Love Letter To A Record: PLTS On Yellowcard’s ‘Ocean Avenue’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Byron Carney, PLTS – Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard

Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue was released in July 2003. This is such an iconic record for me, and perhaps a continued subtle influence on my songwriting – present in the driving and energetic side of the music we make as PLTS. Let me take you back to 2003 itself, when I was turning 17 and the season was transitioning to summer in my surf-hippie hometown of Byron Bay. My life revolved almost entirely around bodyboarding, dating girls and just cruising around with my walkman. Back then we had a huge punk and hardcore scene and there were live events happening regularly, including music that was in a similar vein to this iconic record.

In order to get access to new music, we had to buy records or CDs from the local music shop or illegally download them from pirate file share services such as Napster. We’d share tunes around via CD and in later years via clunky Mp3 players, making each other mixtapes of the latest cool bands. By and large, the weapon of choice was the handheld discman/walkman, which was the size of a CD and you needed to keep it upright whilst playing to save the tracks from skipping. The Vans Warped Tour had rolled through Australia that previous year (ironic that as I type this, the tour is currently rolling around the US in its final year) in what I think was the first time ever in Aus for such a wide array of international acts touring in the punk/alternative genre. In a largely US-facing/focussed music scene, it was a big moment for Australia and a really cool time for that style of music – it was completely blowing up.

Picture me, I was wearing a studded belt, would have been loosely classed as ‘Emo’ and by now you can imagine my teen-boy angst was in full fling. Ocean Avenue became the soundtrack for all key activities, whether that was a hype-up for a surf, heading out to a party or just before going to a live show. We had a larger group of buddies all in to the same music, we’d skateboard when the surf was flat. Whatever the case, you can imagine we were listening to music at all hours of the day and just discovering as much as possible – sharing new records with each other and wanting to be the first person in the crew to discover something new and cool. Thinking back, ‘Ocean Avenue’ is a record that just completely gets me stoked and brings up so much joy and amazing memories from my youth.

In a cliche embodyment of the ’emo’ times I was living in, ’Ocean Avenue’ was the first record that I really felt a strong connection with. There is just so much power in the lyrics and vocal delivery, something my fledgling-teen self completely lapped up. It has a completely classic (and some would say perfect) mix of punk delivered with pop songwriting sensibilities. No matter the genre, I’ve always been intrigued by artists who nail this balance between making alternative music and incorporating poppy or gripping hooks in an intelligent way. These early mixed-genre discoveries, like the songwriting present on ‘Ocean Avenue’, are something that have influenced my approach to composing music in the many artist projects I’ve since been involved with.

When I finally got to see them live, I can remember fan-boying out hard and just punk jumping around the mosh. It lead to me sneaking into their sold out 18+ show at the (now demolished) Annandale Hotel in Sydney. I was on a tour with Parkway Drive (friends and Byron locals) and they all had planned to see the Yellowcard show while we were in Sydney, thing is the rest of my crew were all overage and I was still underage. So here I was scoping around the back of the venue, trying to find a way to sneak in, when I spotted the Violinist Sean and I yelled out to him explaining that I was a huge fan and I was only 17 and “was there any way he could help me out?” He said “come with me”, opened up a back door and said “run through there and you’re in!” Still one of my fondest memories from a show!!

Of course, as I grew older my musical palette developed and I started to widen my scope for records that had more perceived ‘intelligence’. However at the heart of it I’m still in love with alternative/punk music, a love which was largely born from discovering this album – in a genre that has been the basis for me forming a close extended musical family and the catalyst of many exciting adventures and good times.

This record has been there through pivotal moments in my development. Through getting my drivers license and my first high school crushes. Fun fact, this band’s first album was called Midget Tossing!

Thanks for having me in your space.

Byron Carney, PLTS (guitar)

PLTS latest single ‘Maelstrom’ is out now. Give it a listen here:

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