Common Rider is one of my favorite bands and it pains me to see their two full length albums get such little attention, from anyone. The fact that their 2001 four-track EP Thief in a Sleeping Town was hardly noticed at all (allmusic.com doesn't even list it) is almost criminal as it represents a high point for the band and (ex-Op Ivy) frontman Jessie Michaels. Michaels brings his characteristic energy and passion to the songwriting, vocals and guitar work in traditional punk fashion in stark contrast to Common Rider's usual "post-ska" approach.
With only one track barely past the two minute mark, this blistering EP is over before you know it and leaves you wanting more. The lyrics deal with personal demons, the value of social activism and the pitfalls of modern society and are delivered with the energy, passion and conviction that define Michaels. More reminiscent of early Op Ivy songs than anything else Common Rider ever did, you could easily mistake Thief in a Sleeping Town for something written in 1987 by an overly-ideal punk band... and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The only stylistic outlier is the end track "What the Heart Looks Like When it's Hot" which is an intentionally laid-back ska tribute that sounds oddly like the extended version of "Healthy Body".
Any fan of Common Rider, Operation Ivy or punk in general needs to give this gem a listen, now. Even those that shy away from punk should give Thief in a Sleeping Town a chance because of the exceptional intensity and care put into every track.