Rhythm & Views


One of my favorite periods of punk rock was the early '80s, primarily in Southern California, when hardcore bands such as Descendents, Adolescents and Bad Religion began to integrate tuneful pop into their respective sounds, even while the lyrical content remained rooted in a sense of youthful angst.

At its best moments, Long Island band Bayside's second album, cleverly titled Bayside, brings memories of that time flashing back--kick-ass rock riffing, a high-velocity attack and almost-sweet vocals by frontman Anthony Raneri. Liken this to sensitive-guy songwriters David Gray or John Mayer--whose charms I am not immune to--singing against a musical landscape of punk, emo and air-raid heavy-metal guitar leads.

Raneri has a charming way with literate convulsions of anger, irony and self-deprecation. You can find proof on barnburners such as "Hello Shitty," "Blame It on Bad Luck," "Dear Tragedy" and "Tortures of the Damned."

The latter song finds him lamenting "I hate myself more than I ever let on / I'm burned out at 22." But by the conclusion, he's regained some hope: "If I wake up now I can be pure again. ... I'm on the tracks with my back toward the last train leaving town."

Bayside already has a new live acoustic CD/DVD in the can and ready for a Feb. 28 release. Raneri and guitarist Jack O'Shea toured as an acoustic duo following the October death of John Holohan, this album's drummer, in a van crash.

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