Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gunslinger's Breaking Through on CD

Gunslinger bills itself as a "genre-jumping group of musicians/producers and DJs...pairing past with present, blending classical song structure and vocal with years of professional electronic dance experience." That description could fit most up-and-coming alternative bands these days, but where Gunslinger excels is in the seamless blending of these two realms, of avoiding the trap of sounding like a '70s rock band drowned in goofy electronic effects. Gunslinger, which is actually an international duo (Anthem is from SoCal while Vidal is from Lisbon, Portugal), keeps the songs on Breaking Through strong, lean and tight without the constant gear-shifting and strange ambient tangents that define most indie bands these days.

Stripped down to their skivvies, these songs are basic rock and roll, slanted perhaps to prog and maybe even glam (the opening title track will probably remind you of T. Rex), but catchy and anthemic and more suited to arenas than the local underground club. The electronic peripherals are just that, framing devices, and you won't walk into a room during a random moment of Breaking Through and wonder "What kind of music is this?" It won't take you long to realize it's contemporary with its manufactured beats and deftly layered ambience, but you'll feel at home. Gunslinger sounds like a less manic and drama-ridden version of Muse, and if you're the kind of person who hears Muse and thinks about Sweet, these two guys will drop you off at the same bus stop.

Out in the real world, Gunslinger is making a name for themselves. Their live gigs can either be a DJ set or a stage show with drums, guitars and keyboards. Anthem and Vidal are even planning a remix of The Doors' Waiting for the Sun, which shows they have strong ties and a healthy amount of respect for the stuff baby Boomers hold dear--which is obvious when you listen to Breaking Through. Look at it this way...I know lots of people my age who are looking for an entry into the DJ scene and perhaps jump too readily into the deep end and find themselves quickly dog-pedaling back to the edge of the pool. (There's a friend of mine who nearly drowned a couple of weeks ago while listening to the latest from Shackleton--too soon, too soon!) Gunslinger might be a good lesson #1 for those cautious soles who want to explore what the kids are listening while still basking on dry land, listening to Electric Warrior and Desolation Boulevard.

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