Thursday, September 18, 2014

Broncho Chugs Along Enough To Be Hip

Brocho band
There aren't many bands that can claim to have cut their teeth in Norman, Oklahoma, but that is where the self-starter band Broncho transformed a few loose recording sessions into its roughneck punk sound. It was largely done on the fly, about four years ago.

Former Starlight Mints soloist Ryan Lindsey (guitar/vocals) sketched out a some ideas and the band knocked out a few demos to play for friends. A few years later, after incorporating some of those concepts, Broncho had enough material to put out a self-produced full length that landed somewhere in between the seventies punk scene and new school garage rockers. It was DIY at its very best.

Their new sophomore album plays mostly the same, but better with deeper textures, throatier vocals, and the occasional dusting of new wave and glam rock. Sure, some tracks pack in some pop sentiments like Class Historian, but the overall feel of this outing is mid-tempo heavy and headier.

Just Enough Hip To Be Woman obscures all expectations.

Inspirations like the Ramones and Stooges are still ever present, but it's the dirt and grit that gives this band its character. And if anything is going to keep Just Enough Hip To Be Woman in a playlist rotation, it's how wildly fresh and vintage the band sounds at the same time.

Given how poppy the track sounds compared to others on the album, promoting the album with an advanced video release of Class Historian is a curious choice. If anything, it opens the band up to some critiques about the abundant falsetto nonsense syllables that make up the track.

On the other hand, the track has already become a fan favorite. Its campy improvisational pop-rock flurry that is fast, fun, and oddly catchy. It's meant to stick in your head or at least convince you to dial back to it over and over, any time you need an uplift.

The first track relies on similar hooks but at a slower tempo. The track What even feels like a talkie at times in between more woots and oh oh las. It's pretty clear they know what they are doing when they rip, blend, and distill the feeling of music as much as their source material.

After the first two tracks allude to the idea that Woman is really Lips 2, the band dims the lights on Deena to create an inviting mid-tempo chill. It's in this chill that the band remains throughout most of the album. Even with surf rock undertones on Stay Loose, Brocho keeps it all easygoing.

The next disruption comes in NC-17, when the band drops their composition into a murky bassiness and Lindsey lightens his vocals to deliver a contrasting high. Somewhere in between these two extremes, they lock in a crunchy guitar solo as if it was being played in another studio.

Most of the standouts on the album are on the bottom half. Definitely check out the drifty and trippy I'm Gonna Find Out Where He's At (despite the lyrical oddness), restrained aggression of Taj Mahal, garage punk jumper It's On, and guitar work and vocal buzz of China. Kurt is a decent track too, but some of the vocal echo blend is too confused to feel coherent.

All in all, the album beats out others because Lindsey, Ben King (guitar), Johnathon Ford (bass) and Nathan Price (drums) keep things interesting. Sure, there are times when everyone wishes Broncho would show off some skills without any gimmicks. But then again, they would probably have to give up their dim light basement party atmosphere to do it.

Just Enough Hip To Be Woman By Broncho Skips 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While plenty of reviews are categorizing the album as all right considering the band mostly rips off its influencers, there are several times when Just Enough Hip To Be Woman is lively and worthwhile. It's this liveliness, in fact, that convinced Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO comedy series Girls, to borrow It's On to promote the show's season opener. That should tell you how to listen to the album too. Start with the strong finish.

Just Enough Hip To Be Woman by Broncho is available on Amazon. You can also download the album from iTunes. Barnes & Noble also carries Broncho vinyl and CDs. For shows, find them on Facebook. After that? Add them to your watch list. They've only just begun to hit their stride.
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