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Ups & Downs: Early Recordings and B-Sides

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Album Review

Saves the Day fans will happily devour Ups & Downs, as it presents a wealth of archival and rare stuff from one of the genre's more veteran groups. "Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven" wins the best title blue ribbon; it's taken from the same 2000 session as "A Drag in D Flat." "Hold" and "I'm Sorry I'm Leaving" were previously available on Saves the Day's 1999 acoustic EP, but Chris Conley's liner-note insights into their recordings are revealing. Fan favorite "Jessie & My Whetstone" appears twice, once acoustically and again in live, electrified form. It's a real teenage tearjerker, and one of Conley's songwriting highlights. Sure, punk-pop-inflected emoticons are a dime a dozen. But in something like the bittersweet pal tribute "Way His Collar Falls," he knows just how to combine lyric with melody to make the song something more than simply youthfully exuberant. His own age shows on the early Saves demo material that makes up the majority of Ups & Downs' second half — the songs have a ragged, holy-crap-we're-a-band urgency. They also sound a lot like Green Day most of the time. A couple covers round out the set here, including "Clash City Rockers" and the Descendents. Check the rough mixing on the Clash tune — it's, like, 7" quality at best, dude. Considering Saves the Day operates in a world where 7"s are largely extinct, the inclusion just makes Ups & Downs more visceral for fans. Now, what are you waiting for? Go out and start your own band.


Formed: 1994 in Princeton, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Perfecting their power pop rock since the mid-'90s, New Jersey's Saves the Day call it like it is. They refrain from characteristic pogo-bouncing anthems for their own quirky post-punk and energetic live shows, influencing a new school of emo/punk bands along the way. The first incarnation of Saves the Day happened when singer/songwriter Chris Conley was only 13, and the band was first called Indifference and, later, Seffler. A name change to their current moniker, taken from a lyric from the Farside...
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