City Escape Artist - Puncture Wounds (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

City Escape Artist

Puncture Wounds (2020)

No Pants Records

Pandemic be damned. Pittsburgh punk trio City Escape Artist have released their third full length, Puncture Wounds. In a lot of ways, it picks up right where 2018’s Home Is Home left off. That album found the band channeling modern sounding punk with just a touch of metal guitar. Guitarist/singer David Wince has a fairly deep voice, (at least by punk standards), and he sings more than he shouts or screams. It works well with the generally earnest words.

CEA play punk music for grownups. It’s well written, well played, and well produced. The arrangements are more complex than most standard punk fare, and there is a ton of attention payed to even small details. They’re not afraid to play hardcore fast or ballad slow. Lyrically, the songs are passionate and personal. The lyrics are the biggest improvement from Home Is Home. Wince still occasionally goes for the big metaphor, but here he hits more than he misses.

The 15 songs on Puncture Wounds seem to work together to tell a story. There’s a cycle of pain, loss, self-destruction and maybe even redemption (or acceptance?). There are a couple of instrumentals, like opener “Seven Beers in the Hole”, and the extremely melodic “Room to Breathe”. There are also a couple of short, heavy songs like “Downer” and “Broken Nose” that seem to serve to connect the longer songs.

There are some real gems among the longer, more fully realized songs. The title track leads to the extremely catchy, keyboard enhanced “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”. (Not a Ramones cover!) Other highlights include “Tomorrow’s Today”, “Bright Light” and “Bring Out the Dead”. CEA might have saved the very best for last. They finish with the powerful one-two punch of “Fractured Pieces (Tell Me Why)” and “Going Nowhere”.

Most of the 15 tracks on Puncture Wounds stand up well on their own. It’s a bonus that they’re a cohesive piece of music, rather than just a collection of songs. It’s just a very solid record all around from this Steel City crew. If you haven’t checked out City Escape Artist yet, Puncture Wounds would be a good place to start.