Live review from Underground 109:
1. Bittersweet Nothingness
2. Solomon’s War
3. Gift of Regret
4. Cauldron of Doubt
5. The Darkest Shades of Grey
The Gatling Gun Revival finally played at the Underground, and I, for one, was excited to see them there. They are a band replete with technical talent, in the forms of the chops of all three band members, and also a small melodeon/keyboard/drum contraption played by Zane, that’s not only functional, but also looks cool. Corey, as I have seen several times, has always been a solid guitarist; the addition of Erik on lead was, however, a great idea, as it gives them both more room to do what they do best. The small elaborations, be they the various modes of sleek solo or simply the slide, add a layer of intrigue to the music, such as the guitar almost sounding like a fiddle on Gift of Regret, or the zippy feel on The Darkest… The melodies are simple and folky, and their arrangements vary from plain ol’ acoustic songs to bluegrass to country, and yet it is this melodicism that makes them feel almost intense. The songs’ moods are generally “soothing”, but also calm and spry at the same time, which can feel really great to listen to. The strange thing is that their three singing voices sound so similar, that it can sound like multiple tracks by the same person, except all at the same time and live; it creates a resonance and depth in the sound, which few bands have access to, and it is beautiful to watch happen.
Most of the songs started off, apparently, as poems by Zane, and were then made into songs collaboratively. Probably owing to this, the lyrics have a polish and a finish to them as they were clearly not written to fit the contours of the tunes. This has the effect of making their sound come across as fully realised, which isn’t something one finds often. Several tunes have the stamp of Corey’s composition on them, like Bittersweet Nothingness and the slight echoes of his song ‘Mistress of the Sea’ on Cauldron of Doubt, which is generally major keys and catchy tunes played in a manner that makes one want to sway. There’s definitely a lot of Simon & Garfunkel in there, and a good bit of Elliot Smith, but the overall effect is something like a Travelling Wilbury’s acoustic show (without their quite boring drummer, though, and MUCH better singers), and a lot of 50s-style rock ‘n’ roll. It was an excellent performance, but then again most of theirs’ are. This is definitely a band to catch live if you can.
– Shashwati Kala