BRADENTON – Over the years, a number of Bradenton bands have had brushes with success on bigger stages. But few have made their bones through the kind of slow and steady growth gained from relentlessly grinding it out on a crowded indie scene that has brought Have Gun, Will Travel to this point in the band's 16 years together. With their new six-track EP, Matt Burke and company seem to have arrived ... again, and in a whole new way.
Known primarily for their distinctive brand of amped-up Americana, Silver Sounds (due out September 30 and available for pre-order here) sees the band explore new territory with '90s-esque guitar riffs and horn accompaniment that makes for songs with a rock/pop feel that calls to mind such acts as the Old 97's and Drivin' N' Cryin'.
The opening track, Buyer's Remorse, was released earlier this year as a single and is probably the song that sounds most like the band's previous albums. Resist The Machines, a timely track about our culture's obsession with our phones and all their distractions–"Cut the cord, hit the kill switch just in case"–is the kind of riff-riddled scorcher that hits too hard to be listened to on anything less than a proper stereo system (a good measure of worth these days, in my opinion).
The ballad Our Fair City is a love letter to Bradenton and comes complete with a bunch of little Easter eggs for local fans. With lines like, "There's a punk rock show at the record store in the Village of the Arts, and the music in the air ignites the fire in our hearts," we are taken on a vivid tour of the best Old Bradenton has to offer.
Cardiology is a catchy track that brings in some of the band's familiar twang but still carries the more polished theme of the EP. Melancholy Moon (Everything Dies) is a haunting, lyric-driven exploration of the seasonal nature of life and was the song that made for the deepest earworm on my first listen. The EP closes with Dystopia, a sweet little chef's kiss to a mini album that is about as conducive to a straight-through listen as any record I've heard this year.
This Saturday night, Burke will be hosting "Songwriters in the Gallery," a local singer/songwriter showcase, at The Ale and the Witch in St. Pete. The band has also collaborated with Tampa's Rock Brothers Brewing on a new brew, High Road Pale Ale. They will play the release party at the brewery on Friday, September 16 and fans can catch them again on November 12 at the River Tower Festival in Tampa.