January 17, 2012 - Gumshoe
Anthony Raneri's cultivated a dedicated fanbase over the last decade with his band, Bayside, who have delivered one solid album after another of their biting, emotional, melodic rock. After how well the band's 2006 acoustic EP was received, it's surprising it took even this long for Raneri to offer hungry fans some solo material. But his debut EP, New Cathedrals, doesn't pander to anyone. Sure, as a full-band effort, some of it doesn't depart that far from Raneri's full-time gig ("Lead, Follow, Fail" could be an outtake from The Walking Wounded), but there are plenty of subtle stylistic detours and nuances of its own to impress as a separate and realized project.
Free from the constraints of operating within Bayside's relative musical confines (at least, considering the straightforward rock tilt of last year's Killing Time), Raneri explores a wider variety of his influences on New Cathedrals. Opening toe-tapper "Sandra Partial" is an immensely catchy torch song, like the sort of polished, smart-aleck pop Morrissey's been doling out throughout the last decade. Organ and staccato upstrokes impart a vague ska flavor on "Charleston," while quietly darker, western-scented shuffle "The Ballad Of Bill The Saint" imagines Smoking Popes’ Josh Caterer fronting Murder By Death. But no matter the method, Raneri ties everything together well, establishing a solid foundation for presumably a far more expansive and demanding full-length.