It only takes a few seconds into “Moonlight” to realize the beauty of Strange Culprits. The swinging drums and rumbling bass of the lead track from the Californian trio’s self-titled debut album harkens back to a simpler time in music. A time when the craft of song-writing was a sought-after skillset that musicians and artists would spend years working on. A time when songs truly mattered. A time, a time when good old guitar-driven rock and roll reigned supreme. Strange Culprits go a long way on their debut album to bring back that way of thinking.
A melancholy longing lingers throughout their eponymous debut. Whether the minor chord progressions of the aforementioned “Moonlight” or the heartbreakingly sincere “Mija”, the passion and aching echoing from singer/guitarist Jason Buckingham’s voice takes centerstage. Depending on song and mood, his wide vocal range effortlessly jumps from near-baritone yearning to the falsetto-laden hooks of “Rootless” and “Let’s”. Speaking of “Let’s”, I’ve never been to California. But the chorus of this song not only makes me want to go to California, it makes me want to run there- immediately. It’s the undoubted masterpiece of the album. And on top of it’s California mention, the song’s explosive chorus also rings of mid-2000’s Red Hot Chili Peppers complete alt-rock domination. Well Done!
Throughout the nine-track album, a constant point of high praise is the tight yet grooving rhythm section; courtesy of bassist Samantha Buckingham and drummer Tony Loftin. The pair successfully find a way to keep your feet moving while soaking in depths of Buckingham’s lyrical journeys. One of the standout tracks, ‘Fleeting Moments” perfectly articulates this sentiment. What starts off as a possible straight up the middle 12 Bar Blues piece quickly shifts to a beautifully dark take on the blues. With the shuffling rhythm section and a wildly interesting selection of unexpected chord changes, the song sits far above the rest of the solid material on the album.
Strange Culprits deserve to be commended for taking a chance and diving head first into the world of a style of music that in this present day- does not get its due. But perhaps the genre needs a band like this to help glorify it and return it back to its once storied era. Strange Culprits appear worthy successors to the straight up rock of Kings of Leon and Alabama Shakes before them. A true power-trio in every sense of the world. The eponymous debut album from Strange Culprits arrives June 8th, 2018 and is an absolute must listen for anyone hungry for some great, no fluff rock music. Enjoy!