Derek Sanders – My Rock and Roll Heart (EP Review)

Derek Sanders wears his Emo heart on his sleeve in his first solo collection, the acoustic My Rock and Roll Heart EP. Rise Records deliver the venomous passion on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2020. Punk Rock Princesses, this one’s for you!

Many of you will know Sanders as the frontman of the popular Mayday Parade, a band from a sunny land (see what we did there?). With his Floridian comrades, he has released six full-length albums over the past fourteen years, including their impressive 2007 debut, A Lesson in Romantics, and 2018’s masterful Sunnyland. Now he’s standing in the spotlight alone with his very first solo offering, a project that was inspired by another Tallahassee band and a very special Valentine’s Day gift.

In 2017, as a present for his wife, Sanders recorded a cover of Goodbye Love’s “But Lauren,” a track that the couple had long-adored since high school, and one that sports her name. Intending his heartfelt tribute for Lauren’s ears only, the musician eventually shared his recording with Goodbye Love’s Mike Hanson and, in his own words, it “snowballed” from there. Now fans have a collection of not one but five acoustic covers, beloved Emo classics plucked from Sanders’ teenage years whose recording has provided the musician with a happy episode of nostalgia.

My Rock and Roll Heart begins with the aforementioned “But Lauren,” by Tallahassee’s Goodbye Love. A band that never really broke out of the Florida scene, Sanders is hopeful that through his cover Hanson and the band’s music will be re-introduced to music lovers and live again. Throughout the track, sweet acoustics complement Sanders’ emotional voice as he croons this lovely ode to “the most beautiful person in the whole world,” a goddess “dressed as a girl.”

Next, to offset the candied sweetness, beautifully delicate venom infiltrates the bitter break-up in “Rocks Tonight Juice Magic,” a cover of the 2008 Saves the Day track. Sonically angelic but lyrically poisonous, Sanders turns the rocker into a ballad full of emotional gravitas.

Much like all of these covers, Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 classic “A Praise Chorus” receives vast respect from the musician, along with guest vocalist Daniel Lancaster (Stages and Stereos), who passionately embrace each note of the uplifting and inspiring song that holds a very special place in the heart of many an Emo.

Continuing to pour through the classics, Sanders’ then turns his eyes toward some Piano Punk, and, let’s face it, in 2001 we all wanted to be a “Punk Rock Princess” thanks to Something Corporate. Here to relive the infectiousness and excite a new generation, Sanders tackles the piano-rock attack with his acoustic and gives the celebration a softer edge—but maintains the necessary giddy grins that accompany the track in any incarnation.

This flows perfectly into a piano-anchored cover, a sweet rendition of The Juliana Theory’s 1991 track “August In Bethany.” A plea put to music, its haunting emotion perfectly suits the passionate Sanders as he begs, “Don’t go!” Sadly he does say goodbye, as the 5-song EP comes to its emotive conclusion all too soon.

Throughout My Rock and Roll Heart, Sanders shows a sincere respect for the source material, taking the songs and placing his spin with his voice and acoustic guitar rather than entirely reworking the originals. Purists can rest easy as his minimalist approach echoes his passion for each of the songs that he has selected to present, presenting a collection that allows his unadulterated talents to shine. A fresh respite from much of today’s over-produced new music, the only problem with My Rock and Roll Heart is that it’s only five songs. Full of heart and soul, and not an ounce of filler, Cryptic Rock gives Derek Sanders’ solo EP 5 of 5 stars.

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Jeannie BlueAuthor posts

Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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