SUNDIALS: Never Settle: LP

Wow. Twelve songs of the college town blues played with a punk heart and the ramshackle catchiness of ‘90s indie. I’m having a hard time knowing where to start, since so many things are striking me about this record. Sundials are based in Richmond, Virginia, a dangerous little city with a thriving arts scene based around a rapacious college. Richmond is one of those places where you can pay your rent by working three days a week in a restaurant and take your band on a sweet weekend tour in any direction except east. Sundials sing about the drawbacks of this charmed life: “I traded learning for a coffee shop, and I’m losing money in the long run. Can’t advance too far once the curve is done.” All three members write songs, and all have a knack for capturing a feeling without being verbose, dumbing it down, or not seeing beyond the beers in front of them. Other topics include gentrification, lost love, southern ennui, Native American plight, and —why the hell not—The Great Gatsby. Their sound mixes punk and indie in a way that has paid off for early ‘90s bands like Archers Of Loaf, the first couple albums by Alkaline Trio, Against Me!’s more intimate material, and the gruff underdog pop punk favored by Tip-Top Todd Taylor et Le Razorcaque Readershippe. I’ve been gone from Richmond for the better part of a decade, but some things never change, like the confederate monuments and the fact that the city still spawns awesome bands. Like I said, the college town blues.

 –CT Terry (Toxic Pop)