Victory, 2005

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


It's always interesting when a band ventures outside of its signature sound, and in some cases the results can be revelatory. Consider that pretty much any band that appeared on MTV's "Unplugged" series did this -- some more interesting than others, such as when Slaughter covered "Revolution" and turned it into an all-out jam. In my recollection of that series, though, there was never a mainstream punk band on that show.

Now, Bayside tries its hand on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Acoustic, a collection of their songs plus a couple of covers, all played acoustic. Bayside plugged in is ferociously potent, and as it turns out unplugged that is still the case. Unfortunately, this release documents a low point in the band's career, since an accident claimed the life of their drummer John “Beatz” Holohan. While bassist Nick Ghanbarian recovered, guitarist/vocalists Anthony Raneri and Jack O'Shea finished their tour in an acoustic duo format, which led to this release.

Stripping those circumstances from the equation and judging this music on its own merits makes me think maybe it's not the genre, but the actual song, that makes this band so appealing. I have listened to this release multiple times and each time there's a connection between this material and my soul. Raneri's vocals are still powerful when he sings "Just accept yourself / Find something that brings you closer to complete" in "Masterpiece."

Previous songs are redefined here, as one would expect, with the only one recalling its parent song being "Don't Call Me Peanut," which was already a slower track in the original version on Bayside's self-titled 2005 release.

Other than that, new highlights include the heartfelt lyrics of "Blame it On Bad Luck," which continues to be a personal favorite, and the lead on "Devotion And Desire" that melts into the last verse of the song. Another stand-out is when Josh Carterer lends a hand on "Megan" and delivers a soulful complement to Raneri's lead vocals. The live version of "Don't Call Me Peanut" sounds amazing and draws a loud response from the crowd.

It's likely this disc will draw a similar response from the listener, and could draw in many new fans who may not know about or like Bayside from their electric releases. But the band proves that hard rock talent doesn't always need electricity in the instruments -- just in the soul -- to be successful.


Rating: A

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© 2007 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Victory, and is used for informational purposes only.