Zack Hillman

REVIEW: Twin Guns – ‘Scene of the Crime’

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Taking a brown bag bourbon approach to the garage/surf rock revival, Twin Guns deliver dirge gems galore on Scene of the Crime. Though they borrow and touch on everything rock’n’roll (you can catch everything from Oasis to My Bloody Valentine to Iggy and the Stooges all on the same track), they take a refreshing approach to their influences. Lyrically, they take a cue from the Ramones by filtering 60’s girl group clichés through a distorted, dark lens. Though these components may sound familiar enough, they ultimately form the marble out of which Twin Guns sculpt a flawless monument to rock’s past and present.

The sixties garage vibe is completely unshakeable throughout, though this is endearing. And it would be easy enough to write another review praising another band for sounding like the Animals or the Kinks. Fortunately for me (and you), Twin Guns dig a little deeper than that: “Little Subway Rider” is the first song in years to earn a comparison to “Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood.” With its echoing riffs and howling vocals bouncing around the jungle drums, the song projects a lost-in-the-woods-at-night vibe. Many modern bands have attempted such a feat, but fail to capture that true 60’s essence because they are too self-conscious to really let it all hang out—they’re sneering instead of screaming, posturing instead of prophesying. Twin Guns instead find an unabashed wealth spring, delivering rave up after rave up.

The band also demonstrates a variety of avenues from which they approach their grimy and gritty sound. “Scene of the Crime” sounds like the schizophrenic cousin of “Misty Mountain Hop,” with the main riff dementedly warbled instead of methodically hammered. The song also features banshee vocals, giving it a feel borrowed from pre-goth bands like Joy Division and Depeche Mode. Oh, and all the guitars are played by Dick Dale. No, just kidding… that’s Andrea Sicco: although he does show technique, skill, and range like Dick Dale. Anyway, the song is another stellar example of how good this band is at combining and reinventing old sounds.

Unlike recent albums by other independent bands, Scene of the Crime actually gets better as it goes, each song finding new and interesting little grooves of their style in which to strut around. “Safe” keeps the surf rock feel, but now it’s contemptuous, riding waves of mutilation. If you can imagine the Ventures meets the house band in hell, you’d be on the right path. They also manage to throw in some frothy feedback toward the end, forming a killer wipe out.

“Druggy and Suicidal” is next, and easily one of the standouts with its climbing and angelic chorus. Without warning, the beautiful verse/chorus structure gives way to dissonant modulations and electronic oscillations. The whole thing comes to a head, building a gloriously noisy thrashing freak out. The end result sounds like 50’s sci-fi film score meets surf punk. When the end result is this beautiful and threatening at the same time, you can call it whatever you want: IT KICKS ASS!

“One More Night of Sin” shows the space that their arrangements can conjure—even with Jungle Jim’s (ex-Cramps) pummeling cathedral-reverb drums against church bells, Sicco still has room for some three or four echoing guitar parts. Then his vocals strike a bizarre and sublime middle ground between Iggy Pop and Keith Relf on “End of the Ride.” Again, Jungle Jim’s drums show restraint, precision, and killer instinct, holding together a steady beat while the guitars feedback like hell over the top.

In true album-rock fashion, Twin Guns save the best song for last: the Crystals meet the Velvet Underground in the bittersweet pop of “She Cried.” Of course, this equation can trace its roots back to the Jesus and Mary Chain. (This song even implements the same “Leader of the Pack” beat that the JMC ripped-off for “Just Like Honey”—Hey, it’s all relative.) But, as stated above, Twin Guns score serious points for diving in head first, with Sicco actually singing more like Ronnie Spector than Lou Reed. Acoustic guitars weave their way in and out of the track, showing that the band is just as smart as they are noisy. The acoustics gently push the track, even as the vocals stretch past Sicco’s comfortable range. Instead of sounding amateur, the vocals play into the unrestrained, juvenile love song appeal of the track. In short, they encapsulate the frustration, joy, and hatred that result from the loss of a first love… and very few bands in New York would take off their sunglasses long enough to cover such material.

Then again, Twin Guns may be that rare gem: the great band that comes out of an already established scene to make their own mark (at least in an underground sense). They’re certainly talented and different enough, yet also familiar enough to connoisseurs of similar sounds that they should attract fans by the droves. Scene of the Crime manages to sound cool and gutsy at the same time, instead of favoring one over the other. Twin Guns seem to have mastered this equation and can only stand to improve as their reputation grows with their talent.

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