Cain Marko tell it exactly as it is. "The universe can go without another song about drinking!" rings out at the start of 'At Sea In St. Paul', track one from their self-released debut EP At Sea, and they're absolutely right about that. Bands have been singing ballads about drowning out sorrows in a bottle or partying with friends for about as long as they've been crooning about love and sex, and the members of Cain Marko immediately acknowledge their lack of originality in that regard. This forthcoming admittance of their shortcomings is comforting - for one, it grounds the band on a humble and relatable level and, in doing so, allows for an immediate rapport between them and their audience. More importantly, it puts that much more importance on ardent and honest songwriting and musicianship, an aspect of their music that these Michigan kids have most certainly followed through on.
At Sea is concise and deliberate, pumping out its four tracks in about the time it takes to boil a pot of water, yet Cain Marko manage to squeeze a good deal of bite into this span. Singer Chris Lidstone's words dig deep as he belts out, "We'll grab the sky by the throat/release it when dawn breaks," with a fiery energy and Carpe Diem attitude a la Latterman or Small Brown Bike. The magnetism of At Sea is hard to ignore, and though it doesn't exactly explore any new musical soundscapes, that's not really it's point. Lidstone's purpose with his songwriting is twofold - not only does he urge the listener to remain wistful, young and impassioned, but does so while trying to live up to these same expectations himself. Punk-rock mentality bleeds from closer 'Let's Go Kill the Bastard', with a sense of no-regrets exasperation bursting from every pore as the Cain Marko boys team up to shout out, "it's us against the world forever!" It's been done before, and hell it's probably even been more impressively articulated, but the sincerity this time around makes it feel pretty damn right. Consistently straightforward instrumentation complements the genuine nature of the songwriting, plugging away unremittingly across the EP's short span. All in all, At Sea showcases a young Cain Marko as a group with all the right tools and ideas, including their obvious propensity to pump out high-octane punk rock tracks. At this early point in their careers, one can only hope they can maintain the same unfeigned energy throughout a full-length release sometime in the future.
Stream At Sea on Cain Marko's Bandcamp, here.