ALBUM REVIEW: Baltimore Gun Club – Self Titled

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.

Baltimore Gun Club are like every band I ever loved in my teens (in the mid to late 90’s) rolled into one. OK, so maybe not ALL of them, they are not much like TLC and they don’t sing about Waterfalls, but if they did, they’d fucking rock it. Their sound is reminiscent of Tumbleweed, Foo Fighters, Grinspoon mixed with a heap of other grunge/stoner/rock bands all blended up and rolled into a rock pattie, held together with a heap of talent and appeal, then fried up and served to you in a three piece band who’ll have you licking your lips for more after every taste. Baltimore Gun Club should be everyone’s favourite local rock band and they deserve to go even further than that. I am not sure I know another local band that gigs as hard as these guys. I mean, if you haven’t caught them on a line up in Brisbane in the last few years, what have you been doing with your life? They play a heap of awesome shows and they are pretty gosh darn awesome to see live.

Baltimore Gun Club are: Psymon, Hyrma and Ronnie. Last month, they released their self-titled album via their own label, Sonic Revolver. Currently it can only be purchased in physical form, you can grab it on CD or vinyl. Digital copies are not available until later in the year. I love this. There is nothing like owning a physical copy of an album and although the digital world is taking over, I love that some bands and artists still give us the option of holding a CD, vinyl or cassette in our hot little hands. I still have the first cassette I ever got given and I treasure my copy of The Bangles ‘Different Light’ – you can’t hug a digital download, can you? (As a young girl, I totally hugged my first ever cassette) Anywayyyy, back to BGC. Their album was produced by Simon Benson and mastered by Jeff Lester of Shift Studios. The photo on the front of the album was captured by well known live music photographer, Trace Mclean and the artwork inside the cover done by Hyrma with a sketch by Ronnie too. These guys are multi talented; producers, artists as well as musicians. It’s an in-house effort here and for me, that adds to the overall appeal of the album.

Photo by Trace Mclean

First up is Archangel. I love this track so much, it’s most definitely one of my favourites off the 11 track album. This was the second single released from the album and the film clip is brilliant, featuring the guys sporting giant paper mache looking heads. It starts with a funky bass line and echoing vocals, perfect for listening to through earphones as the vocals escape one ear and jump into the other. Psymons vocals have so much grunt he could easily front a metal band. Something about this track makes me think of one of Supergrass’s heavier rock/groove songs. Could have to do with the echoing backing vocals I think. The layers of this song are enhanced with Hyrma’s harmonica playing. I have a soft spot for a bit of harmonica in a song, my Grandfather used to play. Harmonica is groovy as heck and I think more bands should have one featured in their music.

My Days was the first single released from the album, along with an awesome film clip. It starts off with an almost poppy kind of sound then hits that heavy rock sound with both the music and the vocals going up a level. This is a real groove along, toe tapping, head nodding kind of track, with a real 90’s grunge sound going on. I love this. My only complaint is the song finishes too soon! I pretty much replay it each time ‘cos I want more (at 2:21, it is the shortest track on the album)

Pathetique is super stoner rockish, this is where I hear some Tumbleweed influence at the beginning of the track. With a thick bass line and aggressive vocals, this track is also one that makes me think of Foo Fighters. But honestly, as previously mentioned, this album takes me on a journey of a heap of awesome bands I love, reminding me of several. But of course, it is all Baltimore Gun Club and the influences I am hearing clearly telling me all three guys have brilliant taste in music.

DeNiro is almost NIN-esq. It’s sexy. It’s heavy. It’s delicious. Most definitely a stand out track for me. I love the lyrics on this track too. AND I bloody love the fact that all the lyrics are inside the album cover! So cool! All CD’s should have lyrics on the inside.

Track five, Highgate Hill, gives listeners something different and features the beautiful and unique local artist, ROO on vocals and piano. ROO’s vocals are so deep, reminding me of some kind of mixture of Suze DeMarchi and Vikki Thorn + Donna Simpson from The Waifs. Her vocals and piano on this track are so perfectly placed. This is a team up I love. More BGC and ROO together please! ROO is an amazing artist in her own right and I highly recommend you check her out.

Ride All Night takes listeners on a journey through darkness “Say man. She’s so sweet with long black lies, want to meet them, ride all night…” A reflection of not caring about the way a girl is and diving in anyway? Perhaps. Either way, it’s a killer of a track and the lyrics got me thinking. The fade in of the track, heavy riffs, funky bassline and Ronnie’s always extremely high quality drumming. I dig this track.

1993 is just full grunt filled 90’s style rock and grunge – this is Grinspoon style all over. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am somewhat obsessed with Grinners, so this track is a favourite for me ( I think I have chosen several fave tracks already right? Perhaps it’s a new fave album then). Psymons vocals definitely reminiscent of the gorgeous Phil Jamieson on this track. Similar, but deeper, Jamieson’s vocals are slightly higher pitched. But the similarity is there. Drums on this track take my attention too. Because honestly, if you’ve never seen Ronnie play drums, you need to stop everything you’re doing and make plans to see his next show. I’ve seen him with BGC and filling in for other bands on drums such as Sydney’s The Desert Sea. He is a machine on the drums. An actual machine. Ronnie’s drum solos are an experience you simply have to have.

The Teddy Bear song is totally out of the ordinary for the album but I love it! It’s a mix up on roles with Ronnie taking to guitar and lead vocals and Psymons on drums. It’s like a play on a childhood nursery rhyme, reminding me of something Kram did with Rhys Muldoon a few years back, kids songs but with actual decent music to go with them (look that shit up if you have not heard it, especially if you have kids, it’s a good time!) This track wouldn’t be out of place on a kids album! Something in the works in the future for BGC?

Next up, Safe By The Water with soaring vocals and a hint of some Queens Of The Stone age sounding riffs brings things back to that dirty heavy sound we hear throughout the album. Rolling into track 10, Life Ain’t Long. Oh gosh, the first thing I think of with this one is Tex Perkins. This song is a whole other thing all together. It’s an emotional track, I have shivers listening to it. The lyrics deeper than any other song on the album too and the image beside the lyrics in the album sleeve is a man and his son, holding hands. Clearly this one was written from the heart.

The album wraps up with a bonus track. Clearly the guys having some fun here, Universe City is yet another genre within a genre, another layer of something different yet again, with an almost dance track sound to it. It’s funky and fun but somehow dark too. Again, I hear a NIN influence here or even some David Bowie! Wow, what a trip this album has been. It took me everywhere I thought it would and to places I didn’t know I’d go or want to be. But there you go. This is Baltimore Gun Club, this is their new album. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy and take the journey I have just been on.

Grab yourself a copy of Baltimore Gun Club’s self titled album HERE.  

Follow BGC on Facebook HERE.

Photo by Trace Mclean

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