The Swellers - Vehicle City Blues [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Swellers

Vehicle City Blues [7-inch] (2012)

Side One Dummy

Vehicle City Blues is the Swellers' first offering with a Side One Dummy stamp on the back of the record, leaving Fuled By Ramen after releasing one great album and one good album. 2011's Good for Me showed hints that the band might try to chase the arena-rock perfection of Foo Fighters, something that they may have been able to accomplish with a little time and luck. The two songs offered up on Vehicle City Blues are a return to a more straight-ahead melodic punk direction, something the Swellers have all but perfected in the past.

Perhaps it's not fair to call "Vehicle City Blues" and its b-side "Red Lights" a return to anything. That's because the songs are leftovers from the Good for Me sessions. It's easy to see why the songs didn't make the album, but we're lucky they finally did because it proves the band still has the ability to write the songs that made them so appealing to the punk community to begin with.

"Vehicle City Blues" clocks in at close to four-and-a-half minutes. A nearly minute-long intro sets the tone for the song, which was based on the recently convicted "Flint Serial Killer" Elias Abuelazam who is thought to have fatally stabbed at least five men while wounding nine more in and around Flint, Mich. during the summer of 2010. Understandably, the song is a bit of a bummer lyrically. Musically, however, the band has never been better, especially Jonathan Diener's drumming, upon which the faster bits of the song are built around.

Those who turn their nose up to punk songs over three minutes will find some solace in "Red Lights," which falls perfectly into the band's history of providing a worthy re-birth to mid-'90s melodic punk in the vein of No Use for a Name and Lagwagon.

It's hard to go on too long about a 7" without getting a paycheck from Pitchfork, but it should suffice to say that the Swellers are at the top of their game and we should all be looking forward to whatever they end up releasing as their next full-length.