Roughly two months ago, Story of the Year announced that they would be releasing an acoustic reimagining of what is unarguably their greatest release, Page Avenue, in honor of it’s decade-old age. More recently, Yellowcard have announced that they too would be acoustically re-recording their breakout record, Ocean Avenue, in honor of it reaching double digits. In a perfect world these two bands that dominated the middle-school / high school (or college, but that’s pushing it) years of countless kids would kick off a trend of bands releasing their classic works acoustically among the world of scene music. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we live, and all we can do is dream and hope that anyone in any of these bands will hear my pleas. Until that day comes, here’s a list of high school scene classic albums and artists I would love to see receive the acoustic treatment:
Fall Out Boy – Take This To Your Grave
I’ll admit, for a while after Infinity on High came out, and Fall Out Boy dominated the airwaves, I was a little bashful of my allegiance to the group. After all, how could I possibly enjoy something that so many other people did not? It just made no sense at the time. Well, years have passed and my appreciation for the pop punk masters has been rekindled in no small part due to their return and bestowing of their phoenix release, Save Rock and Roll. As enthused as I am about the fact that we were given a full album’s worth of new material from a band I thought I’d never hear from again, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the reunion moved at a slower pace. After all, this month marks the official 10th anniversary of their debut album, Take This to Your Grave, a fan favorite that has aged considerably well ,but one that could greatly benefit from a bit of a facelift. Most notably an modern acoustic take, or even reworked, version of TTYG would boast lead vocalist Patrick Stump’s more-mind-blowing-than-ever vocal capabilities. Seriously, that dude can belt. I would pay large amounts to hear him tackle classics like Saturday and Grand Theft Autumn with his fancy, refined chops. As a cherry on top, they could throw in the cameo appearance of Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Pierre for Chicago is so Two Years Ago.
Say Anything – Is A Real Boy
Anyone who’s followed Max Bemis’s pet project Say Anything through the years is already well aware of the group’s gradual shift from pissed-off and spastic to happy and peppy. While I’m for one am a fan of the shift (and a firm believer in the notion that releasing the same album twice should be punishable by death – or at least low scores on Metacritic), I still get a little bummed when I think about the potential Bemis showed back in the day as it compares to how it all pandered out. Sure, it’s hard not to feel good for a guy who went through some impossibly tough stuff only to come out the other side happily married with a child on the way. Still, there are days when I wish he could retread his older, more sardonic musical grounds. An …Is a Real Boy re-release would be the perfect opportunity for fans to relive the glory days of Say Anything without forcing Bemis to go retread the dark path that inspired his previous writing style. Fans were already teased with acoustic solo tours in the past and some acoustic songs demoed out over past releases. If Bemis could take just an hour to sit down with his laptop and a guitar and nail down some stripped-down versions of his classic debut, I’m sure fans would more than shell out.
Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This to Memory
Nothing screams nostalgia and triggers memories of summer adventures past, like a good old-fashioned spin through Motion City Soundtrack’s back catalogue. It’s impossible to hear classics like L.G.F.U.A.D. or Everything is Alright without wishing I could romp the halls of high school once again. Although the album from which some of my favorite MCS songs spawns is easily a seminal pop-punk masterpiece, I can’t help but wonder what sort of new life the band could breathe into by simply changing up the instrumental style. On their past albums, they have reworked some songs into a more stripped-down style to absolutely stellar results that arguably impact more than their electric variants. I’m not saying Commit This to Memory could be a better album, but it would be refreshingly exhilarating to hear Justin Pierre coo out some of my favorite tracks with not much more than a single guitar to aid him.
The Format – Dog Problems
Before there was two-time Grammy award-winner Fun. vocalist Nate Ruess, there was simply Nate Ruess: one-half of the indie-pop duo The Format. Though they only stuck around for two albums, they managed to accomplish more musically with each release than most bands will over their entire, multiple-decade careers. While their debut, Interventions and Lullabies, is a fairly standard pop album with some moments of above-par mechanics peeking through, its follow-up, Dog Problems, is a sweeping, grandiose epic of an indie record; Infusing the standard pop formula with heavily elements of Broadway theatricality and Carnival amusement, The Format invented a musical score that’s as imaginative as it is fun (no pun intended.) Anyone that is remotely familiar with the Ruess of this day, despite what you think of his current work, cannot deny the fact that he has a ridiculously outlandish, but beautiful, vocal range. It’s no surprise that someone of his capabilities would improve over the years, and hearing his heightened vocals overtop quirky, yet subdued renditions of his greatest work would be enough to satisfy my musical appetite for a lifetime.
The Dear Hunter
When The Dear Hunter finally released their latest album, Migrant, I was a bit disappointed. Sure, it’s an amazing album–one that I’d recommend you purchase immediately–but it didn’t quite live up to the promise of a more stripped-down, intimate Dear Hunter experience. Upon hearing the band intended to tone down their latest release, I imagined past acoustic performances I’d seen of front man Casey Crescenzo sitting in random fans’ living rooms, pouring out wounded and haunting displays of whatever song was requested. Crescenzo, for the uninitiated, has a voice that I would equate to musical butter that just slowly melts around your brain the more you listen to it; it is equally parts rich and smooth while maintaining a bit of a raspy edge when the song requires so. This entry is sort of a wild card because, while I’d love to hear Casey tackle any of the songs from his Acts, he could literally sing the alphabet and I’d buy at least three copies.
Casey, Nate, Patrick, Max, Justin….or anyone else who’s released an album I’ve loved in the past decade or so (you know who you are), if you can read this, please just hook me up with some sweet new versions of the songs I’ve loved for so long or, in Casey’s case, just anything (Billy Joel covers, rhythmic humming, Gregorian chants…I’m not picky).