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Bayside Celebrate Cult

by Vasilis, contributing writer

Bayside is a four-piece punk band that has been around for fourteen years. They write loud, ambitious songs and play high-energy shows. But for many, Bayside is more than a band; Bayside is a family. “Bayside is a cult”.

From the beginning of their existence, fans have adopted this rallying cry to show the community the band’s music has created. There is nothing negative about this cult. There is no psychotic leader, no brainwashed followers, and no mass suicides. The term “cult” is an endearing symbol of the struggles and hard work that exemplifies not only the band, but their fans as well.

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When Bayside announced that their sixth album would be called Cult, it felt like a second self-titled record and a refresh for the band. Following a bad relationship with Victory Records and an uneventful one with Wind-Up, the band signed to indie giant Hopeless Records (Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, The Wonder Years), and marched ahead with resolve and determination. Leading up to the reveal of the Cult album cover, the band posted images of each of their prior albums, showing signs of a unified effort that drew on all their past work.

Musically and lyrically, Cult is the same Bayside you have come to know. The Queens NY rockers pull no punches on this 11-song album, delivering an unrelenting attack with the typical anger and aggression that has defined their back catalog. For those who thought frontman Anthony Raneri’s marriage and the birth of his child might slow down his bitter, scathing lyrics, they’ll be happy to know it has not. “Pigsty” angrily asserts “Your name is dirt/and I got you under my nails/from clawing to freedom/I’ve been buried below your dark trails”. The topic of Anthony’s ex-wife drives the album’s lyrics, continuing the trend from their 2011 album Killing Time. The chorus of “You’re No Match” proves to be as catchy as anything the band has ever recorded; the lines “you’re the monster I was scared you’d be/and now you’re blaming it on your surroundings/and your horns came out so gradually/but honey, you’re no match for me” are infectious in large part to Anthony’s confidence and bravado.

Musically, the album doesn’t fall too far from the band’s past work, but that doesn’t mean they sticks to one formula. Opener “Big Cheese” is heavier than most fans are accustomed to, charging in with Chris Guglielmo’s explosive drum work and Anthony and Jack O’Shea’s dynamic riff. Like most Bayside songs, Jack O’Shea steals the show with a face-melting guitar solo on almost every track. Lead single “Time Has Come” is the closest the band has come to writing a catchy radio-ready punk song. The middle section of this album shows how Bayside can continue to create relatable hits by sticking to their unique, identifiable sound.

The album hits its stride with “Transitive Property”, a rare Bayside love song which sees Anthony asking forgiveness from his wife after a fight that almost ended their relationship. The song is the closest the album has to a slow ballad and works due to its anthemic chorus and honest lyrics. “Objectivist on Fire” is one of the most well-thought out Bayside songs in recent memory, a slowed-down tune that showcases Anthony’s vocal range as he questions if he will ever find the true love he has desperately searched for and lost. To anyone who has ever lost “the one”, the chorus, “And I am feeling older all the time/running out of days to get it right/I can’t believe I’ve wasted all my life/chasing after something I was never meant to find” will hit very close to home. Cult is a stellar addition to the Bayside collection and one that fans will continue coming back to.

To celebrate Cult’s release, Bayside cleverly planned a secret show in a small bar in Amityville, Long Island. The band released a video for “Hate Me” which was performed by the imaginary band Caraboo. A Caraboo twitter page popped up and announced they would be playing their first show on Tuesday, February 18. The venue posted an image of the Bayside bird and announced that Caraboo tickets would be sold in person the night before at the bar at 9pm Fans wised up to the surprise but the anticipation and excitement at seeing such an intimate Bayside show was palpable.

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Following an acoustic performance at Looney Tunes in West Babylon, Bayside took the stage shortly before 10pm in front of 200 devout fans and drew a wild ovation. The band opened their set with the first five tracks from their new album. As fans cheered on the live debuts of the new songs, the band announced they would play some older tunes before diving into “Devotion and Desire”, “Montauk”, and “Blame it On Bad Luck”. These cuts whipped the audience into a frenzy, inspiring the sweat-soaked crowd to sing along to these Bayside classics. The band played everything from old (“Guardrail”) to new (“Big Cheese”) and even threw in a cover of “Good Things” by The Menzingers for good measure. The crowd gave every last bit of energy they had when the band closed their 13-song set with their Bayside closer “Dear Tragedy”, sending the fans home happy.

Though only playing for about an hour, Bayside commanded the stage with ease and showed their consistently solid live show is just as good in a small room as it is in a large concert hall that holds thousands. The band seemed genuinely enthused by the crowd reaction and happy with the work they have put in with Cult. Bayside has stuck around for so long mainly due to their hard-working attitude, great songwriting and live show, and die-hard fanbase; these elements were on full display on February 18, a day the band celebrated the release of their newest album and fans celebrated the love and devotion they have for Bayside. It was a special night for everyone involved.

