Anthony Raneri normally fronts pop-punk outfit Bayside, and his distinctive vocals are the bands clear trademark. That quality, so winsome for Bayside, unfortunately makes Raneris first solo EP, entitled New Cathedrals, sound less like a new venture and more like Bayside-lite.
The five tracks here lack both the traditional emotive quality of Baysides best work (e.g. Winter”, Montauk) and also the bands more acidic punk-rock side (e.g. Blame It On Bad Luck). The EP isnt really bad; it just doesnt add anything of value to Raneris very respectable catalog.
Of the offerings, The Ballad of Bill the Saint has the best vocal runs even if the lyrics are a bit average (Hey I hate this game/it hasnt always been this way). Lead, Follow, Fail has an interesting, 8-bit style key intro before the song devolves into forgettable lyrics. Sandra Partial and Charleston, the EP’s first two songs, are so despicably pop-flavored and mediocre as to be embarrassing to the listener. Any casual fan of Bayside has heard Raneri do better.
The only track youll want to keep around is closer Please Dont Leave, featuring Raneris voice over bare guitar and light percussion. Its expressive and simple, and this arrangement exposes traces of raw emotion in the vocals. It is, in short, everything thats good about Raneris music generally. Its as though he was warming up to reach this point here, finally, is the musician that fans (this writer included) rave about. Sadly, though, its just a tease before the EP grinds to a halt.
The best that can really be said of New Cathedrals (aside from best unintentionally ironic title ever?) is that it makes you want to listen to Bayside. Raneris a gifted musician, but this EP just doesnt do him justice.
Essential Track: Please Dont Leave