It's hard not to like Mae, or at least appreciate them. Their 2003 debut Destination: Beautiful was one of the more artful releases of the year. Their unique blend of pop/rock and emo influences gave them a faithful following. And now, the anticipation mounts for the late March 2005 release of their sophomore effort.
Until then, they offer us somewhat of a "Project: 1.5" in the form of Destination: B-Sides. Featuring 3 unreleased tracks, 2 remixes, 3 live recordings, and 2 acoustic sessions, Destination: B-Sides is a varied disc that should appeal to most every fan of Mae.
"This Time Is the Last Time (Wave Remix)" gets the project going. And though my personal opinion happens to be to leave well enough alone, this track, as well as "Goodbye, Goodnight (S.M. remix)," are both well done and hold their own.
Up next is "Suspension," the first of three new tracks. It could have easily fit on Destination: Beautiful, unlike the other two newcomers, "Tisbury Lane," and "Awakening," both of which are a tad too mellow to have belonged. All three are worthy efforts, with "Awakening" probably being the standout. It begins slowly and eventually builds to the musically brilliant climax. And in an odd twist, "Awakening" is the most spiritually driven, while "Suspension" discusses earthly relationships, and "Tisbury Lane" is caught somewhere in the middle.
All three live tracks are played back-to-back-to-back, though it does not seem to be the same performance. In fact, it doesn't seem to be any kind of performance. There is no sight of an audience to be heard. Even the infamous "echo" common when listening to live releases is somewhat different. It's as though the band played in an empty room. Still, the live cuts are great. "Futuro" is a music-only track that gets better with every listen. The live version of "Sun" begins with a lovely, extended piano intro. And, though it does not necessarily stand out, "This Is the Last Time" is beautiful as well.
Acoustic versions of "Sun" and "Giving it Away" add even more to like about Destination: B-Sides. The obvious question, though, is… why a b-sides CD directly following a debut? It seems to make more sense to do this kind of project long into a band's career. But this is what Mae has chosen to do and they deserve much credit for doing as much as possible with the material they have to offer. Destination: B-Sides should keep Mae fans occupied until Everglow releases March 29th.- Review date: 2/08/05, written by Josh Taylor
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