubt that Yellowcard is one of my favorite bands, and with this record the band continues to show me why despite the endless amounts of music that I listen to every year, they still hold a special place in my heart that very few bands can gain access to. Southern Air is in my Top Five of the year easily, if not my favorite record of the year thus far.

SCORE: 10/10

LISTEN TO: Sleep in the Snow, Rivertown Blues, Ten, Awakening. You know what, just listen to the whole record without doing anything else.

Written By: Tyler Osborne


Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio ( I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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  • drubio16

    Wow. That was amazing. I’m pretty sure we’re the exact same person. Everything you said in there, i would’ve said any day. (especially the beginning) Story of my life. However, I’m not very close to being over 18, but I’ve been listening to them since I started listening to music. Yes, Ocean Avenue is the album that got me into them, but I went back and listened to everything they put out before, and bought every album after that. Yellowcard has never dissapointed me before, and I’m confident this album won’t do anything but raise my expectations for them.

  • Jono

    Wow. Fantastic review. Really looking forward to sinking my teeth into some fresh acoustic/slow songs similar to the likes of hang you up, sing for me, shadows and regrets, Dear Bobbie etc etc. I really liked what you said about yellowcard songs linking to certain memories in your life. Funny enough, because I live in the southern hemisphere, I always associate them with winter because of their mid-year album release dates. Makes it more bearable. :D

  • Thanks so much! I totally can relate. I’ve never ever been disappointed with a YC album, and this one only raises the bar. Thanks so much for reading the review again and leaving some kind words. It means a lot.

  • Thanks so much for the nice things you said, it means a lot to me. Yeah “Ten” is your slow song on the record, and it blows away any of their other slow songs without a doubt. And that’s hilarious about the Southern hemisphere thing, I always assume all people attribute them to the Summer, but I guess not! Thanks again for reading.

  • Steve

    I’m so excited about this album its not even funny. I really hope the “under-18” crowd latches onto this album and make Yellowcard big again, because they are really at the top of the pop-punk scene. The songs are just so simple, catchy, and most of all, honest, that everyone should be able to relate to them.

  • Drew

    I own every Yellowcard album and somehow every song seems to relate to me in one way or another. They have been my favorite band since I was in middle school and I’ll be graduating from college in less than a year. They have gotten me through my lowest-lows and made me truly feel the heights of happiness and the pits of sadness. I’m so excited about this album and if it is even close to as awesome as you describe it, I know I won’t be disappointed. If ‘Ten’ really is their most emotional song to date by far, it’s probably going to crush me and I can’t wait.

  • YC4L

    First of all, thanks for doing such a thorough review. I cannot wait to get this album–haven’t missed a release since junior year of HS 9 years ago and I’m not about to miss out on Southern Air (already pre-ordered 3 copies)! These guys are simply amazing; the day that they quit making music together will be one of the toughest days of my life. Everyone who is a true YC fan make sure that you let your friends/family know this album is being released. Let’s make their sales jump through the roof–with all they’ve given us the last 15 years it’s the least we can do!

  • bethanayy

    I loved reading your review, because finally someone encapsulates my feelings about Yellowcard. People pick on me about it not being real punk but thats not the point. Yellowcard isn’t about genre for mem it’s about music that relates to my life. It helps me through tough times then builds me back up again. It reminds me of high school summers. I’m almost 24 now and I grew through my teen years with Yellowcard. Now, I love to write and very frequently their songs will inspire a scene. After reading your review, I’m so pumped to dig into their new CD. I’m also excited for the memories I’ll make and scenes I’ll write from it.

  • Vic

    I’ve been a fan of Yellowcard since OTFK. They used to play near me when they first came to California down near Ventura/SB, CA. Nearly a decade later, I’m still listening to them. I do have to say it’s funny when I go to their concerts. Their new audience now seem rather tame and don’t really know how to rock to their music

  • John

    I’ve heard only 3 tracks off this record so far, but loved all of them. “Awakening” just blew me away. All 3 tracks I instantly liked so much on first listen that I had them on repeat – how many bands can you say that about? I agree that Ryan Key is the heart of this ensemble, and his vocal strength has really improved with time. (I saw a recent Warped performance and really was surprised how great Ryan sounded.) Sean’s violin play is epic – on “Always Summer” the violin part during the bridge is just stunning. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the tracks. Great band.

