Album Review: Thunders ‘Beautiful Baby in the Bummer of Love’
Since its humble beginnings in the early 1960s, “garage rock” has progressed through a series of adjustments. Styles have evolved over the years, but there has remained one constant, the guitar. In 1964, South Bend band The Rivieras took their early garage rock beginnings to the mainstream with their smash hit “California Sun”. They used a joyful organ to keep rhythm and thundering bass to measure time. The key to note is that they leaned on a memorable guitar lick to bring it all together.
Bands like The Animals used the influence of the British invasion to progress garage rock, by adding a blues influence to the guitar in songs like “We Got to Get Out of this Place.” The Stooges helped to introduce garage rock to the ever so important hidden ingredient of distortion during the influential punk era. During the 1980s and 90s, contributions to the growth of the garage rock scene proved spotty. However, the turn of the century brought the familiar sound back to the forefront. Bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes gained notoriety by pulling from all eras of the garage rock evolution while making their guitar sound their own. As a loyal follower of the scene, I keep my ear to the asphalt to find bands that sound like they pull from the classics. This one comes in the form of a referral and can be found in a garage nearly next door.
Thunders is a loud, grungy, present day garage rock contributor that appears on a mission to blow out my speakers with each successive spin. Lead singer, Ryan Reidy, is an Indiana product that has spent time building influence in the Indianapolis and Muncie scenes. Reidy now calls Chicago home, fronting this project with Hotfox members Michael Preuschl and Duncan Kissinger. The band released their long-awaited full-length debut, Beautiful Baby in the Bummer of Love last week. This release came nearly four years after gaining local interest with their 2008 EP Sympathetic Oscillations. The electric guitar shines throughout this debut release.
EP carry over “MagicSick” opens up the record with a moan and ever so important squealing guitar, offering listeners a brash beginning. This track adopts the type of punk attitude that would make Iggy Pop proud. Reidy screams, “We’ve got love that is deep in our hearts” several times during the chorus and uses a ripping guitar over his vocals to add a timely build as the song closes. This song provides an attention-grabbing introduction for listeners looking to find early value.
Title track, “Beautiful Baby in the Bummer of Love” stands on its own legs and is the centerpiece of this record. If you are the type of listener that needs an ear full of distortion to sleep better at night then this one is for you. Cymbals crash throughout the song while guitar licks, heavy on the effects pedal, disrupts the song…for the better. The listener will find little flare in this song or most of the others on this record like most garage bands offer. Thunders uses songs like this to be confrontational. It is this chew you up and then spit you out mentality that is able to demand my interest as the record progresses.
Just when I thought I had Thunders completely figured out, they throw a curve ball to close out the 9th. Reidy exists through the back door and escapes the sound in final track “Freedom Throat Blues”. A stripped down acoustic closer displays an unexpected vulnerable side of Thunders. Ending this heavy record in such a gentle manner helps to maintain an initial level of honestly with listeners, while keeping us on our toes. The guitar always seems to be the focal point of garage rock, even when it leans acoustically by itself.
Reidy has established himself as a captivating front man on this release. Add Preuschl and Kissinger to the mix and now there is a solid base to keep a direct garage rock contributor alive in the Midwest. It is encouraging to see local extensions of classic records that have kept garage rock alive for the last 50 years. Beautiful Baby in the Bummer of Love is another release that locals can be proud to rep, and a record that promotes the art of making a loud guitar the star of the show.
Written by Brett McGrath