Review: Carpenter – Sea to Sky (2010)
When you first find out Carpenter’s from Vancouver, Canada, it’s like first finding out Dan Aykroyd’s Canadian. And Will Arnett. Leslie Nielsen was a shocker. They play a punk you’d find coming out of Gainesville on the far opposite end of North America, rather than way up in British Columbia. But yep, they are Canadians and damn good ones at that. As of this year, they’ve finally been able to come to America and start their mini-conquest of our punk scene, most recently performing at The Fest 10 in Florida. Random interview fact, guess you face a five-year band in America if you don’t get your visa to tour. Interesting…
Sea to Sky is inundated with the elements that drew people to Hot Water Music and The Loved Ones with smoother vocals than The Gaslight Anthem. Singer/rhythm guitarist Daniel Sioui pulls the sound back towards punk, particularly in being able to hit the sweet spot in the harmonies while keeping grounded during verses. It surprises when he first hits the word “things” on opener “Mean Things.” The track has the stops to the riffs and steadfast guitar rhythms we come to expect and love with melodic punk. The balance between these sounds and the lyrics hearken back to the good ole mid-late 90s emo days before the movement was hijacked and contorted into a common misconception by the mainstream. While the songs don’t deal with relationships per say, they do focus more on general life-so easy to mirror back on one’s self, like on “Common Law” or “Just Another Friday Night”.
Melodic punk is a rush that can either be easily forgotten or can stick in your mind like a radio single. “Just Another Friday Night” initially is dismissible, as it flies nearly too close to the pop punk sun in terms of brightness. Listening closely, you can catch a slide guitar that adds an alt-country aspect that is wholly unexpected. Couple that with the strong harmonizations, and Sea to Sky starts to distinguish itself. “Northern Exposure” is the basic anthem you’d lower your car windows to and let in the fresh air and freedom. “One Horse Town” is similar, but adds teeth to the typical, “I’m gonna leave town and never look back” song. It houses one of the best build-ups and group vocals you’ll find on the album.
“I Put My Heart in Everything”
Meanwhile, “Joan” feels like a cross between Hot Water Music and Jade Tree Records‘ late 90s, early 2000 catalog. The downtempo ode gives weight to Carpenter, and a second similar track would have made the album much stronger. Perhaps with that slide guitar, next time? Or just keep with the xylophone. Nevertheless, Sea to Sky is a rock solid album from the mountains to the West from an unlikely place. Keep your ears out for them to come on the road. I know I’ll be very, very interested in what they have coming up after they’ve clocked all those new American miles on their van.