Golden Sombrero. Photo: Scot Overholser/Courtesy of Artist
We can all look at bands like The Replacements with awe and adoration today, but there were times in the band’s storied career when they weren’t half as acclaimed as they are today. There are a ton of bands making albums that should get more attention when they’re released than they actually do once the band calls it quits. In music right now, we’re constantly being told that rock music is dead, however there are still a ton of new bands making great rock albums every day. Houston four-piece Golden Sombrero is easily one of those bands making solid rock albums today, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed by anyone. On their latest release, this year’s Defensive Indifference, they dig deeper into their leanings towards acts like The Replacements, Big Star, and Buffalo Tom without taking anything away from them either, and thus keeping guitar rock moving forward at every turn.
Opening with the swampy, murky bass and drum mixture of “Less Than Cool,” the band offers up the template that will set the pace of the album. Utilizing more guitar than on their debut, this version of Golden Sombrero takes their college rock-meets-Athens in the nineties sound and amps it up to 11. When the bridge comes in, you’re immediately reminded of the solo work of Paul Westerberg that he dropped in places like the Singles soundtrack. This continues a bit into the thunderous energy of “Dog in a Thunderstorm,” though here the band offers up a sound that’s closest to the likes of latter day Husker Du with pieces from Buffalo Tom thrown in for good measure. There’s a nice ecosystem of guitar and vocal energy these guys craft on this track that should impress anyone who’s ever tried to offer melody at a quicker chord progression.
While the third song really gave me those Replacements vibes again, the band really shows their impressive growth on the fourth song, “Silverware.” With a lead guitar that’s nice and jangly, the reverb-tinged notes that gnarl on the song from time to time really make themselves known. In fact, you should note how strong these guys can write a chorus, where they seem to always take the song to a new place without ever changing the direction of it. One of the many standouts of the release falls in on the sixth track, “Craving.” Complete with harmonies that aren’t immediately obvious, there’s a nice lead part where the guitar almost seems to create its own universe. When the bridge comes in before the hook-heavy chorus, the band really grabs ahold of you with a sound that’s like if Rival Schools had existed in the late eighties. This gets taken further when the band employs a nice slowdown where it feels more intimate before bringing the song back with the thunder of the opening like only they can.
This is followed up by the beautifully crafted and performed sound of “Wasting You Again.” While the song reminded me of what might occur if Buffalo Tom had covered Wilco’s Summerteeth, it should be noted that Golden Sombrero merely reminds you of these acts. The truth is, they actually take either band’s sound to a place they never really achieved full of sonic highs and enough tonk in a guitar to come from Redd Volkaert. This track, another standout of the eight, really shows off how strong this band is in the straight ahead rock world and why they’re an act to keep an eye on.
Golden Sombrero isn’t reinventing the wheel here, but that feels like the point. While they make traditional rock that reminds you of other bands, they are easily doing their own thing in a world where bands like them are becoming harder and harder to find. You can find “Defensive Indifference“ on all digital platforms, or you can grab your own copy at Rudyard’s on March 24. The 21 & up show with doors at 9 pm and an $8 cover will also feature sets from Brand New Hearts and Astragal and will serve at the band’s album release party.