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The Bands’ Bands: Mae

Mae Parking Lotbands’ band (bӕnds bӕnd)
n 1. a musical group/person who is widely regarded amongst other musical groups/persons as worthy of adoration, despite said group/person’s lack of popularity and success within the music industry and/or amongst music consumers
2. talented beyond comprehension
3. tragically unlucky

The year 2003 went a little something like this: The Postal Service released their debut album (along with other amazing bands like Copeland and The Format), I picked up my first pair of Heelys, I fell on my ass wearing Heelys, and the latest bands we listen to now were graduating from high school.  As it just so happens, a little pop-punk band named Mae was one of those golden few who released their debut album entitled Destination: Beautiful and showed a bunch of track jacket and Dickies wearing emo kids how to have “happy” feelings for once.

I might just be amusing myself, but Mae brought a new element to that era’s emo/pop-punk that I don’t really think was there before Destination: Beautiful–joy.  Before 2003 everyone playing pop-punk and emo was singing about how sad they were about their feelings, relationships, and parents, but Destination: Beautiful accomplished something a bit different.  Even though these songs appealed to fans of those genres, singer/guitarist, Dave Elkins, started singing about finding hope and all things generally uplifting.  Instead of putting bandages on your wrists, Mae’s debut album would leave smiles on your face.

Mae’s fans wouldn’t be the only ones spinning Mae albums on the regular.  Like most bands’ bands, Mae sets itself apart from other well-received bands by managing to showcase their talented musicianship under seemingly simple and appealing song-writing—also known as “good song-writing.”  Mae found that golden formula of weaving technicality into intriguing and charming songs that successful artists like Demi Lovato tirelessly work at finding, or buy depending on who you’re really talking about here. But one booming debut album wasn’t enough for Mae.  Before disbanding around 2011, Mae left a full discography of revered albums and a concept EP series which arguably included some of Mae’s apex of song-writing to date.

After Mae, Dave Elkins moved to Nashville, dove into various studio roles like production and management, and started a new band and project called Schematic.  The band Schematic sounds similar to Mae in that it features Elkin’s distinctive voice and heavy yet tingly guitar work, but where Mae was described as clean, precise emo-flavored pop-rock, Schematic’s debut album, Color (n.) Inside the Lines, tends to pull from influences in folk and electronic sounds alike.

Elkins wasn’t the only bandmate to keep shelling out excellent tunes.  Drummer Jacob Marshall formed River James just before Mae’s unfortunate end.  River James sound akin to some kind of free-loving hippie indie-folk except these guys can actually play their instruments, and well.  If bands like Farewell Flight and The New Frontiers come to mind, you’re in the ballpark.

Mae’s Destination: Beautiful has got to be one of my favorite released of 2003—right up there with Blink’s self-titled (no, seriously), but somewhere along the line they regrettably fell into the same trap as all of the other bands’ bands of their time and time before.  But all is well; Elkins is still popping out records like it ain’t no thang, Marshall’s River James caused me to renew my fishing license and meander out of this apartment for once, and I finally found a semi-valid reason to follow Demi Lovato’s sultry self on Twitter.

Purchase a CD from Mae here.

Drew Bankert is currently writing and looking ridiculous in an 2003-era, blue Starting Line tee that is embarrassingly too small for his old-boy figure.  You can follow him here – Facebook, or send him a message at – bankert.infectiousmag@gmail.com

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