5. Song No. 22: “A.W.O.L.,” Yellowcard
One for the Kids, 2001
Let it be known that I loved Yellowcard way before “Ocean Avenue.” I need everyone to know that, okay? Never mind that I haven’t listened to this band since college: There was a time when Yellowcard was a fiercely protected favorite of mine, one of those bands that were so obscure but so exactly aligned with my taste at the time that some part of me wanted to keep their music all to myself so no one else could risk not loving it enough.
Regardless of that sense of ownership that especially dominated my high school approach to music and then dug its heels in through most of college, this entire album is soaked in shared summertime for me. But specifically those teenage summers when your low-commitment summer job funds the necessary wages of excursions with friends: tolls into Philly and gas money and Djarum cigarettes and an Ice Breakers container of creatively concealed weed and museum entry fees and PATCO fare and concert tickets and piercings and navigating the munchies. And driving with the windows down and the volume up through all of it.
ALSO also, violin-punk was a vastly under-represented and is an under-appreciated genre. To this day, unexpected pairings delight me and I feel like I owe some of that groundwork to these guys, just like they’ve honed my appreciation for some impromptu air-violin.