As a general rule any group with a classically trained guitarist (Ben Harper) and a violinist should be viewed with trepidation. Add to that Yellowcard formed at a Jacksonville, FL, performing arts school and you have a recipe for disaster. However, taking your name from a drinking game is always a good move.
Despite their performing arts background - Mackin played in the school's orchestra - Yellowcard was attracted to Punk. In '01 they released "One For The Kids" and hit the '02 Warped Tour. The EP, "The Underdog," rolled out as the group re-located to southern California. At that point, bassist Warren Cooke was replaced by Peter Mosley, a long time friend of band members.
In SoCal, Yellowcard got first rate help from producer Neal Avron (New Found Glory, Everclear) for their '03 "Ocean Avenue" album, led by the infectious "Way Away." Another trip on the Warped Tour followed the LP's release with Alex Lewis taking over on bass. Mosley then approached the group about re-joining and soon he was back in. Also, Yellowcard contributed to the Spiderman 2 soundtrack and "Rock Against Bush Vol. II" CD.
With the "Ocean Avenue" supporting tour completed, a nearly a two year trek, Yellowcard decided to take some time off. Key and Mosely holed up in NYC to write songs while the rest of the band stayed on the left coast. When they reconvened in '05, Yellowcard faced an immediate problem - conflicts between Harper and the rest of the band. The end result was Harper getting fired. He then focused his attentions on his indie imprint Takeover Records.
According to Key, "Lights And Sounds," an '06 quasi-concept album about their negative feelings towards L.A., would alienate a large portion of the group's audience. Never the less, the set had impressive first week sales of '90,000 units but "only" went gold. So Key likely had a point. The title track peaked at #4 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks and was featured on Burnout Revenge and Guitar Hero: Modern Hits video games. That year, Key had surgery to correct vocal problems that had begun to manifest a year earlier.
"Paper Walls" dropped in '07, and debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200 selling about 40,000 copies in its first week. The set led to another round of extensive touring supporting Blue October in the U.S. and Linkin Park in Japan. While the tour was in progress, Mosely announced in a MySpace blog message that he would be leaving Yellowcard to pursue other endeavors. Josh Portman stepped in but he was replaced a short time later by Sean O'Donnell.
Returning from a Middle East U.S.O. tour, Yellowcard decided to go on an "indefinite hiatus." During the down time, their label issued the EP titled "Deep Cuts," which consisted of four previously-released tracks. Meanwhile, drummer Longineu Parsons backed American Idol finalist Adam Lambert on the latter's tour.
Ending their hiatus in '10, Yellowcard announced they were working on a new album. "We're talking about a ton of different ideas, and we're itching to start as soon as possible," Key stated. "Ultimately, we want to make something the fans will love." "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes" was the result.
Work began on "Southern Air" in March of '12. Then O'Donnell announced he was leaving because he was getting married and didn't want the relentless touring. Sounds reasonable. That brought Portman back into the fold. The album was issued the following August.
"Ocean Avenue Acoustic" was just that - an acoustic version of "Ocean Avenue." The '13 album was supported by a tour.
"Lift A Sail," containing the singles "One Bedroom," "Make Me So" and "Crash The Gates" dropped in late '14. But there were some major changes prior to its release.
First, Parsons left to pursue other musical interests while the group ditched Hopeless Records, after three years and three albums, to sign a worldwide multi-album deal with Razor & Tie.
Next, Anberlin's Nate Young was tapped to play drums on "Lift A Sail" and perform with the band on the '14 Vans Warped Tour. Tucker Rule, formerly with Thursday, was on drums for the album's supporting trek.
The instability that had marked the group's recent years won out. During the summer of '16 news came that Yellowcard's 10th studio album, a self-titled effort, was on the way. There was also the announcement that the group would disband after a twenty year run.
1997 Midget Tossing
1999 Where We Stand
2001 One For The Kids
2003 Ocean Avenue
2006 Lights And Sounds
2007 Paper Walls
2011 When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
2012 Southern Air
2013 Ocean Avenue Acoustic
2014 Lift A Sail
"Lights And Sounds" wants to be an epic record. It's not that but it's pretty good. The group's distaste for southern California is obvious in the recurring "Holly" character (short for Hollywood). She makes an appearance in several songs, including the girlfriend of a soldier killed in Iraq, before dying herself on the album's closer.
"Ocean Avenue" is a strong collection of songs where, surprisingly, the violin is an integral part and not just an add-on or after thought. The title track provides lots of energy - enough to overlook the sedentary lyrics ("there's a piece of you that's here with me").