Alter The Press!


ATP! Album Review: Taking Back Sunday - TAYF10 Acoustic

One of the most acclaimed and top-grossing tours of 2012 was a country-wide celebration of great music, unforgettable memories, and lasting friendships. To be more specific, it was a birthday tour for an album which, in conjunction with a few of its contemporaries, altered the alt rock scene-slightly shifting its direction into more vocal, lyrical, and instrumental complexities. March 26, 2002 marks a critical moment in both the alt rock genre and the Long Island (to be read as “Lawn Guy Land” for this review) independent and local music scene-the release of Taking Back Sunday’s debut album, Tell All Your Friends. The well-received record prompted the band’s peers and predecessors to look up to them and attempt to follow in their musical footsteps. To an ill-informed and unfortunate listener, the band’s incomparable songwriting style and emphasis on personal stories that weave in between certain lyrics would not have the same emotional connection as it would on one of the millions of loyal TBS fans.

Just over eleven years after the release of TAYF and in the midst of the band’s recording of their sixth studio album, Taking Back Sunday gave barely two weeks notice in announcing the release date of a live, acoustic version of the groundbreaking album. The newest addition in the band’s expansive discography of live albums, appropriately titled TAYF10 Acoustic, features live music and interview footage from the tour’s stops at the Troubadour in California and the Beat Kitchen in Chicago.

The live CD/DVD gives TAYF10 concertgoers an additional glimpse of their favorite alt rock record, and is a gem to those who could not acquire tickets to the fast-selling tour or those who attended but were too busy drowning in the pools of passionate fans and avoiding the overwhelming mosh pits and crowd sways to give the band their undivided attention. The atmosphere of the record is a lot more toned down not only in sound but in crowd movement and reception-considering that starting a mosh pit during an acoustic version of ‘Great Romances of the 20th Century’ isn’t socially acceptable by any concertgoer. There is as much (if not more) banter as there is song playing on the release-a real treat to the diehard TAYF and TBS fans who cannot get enough stories about drunken tour nights, NyQuil-induced lyric writing sessions, strip club adventures, song title origins, and Fight Club. Anyone who has been to one of their shows knows that Taking Back Sunday is a live band; meaning, how TBS sounds on a studio album and how TBS performs on a stage are two completely different musical and religious experiences that any fan must experience more than once. TAYF10 Acoustic is essential and necessary for any degree of Taking Back Sunday fan to have in their music library.

Both the stage and the listener’s faces light up when guitarist/vocalist John Nolan strums the initial chords of ‘You Know How I Do.’ The song is light and breezy, sounding carefree and effortless. In between each song, the band delves into their famous on-stage banter, which, as previously stated, is longer than the TBS norm. The band states their fears of sounding “cheesy” in reminiscing about their lives back in ’02 and what was going on at the time of each song’s writing and recording, but this couldn’t be any further from “cheesy.” The tour stories and personal accounts from each of the band members makes the record more nostalgic both for the band and the fans. The fans enjoy hearing some unknown inside scoop about the band that Wikipedia could never tell, while also reflect on what they were doing from 2002 on while listening to TAYF.

As with the studio album, Michelle DaRosa (née Nolan) makes a special vocal appearance on ‘Bike Scene’ and ‘Ghost Man on Third’, thereby pushing the envelope regarding how nostalgic this live performance could be. ‘Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)’ is more refined in light years compared to the acoustic version featured on the special edition of Tell All Your Friends. The addition of a piano and violin (as with every track on TAYF10 Acoustic) makes this monster hit sound absolutely stunning. Don’t fret, TBS junkies; the famous “Why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?” chant makes an appearance. The haunting intro to ‘There’s No ‘I’ in Team’ carries on throughout the track, crescendoing into an explosive ending. The band takes great care in emphasizing the importance of ‘Great Romances of the 20th Century’ in how they achieved confidence in themselves; a chilling rendition of the first song the band wrote with the “original” lineup is a highpoint on the live album.

Some fans are aware of the few features on Tell All Your Friends that the band did not approve of. One of those was the studio version of ‘The Blue Channel’ and how the aggressive and over-paced piano interlude introduction is presented. For TAYF10 Acoustic, Taking Back Sunday performs the song the way it was initially written, with seasoned touring guitarist/keyboardist Nathan Cogan performing an eerie intermission before vocalist Adam Lazzara laments the lyrics of one of the band’s darkest and most personal songs. The bitter coldness in the lyrics are more tangible with the dramatic acoustics. As with the electric version, the acoustic version of ‘You’re So Last Summer’ has this danceable quality to it, and if you aren’t singing along with Lazzara to, “If I’m just bad news, then you’re a liar,” then you don’t have rhythm and everyone will laugh at you for failing at life. The most underrated TBS song, Tell All Your Friends album closer ‘Head Club’ is given a very Mumford & Sons-y acoustic rendition during certain parts, particularly in the intro and first verse. It’s different and unexpected, but it works. Taking Back Sunday closes their acoustic set with famous B-side and everyone’s favorite heartbreaking song, ‘Your Own Disaster’ the way it was recorded, unifying the performance and giving the listeners that extra dose of nostalgia and emotion before the album’s end.

To play devil’s advocate and to address a future critique that will inevitably arise about TAYF10 Acoustic, an acoustic studio album of Tell All Your Friends, with the songs recorded as the band initially wanted (intro to ‘The Blue Channel’ and ‘Great Romances...,” et cetera) could be preferred over a live album. As previously mentioned, Taking Back Sunday is a live band. What you hear on a studio album and what you hear, see, and feel in person are two extremely different experiences. A studio version of TAYF10 Acoustic would sound cleaner, indeed. But where would the guys put the banter, the memories, the laughter, and the nostalgia? Those things can’t fit on a studio album. That’s what behind the scenes trailers and documentaries are for. Yeah, those are cool but who has time for multiple band documentaries anymore? Live albums and DVDs give the feeling of being at a special, one-of-a-kind performance without having to waste time watching a shitty YouTube version of it that a thirteen year old shot with a burnt out camera phone from the back mezzanine of the venue. Just putting this out there but Adam would certainly not approve of that action.

TAYF10 Acoustic is what Taking Back Sunday’s extensive and dedicated fanbase has been waiting for since the band has hinted at it during the actual tour. It’s no surprise that one would compare this live CD/DVD with their 2010 live acoustic release ‘Live from Orensanz.’ The two live albums are completely dissimilar not only in tracklisting, but in sentimentality as well. To put it plainly, TAYF10 Acoustic is the band’s best live album...period. The others are fantastic, obviously; but neither one of them has the same emotion that emits from TAYF10 Acoustic. In addition, this live CD/DVD isn’t scheduled to be emulated anytime soon. They don’t call it a, “Rare Acoustic Performance,” for nothing, people!

Purchase the CD and the DVD (you’ll kick yourself if you don’t get the opportunity to watch this) and support real, wholesome music. This is not the record to flake out on, especially if Taking Back Sunday, and more specifically Tell All Your Friends holds a special spot in your music-filled heart.


Melissa Jones

TAYF10 Acoustic will be released on June 18th. Pre-order your copy today here.

Alter The Press!