Spraynard hail from Pennsylvania and they play a style of punk that blends the varied melodic subgenres of punk rock (East Bay, beard punk, pop punk) to create their own identity—there’s a familiarity from their influences, but it doesn’t squarely pigeonhole them under a specific label. The band utilizes up-front bass that delivers the melody while the gruff, gruff vocals explore personal anguish in the tradition of East Bay punk and the guitar and drums move the song forward through muddy production. As for identifying sounds, the lack of focus on vocals really sticks out, giving the music a stronger place in the mix and overriding the pop structures the band utilizes. On “Subsidizing Edward Norton” (whatever that title means), the song is more upbeat, opening with a nice lead that blends into a forward-moving melodic flow throughout the song. At times the clunky delivery of the lyrics gives it some abrasion, but the guitar holds up and pushes the song onward whenever it stumbles. Still, the vocals interplay with the instruments better on this song than on the opening “No Taxis in Malvern,” giving a more consistent, driving energy with a ray-of-sunshine-through-the-clouds slice of optimism that drives the pessimistic tone.
Richmond’s Sundials tackle side 2. They bring a jangly, more upbeat approach that’s downright sunny after listening to Spraynard. They feature vocal tradeoffs and group choruses, all set to a standard verse-chorus-verse with repetitive but catchy chords. The vocals have an off-kilter approach and the music is a little choppy in tempo, giving a sloppy feel that reminds me of Philly’s Amateur Party. Both songs, “Snowballs at Cops” and “Fire Escape” take a similar approach and neither really jumps out, but it’s an enjoyable listen that makes me curious about a full-length. The latter song offers the refrain of “In case of fire I might return/ and if I do/ I’ll make sure that everyone burns but you,” mixing cynicism, optimism, and playful lyrics that covers a variety of tones all within a single song.
6.1 / 10
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