I Don’t Like Sports is the debut full-length from Winnipeg punks Screaming at Traffic, following last year’s ‘S.A.T.’ EP. I first became aware of Screaming at Traffic with the single “Y.B.F.” that they released earlier this year, a slice of gruff, raw and noisy punk that I was pretty into. The single is somewhat representative of I Don’t Like Sports as a whole: this is angst-ridden, aggressive and raw punk miserabilia destined for basements and punk DIY shows. The record is gruff, heart-on-sleeve, hook-filled and anthemic in similar ways to bands like Red City Radio, Elway and fellow Canadians Pkew Pkew Pkew. As with Pkewx3, Screaming at Traffic sing about wasted youth and the struggles related to ‘adulting’. There are also echoes of fellow Winnipegians (definitely not a term, right?) Propagandhi in Screaming at Traffic’s chunky guitars and the booming vocals of lead singer Jacques Richer.
And that’s cool! However, there is also something else going on that helps to distinguish Screaming at Traffic from the gruff-punk masses. I definitely get an alternative rock or emo feeling on listening to the record, overlaying and complementing the gritty and melodic punk sound. Notably, “Pantomime” and “Hey Koyuki” are great examples of tracks that are equally influenced by punk and alternative rock; I hear Jawbreaker and Samiam in these at the same time as Sunny Day Real Estate and Far. At times, I hear strands of a less scream-y version of a band like Touche Amore, with an emotive and semi-noodle-y alt-rock sound coming to the fore. “I Don’t Like Sports” has to be up there for ‘hit’ of the record though: a heart-filled, mid-tempo anthem about, yep, not liking sports (“Never seemed to keep up with the other kids”). Its tone is semi-tragic and semi-triumphant and I love the breakdown towards the end, “I don’t like spooooooorts”. “Broken Teeth”, meanwhile, is an interesting one: a slowed-down track that has echoes of post-hardcore and Fugazi-esque verses before the emergence of a mid-tempo, sing-a-long chorus.
The record is not without its faults and some of the tracks towards the end of the album appear to lack in the direction, hooks and commitment that the earlier songs do (particularly “Naproxen”). I find myself losing interest after a certain point on the record. Nevertheless, I Don’t Like Sports is a very solid record that manages to effectively and delicately find a balance between contemporary gruff-punk and the alt-rock of yesteryear; in doing so, they make a nice distinctive contribution to today’s punk scene.
Check it out here: https://screamingattrafficmusic.bandcamp.com/album/i-dont-like-sports