As my favorite album of all time is The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path, the less beloved of The Early November‘s two full lengths (most people argue that The Room’s Too Cold is far superior), I have always been one to support the underdog of albums. That is, when I am just starting to discover a band and I am working my way through their catalog, I will never shy away from what seems to be their most panned album. If you’re crazy like me, then it is absolutely essential for you to have every album from a band that you discover and enjoy. In my opinion, missing any full length in a band’s career is like skipping a chapter in a book that has only impressed in its preceding pages; it just doesn’t make sense. So, in the interest of appreciating the entirety of a story, here is my list of albums that, at the time of their release, were either completely ignored or just completely trashed that I think are so much better than they are given credit for.
The Get Up Kids – On a Wire
Released in 2002 as the follow-up to the album that defined modern “emo,” (Something to Write Home About) On the Wire displays maturity never before seen from the Kansas City boys. With smooth acoustic cuts (“Overdue” and “Hannah Hold On”) and some more experimental choices from the band (“Walking on a Wire” and “Grunge Pig”), it was inevitable that the album would not sit right with fans, despite the amazing growth that the band showed. This is possibly my favorite album by The Get Up Kids.
Dashboard Confessional – The Shade of Poison Trees
While not exactly received negatively, Dashboard’s fifth offering definitely did not obtain the praise it deserved. A return to the more stripped down sound of The Places We Have Come to Fear the Most (a fan favorite), the album contains some of the band’s most beautiful tracks (“The Shade of Poison Trees” and “The Widow’s Peak”) as well as some of its catchiest (“Thick as Thieves” and “Where There’s Gold….”). This album should have exploded like Dusk and Summer did.
Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want To Be
Absolutely trashed at the time of its release, the follow-up to the almost universally adored Tell All Your Friends was the first to feature new members Fred Mascherino and Matt Rubano after the departures of John Nolan and Shaun Cooper. While it was a financial success (good for Gold certification), so many people just hated this album. Nowadays, Where You Want To Be has had some redemption, with a lot of people holding my opinion that the album is just as good, if not better, than Tell All Your Friends.
Jimmy Eat World- Chase This Light
Another one that was never completely shunned, it was definitely hard for fans to accept the glossy and pop heavy Chase This Light after the dark and adored Futures. CTL is by no means Jimmy Eat World’s worst record, with “Chase This Light” and “Dizzy” being in my top five favorite songs by the band for sure. I am positive in my mind that this album should have received much more praise than it did.
Saves The Day – In Reverie
The album that inspired this list, In Reverie is a gigantic departure from the band’s pop punk opus Stay What You Are. It’s mellowed out in every aspect: lyrics, voice, music and all, the album is a dreamy journey through the (momentarily) calm mind of Chris Conley. The musically mature album caused the band to be ejected from major label Interscope Records and lost them tons of fans. The album’s failure (and a bunch of other stuff) ignited the idea for the band’s self-discovery trilogy, which started with the fiery Sound The Alarm and the dark Under the Boards and will end with Daybreak on September 13th. Daybreak is said to take many elements from In Reverie.
Say Anything – In Defense Of The Genre
The purists always say …Is A Real Boy or bust, and the new fans always revel in self-titled’s excellence. For whatever reason, In Defense Of The Genre got lost in the Say Anything shuffle despite putting out some high quality tunes. Despite the star-studded cast of backing vocalists, stellar tracks like “Skinny, Mean Man,” “People Like You Are Why…,” “Sorry Dudes, My Bad,” and “We Killed It” never seemed to catch on. The band hardly ignores the album, with “Shiksa (Girlfriend),” and “Baby Girl, I’m A Blur” regularly played live, yet you never hear people mention this record amongst their favorite SA releases.
At the end of the day, every band, big or small, will always have at least one album that fans will ultimately treat as the ugly step sibling of the rest of their catalog. The goal for us, as listeners, it to always approach each work of art with an equal mindset, ignorant of the positive or negative praise it has received.