Only Thunder – Lower Bounds

  • Keith Rosson posted
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Only Thunder

Lower Bounds - Bermuda Mohawk Records

When you couple really tight layout and graphic design with evocative song titles – both of which Only Thunder has in spades here – I’m generally pretty interested right off the bat. I’ll give that shit a spin. However, I’ve listened to Lower Bounds at least a dozen times over the past couple weeks and have to concede that the aforementioned elements are about the only things I can find even a remote interest in with this release. After a dozen listens, I couldn’t tell you a single lyric or send flecks of spit your way while I air-guitared one of their riffs.

In the 90s, there was a dearth of bland pop punk bands plodding awkwardly in the footsteps of bands like Screeching Weasel, NoFX, the Vindictives, The Queers, etc. Hundreds, thousands of bands aping them. Fast-forward a decade and a half later and I have no idea who the spearheads of this particular genre are, but goddamn I’m hearing a ton of bands lately that sounds exactly like Only Thunder, all of them fall under the umbrella of this weird, neutered, clinical nu-metal/indie hybrid. It’s the type of music that seems tailor-made for ambiguity (the song “Fucking Your Way To The Middle”, which is a reasonably incendiary title, is, as far as I can tell, about absolutely nothing). Sonically they’re toeing the line between some mildly “aggro” parts (the closer of the instrument “I’m A Witch, Burn Me” comes to mind) and twinkly, mid-tempo stuff – and they bounce back and forth about sixteen times per song. The standout track, and the one diamond in the slagheap, is when they nearly go dub – complete with some nearlyAmanda Woodward-ish octave guitar wizardry – in “Her Vs. The Triceramom”… but then the vocalist comes in and botches everything.

So we get mosh part to hard part to instrumental part to shoegazing part to some vaguely raspy crooning and back. And yet there’s nothing to really cement it together or offset the fact that the vocalists sing like they’re trying out for a soda commercial sponsored by Epitaph. There’s just no guts here, nothing tangible to grab on to. For a band that’s so obviously full (three guitarist/vocalists, man! Sheesh!) of competent musicians, they’ve managed to come up with some pretty tepid music. Gonna have to pass on this one.