Bridges and Blinking Lights | Heroes, Guns and Snakes (s/r)

Backing their work with energetic live shows, the band is definitely worth the time and the dollar.

At the onset of Heroes, Guns and Snakes, Bridges and Blinking Lights set up an interesting album for the listener, kicking off their sophomore outing with a catchy and somewhat familiar sounding track reminiscent of a Yo La Tengo jam session. Yet, the band quickly switches gears, steering the album along a tightly woven path of talented guitar work and vocals that seem to tell a story of America’s forgotten love affair with the simple things in life. Although this indie outfit from Denton, Texas, has only been making its mark on the scene for the past three years, Bridges and Blinking Lights continue to impress with a mature recording style that pays tribute to the classic rock albums that once ruled the airwaves.

From start to finish, singer-guitarist Jake Wilganowski croons about younger women, escaping small town life, dying young and the general fascination with unplanned adventures in a tone eerily similar to a raspy Anthony Green. As Wilganowski’s varying tone seems to work on each track, he surprises at just the right moments with a sultry voice that creates something more than the straight forward, monotone indie staple that has worked for early champions of the genre. Continuously offering something genuinely appealing in his voice, Wilganowski also impresses with his lyrics, which generate a feeling of youthfulness and anticipation. “I saw, in your eyes, an instinct, where lies a heartbeat, in the great unknown,” sings Wilganowski on “The Great Unknown,” a song about young and forbidden love.

Where the album seems to take off is in the length of its tracks. On average, each track clocks in at about five minutes, give or take a few songs, which again pay homage to older, more rock-driven albums that became known for their astounding riffs and rhythms. Bassist Michael Lile, guitarist Marc Montoya and drummer Christopher Considine all play their parts well in the band, each shining in their respective moments on the album. The album’s lone instrumental, “The Last March,” finds the band leading the final tracks on the album with an up-tempo as opposed to the common trend of rounding of a record with a sensitive, quiet song that is often overlooked at the end of a toe-tapping extravaganza. Even more interesting is the bands willingness to even increase the pace of its music to speeds comparable to early Santana. While the lyrics may say one thing, the music is teeming with a Tex-Mex influence that surely derives from their southern surroundings and interest in bands such as the Rolling Stones.

Keeping in mind that the band’s first album, 2007’s Standing on the Same Stick, was self-produced, Heroes, Guns and Snakes possesses a much cleaner and organized sound that is helped along by acclaimed Texas engineer Matt Pence (also the drummer for Centro-matic and South San Gabriel). The time spent writing the record also seems to have contributed much to the success the album is sure to find once the band begins to tour the Midwest in April. Quickly learning that staying true to a style of music relays passion to the listener, Bridges and Blinking Lights are perhaps too mature for the audience they are sure to draw to their shows.

With everything good that can be said about the album, it is also noticeable that the order of the songs on Heroes, Guns and Snakes draws away the attention of the listener. While opening gems like “Undercover” sell with its chunky hooks and heavy drums, the deal is abruptly broken with dramatically different-paced songs like “Home Free” and “Solo American.” Although there is nothing particularly bad about any of these songs, it is hard to stay dedicated to the album through its early tracks until the rhythm once again levels out on “The Cause,” which re-introduces the brilliant talent the band can put forth when they are on the same page.

Fresh off of their SXSW appearance, Bridges and Blinking Lights has gained notoriety as a band to watch in 2010. Backing their work with energetic live shows, the band is definitely worth the time and the dollar, showing that an indie creature can reveal its southern rock side every once in a great while. B+ | Joe Witthaus

RIYL: Band of Horses, Yo La Tengo, Rolling Stones


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