Vinnie Caruana is a punk rock troubadour. All through his stint in the legendary Long Island pop-punk band, the Movielife, his resurfacing in post-hardcore’s I Am the Avalanche and his recent foray into the aggressive math-riffage of scene supergroup Peace’d Out, Caruana has always retained the punk ethos of a “do-it-yourself” independence. It’s an adherence to these ethics that is championed within the community, but seldom carried into adult life that makes this 33-year-old singer-songwriter somewhat of a maverick within a circle of peers, who at this point, have mostly all taken major-label buyouts.
On City By the Sea, a six track EP and his first official solo release, Caruana effortlessly blends acoustic folk constructs with the upbeat dynamism of his life’s work. Taking a direction similar to that of Bayside singer/ guitarist, Anthony Raneri’s New Cathedrals, Caruana dials back the punk vigor and lets the introspection that inevitably comes from songs built around a man with his guitar, take the reigns. Organs, percussion and other auxiliary instrumentation play very prominently on the record, but the filter from which they’re produced is apparent.
Although the record is both solid and daring for an artist of Caruana’s unique pedigree, the skeletal foundation, and its reliance on punk sustains an amount of sameness that leaves something to be desired, and little replay value. With a voice that so strikingly balances the harshness fans come to expect from this singer and the subdued temperament that is expected and often required from music of this folk punk blend, Caruana carries with him opportunities for improvement and frankly, the aptitude to round out a great album once the time comes.