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Saves The Day: Ups & Downs: Early Recordings And B-SidesUps & Downs: Early Recordings And B-Sides (2004)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: colincolin
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Ah, good old Saves The Day. Although they've dropped off my radar since the highly disappointing In Reverie, I still put a copy of Through Being Cool in my player from time to time to reminisce about the good old days. The band that is most known for being 'heavily influenced' by Lifetime has gon.
Ah, good old Saves The Day. Although they've dropped off my radar since the highly disappointing In Reverie, I still put a copy of Through Being Cool in my player from time to time to reminisce about the good old days.
The band that is most known for being 'heavily influenced' by Lifetime has gone through many changes, and I was expecting this disc to chronologically play them, perhaps starting with a raw, quicker Saves The Day and ending up with the lighter, way-too-high-pitched band that is around today. And boy was I wrong about that.
The album introduces with the title track, as it were, "Ups and Downs." An easily found b-side from the Stay What You Are-era, the introduction guitar effect is quite addictive and I see no reason as to why this song wasn't on SWYA.
The next two tracks on the album are obvious standouts, even though they are simply tracks from Vagrant's Another Year On The Streets series. The pop punk singalongs "Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off To Heaven" and "A Drag In D Flat" make you remember the days that it seemed Saves The Day could do no wrong. Quick and searing guitars, properly pitched and emotional vocals, and lyrics like "I'd love to be scattered to hell with you. To hell with you. To hell with you." are solid examples of Through Being Cool-era STD.
What happens next is surprising. I never really looked at the advance press sheets for this album, so when I heard the introduction of I'm Sorry I'm Leaving echoing through my speakers, I was a bit confused. Fast forwarding at first, I couldn't believe my ears; Vagrant had put the entire acoustic EP on this disc. Huh? An album that fans of the band will already have, or at least have heard, needs not to be on this. Subtracting the five songs of the EP and you still have a pretty strong 14 song album. Not to mention the sudden acoustic tracks interfere greatly with the listening ability of the album; going from power pop punk anthems that leave you begging for more and ending up with this is somewhat disappointing. Don't get me wrong; I do enjoy the EP, but it was a blaring mistake to even include it on this album, much less put it as songs 4-8.
Checking out the tracks of the rest of the disc, all the titles were new to me, so I just pushed play and hoped for the best. I was not disappointed. "The Art of Misplacing Firearms" starts off with a catchy guitar hook, and then jumps into quick beats and the great old sound I had been hoping for. Although lacking the staple ending of fist pumping that older Saves The Day was known for, it's a strong track.
From this point on, the album stays in the same formula. Really strong, older songs that were obviously done by a young band still needing some time to grow. "1:19" and "Dave Feels Right" have some great endings, which seperate them from the rest of the rather formulaic recording. This isn't to say the Saves The Day formula is a bad one; I grew up with it and so I have an appreciation for it. However, it's obvious that these tracks were left on the demo tapes for a reason; they just aren't strong enough to make it onto a 'great' album like Can't Slow Down or Through Being Cool.
"I Think I'll Quit" is an outstanding track that is followed by a rather odd, awkward rock song "Cheer" that I found pretty skippable. "Clash City Rockers" sounds like, well, Saves The Day covering the Clash. Good cover, but I don't think I would have put it at this point in the album. Again, another sign of bad mixing.
A live, full-band recording of "Jesse And My Whetstone" closes out the album. I haven't ever seen Saves The Day perform this song live, so it was interesting to hear. My biggest complaint is that it's not a song to close an album with; the tempo doesn't change, the vocals are too high and the song becomes weak after a few listens.
Overall this disc is a good listen for a fan of Saves The Day, especially if you're like me and miss the glory days from the band's stint on Equal Vision. The biggest downfall is the mix; putting the three best (and easiest to find) songs before an already-released and not-so-rare acoustic EP is a dumb decision. The tracks stuffed in the middle of the album are worth a listen, but it's nothing you need to go out and buy immediately. It seems like Vagrant is simply cashing in on a band that has proven to be nothing but disappointing to signing to said label.
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