Key Track: “cuckold”
The guys in North Carolina’s Sinai Vessel were once approached after a show by someone, who may or may not have enjoyed the show, who called their music “punk for sissies.” The phrase “punk for sissies” is now draped across the band’s bandcamp page, as a source of inspiration. Taken in a non-derogatory way, the phrase fits the band – they’re punk, but one that’s smarter and more personal than most. There are hints of emo in their music, often in place of punk energy. Their new EP, “profanity,” is a solidly well-rounded listen that examines maturity and confusion, in a manner that switches from angry to introspective.
The EP doesn’t exactly start with any punches. Opener “cats” aligns itself a little closer to some twinkly emo than to punk, even if it’s examining small town religion. The vocals, as they are across the EP, are forceful, but the more midtempo music sets the tone of the EP – melodic and reflective, not always going for volume. The second track, “greatham,” is simply a forty second interlude. “cuckold,” possibly the EP’s best song, is a little louder and packs a secret punch in both it’s power and it’s poetry.
“drown around” matches the melodic and powerful nature of “cuckold,” with it’s screamed vocals and honest lyrics. Sinai Vessel are not focused on pulling intense punches, but the EP’s midpoint is it’s most forceful and loudest section. “flannery” is a very honest track, with the line “good country people with bad city hearts” repeated throughout. It serves as a slower song, and possibly the most developed on the whole EP. And “index on the oval” is a heavy and drawn-out finale, one that fits the EP well.
The band, consisting of Caleb Cordes on guitar, bass and vocals, Nathan Larson on drums and David Wimbish on horns, can easily create an atmosphere of cerebral and vulnerable punk, a largely untapped market. Sinai Vessel can be loud when they want to, and can even stretch themselves in post-punk (like on “index on the oval”). But they don’t overdo anything – they’re content playing midtempo and melodic rock most of the time. “profanity” is an eclectic work, one that shows Sinai Vessel have different intentions than most punk bands. Where the vocals are often intense, the music isn’t necessarily, and it’s a blend that entirely works. Sinai Vessel might be “punk for sissies,” but it’s punk for smart and despairing people, too.
You can stream and download the EP here.
If you like this, try: For the sound of Sinai Vessel, the emo-punk blend of Sleep Weather that I happened to have just reviewed. For the idea of Sinai Vessel, check out the band Swearin’, a relatively calm and poetic band that still qualifies as punk.