This full-length EP actually combines a new EP and a B-Sides album into one. The first 13 tracks (known as “The Nashville Tennis EP”) are completely brand new; the rest are the “Bee” sides and rarities. Concerning the new tracks, Relient K’s musicianship (in all areas) has gotten better and better with every release, and the new tracks here are no exception. And the vocals are even better than ever, too, as Matt Thiessen uses both his ability to sing several octaves, and his intuition of musical and vocal harmony, brilliantly. Plus, there are four tracks that were written and lead-sung by the other bandmembers (one for each). In short, the new stuff is . Throw in the addition of the rarities and B-sides, and this disc is pure fan delight.
“Where Do I Go From Here” opens the disc with a short Folk/banjo intro, after which the guitars and an extremely fast, driving Punk drumbeat kick in.
“The Scene And Herd” features heavier rock, great lyrics, and a funny line or two (one referencing their new drummer). It’s an excellent track.
“At Least We Made It This Far” is a love-across-the-distance song, with different and interesting music (mostly light Country with a Relient K touch ).
John Warne’s track, “The Last, The Lost, The Least”, kicks back in the full, driving rock along with a pointed message calling for us all to care for those who are needy.
“The Lining Is Silver” is another excellent track. It begins with medium rock, then picks up after the first chorus (occasionally using some neat staccato rhythms); and it has great, firmly uplifting lyrics, too.
“There Was No Thief” is a great rock ballad that musically builds in steps. Lyrically, it reflects on a broken relationship that was his fault; and his resolve to mend it. (On an interesting sidenote, this track builds off of an older track called “The Thief” from their Apathetic EP.)
Veteran musician and new Relient K drummer Ethan Luck’s track, “No Reaction”, humorously mentions the other bandmembers not singing lead on this song; and musically, it begins with straight-up classic Punk, then turns to Ska-Punk (!), then back to classic Punk.
“Curl Up And Die” leads with several full-sounding acoustic guitars, and other musical elements come in later with everything slowly building throughout. The lyrics are slightly metaphorical, with the meaning of the chorus clearer at the end. At times during this song, Matt T. sends his vocals down lower than we’ve ever heard him go before, and his vocal melody is perfectly entwined with the music. It’s a track.
Matt Hoopes’ song (which he actually wrote and sang with Matt T.), “You’ll Always Be My Best Friend”, has great lyrics about best friends , and an excellent vocal combo.
“There Was Another Time In My Life” leads with a jazzy rock-piano, the other instruments hopping in at just the right times. This is yet another excellent (and very appealing) track.
Short track “Beaming” has slightly surf-tinged music and basically-nonsense, totally hilarious lyrics.
“I Just Want You To Know” is yet another great track. It features medium rock with just the slightest Southern feel, and (of course) great vocals and lyrics.
Finally, Jon Schneck’s track “Bee Your Man” has very humorous “Country” music, and equally humorous lyrics (and parting message ). Afterwards, there is an also-quite-funny bee-voice segue that serves as a lead-in to the second half of the disc.
In all, if we could rate The Nashville Tennis EP portion separately, we’d give it 5 & 1/2 Stars.
“Up And Up (Acoustic)” is an excellent, full-sounding acoustic version, with equally great new vocals. It’s definitely just as good as the original.
“Wit’s All Been Done Before” is the first of the three exclusive tracks from The Employee Of The Month EP. Lyrically, it basically says “nothing’s new”. It’s rather cynical, but still funny and very true.
“The Vinyl Countdown” is the first track off of their very limited (and extremely rare) 4-song vinyl EP of the same title. Along with excellent rock, this track features absolutely lyrics about old and new music technology.
“For The Band” is the second Employee… track. Its rather humorous lyrics wander a bit, but the main thrust is about a ‘fan’ who now has pink hair (!) and doesn’t like the band anymore… and also about how bandmembers’ identities can sometimes get lost so that everything is always about and for the band.
“Nothing Without You” is the second Vinyl Countdown track with great lyrics and driving rock music.
“A Penny Loafer Saved Is A Penny Loafer Earned” is the third Employee… track; actually a fan favorite and still played at shows [until the end of ’05]. It’s a hilarious track about how absurd penny loafer shoes are… the inspiration for which came to them when they saw someone wearing them while walking through an airport.
“Five Iron Frenzy Is Either Dead Or Dying” is the third of The Vinyl Countdown tracks, this one containing hilarious lyrics about FIF.
“Five Iron Frenzy Is Either Dead Or Dying (Ska Version)”, the last of The Vinyl Countdown tracks, uses mock Ska music (including vocals mimicking brass instruments!) and different, also-funny lyrics.
“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been (Acoustic)” is a great acoustic version with new vocals.
“Here I Go (Demo)” actually sounds nothing like a typical demo— it’s ready to go, with a great, full sound and vocal effects and harmonies. It’s yet another great track.
“The Stenographer (Demo)”, which sounds more like a real demo, uses tons of on-purpose lyrical clichés. It’s fairly ridiculous, and somewhat funny because of that.
“Jefferson Aeroplane (Demo)” also sounds more like a real demo. It’s an interesting old version of this track.
Finally, Relient K closes out the disc with the Five Score… B-side “Hope For Every Fallen Man (Acoustic)”, an excellent track with deeply forgiving and hopeful lyrics.
To sum it up, this is easily Relient K’s best EP to date; and we recommend it.