Admittedly out of more loops than I’m in, I wasn’t aware of The Reveling until receiving the email that their debut full-length was available for review. Every now and then an unexpected gem finds its way to my “Review Inbox”; an album that grabs you by the ears and forces you to listen and pay attention from start to finish. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it certainly leaves an indelible impression. The Reveling’s “Tributaries” is the most recent (and probably the best) example of this phenomenon happening.
The Brooklyn-based quartet (and current Dying Scene Spotlight artist) play a particular style of punk music that is very reminiscent of the music that introduced many of us in the late 20’s/early 30’s age bracket to punk rock: catchy, pogo-inspiring rhythms; guitar heavy, pop-infused melodies; meaningful, introspective lyrics; singalong choruses. A logical progression from the rock music of our parents’ generation. The Reveling make their home midway between the punkier side of the Gaslight Anthem spectrum and the more melodic (read as: more recent) side of the Bouncing Souls catalog. “Revival” opens the album, and sounds very much like an intro track should, briefly laying the foundation for what is to come on the next nine tracks without giving away too much in any one direction. “Plaster Saints” finds the band successfully melding a melodic post-hardcore sound with alomst a 1950s doo-wop tune. “Invitations To Alleyways” closes the album, and sounds as much like a great album closer as “Revival” does an opener, culminating in a beer-and-whiskey soaked barroom singalong outro.
Many of lead singer/guitar player Sean Morris’s lyrics contain his take on modern street poet topics of disappointment, pessimism, regret, dead end jobs, mistakes made, loves lost, etc. All easily identifiable themes that sound particularly genuine when sung with his particularly soulful voice. “Charlotte Thompson,” one of the album’s catchier tracks, finds Morris channeling his inner Billie Joe Armstrong during the first verse, while “Chasing My Tail,” as the title implies, involves having 20/20 hindsight, acknowledging that “repeating mistakes defines insanity.”
“Black And Tan” stands as my personal favorite on the album, and deals with Morris’s twin brother’s move from Brooklyn to the other side of the pond: “The Atlantic is like the dividing line in this black & tan.” Love the symbolism (and the drink), and can definitely identify with the sentiment of trying keep from allowing life to get in the way of trying to keep lines of communication open with those that matter to us. “Unglued” brings a classic old Lookout!/Fat Wreck sound and contains a particularly poignant line about doing “the right thing on the wrong day.” The song’s rather abrupt end marks the album’s only real down note.
The quality of the sound on “Tributaries” is top-notch as well (this is incredibly important but highly overlooked by a lot of bands in the punk rock game). The album sounds great to listen to; expertly produced and mixed without sounding too polished or too refined, the right balance between the clean recording that studio bells-and-whistles can provide and the live energy that punk music needs to keep it sounding, well…punk. Think of the last couple Face to Face albums (prior to “Laugh Now, Laugh Later) or the last couple of Bouncing Souls albums and you’ll know what I mean.
Comparing a newer band to the likes of the Gaslight Anthem or the Bouncing Souls (or Face to Face or Social Distortion as I’ve seen in other places) is certainly lofty, hard-to-live-up-to praise, and I don’t do so lightly. After only three days worth of listens, “Tributaries” has earned a spot at-or-near the top of my “favorite albums of 2011” list. Truth be told, they had me convinced that they were the real deal partway through the first listen. Expect big things, and remember where you heard them first!