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Album Review: Vinnie Caruana - 'City By The Sea'

24 January 2013 | 3:26 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Acoustic punk rock beer songs.

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The opening moments of Vinnie Caruana's new solo EP will instantly make you think of Frank Turner. It could be the lyrics about England, or the brash acoustic guitar with punk rock vocals that have been dulled down for a softer format, or a combination of all three, but surely the English songwriter has had some influence here.

Caruana is well known as the front man of groups such as I Am The Avalanche and The Movielife, but has now decided to step out on his own for 'City By The Sea,' a solo EP that he is currently touring around the USA with Thursday front man Geoff Rickly (who is doing something similar).

Inspired by his new home in Long Beach, New York, Caruana drives these acoustic ballads, often supported by some light percussion or piano, sounding a little gruffer than in his full band projects. Opening track 'Somehow The World Keeps Turning', kicks off with some fast paced strumming, almost a little too much like a generic folk ballad, but lifts to something a little more interesting upon the introduction of the other instruments.

It is obvious with tracks like 'Boy, You're In Heaven', that Caruana is trying to keep things as stripped back as possible, probably so that the EP can be performed without a band, offering some light percussion as well as a few string parts to keep things exciting. Lyrically the tone is quite sad and reflective, the city and relocation are clearly a heavy influence on the songwriter's contemplative mood, especially in the waltz-like 'To Be Dead And In Love', which speaks about a past relationship and what could have been.

The EP's title track contains the stand-out chorus of the record, a little bigger with a marching drum beat and extremely catchy. By the time we reach the end of the record however, the similar strumming and structure of the songs means things are a little repetitive, making it clear why this is not a full length album. In Caruana's defence however he tries his best to make things as exciting as possible in the acoustic format, albeit in a subtle way, by introducing a random dance beat here or a change of guitar tone there.

There seems to be a resurgence of the singer-songwriter in the punk rock scene of late and now Vinnie Caruana offers his take on this sound. Whilst it is by no means original or mind-blowing, it certainly isn't horrible either. Caruana can write a decent melody and if you need some more songs to yell along with in the pub at the end of the night, 'City By The Sea' has six of them.

1. Somehow The World Keeps Turning

2. Boy, You're In Heaven

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3. To Be Dead And In Love

4. City By The Sea

5. If I'm A Battleship, Then You're The Northern Lights (Thank You)

6. Kingwood