Ok, I’ll admit, I went into this with some expectations. They were not high, and I was fairly well decided Twin Guns was not going to be enjoyed by the likes of me. I admit to being a bit jaded with music as of late and found myself falling into the super snarky “Well, sure, it’s good, but it’s nothing like Elvis Costello’s 1978 masterpiece This Year’s Model” etc.
Fortunately, I recognize this trait in me, and decided to wait to listen when I was more objective and not determined to dislike it. But the truth is, Twin Guns would have sliced right through (or should I say ‘shot’ right through) my expectations anyway. Humbly, I must say I was pleasantly surprised with not only the depth of sound (I mean.. it’s two guys who must have multi-tracked 5-6 instruments on each track) but also how well produced it was (great mixes, but still intentionally gritty and raw). When fewer musicians can record together, there is often a tendency to mix the life right out of it, but Twin Guns managed to get it dead on.
Before I get into a true review of Twin Guns’ release Sweet Dreams, let me toss out an observation, and feel free to debate this with me, it seems there is a direct correlation between number of band members and the range of styles and sounds they will explore (there are always a few notable exceptions, but just go with me on this). For example, on one end of the spectrum you have The Grizzled Mighty and The White Stripes and on the other you have Reel Big Fish. More band members seemingly equates to a more dialed-in style; likely out of necessity. In listening to Twin Guns I feel my theory holds up.
From haunting and dark (“Wild Years”) to ‘surf rock on acid’ (“No Change Our Hearts Shall Fear”/“The Eternal War Between Good And Evil”) and checking off a few genres in between, Twin Guns delivers each with equal comfort. Intended or not, the low-fi, analog feel of the recordings makes this something of a timeless collection, with no solid anchors in any particular era, but with deep roots in early 60s pop and Mod rock (I say this with a massive smile on my face under a giant poster of The Who), 70s psychedelic, 80s New Wave, and 90s Grunge alike, there is a very safe bet you’ll find a few tracks on this CD to grab you first time around.
Among the stand out tracks for me was a super catchy bluesy number called “Carry On” with a guitar hook right out of Van Morrison’s “Gloria!” but some fantastic groove and harmonica that will have you bobbing your head faster than a freshman Women’s Lib major can say, “I’m offended!” On the whole, I try to take a collection as an entire piece of work, but Sweet Dreams really does lend itself to single, hooky, radio friendly tracks.
Another example of this is “Mystery Ride,” with raw and unpolished electric guitar, tremolo cranked up till it’s practically humming throughout the entire song. Add to that some ‘zombie-rockabilly’ (Zomb-a-billy?) drums and vocals that sound like the catchiest service announcement from M*A*S*H ever, and I promise, you are gonna wiggle some ass.
All told, I was thrilled with the way this CD is put together. Though it would be hard to identify a real “theme” running throughout, there is certainly enough energy and raw rebellion to make you remember why Rock ‘n’ Roll made mama’s everywhere nervous.