Local Love: Golden Sombrero
Photo: Courtesy of Artist
The interesting thing about any genre of music, is what the band identifies with, what the fans identify with, and what the press/labels identify with. Usually, these three get crossed wires where fans call one thing something else. A great example of this would be the recent psych rock movement, where most of the bands felt more like garage rock pop to me. The irony of that is bands like Houston’s Golden Sombrero identify as garage rock pop, and honestly they have the grit to actually earn that labelling. The four piece recently dropped their first full length album titled, “Replacement Level,” that really sounds like what garage records used to sound like. While the band steers a bit from traditional garage by employing structures from bands like The Replacements, they also add melodies that’s reminiscent of early Weezer. What you’re left with is something that rocks while staying fresh and highlighting the genre in the best way possible.
The band doesn’t waste time bringing a speedy intro song with “Safe Bet.” The shortest song of the seven on the album, the band sets the stage with a light hook paired with fuzzed out guitar and snappy drums. The overall sound feels like Cheap Girls meets Naked Raygun and it works as a strong opener setting the stage for what’s to come. It’s followed by the hook heavy melodies of “Can’t Hide From Tuesday,” where guitarists Todd Hansen and Cody Franklin echo that gorgeous Dinosaur Jr. sounding fuzz mixed with Sebadoh sounding hooks. Though the chorus switches from a slow boil to a quicker speed, the gamble pays off and just adds to the allure that the four bring together. Hansen’s minimal vocals often stretch out and add a depth that really feel heartfelt and almost like the album was tracked live. The energy never gets lost on the listener which is always a great sign. The slinky guitar opening of the third song, “Pile Of Bricks” creates an almost ballad quality if their wasn’t so much distortion on the guitars. However the dual vocals just show another side to the band while Grant Nunneley’s drums pop with intensity in the background.
Around the fourth track, “Empty Plans,” you should hopefully realize that these guys have an eclectic sound where the influences could come from anywhere. On this specific track, I was reminded of a Juliana Hatfield song, that it actually didn’t really sound like at all. I also heard moments of Buffalo Tom when the bass from Tim Horn slid around the slower chorus in an intricate and masterful way. However, things are sped up to the vibe of the opener, on the stand out track, “Peggy-O.” The pop hooks and head bopping verse structures made the song almost immediately stick in my head. The band showcases their strongest suit with their ability to keep a hook going from start to finish while keeping the song intact and still playing hard. They keep the speed upbeat on the head bopping following song, “Baltimore Girls,” where Hansen adds an almost talk sing feature to the song. It works for them by adding another feature to their sound.
The album is finished by another standout song, “Push Troubles Away.” There’s a dual guitar sound on the track that doesn’t sound intentionally hooky nor does it sound intentionally melodic; though that’s what comes forth. Though the opening guitar that returns is definitely written as a hook, it doesn’t matter as the energy of a band playing live comes across in full force while the band finds a way to keep it on the rails while still pushing power from start to finish. The end result is an album where the singer is a bit unconventional, the recording sounds gritty, and the band keeps it polished while not polishing the tracks. Golden Sombrero does what many bands can’t seem to do, they take the sterile feeling out of the recording process and keep the fun feeling of their live show intact. You can get your own copy of “Replacement Level” when Golden Sombrero plays their album release party at Alley Kat this Saturday, July 11th. They’ll have Houston’s Mother Ghost and Brand New Hearts both on the bill, with a $5.00 cover on the 21 & up show.