  • 100% agree. I really think this release will push them back into the spotlight. Thanks for reading!

  • ‘Ten’ Will definitely crush you, without a doubt. And I totally get the highs and lows you’re talking about, they have a sound for everything. You should be reallye xcited for this. Thanks so much for reading too, it means the world.

  • Oh no thank you for reading! It means a lot that you took the time out of your day to take a read. These guys are at the top of their game, and i really think they will be rewarded.

  • I totally can relate, I live in a hardcore centric town, and while i love that stuff, Yellowcard has been one of those bands that have always been there for me. Thank you again for reading! i’m sure it will inspire you to write some great scenes.

  • Yeah, that’s partially because they’re regrouping with a younger crowd, which is great. I think give them some time and kids will be going off more at their shows. I know I always do. Thanks for reading!

  • If i’m going to be frank with you, Always Summer is the the ‘Summer Jam’ of the record, but the band has A LOT more to offer on the record musically. It’s super intricate and exciting. Thanks so much for reading!!!!

  • Hoochivette

    Go suck a lemon, always summer is a timeless classic and can be enjoyed by people of all age groups

  • I totally agree! I never said it isn’t. Thanks for reading though!

  • Julian

    in my opinion last years record was the best album theyve released next to Ocean Avenue…so im so pretty excited for Southern Air…so reading your review,,you just gave me a reason to buy a physical copy of the album-(as im guilty of just downloading albums on torrent,lol)…nice review

  • Thank you very much! I personally think this album is better then last years, so you’re in for a treat!

  • Anakin

    Amazing review, but i just want to say that i don’t think age is so important. I’m 22 and the album that really got me into Yellowcard is Lights and Sounds in 2006, but after that i listened to all of their albums and they are all great in their way (even One For The Kids). So, i can’t wait for the new album, Yellowcard never disappointed me.
    PS: I was afraid that, being a summer album, all the songs will be happy – which i wouldn’t mind but Yellowcard always had some great emotional songs and i would have missed them – so i’m pleased to hear about Ten and i can’t wait to listen to it.

  • ^^Me exactly

  • Maka-saurus

    This makes me even more stoked to hear the album. I’m pretty young, but I’ve been through a lot. I’ve watched my father die, nearly starved, watched my family fall apart, and had the last few people– besides my mother and sister– completely walk away from me. I admit, I was suicidal after all that. I shut myself out from the world and only socialized with mainly my dog. Then, I decided to turn on some music one day, and there was Yellowcard. The first song I heard was “You And Your Denial”. After that I listened to every one of their songs, and I could relate to almost every one of them, especially since I live on the coast of Florida. Something of Value, View From Heaven, City of Devils, Miles Apart, Hang You Up. As I went through more troubles, the more I actually listened to the lyrics and finally understood them. They’ve opened up my pessimistic view on life and helped me so much. I would’ve probably killed myself if I wasn’t lucky enough to hear Yellowcard, but now, no matter what has happened, I haven’t done any self harm since I heard my first Yellowcard song. I may have only been a fan for a few years, but this band seriously has helped me through depression. I refused counseling because I thought it wouldn’t help. No any time I feel like the worlds came and kicked my butt, I just listen to Yellowcard and I feel like nothing can hurt me. To say Yellowcard is good, is a major understatement. I can promise you, the minute the album is released, I’m streaming it from iTunes.

  • I don’t think age is a huge thing either! I’m 20 years old and I love them to death. I’m just saying for those who are not as opened minded as they grow older, they wont give it the time it needs, however I think that is for any band though. Thank you so much for the read!

  • Hey man, thanks so much for reading the article and telling me your story. They’ve helped me in similar ways, and it really means a lot to me that you took the time to talk us. I’m so happy that they’ve helped you through rough times, and this new record really is as fantastic as all of their other releases.

  • veganpunk

    Album is fantastic, except for track 4. I think that is the worst song they have ever done. On the flipside, Rivertown Blues, Ten, Awakening are some of the best they’ve ever done. Overall I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

  • chrismaher4

    that was an awesome review and i really loved “ocean avenue” too…then after the long wait for “when you’re through thinking, say yes” that became my favorite, but “Southern Air” takes top for me mainly because of the really powerful songs like ‘ten’ or ‘telescope’ to epic violin solos in ‘always summer’ from sean mackin…so yeah i cant wait for this tour