Following a much earlier EP and cuts on various comps, this 2011 7” by City Mouse is a superb disc. Issued on It’s Alive Records (home to The Copyrights, The Methadones and Gateway District), this record represents the Riverside, California punks as an underground band at the top of their game.
Fitting a huge amount of energy into just over six minutes, these four songs grind and bounce just as well as material released by many of the best-known names in melodic punk rock/pop punk. Classic sounding tunes need a great vocal, and in City Mouse’s frontwoman (and mainstay) Miski Dee Rodriguez, this band has an extra edge. Her voice moves between a melodic punk warble and attitude-filled hard rock rasp, which although not as instantly recognisable as a voice such as Tilt’s Cinder Block, for example, is more than distinctive.
The strongest cut, the razor-sharp ‘Dumb Dumb Dumb’ makes great use of a simple refrain and equally simple riff. Listening a little closer, a particularly busy bassline provides some more sophisticated elements; Zac Howe is a very talented player. Likewise, the highly infectious ‘Bird Song’, combines a fast punky riff with a sharp vocal line, the intermittent presence of the already familiar “here is the church, here is the steeple” line is guaranteed to make this tune stick in your memory.
The other two songs (‘You’ and ‘The Rhyme’) may not quite have such instant lyrical hooks, but are certainly on a par musically, especially at those times Howe’s basslines rattle out notes at speed, constantly fighting Dee’s guitar work for superiority. Of particular enjoyment is Miski’s performance on ‘The Rhyme’, on which her voice rings the best results out of nearly line.
Like Pinhead Gunpowder’s ‘Fahziah’, ‘Nervous Breakdown’ by Black Flag or ‘Spiral Scratch’ by Buzzcocks, here, City Mouse adds more weight to the argument that, when approached correctly, the 7” four-song EP is the ultimate punk artefact. If you have ever been attracted to (m)any of the punk bands from California – particularly the best Larry Livermore-produced ones on the Lookout! Records label – then this is definitely for you.