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Ten Albums I am Looking Forward to in 2014

by Vasilis

My favorite thing about the new year is the promise of new music, which is always unpredictable and exciting. Any given band can put out the album of their career (The Wonder Years in 2013), but any given band can also release the biggest dud and make fans question “what happened?” (Transit in 2013). Cherie and I posted our favorite albums from 2013, but now I want to take a look at some albums I’m very excited for.

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You Blew ItKeep Doing What You’re Doing – January 14

I’m cheating a bit on this one because I’ve already heard the stream on Pitchfork, but even before that I was highly anticipating this one knowing that Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.) would be producing it. Their first album was enjoyable, easily relatable angsty emo but having a pro like Evan in the mix is a sure-fire way to get the best out of their sound; it comes as no surprise that this album sounds huge and purposeful, easily surpassing and building on their debut album Grow Up, Dude.

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Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues – January 21

This album may go down as the most important album of the year, not only because of the singer but because of the important message behind it. Laura Jane Grace made waves after she came out as transgender in 2012 (she was formerly Tom Gabel). After struggling with the decision, this album provided a sense of liberation, promising to be a deep self-examination that can also serve as a huge point of relief and empowerment, both for Laura and for any fans struggling with the same issues.

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Modern Baseball You’re Gonna Miss It All – February 11

Modern Baseball certainly are not for everyone. Their emo sound can often come off as sloppy and uninviting but when they click, they click. SPORTS was an enjoyably quirky and heartfelt debut that gained the band a decent following and a spot on several tours. The first couple songs they’ve released on this album have already shown improvement in songwriting, leading the way for a potentially huge sophomore effort.

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Bayside CULT – February 18

Bayside are one of my three favorite bands, so this should come as no surprise. Signing to Hopeless Records (Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, The Wonder Years) should finally provide them the support they need after Victory and Wind-Up did very little for the band. “Pigsty” and “Hate Me” continue to display the consistently stellar heart-pounding punk sound with angst-ridden lyrics that made Killing Time the band’s best work.

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I Am the AvalancheWolverines – March 18

Between label and personal troubles, it took I Am the Avalanche six years to follow up their debut album I Am the Avalanche with the incredible Avalanche United; this time it is only taking a little over two years. As one of Long Island’s most well-known frontmen, I must say the more Vinnie Caruana we get, the better. This album should be just as fast and furious as their sophomore release, which was my third favorite record from 2011.

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La Dispute Rooms of the House – March 18

La Dispute’s last album Wildlife was an emotionally taxing experience that kept you on the edge of your seat like a Hollywood thriller. Clocking in at a little under one hour, both their previous albums can best be described as unforgettable. With their sound only improving and growing over time, Rooms of the House should be memorable.

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Manchester OrchestraCope – April 1(Tentative)

This album has been a long time coming. Though Simple Math fell far short of expectations for many fans and myself, it had its share of epic tracks (“Virgin”, “Pensacola”) and the band is not far removed from Mean Everything to Nothing, one of my personal favorite albums. If the album is anything like the two songs they played live on their last headlining tour, this will be a good one.

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Blink-182 TBA – TBA

I don’t care that it’s 2014 and I’m turning 25, a new Blink-182 album is always welcome, especially after their hiatus. Though not nearly as memorable as their prior albums, Neighborhoods was a solid listen and displayed some of their best songs (“Wishing Well”, Kaleidoscope”, “Natives”). Mark Hoppus promises more risks and says the band record this album together in the same room; collaboration is where this band writes their absolute best music. The band promises a new album by late summer.

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Brand New TBA – TBA

This, by its very nature, is an extremely dangerous thing to write down. Brand New has topped my list (and almost everyone’s list, it seems) since 2011, yet not so much as one new song has come out since Daisy came out in 2009. I may be jinxing it, but I really do have a feeling this is the year; call it a hunch. The band announced at their last show of 2013 that they are finally getting back to the studio this year and will be touring more like a normal band this year. All I can say is, “I hope so.”

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FireworksTBA – TBA

Though not an enviable position, Fireworks probably hold the title of most underrated pop punk. Their last album Gospel was seen by many as groundbreaking for the genre, yet they hardly toured for it and never mustered the buzz and support bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far get. My heart goes out to these guys; they’re hard-working and very talented. I hope this album gets them the support they deserve.

There is also talk or confirmation of new albums coming from several great bands (Foo Fighters, Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything Taking Back Sunday, The Early November, The Gaslight Anthem, Yellowcard) and, as always, there is the chance of a surprise release from a newcomer or unknown band that turns into a pleasant surprise. With all these bands and more putting out new music, 2014 promises to be just as good as 2013.

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