Thursday, January 30, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Bad Suns "Transpose"


I've become so
by the glut of 
current "music"
that I've felt
compelled to carve
out my eardrums
with a box cutter. 
Thank goodness 
I held off!

Young, good-looking, energetic, articulate and possessing masterful pop / rock songwriting skills, Bad Suns is a beautiful beacon of shining light in an otherwise dismal new millennium music world.

Comprised of frontman / guitarist Christo Bowman, guitarist Ray Libby, bassist Gavin Bennett and drummer Miles Morris, the fresh-faced California-based combo first came together in 2012. By 2013, the band already was performing live alongside such modern-day stalwarts as The 1975 and The Vaccines. And by early 2014, their debut EP, Transpose, had arrived via Vagrant Records.

Produced by Eric Palmquist (The Mars Volta, Wavves, Trash Talk), the four-song Transpose is touted in the band's official press release as possessing "stadium ready anthems and undeniably catchy hooks" — BINGO!

A bona fide golden nugget, "Cardiac Arrest" immediately hooks and reels ya in. The engaging lyrics and infectious sing-along melody are best described (by me) as Taking Back Sunday-meets-Big Country at a Howard Jones house party. And it comes as no surprise (to me) that this clip has been racking up YouTube views at a fever-pitch.

The title track is a four-minute, bass-driven gem that oozes wonderfully ambient guitar work. It also possesses a Maroon 5-ish vocal quality (except it doesn't suck) and the "Ooh-oohs" are reminiscent of the first two Rooney records. "Salt" is another winner, combining rock-solid grooves with 80s-style high-energy authenticity.

"When I was 10, I started getting 
heavily interested in the guitar, 
and my dad began introducing 
me to his records from the 70’s 
and the 80’s. Initially Elvis
Costello, then to The Clash
The Cure, and so on."
-Christo Bowman

Clocking in at under three minutes, "20 Years" gets to the point (and the hook) in short order. Light and airy, it treads dangerously close at times toward 311-land. Yet despite the band members' youth (19 to 22 years old), the lyrics reflect a refreshing sense of poetic maturity — "20 years goes by so fast. How did I get here?" Uh, trust me, fellas — the next 20 years will be even more fleeting. However, a warning siren soon pierces my Pod as Bowman muses about "stumbling in the hallways" and "staying up for three days." Hmm. I sure hope these kids don't blow their ride — we've got enough Mileys, Gagas and Biebers already. What today's iGadget generation needs, and I believe is searching for, is a U2-caliber band with staying power. Bad Suns could be that band. And I'm psyched to hear their full-length debut that's slated for release later this year.

-Christopher Long
(January 2014)

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