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Sometimes I have to say I’ve heard of a Duluth band, but have never actually seen them play. This is the case with Cities Never Sleep. Perhaps I’ve been too busy and broke to go out as much as I used to, but it does bother me that I’ve somehow missed these guys for 10 years. They’ve released eight albums and have toured the country and a friend just rececently suggested I give them a listen with this new album titled, “Dudes With Tudes.” In my defense, it’s not that playing Homegrown should be the definition of a good band, but I looked back a few years in the field guides and as far as I can see, they’ve never played one. While somewhat elusive, at least for me, the band has a pretty decent following, and this is probably because they’re actually good if you like pop punk music.
So, enough with my inadequacies of not personally seeing every Twin Ports band live. I can say they’ve played at the Red Herring not that long ago, and another show earlier in July. So, they do play shows around here from time to time. Let’s look at this album filled with six tracks of pop and punk.
The album opens with the track “Badwolf” and it hits pretty hard with plenty of energy and crunchy guitars. The vocals are a little more melodic in nature versus what some might consider “pop punk.” Some might look at Green Day or Blink 182 as some of the defining bands of the genre. This particular material hinges on later bands that get a little more into emo like Fall Out Boy. Bands like AFI are a good example of the progression of pop punk. AFI started out being more hardcore and eventually lost me in more recent years as they became more and more pop. I bring up AFI because there are backing vocals in Badwolf that are reminiscent of the chants that underlie the lead vocals.
For an album titled “Dudes With Tudes” I was expecting more of an immature early Blink 182 feel, this is not the case at all. This album is fairly serious and not very snotty or obnoxious. The album was recorded at The Hideaway, Essential Sessions, and Wondertone Productions, and it turned out tight. I’m unsure of what was done where, but they did a good job of it. In these aspects, I’m pleasantly surprised by the end result.
A song that stuck out to me on the album is the track “Avalanche.” This slower ballad brings in some keys and I have to say that part is handled well. This band knows how to rock out and how to chill out. “And I’ll make my home under the avalanche, I’ll build it with pride. I’m in too deep to make it out alive. I’m doing just fine,” goes the chorus. The track was a little more than what I was expecting from “Dudes with Tudes.”
As far as I can tell the band is founded by Pat Tarnowski and Joe Alaspa both on guitar and vocals. On tracks like Avalanche, other band members credited include: Collin Gibbs (drums), Tony Stewart (bass), Brandyn Anderson (piano), Jaimie Thompson (organ), and Sarah Shneider (background vocals).
The final track titled “Wreckage” brings in the Gwen Stefani like vocals of Jenna Enemy for a poppy and fun tune about a crumbling relationship. “We’ve got a chance now, to change how we can make love out of the wreckage of our car crashed hearts. And oh, I’ve seen a better man in me since we’ve apart, but I can’t help but dance in the flames that you and I can start,” goes the chorus.
In the end, Cities Never Sleep delivered the album I’d want to hear from a group that’s been around for a decade even though I’ve never got the chance to see them. The album can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp and for those who want to listen to a well done pop punk album, I’d recommend this.