My first encounter and experience with Saves the Day, was way back in the day in a cold basement in New Brunswick, New Jersey. To me, those were the golden days of the band. Looking back, I’ve been there from the beginning with this New Jersey rock band. I’ve watched the band grow over the years, and I’ve listened to the good times and listened through the not so good times. One thing has always remained constant though, is the ability of Saves the Day to progress and advance as a band from one release to the next. It is very difficult to find bands that progress and develop naturally with their music and aren’t forcing changes. Saves the Day have always struck me as band that has the matchless talents of evolving and emerging in the most untainted aspects possible. This was something that always brought great admiration for the band.
Now there is an album that chronicles how far Saves the Day has come while giving a retrospective look at their musical career. Ups & Downs acts like a scrapbook of sorts, where the songs serve as the images. It is a great look at the past and present evolution of the group. You get to hear songs when Chris Conley was only 15-years-old and you get to hear more current songs that just never made it on any of the full lengths.
The album opens with a great new track, “Ups & Downs,” that was recorded during the Stay What You Are sessions. This is a song that I personally can’t believe was left off that album. Then two of the better Saves the Day songs overall in my opinion, that were recently part of a Vagrant sampler, “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off To Heaven” and “A Drag In D Flat” are next in line. There are even some songs from the Sefler days and early demo songs of the band that really displays the more aggressive nature of Saves the Day (in the vein of Lifetime). The album also includes the acoustic driven tracks from I’m Sorry I’m Leaving as well as two well-done cover songs paying tribute to The Descendants and The Clash. Rounding out the CD is a live version, recorded in 2003, of the acoustic favorite, “Jessie & My Whetstone.”
The best feature on this album though falls inside the CD booklet. Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Conley offers his insight for each and every song in the liner notes. He reminisces on each song and offers a special inside look into them. At times he talks about the story behind the song, the recording process, and various other neat tidbits that only Conley good effectively explain. His liner notes help make this album really personal and intimate. Ups & Downs can be appreciated on all levels by fans of Saves the Day who have been part of the experience from the very beginning. Those just getting acquainted with the band or those who are fans of Saves the Day when they fell into the mainstream, may not fully appreciate this album, but at least they’ll get a little history lesson.