The Movielife – “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel”

When most people think of the Long Island emo/hardcore scene, the bands that typically come to mind are Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, and Glassjaw — because all those groups hit at just about the exact same time, and two of them had an insanely complicated “Layla”-esque narrative that spilled from the artists’ private lives into their songs and beyond. All three of those bands were massive. However, when you ask people who came up in that scene to identify the pivotal acts, they’ll almost always name Mind Over Matter and Silent Majority, because those were the groups who built the community from nothing and laid the groundwork for the bands who broke big. Those bands never really graduated past coverage in local zines, which is just how it goes. But if you lived through it — and I did — you know the story isn’t complete without mention of the Movielife, who kind of bridged the gap between the progenitors and the stars. The Movielife were great, and they were supposed to be huge, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t happen for them. But they left behind three excellent albums, most notably 2003’s 40 Hour Train Back To Penn, a minor classic of the genre that holds up today. Not long after 40 Hour Train, the Movielife broke up.

The band’s two primary creative forces — singer Vinnie Caruana and guitarist Brandon Reilly — formed new groups: I Am The Avalanche and Nightmare Of You, respectively, both of which were pretty good, but never as good as the Movielife. And while there were calls for the old band to reunite over the past decade and a half, they only did so for occasional nostalgia shows. Better than nothing, right?

But man, life is short, and if you can create magic, it’s kinda dumb to waste time doing otherwise. I dunno what the circumstances were, but Caruana and Reilly reconnected, started writing songs, and what do ya know, they recorded a fourth Movielife LP — their first in 14 years — whose first single drops today.

The album’s title is Cities In Search Of A Heart, and the new track is called “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel,” and as someone who followed the Movielife back in the day and fully expected them to blow up to superstar proportions, I can honestly say this is as good as anything they’ve ever done, and frankly, it’s probably actually like 35% better than anything they’ve ever done. It’s catchy as hell, it’s got a hard bite and a sharp edge, Caruana’s vocals sound incredible, and it builds to a roaring climax. I kinda wish they didn’t have all this history, because it might overshadow the music they’re creating in this moment. It absolutely shouldn’t. I’d be stoked on this song regardless of its authors. Whether you know or care about the Movielife’s backstory, you should listen, because you should get stoked on this, too.

Cities In Search Of A Heart is out 9/22 via Rise Records, and you can for pre-order it here.