Sunday, May 8, 2011

Album Retrospective: Say Anything - Baseball

Starting a new little feature today, and I'll see how the reactions to it are. I'm going to go over an older album, talk about how it is, how it has affected the band's future, and how it has influenced music in general. If you have any requests for an album retro, please post it in the comments.

Most casual fans of Say Anything think that ...Is A Real Boy is the band's debut record. Actually, Baseball was released all the way back in 2001, and was an extremely limited release, with only about 200 physical copies sold. There still is no other way to buy it other than those first physicals. Max Bemis also pushed this record to the side, never playing any songs off of it live until the band's latest headlining tour, in which they played "Colorblind". However, the record is definitely a great listen. Though it isn't even close to as strong as the band's three major label releases, it shows the listener how far the band has developed since the beginning.

The band was extremely raw at this point, but showed plenty of potential in every aspect. It was clear that Max was already a strong lyricist, though there were plenty of clunkers placed among spots of excellence. His witty phrases were on full view in "Showdown In P-Town", as Max sings "Watch me take a crowbar / To your brand new car / Without the things your daddy bought you / You won't get very far." "Colorblind" was the perfect song for the band to play live, as Max's skill for writing a catchy hook was seen even in the first track on the album.

The band's punk influences were on display much more in this album than in their future efforts, as many of the tracks shift closer to pop-punk than the major label records. "All My Friends", "The Last Great Punk Rock Song", and "The Ocean Liner Incident" (just to name a few) rely on driving guitars and relentless drumming, and the very poor production makes the band's already rough sound seem even more disorganized. "All Choked Up" sounds like it was recorded in Max's living room through a lousy, 2001 computer microphone (it probably was), but don't let that or the length of the track turn you off. The piano ballad is one of the most emotionally wrenching songs that Max has ever recorded, and the live feeling of the track makes the impact even stronger.

As this was the only release before ...Is A Real Boy, Baseball was pretty much the album that helped get Say Anything signed. RCA Records saw the potential seen in this underground garage band, and as seen with the band's next three releases, it has paid off enormously. At this point Say Anything was just another new band, though they were doing a few things better than most garage bands. It is also proof that bands are just like athletes. Over time, they can hone their skills and become superstars, or crash down to oblivion and never be heard of again. Luckily for us, Say Anything was that raw, rising superstar that hit it big.

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