November 29, 2022 Bayside – The Red EP (EP Review)
Emo tends to be a misnomer that is used to either promote or degrade a band, depending upon the user’s opinion of that term. While it’s wholly unfair to boil an artist’s entire oeuvre of material down to one adjective, in the case of Bayside, it feels just as misleading to use decisive categorizations such as Punk Rock, Alt Rock, or Pop Punk. Instead, let’s just settle on calling these New Yorkers hopelessly hopeful pioneers of catchy melancholia. To prove just this, they delivered The Red EP back on October 19, 2022, thanks to Hopeless Records.
Originally formed in Bayside, Queens, the group, led by Frontman Anthony Raneri, is 22 years strong in 2022, much in thanks to their defiance of simple categorization. Instead, they consider themselves to be more along the lines of “a counterculture and a deeply held conviction, diverse in thought and background but united by a shared desire for authentic expression.” Simply put, albums such as 2004’s Sirens and Condolences, 2007’s The Walking Wounded, 2011’s Killing Time, and 2016’s Vacancy have shown a group of musicians whose focus is on heartfelt music with intelligent substance, creating art that shuns fleeting trends and status-boosting gimmicks.
It’s this dedication to sincerity that has brought the members of Bayside—Vocalist/Guitarist Raneri, Guitarist Jack O’Shea, Bassist Nick Ghanbarian, and Drummer Chris Guglielmo —a loyal fanbase. No doubt these are also the friends and family whose support earned the quartet a spot on 2022’s highly-coveted When We Were Young festival roster. To celebrate this event, they have delivered their first new material since 2019’s Interrobang, a three-song EP entitled The Red EP.
Sure, a trio of tracks isn’t much, but there’s something sacred about a Bayside release, no matter its length. With this EP, they opt to get their creep on with the opener, “Strangest Faces.” Encapsulated inside a chunky groove that undulates throughout its catchy core, the track, vocally anyway, feels almost like a spooky lullaby in the vein of Alkaline Trio. But there’s no child’s play on its successor, “Good Advice,” which harkens us back to their roots with its chugging guitars and wonderfully inviting sing-along. “Why is good advice so hard to come by?” We have our theories, Mr. Raneri, we have our theories.
“Just Like Home” takes sandpaper to its edges, providing a grittier experience that couples with fiercer vocals to form an emphatic rocker with thick bass. Bayside’s window-into-the-soul form of lyricism remains fully intact with prose that speaks of the “anchor still tied to your soul,” as they explore a common mental health conundrum: smiling on the outside when you’re sinking inside. In fact, though the EP is admittedly short, it’s big on themes that search for friendly faces and solid life advice, urge listeners to rise above the herd, and never allow themselves to drown in the welcome comfort of melancholia.
In this, The Red EP is a perfect reminder that Bayside is still just as phenomenal as when it first hit the scene. Using their strengths—Raneri’s distinctive voice, stellar songwriting that has never been afraid to jump genres to capture the heart of its story, and exceptional sing-along moments—the four-piece delivers a resplendent amuse-bouche. To quote little Oliver Twist: “Please, sir, [we] want some more!” For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Red EP 5 out of 5 stars.