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The Swellers - Vehicle City Blues Album Cover

The Swellers - Vehicle City Blues

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8.0
The Swellers - Vehicle City Blues
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record Label: SideOneDummy Records
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
The Swellers haven’t been out of our minds for any long period of time since they joined Fueled By Ramen. They made noise with the release of Ups and Downsizing, toured a lot, released Good For Me, and recently announced that they had left the label. Good For Me saw mixed reactions, but ultimately it wasn’t the band’s best work. The punk-first pop-punk goodness of Ups and Downsizing was replaced by tinges of ‘90s-alt rock and roll type sounds. It wasn’t awful by any means, but Vehicle City Blues, The Swellers’ first release since leaving Fueled By, is a return to exactly how this band should sound.

The title track is an ambitious endeavor, largely returning to the punk roots that old Swellers fans still love. The intro is long, perhaps a bit too long, but the song kicks in just under the 1-minute mark with an intriguing, dark guitar riff. Jonathan Diener’s drum work is the backbone for powerful verses, and the driven anthem is broken up by a slower, guitar-led first chorus. The second chorus brings back some of the determined alt-rock of Good For Me, with Nick Diener’s cries of “I feel sick / I guess it won’t wash away” leading into a climactic bridge/outro.

The B-side, titled “Red Lights,” is a shorter, more straightforward punk jam. Coming in at less than half the length of “Vehicle City Blues,” the track is something that could have very well been found on Ups and Downsizing. In fact, its speed will remind listeners of My Everest. Nick sings in the chorus, “Even though the sky is always grey / Red lights turn green for me today,” and in the last refrain, ‘whoa-oh’ gang vocals kick in for a great finish. Hopefully this B-side makes it on the set lists of future Swellers shows, because it would be a fun one to see live.

My opinion here is simple and direct enough: Vehicle City Blues perfectly represents the direction I would love for this band to take. There’s a good yin and yang here, between the longer, versatile title track and the quick burst of “Red Lights.” If you’ve ever enjoyed The Swellers’ work, this 7-inch is a necessary purchase, and if it’s any indication of where this band is heading with its next LP, their best work may be yet to come.

8/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 42
01:27 AM on 06/13/12
#2
246toothpicks
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Is it just me, or does Vehicle City Blues (the song) sound very Propagandhi-ish? BTW love this 7"
01:59 AM on 06/13/12
#3
fishguts182
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did anyone who purchased the 7 not get a download card? I recieved my copy and there was no download card with it….
02:12 AM on 06/13/12
#4
fna4
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Getting off FBR tends to do wonders for a band's sound. Wish them luck.
02:45 AM on 06/13/12
#5
cubine
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never heard good for me... although when i saw them live recently their set was mostly material from ups and downsizing. either way, great band, picking this up soon!
03:46 AM on 06/13/12
#6
saddr weirdr
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I wonder if it's just me but Red Lights is the one that sounds Propagandhi-ish haha (to me).

edit: VCB is definitely a great release, but I don't think it's a return to how the band "should" sound, which implies that GFM was a mishap, no matter how many "it wasn't awful" comments you throw in. GFM was a nice branch-out; not every band needs to do 'woooo double time' songs to be good.
03:52 AM on 06/13/12
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saddr weirdr
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did anyone who purchased the 7 not get a download card? I recieved my copy and there was no download card with it….
It comes with the sticker on the cellophane, haha. I was confused when I first got it, but luckily I hadn't chucked the plastic away yet.
04:44 AM on 06/13/12
#8
Fourchordwonder
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This just cements my feeling that I'm definitely in the minority for thinking that Good For Me is the Swellers' only front-to-back great release. Their other two full-lengths are solid enough, but they never stuck out to me until Good For Me.
04:53 AM on 06/13/12
#9
kaylasananjou
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I don't think it's how the band "should" sound. They "should" sound however they want. And people keep talking about how FBR changed their sound, yet everyone seems to forget that "Good For Me" is exactly what the Swellers wanted to write. They are so proud of that album, and every time I see someone say it's not that great, or they were somehow coerced into that sound, I want to toss my computer out a window. Especially since theses songs were written at the same time as "Good For Me", and are therefore a PART of that sound.

People grow up. They get tired of writing 10-12 double-time bro jams. Mixing them in is great, but I don't think you're going to see "My Everest Part 2" out of these guys, and that's GOOD. I will never understand the constant desire for bands to rehash their past. The Swellers are great guys, and they write great music. I really don't see what there is to complain about with an evolving sound.
04:57 AM on 06/13/12
ilovesofie
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I don't understand that people don't like Good For Me the way I do, dammit, on par with Ups & Downsizing there for me, it's just a bit different. This EP is great as well. Nope, this band can do no wrong for me, absolutely not.
05:44 AM on 06/13/12
zachff
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Red Lights is one of the best tracks they've recorded, period.
06:01 AM on 06/13/12
panties_nz
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I don't think it's how the band "should" sound. They "should" sound however they want. And people keep talking about how FBR changed their sound, yet everyone seems to forget that "Good For Me" is exactly what the Swellers wanted to write. They are so proud of that album, and every time I see someone say it's not that great, or they were somehow coerced into that sound, I want to toss my computer out a window. Especially since theses songs were written at the same time as "Good For Me", and are therefore a PART of that sound.

People grow up. They get tired of writing 10-12 double-time bro jams. Mixing them in is great, but I don't think you're going to see "My Everest Part 2" out of these guys, and that's GOOD. I will never understand the constant desire for bands to rehash their past. The Swellers are great guys, and they write great music. I really don't see what there is to complain about with an evolving sound.
this
06:29 AM on 06/13/12
Thomas Nassiff
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I never said Fueled By Ramen made them change their sound. Maybe I should have said this is how I like them most, rather than how they should sound. I just think this is them at their best. I love this band and they are great guys, of course I want them to write the music they want to write. They can write whatever they want, I just don't think Good For Me was that good of an album and was happy to hear this shift. I'm still a huge fan, but it's not insulting to say that a band sounds better when it plays faster. Plenty of bands have made careers out of playing fast. Doesn't make it double time bro songs or whatever.
07:02 AM on 06/13/12
prefix-core
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Good review of the 7-inch.

Just one thing: Weren't these songs leftover from the sessions from the last album, though? I'm not so sure this is an indication of a direction that they're headed into or a sign of things to come. It could be, I guess, but my understanding is that this is just a release of some leftovers that didn't quite fit in with the last record (which would make sense).
07:55 AM on 06/13/12
avarice14
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They played both songs on their last tour, btw.

Both are perfect Swellers sounds, IMO.

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