Vinnie Caruana’s musical CV is one that would intimidate most. Revered for his work with The Movielife and more recently with I Am The Avalanche, this Long Island native has now taken steps into that cluttered field of troubadour touting solo singers. His debut EP ‘City By Sea’ is a nostalgic trip down memory lane – with his strong northeastern drawl – and ‘City By The Sea’ captures Caruana sparse and stripped back. If nothing else, this EP shows that Caruana is more than capable of keeping up with his contemporaries.
Comparisons will be made with other songwriters who share Caruana’s punk history. One can easily imagine him on the road with the likes of Dave Hause or Dan Andriano, and ‘City By The Sea’ – though five tracks long – slips by in what seems like a fraction of that time. It’s pleasantly gritty but always retains a melodic core, and though it doesn’t break any boundaries it will nevertheless slip neatly into any ‘gruff-punk’ collection.
The EP is rooted in simplicity, and is often touching but never explosive. ‘City By The Sea’ avoids the fuss that can over-complicate, and Caruana clearly wants his lyrics to be the main focal point. On the stirring ‘Boy You’re In Heaven’ he neatly balances the ordinary with the emotional, and in that sense in general the EP achieves its goal. Otherwise, the songs do sometimes lack the distinctiveness and force that would really separate Caruana out.
There’s a nagging sense that, though they are more than competent, the songs can’t help but fade into the background slightly when stacked against others in Caruana’s field. This is something he’ll have to rectify on his debut full length, and there’s every indication he can go on and do that.