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Strange Culprits - “Strange Culprits” (2018) review

Strange Culprits - Strange Culprits (Self-released, 2018)

Does heartland rock still have a home in 2018? Apparently so. The Bay Area trio, Strange Culprits, just debuted their self-titled album. It’s 8 tracks worth of saturated distortion, bluesy male vocals, and bare-bones song structures. But what the group lacks in songwriting, they make up for with well-produced rock n’ roll. So grab that red solo cup and start swaying.

“Moonlight” and “Rootless” both stand out as culminations of what Strange Culprits has to offer. The main vocalist does acrobatics across sturdy, well orchestrated percussion and guitar. Subtle reverb makes each instrument a bit larger than life. They’ve traded in novelty for robust rhythms and melodies. Suddenly sticking with convention becomes worthwhile.

The trio begins to take a languid turn with “Bless the Harlot.” A seductive bass line follows a rumbling guitar riff that feels reminiscent of West Coast grunge. Every last cymbal-tap and chord gels together perfectly, making the track another highlight of the album. “Concrete in the Rain” takes us to the end with a sudden change of the channel. A string backing and breathy crooning overshadowed by soaring guitar pushes Strange Culprits into prog rock territory. But they make it work—just barely. We end on a gothic tone, with the curtains drawn and doors locked. While there is little resolution to the gloom, the execution is clean. A strength reflected throughout.

-Gabe Kahan
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