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Yellowcard
Southern Air
Hopeless Records
www.yellowcardrock.com


If you were a pop-punk act in the early 2000s then you were surrounded by bands like New Found Glory, Simple Plan, and Good Charlotte. The rhythms were punk, but the vocals and melodies were pop. Now ten years have gone by and surprisingly there's a decent amount of said bands that are making their way back into the scene, all the while attempting to reclaim their original fans and take in a few new tweens along the way. But there is one band who made a name for themselves a while back and have managed to keep that name strong ever since. Yellowcard has technically been making music since 1997 with their first LP release Midget Tossing. However, most of their fans today will remember those lead-in bass strums of "Ocean Avenue" as their first YC experience. And so, with their recent release Southern Air they are celebrating 15 years on the shelves and the new one is pretty good.

Pop-punk has changed a bit in the past 10 years, the tempos aren't quite as quick and the bass has taken a step back, lightening up the mood a touch. But Yellowcard has managed to morph its music in sync with the transitions in the genre. So for Southern Air we're treated to a new sound. "Awakening" starts us off with a lead guitar slightly distorted and oddly comforting with its warm notes. Eventually some synth'd notes move the song to an almost subtle dance groove. A brief pause and you're suddenly knocked down by the kind of punk thrash that Yellowcard knows how to do best.

Oh the violin, it is truly one of the coolest elements of the Yellowcard sound. And in "Rivertown Blues" it gets to be front and center. This has got to be the fastest tempo on the entire album, but those strings keep up with every beat. Between the chaos of the percussion and guitars it's actually surprising you can hear the violin at all. But it's always there, and makes sure to remind you of that fact about 2 minutes in with a beautiful orchestral break. Sure there's a classic rock guitar solo near the end, but it's those strings that resonate through your ears after the song is done. For a complete change of pace "Ten" was thrown on the record. A strong acoustic guitar is the main backbone and sets an incredible stage for a heartwarming story. At one point your ears are filled with a symphony of strings and a soft bluesy guitar ween. The quality and strength behind this song makes you swear you've heard it before, but it's completely theirs and completely beautiful. You want to listen to it again and again, just to make sure you hear every amazing part.

As a whole the album is still categorically pop-punk and yet perfectly balanced for yesterday and today.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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