Words by Bill San Antonio

Just prior to celebrating their 10-year anniversary, Flint, Mich. punks the Swellers released the 7-inch Vehicle City Blues (Side One Dummy Records) in late May following their departure from Fueled By Ramen Records. The title track and its B-side, ‘Red Lights’, are leftovers from sessions at The Blasting Room that spawned the band’s 2011 full-length Good For Me.

Vehicle City Blues’ title track stands out so dramatically from the songs that make the final cut on Good For Me as well as most of the Swellers’ catalogue. This is thanks in large part to a lengthy 4:27 run time – due to its wonderfully foreboding, minute-long introduction of hanging, crunchy guitar chords and a few lines from singer Nick Diener, setting the song’s story of a serial killer that tore through the band’s hometown, that sound as physically distant as they do emotionally helpless. It’s a shockingly dark set-up for what’s to come as the first verse develops into an equally dark, aggressive take on the band’s familiar punk melodies paired with fast, running tempos.

‘Red Lights’ explodes with the energy set forth by ‘Vehicle City Blues’, albeit in a much more hopeful direction. The song is a return to the skater punk sound the Swellers have nurtured throughout their career, speeding off as Diener sings that “Red lights turn green for me today”. The line is a fitting metaphor for the freedom the band now has having walked away from Fueled By Ramen – Diener repeats the line four times near the end of the track, once for each member – but if Vehicle City Blues is even a mere snapshot of what lies in the Swellers’ future, the band’s second decade looks promising no matter where the car stops.

The Swellers
“Vehicle City Blues”
Side One Dummy
© May 29th, 2012



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