Bayside’s acoustic EP inspires amid rough times 1

Bayside lounges out in the photo used for their new EP, “Acoustic Volume Three,” which shows a softer side of the venerable punk rockers: Anthony Raneri, left, Jack O’Shea, Chris Guglielmo and Nick Ghanbarian.

Punk rock band Bayside, named for the Queens neighborhood, has typically performed songs reflecting on themes such as heartbreak, desperation and regret. Their latest EP, “Acoustic Volume Three,” though, opens up with a more positive note that not only reflects on the musicians’ lives but provides listeners with a glimmer of hope in dark times.

“Light Me Up,” the sole new track on the EP, is by far the band’s most soft song to date, lyrically speaking. “Be as it may, connect or not I’m glad I took my shot,” band founder Anthony Raneri sings at one point, a rare positive take on life from the Glen Oaks native in this ballad-esque track.

The song’s chords and lyrics are beautiful to listen to on their own, yet are made more meaningful when one watches the official music video released by the band on YouTube. The video shows clips of fans’ lives, specifically the moments that light them up during rough times — soldiers returning home to their families, marriage proposals, birthday parties and even simple walks in the park help bring Raneri’s words to life.

The timing of “Light Me Up” is most likely not a mistake — the band has a history of focusing on substance and relevancy in their lyrics and overall albums. And during a global pandemic, even the most dedicated emo punk enthusiast can use a song like this — but especially Bayside fans. This year marked the band’s 20th anniversary, and they were scheduled to pack stadiums in honor of the milestone.

Although the course of events was not what fans may have been hoping for at the beginning of this traumatic year, they’ll be more than happy to listen to the EP while they wait for shows to come back.

The EP’s other tracks are, as its name suggests, an acoustic take on some of the band’s older and popular songs: “The New Flesh,” “Not Fair,” “Poison in My Veins” and “Prayers.” Similarly to how the opening number puts a positive spin on life, the re-working of these tracks feels more melodic and soft-spoken than their original forms.

“Poison in My Veins,” specifically, is transformed from a head-thumper to a folkier feel when slowed down. The lyrics, though from when they were first put out in 2004, feel somewhat more positive and upbeat when performed this way.

“Prayers,” off their latest album, “Interrobang,” takes on a semi-slow jazz feeling — a complete 180 from the hard-hitting guitar riffs in the original. This isn’t a bad thing, and just as with the heavy-hitting version, Bayside offers up a track with a catchy tune and words that is certain to have fans hitting the “repeat” button over and over again.

Twenty years is a long time for any band, regardless of genre, to remain in the spotlight and popular among fans. Bayside has been able to accomplish this by not sticking to the stereotypical emo punk band definition — they’re always changing their lyrics and musical styles. “Acoustic Volume Three” shows they have no plans on slowing this down, and could continue to delight fans for another 20 years should they choose to do so.

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