Hailing from the Bay Area of San Francisco, Strange Culprits will drop their self-titled debut album on June 8. The culprits in the band are Jason Buckingham (vocals, guitar), Samantha Buckingham (bass), and Tony Loftin (drums).
This trio of musical perpetrators came together when Jason was looking for a bass player. His wife, multi-instrumentalist Sami, had always wanted to play bass. So after buying a bass and an amp, Jason taught her to play. Now he had a bass player. Next, he needed a drummer. Fate intervened and he met Loftin. After persuading Loftin to give it try, the trio began playing together.
Strange Culprits’ sound incorporates a little bit of everything: garage rock, post-punk, alt-rock, Americana, and blues.
The first of nine tracks, “Moonlight,” is bluesy garage rock flavored with dark textures and Jason’s roguishly-inflected baritone, tinged with vice-colored timbres. Another excellent song is “Fleeting Moments,” featuring crunching drums and a heavy bassline that growls with thrumming energy. A simple, searing guitar solo really stands out, giving the tune a sharp tang.
“Rootless” reminds me of The Cranberries, traveling on a scintillating alt-rock platform full of spangling guitar flavors. Jason’s vocals range from hooting yodels to rich eloquence, adding delightful textured nuances to the feel and flow of the music.
“Bless the Harlot” slows things down a bit, featuring a grungy garage rock aroma reminiscent of Nirvana or Soundgarden. Jason’s grumbling guitar balances and contrasts with the opacity of the bass, providing a trembling dynamism.
“Concrete in the Rain” opens with an orchestral flow seguing into a prog-rock ambience radiating urgent strings and dirty guitars. As the leitmotif occurs, a soaring guitar floats above with blazing intensity. This song and “Rootless” comprise my favorites on the album.
Strange Culprits is pretty darn good. Dark tones dominate, yet aren’t dismal in nature. In fact, they give the music a sonic tension that’s tantalizing, almost hypnotic. And Jason Buckingham’s voice is just different enough, with its creamy baritone inflections, to be captivating. Strange Culprits is definitely worth checking out when it drops.