“Everywhere, New York” is not a hometown. Neither is “South Florida” or “Orange County,” “The Research Triangle,” nor any of the other city limit-defying amalgams of suburbs, strip malls, and asphalt that most of the Americans I know call home. We live in less durable mental categories: states of mind; places connected by experience; places that feel alike.
Punk rock is one such place. More than just sound, punk rock is a network of sensibility. It is connected by performances and commodities, structured by claims on legitimacy. Its boundaries, like it or not, are as well-defined as those between zip codes: shows, vans, DIY, scenes.
The Red Owls claim “Everywhere, New York” as a hometown. I buy it. The lines connecting The Red Owls to other New York bands on the punk roadmap are too dark to ignore. Fans of Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and Bayside—especially Bayside—will appreciate the yin and yang balance of polished veneer and rough-hewn materials The Red Owls strike on Do You Feel Any Better?, while those troubled by the mainstream accessibility of these bands can take comfort in The Red Owls’ DIY ethic and upcoming appearance at The Fest in Gainesville.
At the same time, “Everywhere, New York” seems to miss the boundless appeal of this music. The opening track, “Bad Advice,” would be equally at home on EPs by bands from more tropical climes. The connection with Paper + Plastick Records (and Less Than Jake) founder Vinnie Fiorello is apparent on this and the third track, “Party Lines.” Both are as much expressive of the irreverent spirit of Gainesville chill-punk as the album’s other two tracks, “Do You Feel Any Better?” and “Chaser,” are of the rust belt’s anxious energy.
Better than any recent release, Do You Feel Any Better? outlines the contours of punk rock. Members John Collura, Sean-Paul Pillsworth, and Justin Meyer—currently or formerly of The Ataris, Nightmares for a Week, and Anadivine—strive to “[add] a healthy dose of new life to this nostalgic genre.” While they point in new directions on this EP, only time and a full-length release will tell whether they follow the road forward. As it stands, Do You Feel Any Better? feels like the hometown I know and love.
Buy the EP here.