Sundials Ė When I Couldnít Breathe
Record Label: Asian Man Records
Release Date: September 25th, 2012
Itís a generous thing when a band releases an album for free; the economy is in shambles right now, and while a lot of bands canít afford to give away music for free, I do appreciate the bands that do. For instance, Richmond, VA trio Sundials released their new record When I Couldnít Breathe for free a few weeks ago. I had never heard of this band in my life, but you canít go wrong with free music. I listened to it with an open mind as well as open ears, and to my surprise, I quite enjoyed it. Despite only being about 28 minutes, itís a very interesting release. Thereís a very ď90sĒ vibe to it, meaning a 90s alternative/emo/punk vibe, kind of reminiscent to Jawbreaker, actually. Thatís really the only ď90sĒ band Iím into, but in a way, they really have that sound. If I really had to describe it, they remind of a mix between indie/punk band Joyce Manor and Jawbreaker. That would be the best way for me to describe it. Regardless, itís a great record, and itís worth listening to.
The record opens with ď710,Ē and ironically, itís one of the longest songs on the album at about three minutes. Thatís the first thing I noticed with this release; the songs are really short. Well, for the most part. Thatís part of where my Joyce Manor comparison comes in. Their songs are typically very short, usually less than two minutes. A lot of the songs on this album are less than three minutes, so despite having 13 songs, itís still very short. If youíre a fan of short, sweet, and to the point punk/pop-punk, like Joyce Manor, or pop-punk band Mixtapes, youíll certainly get a kick out of this as well. ď710Ē opens with a bit of distortion effect, and it sounds really cool if youíre listening to it in headphones. About 17 seconds in, vocalist/guitarist Harris Mendellís voice kicks in, and while he doesnít have the most unique voice Iíve ever heard, it still holds up very nicely. His voice definitely adds to the 90s vibe thatís woven throughout this record. Another thing that really caught me off guard were how honest the lyrics were in this song. One of the lines that I really like, and that are repeated throughout the song go, ďSometimes I donít wanna care.Ē I think we all can relate to just not wanting to care about something, because it bothers you so much. This opening track definitely sets the stage for whatís to come, and itís also a very strong track, too; the opening track is always important, and aside from being very honesty, itís also quite catchy, too.
Next track ďNew York CrunchĒ really continues the strong track streak that first track had; itís another catchy and honest track. This is another song that I like the lyrics to. What I like about this band is that theyíre indie, and punk all at once. If youíre a fan of indie, you can probably get into them. If youíre a fan of punk, you can probably get into them, too. Itís the best of both worlds. Third track, and title track, ďWhen I Couldnít Breathe,Ē also continues this streak, and this is one of the best tracks on the record, honestly. This track also shows off what the record is about, too. Itís one of the ďslowerĒ moments, too. Itís not aggressive, but still catchy. This is sort of where their indie sound comes in, but not too strongly, either.
As the record goes on, it doesnít really have much variety within it. Thatís a good thing, and a bad thing. Their sound is great, but the songs tend to blend in after awhile. Fourth track ďSeventy-FiveĒ has a very classic punk sound. Itís very short, and to the point. This is where the punk sound comes into play, but these moments are a bit rare. ďCompletely BrokenĒ is one of my favorite tracks on the record, and it directly follows the track I just mentioned. The lyrics are insanely honest, and itís very catchy overall. At this point in the album, the listener is only about a third into the record, and thatís rather surprising, because there are thirteen songs on this record. Iíll get to my issue with that in a second, but the rest of the record can be described like this Ė the songs have either an indie or punk sound, and really nothing else. Thatís the only variety in this album. Itís not a terrible album whatsoever; in fact, itís very enjoyable, but you kind of get the gist of it after the first few songs. The lyrics are always honest as ever, and every song hits just fine, but the fact there isnít too much variety is a bit bothersome. There are a few moments here and there, but theyíre quite hard to find. For instance, eight track ďUntitledĒ is a very interesting track; itís another very short and catchy track, which I really like. Directly following that is ninth track ďWhen I Couldnít Breathe (Reprise),Ē and itís a very interesting track, and the shortest, at about 40-seconds. Itís interesting, because it briefly continues the title track, but itís much slower, and the vocals are distorted as well. Itís very quick, and you could miss it, if youíre not careful. The last few tracks are interesting as well, but they donít quite stand out to me, really. The closing track is more or less important than the opening track; itís more important, because you want to leave the album with a good ďtasteĒ in your mouth, essentially. Itís less important, because if youíre hooked already, the closing track shouldnít matter. Regardless, itís still important, but closing track ďStrange,Ē is exactly the opposite of strange Ė itís an acoustic track. Itís the only one of its kind, and it closes the album out perfectly.
This leads me back to the problem I had earlier; the one thing that bothers me about this isnít really the lack of variety, because while there isnít a lot, there is enough to keep me interested. There really is enough variety to keep my ears perked up, and actually quite entertained. Itís just how fast this record feels Ė itís 28 minutes, and thirteen songs. The songs just go by real quick, and if youíre not paying attention, you could miss part of a song, or even the whole song. I do like that they are straightforward, but this is a problem I had with the new Mixtapes album as well; that album had 16 songs, however. That album kind of dragged on a bit, whereas this one really doesnít, but it thankfully stays away from that. Overall, though, itís a very enjoyable record that you can download for free, so itís worth checking out.