Mae - Destination: B-Sides (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Destination: B-Sides (2004)

Tooth & Nail

Destination: Stopgap release. To quote the band and their Tooth & Nail bio: "'It's been about one and a half years since Destination: Beautiful, so we felt that it would be awesome to give our fans something new while they await our new album,' explains Mae keyboardist Rob Sweitzer of the project."

How do you put out a B-sides album when you only have one proper studio album to draw from? Well, I guess you beef it up with alternate takes and live tracks. As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), a B-side is typically a song that was recorded in the same studio session as an album, but left off the album for one reason or another, typically to be the "B-side" to a vinyl single's "A-side". Now, I don't own their album Destination: Beautiful, but from the research I've done, it seems that only three tracks on Destination: B-Sides are actually B-sides from the previous album, with only one other unreleased track, which is live. The rest are remixes and acoustic and live versions of album songs. This release even has the two identical final tracks as their previous, and the song "This Time is the Last Time" appears twice here as well as "Sun," so basically the band has released each of these songs in three different forms in their brief existence. I can't think of anything this bad since Face to Face with "Disconnected!" (Remember that? Heh. Great song, though.)

Despite the silly concept of this release, let's examine the actual songs here, shall we? "This Time Is The Last Time (Remix)" opens the disc and is pretty enjoyable with bumpin' bass and drums and some cool effects. "Futuro" is live and not previously released; it also happens to be one of my favorites here, from its dancy beats to its atmospheric feel to its smooth synth lines. It also happens to be instrumental. Maybe it was nice to have a track without the painfully harmless and breathy voice of Dave Elkin.

I was very impressed by the piano intro on "Sun (Live)." Sure it's piano, but saying "that guy can shred" would be appropriate. I have a feeling the intro was elongated live, because the track goes for over two minutes with just piano before the band comes in. The vocals are flat in parts throughout the song, but it's live so I can forgive a bit.

As for the by-definition B-sides, "Suspension" is a driving rocker, more rocking, I feel, than the other tracks I have heard off Beautiful, those being "Summertime" and "Embers And Envelopes." Hearing this album full of alternate versions left me wondering what the band actually sounds like, but for those of you who don't know, they are what I will call maybe a "happy emo band," for they are not overly depressing and they don't hit as many of the genre's clichés, but they are also very non-threatening and mainstream-sounding. They could fit in easily next to Dave Matthews on any mix; nevertheless, I liked that particular song. "Tisbury Lane" is lighter with just guitar and vocals for 2 ½ minutes, but stays light even when the band joins; a ballad. "Awakening" is another ballad, like something off Ben Fold's solo stuff, that being piano-based with some acoustic guitar. I was not as big a fan of those slower two B-sides.

Does this band have die-hard fans yet? If so, I guess buy this. If you're not one of them don't bother. I think Mae stands for Multisensory Aesthetic Experience, at least that's their copyright name. Funny stuff.