In high school I am willing to bet that many fellow sputnikers had some sick days off. Now on these sick days it seems boredom can reach a peak high. Between the boards being slow, soap opera’s investing the cable channels, and watching the same movies over and over, sometimes you need something new. At least all of that was the case for me. So one day about a year ago I was doing a genre search on purevolume and managed to stumble across The Swellers
. Some of the pictures posted were from Warped Tour 05 where the group played select shows on the Ernie Ball Stage. Pretty impressive, and as soon as the first song hit my ears I knew that they were a deserving of that stage and so much more. For a band on a fairly small Indie Label in Search and Rescue, these guys are phenomenal.
The Michigan native foursome has a very driving melodic punk sound. Fast, up tempo songs are delivered with a strong sense of melody yet manage to clutch some pop roots making them a catchy and an entertaining listen. Many sections of these songs are guitar driven, which is quite the nice break from the routine pop punk acts. The production here is surprisingly good quality here, and I only say that since they are on a small label. Mixing is top notch and the tones are all enjoyable. Bass is heard fairly easily yet never becomes over powering. Drums have a nice sound to them and feature some extremely well placed rolls and fills. Most of the time drums keep a rapid rhythm, adding in some variation when the situation calls for it. Vocals themselves are wonderfully presented, as their tone is very heartfelt and passionate. They always convey the attempted mood and emotion, adding in emphasis at the right moments. The backing vocals do much the same, and feature solid melodies and placement. For such a young group these guys sure have their fair share of talent and identity.
The opening track Tunnel Vision
displays some of their punk influences. Opening with a rapid paced verse featuring some quickly strummed chords, their main punk influence is shown right away. Some nicely timed rolls come in, adding to the variety and keeping things flowing very well. For the most part the chorus and verse is very rock solid but nothing out of the ordinary. The real treat comes during the solo. An extremely fast tempo is maintained as the first hint of their melodic side comes out. After a little guitar and vocal break, a chanting outro ends the song. Quite a nice introduction to the band, as their straight forward punk approach with hints of melody is shown. This style comes out again during By A Thread
. Once again they use it successfully as the song keeps to its fast tempo. While it is basic in nature, there is enough variety present in the sections to keep things interesting. The vocal presentation here works nicely as it creates a bit of a diverse atmosphere is present compared with the rest of the album. Guitar wise the chord progressions are rock solid and only add to the catchiness of the music. Hints of the melodic edge come out again during a brief harmonized riff. Once again the overall song ends up effective, but I truly feel as though the group’s strength is not completely apparent from these tracks.
When they give listeners a full taste of their melody based punk is when they are at their full potential to me. The second track The Inside
serves up one heck of a platter containing some beautiful guitar riffs, an overall fast pace, and an infectiously catchy chorus. Opening right away with a little harmonized riff, a drum roll and some speedy chords once more set a quick paced mood. Throughout the verse the diverse guitar patterns make the melody emphasis obvious. The bridge here is the real deal, featuring an immediate tempo change and a great little bass break before leading into another harmonized section. The half time feel works out wonderfully as it leads into a modified chorus. During the outro another nice riff comes out as the slower tempo ends things in a very epic fashion. With so much going for it The Inside is one of the strongest on the record. Don’t think the group is completely one trick ponies, Run
is the slowest jam on the record but easily one of the most powerful. Now the slowest on the record in reality isn’t that slow as this is not a ballad by any means. Rather it is a moderate paced tune featuring some great emotional singing and another catchy chorus. The main octave chord riff is extremely easy to dig as it sets a wonderful mood for the song. During the verse things slow down as it is made up of a straightforward bass line and a leisurely drum beat. The guitars play some a brief riff only taking up a few beats each measure, which allows vocals to get a lot of emphasis during the verse. In the spotlight almost, the vocals deliver quite the performance sounding very inspired and smooth. Its slightly slower pace is not the only thing that makes Run stand out here, as its quality makes it a definite highlight. Quite a powerful punch is packed here, making this moderate melodic tune an enjoyable one.
With mere seven songs, The Beginning Of The End Again
manages to give listeners a great taste of what The Swellers are all about. They are capable of delivering straightforward classic punk with their own melodic twist on it. At such a young age it is no telling as to how far this group will be able to go. After already gaining a US record label as well as one in Japan, the future sure looks bright for the Michigan based act. Their songs are powerful and catchy, making them fairly easy to digest. However, there is enough variation and instrumental talent present that their songs in turn gain long term effect. The Swellers have much more than a simple hook in their music, giving listeners multiple reasons to come back and listen to more. Currently the group is recording a new album so time will only tell what the future holds for them. Clearly there is plenty of talent and potential present here, and a few listens of the EP should make that apparent. Hopefully the future will hold continued success and increased opportunities for this ever so deserving group.
Final Rating: 3.5/5