These days, the art of modern rock takes resilience, the right amount of swagger and musicianship. It’s also rare when bands can get more than five albums worth of catchy, popular hits that still get people excited. Led by brothers Matt Shultz, rhythm guitarist Brad Shultz, lead guitarist Nick Bockrath, guitarist/ keyboardist Matthan Minster, bassist Daniel Tichenor, and drummer Jared Champion.
Hailing from Kentucky, the band has managed to release only great albums. We won’t go going in depth on these too much, but rather talking about their growth and the ability to make a song that has something for everyone. I mean seriously, their first album has what’s likely the band’s biggest hit. The track “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” features a loose country twang running of the vocals, and the vocals are delivered with almost a hip hop type of flow. The tale is morbid, sad and the reality of some of our lesser fortunate. Basically based on the strength of this track, the band got recognized.
The band would evolve on that with their next album “Thank You Happy Birthday.” Even from the second track “Aberdeen,” you can tell how much the band embraced the idea of being the next big thing in indie music. To fill a vast amount of space you need the right type of artist, whose sound can elevate themselves and bring in the big crowds and paydays. “Aberdeen” proved that it was possible for them. It’s a strong anthemic song and all the parts work effortlessly together. There’s just so much to enjoy with this band it’s hard to decide which aspect is the best. Even the sneakiness and sarcastic nature of a song like “Indy Kidz” works better than it should. I mean they’re literally talking shit at a demographic that could have made or broken them. In that regard they get points for bluster and bravado, and it oozes out of them. Then you have a sweet lovely song like “Shake Me Down.” It’s reminiscent of pain but also salvation. When Schultz talks about keeping his eye “fixed on the sun” I see it at as a metaphor for the band’s pursuit of acknowledgment. Then the instrumentation opens up and your mood goes up in happy remembrance. The “even on a cloudy day” section is simply gorgeous, and for me at least, it’s impossible not to smile.
The band can also get heavier and more frenzied. The next album, titled “Melophobia” opens up with the scorcher known as “Spiderhead.” It’s one of my favorite songs they’ve ever composed, and it invokes images of a gorgeous strong woman dancing in a field with her arms in the air. It’s just a fun booty shaking track. It’s easy to lose yourself in the song; when I belt this song out in my car after a long day, all the stresses of life fade away. Having said that, the band’s other two best known and popular songs are the ones that eventually the album became known for. “Come a Little Closer” and final track “Cigarette Daydream” are heartfelt moments, but “Daydream” is the emotional conclusion of the album, and the heart of everything that came before. The soft guitar works wonderfully amidst a vocal section dealing with reluctance and pain at the thought of being lost in the passage of time.
Finally, three years ago, the first record on the big scale was released, and naturally, the band got bigger and better at their craft. The songs on this album didn’t end up being their best of all time, but there’s plenty to love about the entire duration. “Mess Around” is a 60’s era psych rock song arranged in the spirit of their Kentucky garage roots. It’s masterful and dance-able, both things the brand excels at by now. “Cold Cold Cold” is a dangerous darkly thematic track, but the real show stopper to me is “Punching Bag.” The story of a woman fed up with her abusers bullshit, it has a revenge plot running through it, but honestly, those fuckers deserve to be dealt with. It has an intentional type of danger to it that I enjoy. Rock n Roll needs to be more dirty and unsafe than it’s been in recent years, and this track proves that this band is capable of that, even if they only brush on the area.
All in all, this band is going to get bigger and (hopefully) better as the delve into new and exciting parts of the musical spectrum. The new album will be out soon, so we’ll all find out shortly I guess. Thanks for reading.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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