Sundials - When I Couldn't Breathe (Cover Artwork)


Sundials: When I Couldn't BreatheWhen I Couldn't Breathe (2012)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There is a reason why so called "college rock" bands, such as Pavement, Spoon and Superchunk, are often stereotyped as being bland and boring. That reason for this stereotype is that those bands are bland and boring. Much of college rock seems intended to explore texture and introspective feelings w.
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There is a reason why so called "college rock" bands, such as Pavement, Spoon and Superchunk, are often stereotyped as being bland and boring. That reason for this stereotype is that those bands are bland and boring. Much of college rock seems intended to explore texture and introspective feelings without getting anyone too excited about anything. Generally speaking, its played out. That's why it's so puzzling that Sundials, who are obviously influenced by the snoozers of yore, are not only a compelling listen, but also manage to retain the art of subtle context as harnessed by those of flannel and Converse.

When I Couldn't Breathe finds the band delving deeper into their warm, reflective tones as heard in the '90s. Gentle vocals are placed on top of thick, round guitar notes that don't so much strike as flow in and out in a wall of sound. Although such a gambit can find bands accidentally stumbling into say, Third Eye Blind territory, Sundials are savvy enough to keep just a slight edge on their music. "710" hides a rusty, screaming guitar in the back ground while a smashing bass supports an airy, Pulp-like guitar. Seventy-Five is propelled forward by an energetic, jangly beat that borrows from R.E.M. as well as classic pop-punk.

Frankly, I'm surprised it works so well, but it does. Perhaps, it's because the band specializes in conciseness. While the music might be designed for texture and not reckless energy, most songs are as compact as the average Ramones tune, with most coming in at well under the three, or even two, minute mark. Somehow, the band manages to evoke honest, melancholy feeling in such a short time. Part of this is because the band opts for simple, direct delivery over cleverness for the sake of cleverness. "Completely Broken" is based around the refrain "I'm gonna be completely broken." It's not necessarily the most ingenious or obtuse way to describe a break up, but, it's not route yet and paints an exact picture in a manner of say‚?¶ten seconds.

Morrissey was a master of this skill, using the normal to describe the exact, without ever mentioning the later directly. Sundials approach this feat with lines like "Sitting at the bar / Trying my best to stay sweet / It's so damn hard / And you come along / Run your fingers though my rat's nest / Asking how I am." The band doesn't exactly describe anything and in doing so, describes a scene with poignant detail.

Perhaps it's unfair to say an entire genre is bland or boring. Every rule has an exception. Every genre has at least a few exciting bands. I suppose that, perhaps, while most college rock can act as a substitute for Nightquil, Sundials know how to wake up and shake up all while using the same tools as those that put everyone else to bed.

(Oh man, I'm not going soft, am I?)


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
MN_DrNick (September 26, 2012)

Welp, strike two for John Gentile. First the Justin Bieber review. Now the Superchunk comments.

krankykirk (September 25, 2012)

stopped reading this review after the first two sentences. pavement was fucking awesome. and superchunk sounds nothing like the other bands you listed. fuckin idiot.

greg0rb (September 25, 2012)

Oh yeah John? Well how bout this? THE MELVINS ARE BLAND. That's right. I can do it too!

Problematiclogic (September 25, 2012)

Superchunk are what now? C'mon.

funneloflove (September 25, 2012)

I hope you troll this hard in court.

johngentile (September 25, 2012)

Greg, the mere fact that you think superchunk is pretty energetic and punk shows how lukewarm the rest of the music that you listen to is. WAH WAH WAAAAH.

greg0rb (September 25, 2012)

John, c'mon. You have clearly never heard Superchunk. I like all three of the bands you bashed dude, but Superchunk are pretty "punk" and energetic next to those two. Bland they are not!

djmrthebest (September 25, 2012)

i started this account with the sole purpose of calling the reviewer a knob. Respect the Chunk!!

also, Sundials are good. glad to see they're getting some love.

ashtraymonument (September 25, 2012)

this sounds like The Sidekicks had a baby with Cheap Girls, and a pop-punk was the delivery doctor

Wyld_stallyns_rule (September 25, 2012)

One of my favorites this year. Sundials seemingly can do no wrong.

noble_stabbings (September 25, 2012)

Ha. Nightquil.

llmp (September 25, 2012)

The first two sentences are not only incorrect but read like something you write for a thesis as a Freshman in college.

exspectator (September 25, 2012)

Not to take away from the positives of this review, because this record/band is amazing, but Superchunk a snoozer? Come on!

funneloflove (September 25, 2012)

5 stars for Sundials and this killer record. NEGATIVE FIVE STARS for lawyer boy saying Superchunk is boring and bland.

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