Bayside Bayside August 23, 2005 (Victory Records)
As New York natives and Victory alums Bayside sets up to celebrate their 15th birthday on a whirlwind North American tour, it is appropriate to take a look back at their self-titled album which happens to be turning ten later this year.
Some of the biggest, most performed songs have come off this album of anthem-proportions. A DIY mix of angsty-punk-core, Bayside long ago perfected the recipe, with Bayside being possibly the best example from their six (full-length) album discography. A heaping dose of angst, rough — though still clean — vocals, and over-repeated choruses layered with usually simple, driving instrumentals.
Notably, Bayside was only album to have John “Beatz” Holohan on drums. Holohan was killed in a van accident on Halloween morning at the beginning of the album’s tour.
Opening with a 1:14 Molotov “Hello Shitty” leads into the first of their popular singles, “Devotion and Desire.” Opening with an instantly memorable scale progression into Anthony Raneri’s coarse clean vocals, “Trying to create something that’s not there. / A spark I saw as a bomb is just a means to an end.” Angry guitar chords and a thriving cymbal beat lead into the fiery chorus “How could I know / that everything you say are lies about devotion and desire? / And I know the spark inside your eyes / was just the match I used to set myself on fire.”
Taking a troubled turn, “They Looked Like Strong Hands,” is the epitome of all personal misgivings rolled into one crooning ballad. Accompanied by minimalistic grunge-y guitar and a simple backbeat, Raneri bleeds self-doubt, “And I look so strong / When the weight of all the world don’t take it’s toll / And I’d choose my sides / If I believed in what was right but I’m all wrong.”
After a trip to “Montauk,” the album moves to the forceful, driving “Blame It On Bad Luck.” Starting with a soft snare roll layered with Raneri’s defeated tones, quiet in the opening lyrics “Pound my knuckles hard against the floor / my head against the wall / but I did this to myself / assume it’s just not worth getting back up / so I’ll blame it on bad luck.” This soft opening breaks into the rest of the song, with a catchy driving drumbeat that Raneri repeats this opening over in a more heartened tone.
The only fully acoustic song on the album, “Don’t Call Me Peanut,” comes towards the end of an emotional coaster, appropriately titled with a quote from the grim comedy “Dead Like Me.” Arguably the most emotive song of the album, Raneri loses all hope on a failed relationship, the song spiraling through grief, from anger to resignation. Joined by “And now you say that / You say you love me. / Well I may have your heart / He has your body.” Accompanied by flowing scale runs on guitar, the song is a heartbreaking view from the bottom of an angst-cocktail.
The final song on the album, “Dear Tragedy” aligns with the emotion of the album, a culmination of the rest of the songs — angst ridden as it is — the song chugs along slowly, giving Raneri time to express his full relationship with “a break taker, a smile faker,” and how the relationship has left him alone — “Dear tragedy, I’ve never had anybody.” The midsection guitar is as instrumentally interesting the song gets, with chromatic runs that lead back into the repeated chorus.
Overall, the album still sits as a successful notch in this band’s 15-year career, a stable work that highlights both their tropes and strengths with Raneri at the helm of an emotional trainwreck.
Listen to: “Montauk”