I’m guessing most of you folks have heard of the Fest in Gainesville, Florida. Well I’m going this year and I’ve begun my prep work. As I listen to the bands that are slated to play, I’m struck by two things: 1. How could I not have heard of X band? 2. I definitely have to see X band. If I had the ability to split into multiple versions of myself like Ash in Army of Darkness, it would come in very handy from Oct 27-29. Alas, since I lack this gift, I’m going to have to make some tough decisions. One band that I’ve got underlined, circled and highlighted is Sinai Vessel. Once again, how have I never heard of these guys? For the others of the uninitiated, I’d describe SN thusly: If Ben Gibbard (Death Cab and Postal Service), Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack), and Chris Crisci (Appleseed Cast) were fused together by a mad scientist and decided to form a Superchunk-inspired indie rock band. Sinai Vessel hails from North Carolina. Helmed by singer/songwriter Caleb Cordes, SN began as a project of his with a revolving cast of musicions. For Brokenlegged, Cordes has rounded out Sinai Vessel with a permanent bass (Daniel Hernandez) and drums (Joshua Herron).
Looseleaf kicks off the record and it pretty much exemplifies what the band is all about. A subtle arpeggio and strings arrangement gives way to noisy guitars and earnest vocals. I tried to categorize these guys as Indie, rather than break out the E word, just to save Sinai Vessel from being cast into the Emo Abyss; but Indie’s not a choice anymore. You’ll definitely catch the E vibe on Looseleaf though. Seriously if track one doesn’t make you a Sinai Vessel fan, then they are not for you. It’s a standout track on a record full of them. Ramekin slides in next and doesn’t vary the formula too much. Argeggio, jumpy beat, catchy. The subdued vocal style used by Cordes on this one drives home the Death Cab comparisons. Laughlin keeps the hits coming using the style that makes the entire record cohesive, no punches pulled here. Down with the Hull, Dogs, and Birthblood don’t vary from the formula that perfectly soothes what ails you. When the vocals kick in on Died on my Birthday, try to keep I’ll follow you into the dark out of your head. THIS IS A DIFFERENT SONG!! Typically the acoustic gear-shift song comes in last, just to send the record out on a mellow note. Not so on Brokenlegged. Sinai Vessel brings Cork of Worry last, a mellow tune, but with a sinister backbone.
I think this album caught me at a vulnerable moment because when I heard it, my heart felt like it was going to float out of my body. After many listenings, it stands up pretty well. Brokenlegged definitely popped into my top 10 of 2017 and, as mentioned earlier, Sinai Vessel is underlined, highlighted and circled on my Fest schedule. I’m ticking off the days ‘til Oct 27.