ARTIST: DEREK SANDERS
TITLE: MY ROCK AND ROLL HEART
LABEL: BANQUET RECORDS
WORDS: CHRIS PRENATT
Derek Sanders is no stranger to cover songs. As the frontman for the beloved Floridian pop-punk act Mayday Parade, he, along with the rest of the band, have covered numerous artists over their 15 year career, like The Pussycat Dolls, Bush, Queen, Further Seems Forever, and Jason Derulo. They even did a tour last year which they covered classic emo and pop-punk songs from bands such as Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Sum 41, The Used, and New Found Glory, for the inaugural Forever Emo Tour.
So it’s surprising that for his first solo venture, Sanders made a cover album. My Rock And Roll Heart is a blast from the past fueled by Sanders’s mesmerizing voice and strumming. Each track off this EP contains a song that helped shape Sanders into the rockstar he is today.
My Rock And Roll Heart’s origins began in 2017 when he gifted his wife Lauren a cover of long-defunct Tallahassee-based pop-rock band Goodbye Love’s “But Lauren.” The song was originally recorded for her ears only, but soon it snowballed and ended up becoming the EP that we’re enjoying today. He even got the blessing from Goodbye Love’s frontman Mike Hanson to release the song to the masses. In a press release for the album, Sanders reminisces, “He was actually the one to say, ‘This is great, you should put this out somehow.’ That was when I started thinking about what other songs would be fun to cover.”
“a blast from the past fueled by Sanders’s mesmerizing voice and strumming”
The EP is packed full of classic emo and pop-punk jams, ranging from acts like Saves The Day to The Juliana Theory. Sanders puts his own little twist to the songs, making each one sound like his own. Over the course of 21 minutes, Sanders invites us to hear the songs that influenced him, and you can clearly hear how much these tracks mean to him.
My Rock And Roll Heart kicks off with “But Lauren,” a beautiful love song that just tugs on your heartstrings the whole time, and Sanders’s enchanting voice can easily bring tears to your eyes. It’s a powerful opening number and is the best track off the EP. Sanders croons over the chorus, “But don’t get me wrong / Because I hear the calling / Of the angels that so desperately / They want you back / They say it’s been too long for a goddess / To be dressed as a girl.” It’s like Hanson wrote this song solely for Sanders to sing, and it might even be better than the original.
The angsty hate track “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” by pop-punk legends Saves The Day gets a major touchup, stripped to only an acoustic guitar backed up by gentle piano keys. It’s a good track, but it feels weird hearing him croon, “Let me take this awkward saw / Run it against your thighs / Cut some flesh away / I’ll carry this piece of you with me.”
“a wonderful cover album that has Sanders tipping his hat to the bands that made him who he is”
The EP’s other tracks are pretty good. His take on Jimmy Eat World’s “A Praise Chorus” is lovely, having him backed by Stages And Stereo’s Daniel Lancaster. Sanders channels his inner Andrew McMahon on his rendition of Something Corporate’s “Punk Rock Princess” and the results are sweet to the ears. The closing track, “August In Bethany” by The Juliana Theory, is a tearjerker that ends the album with a soul-touching swan song.
Overall, My Rock And Roll Heart is a wonderful cover album that has Sanders tipping his hat to the bands that made him who he is. If him fronting Mayday Parade for 15 years hasn’t shown him as a great musician, this EP cements it clearly if you had any doubt.