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Survival Knife: "Traces of Me" / "Name That Tune"

The b-side will survive

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Releasing a single is tricky business. The very idea that one song as a statement should be placed in a hierarchy above another is a dicey gamble. Rock history is filled with stories of DJs flipping the single to discover an even better cut. From "Chantilly Lace" to "Groove is in the Heart," even "How Soon is Now?" - there is a seemingly never ending list of b-side cuts that far out shadow their a-side partners.

Survival Knife's debut single via Sub Pop, "Traces of Me" b/w "Name That Tune" might fit into the aforementioned cannon. This is not to say that the a-side is bad, like many of its anecdotal ancestors. The a-side is perfectly serviceable - but that is just it, serviceable.

Survival Knife is a super tight, heavy band that blends elements of punk, hardcore and even some progressive rock elements to a great, vivid and engaging sound. Live they are pulsing with a vibrancy and urgency. This sense of urgency is diminished significantly on "Traces of Me." Despite being a spider-web like arrangement, completed with very precise timing and great vocal ideas, there is flatness to the song that simply doesn't exist when viewing the band in a live element.

While "Traces of Me" has a flat, almost unengaged feel to it, its counter part, "Name That Tune" is overflowing with the burning, urgent flame that has been lit beneath Survival Knife's surface. Intricate, syncopated and agile, "Name That Tune" holds traces of vocalist/guitarist Justin Trosper and guitarist Brandt Sandeno's previous projects (Unwound, Worst Case Scenario, Young Ginns, Replikants, et al.) up to a new light. The Meg and Kris Cunningham rhythm section, bass and drums, respectively, is locked in, heavy and pushes Survival Knife's sound further from the punk-roots that permeate the band's sound.

With a b-side like "Name That Tune" it is no wonder why the band have picked up the attention of Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars and Modest Mouse in short order. Their debut single may be the opening salvo of a band that is not tethered to their collective past, and anchored by a great song.

LINK: Survival Knife builds on Unwound, adds prog and smiles

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