Album: Southern Air
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.
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