Imagine a rock musician sitting down to a piano and staring out over the stage into the eyes of the universe. But instead of a Live Aid recreation and instead of wearing a white tank top, he’s wearing a leather coat, dusty boots, and he’s staring out into the vastness of a Robert Rodriguez-esc landscape. Before him is a formidable desert of dirty booze and cut-throat ne’er-do-wells. Instead of a Mercury façade he is, instead, a drum and a tantrum.
And yes, I said “ne’er-do-wells”.
Under the moniker Drum and a Tantrum, Julian Altbuch and Russell de Moose capture a foreboding, yet grand sound that is driven by keys seemingly crafted out of the bones of bands like Tantric and Days of the New. Their release Wildfire draws a breath of cinematic emotion before freeing a strikingly provocative sound that resists every enticement of failure in beautiful fashion.
Laid out in twelve tracks where melodic post-grunge vocals develop over richly layered vision, driving beats, and attention-grabbing, well-placed emptiness, Wildfire quickly becomes a blend of what helped define a rock sound years ago while delivering fresh sounds that leave me eager for so much more from this duo. The sheer musical vision that is Wildfire is in and of itself one of the more captivating pieces to an otherwise stand-out record. What feels like it has all the makings of a pick-apart collection of songs in a common vein is quickly realized as a boldly drawing presence that is a flag sewn together of pure rock colors and highly thought out composition. For added measures, Drum and a Tantrum throw in more string-slinging catchy riffs at the outset than any of Marvel’s questionable Spidey reboots.
Jersey City, New Jersey’s Drum and a Tantrum have developed a story in the ink of smoky blues rooms that have given way to experimental rock, written on the hide of boozy despair and dreams that somehow mix into a splendid array of soul-ingraining vibrancy. More well suited for a dusty border tale than Jersey, but nonetheless of a tale to tell, where snare bleeds into keys and crisp licks drift into angst riddle love letters you’ll find Wildfire.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.