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Album review: Neighborhood by Rhymestone is a fresh, local punk release

By and in Culture
Artwork by Jonathan Harrison-Kendrick

On their debut album Neighborhood, Rymestone provides a solid base of raw punk instrumentals with energetic vocals and various influences. Rymestone’s sound demonstrates a developing versatility and is poised to grow in an exciting and modern direction. 

Founded in 2018, this Prince Albert band includes members Emma Jean Anderson on vocals and guitar, Jordy Balicki on bass and Ian Dickson on drums. Describing their genre as post-punk, Rymestone seeks to join a canon of artists in the genre such as Joy Division, The Cure and Talking Heads. 

Although the album features the driving bass and wavering vocals that characterize the genre, Rymestone’s heavy instrumentals tend towards a classic analogue punk sound, forgoing the synthesized sound of many archetypal post-punk albums.

Rymestone is at their best when experimenting, and their most compelling songs feature a dynamic interplay of elements. The standout tracks such as Robotic and Okay’over are characterized by their ebb and flow, creating a mood that draws the listener in. 

That said, Rymestone’s more straightforward songs do create a mood of their own. Though some of the songs blend together and might not lend well to listening to at home by yourself, a live performance would bring the electric energy needed to elevate their sound.

The band’s melodic sound was carried by Anderson’s vocals, which pierced through the mix of punk instruments. The vocals played into the experimental aspect, adding texture by contorting different vowels and sounds. This, combined with the use of echo and reverb effects, makes for an interesting listen and a firm vocally-driven album.

Although the vocals are front and centre of Rhymestone’s sound, the instrumentation surrounding them provided a consistent rhythmic framework. 

Balicki’s bass takes a prominent role with its growling tone and this complements the vigorous drumming of Dickson. The guitar took many forms throughout the album — at times it was melodic and at other points, it was gritty and droning. In any case, it always sounded balanced within the band’s sound. 

On one of the albums standout songs, Robotic, Rymestone takes on a less punk sound and delivers a heavy and plodding tune reminiscent of metal pioneers, Black Sabbath. The groovy bass runs and syncopated drumming set up a raw and powerful foundation for the track. 

Anderson’s vocals take a lighter turn on the track, contrasting with the heavy guitar. This break from the vocal intensity stands out against the dramatic and rough style featured on most of the album. The technique with which Anderson’s vocals flash from the delicate highs into a full blown yell is one of the most powerful and dynamic moments on the album.

In contrast with the heavy grooves of Robotic, songs like Betty and Sorta Mellow take a more punk, and almost surf-rock tone. Betty, one of the catchiest songs on the album, features a melodic bassline and guitar that jangles through the track with an upbeat energy. 

Anderson’s vocals are very expressive on the track, starting the song with a spoken section, then continuing with a more melodic sound. The track features a subtle effect on the vocals, giving them a somewhat vintage tone throughout.

Near the end of the album, Rymestone delivers rich imagery on Okay’over, a track that rolls with a sort of downbeat paranoia. Anderson’s takes a less frenetic approach throughout the verses, using her voice to tell a story that intrigues the listener. The song flares up momentarily, then drops back into the plodding groove each verse. 

Overall, Rymestone delivers an energetic and dramatic blend of hard-hitting tunes, some being a more ambitious structure and some taking more of a narrative stance. With the many different sounds Rymestone features throughout the album, it will be interesting to see which style dominates and becomes their staple as they move forward.

Rymestone’s debut album Neighborhood can be found on Spotify or on their website rymestone.com.

Wyatt Henley & Holly Gilroy

Artwork by Jonathan Harrison-Kendrick  

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