The Bixby Knolls’ Bites Viciously With Tomorrow Never Comes
I have a confession: I am the biggest sucker for anything that sounds like it should be the soundtrack to speeding through empty roads in the middle of the night, possibly in the rain, on the way towards crazy adventures while wearing a leather jacket (like maybe fighting criminals or robbing a bank… well, maybe not robbing a bank). It’s dirty, it’s dangerous, and it’s ready for action. Does this sound like the kind of music you might be into? If it does, I’ve got some good news for you.
Formed in 2009, The Bixby Knolls are a four-piece band hailing from Los Angeles, CA – although you’d have a hard time placing them given the range of influences their music seems to embody. Think about the bite and anthemic punch of Brit and power pop with the perfect hit of dark and drawling garage rock, and I suppose you’d be somewhere close, but confining the band to a list of genres would be selling them short.
Adding to numerous tours and a full-length album, the band’s latest accomplishment comes in the form of their most recent EP, Tomorrow Never Comes (2014). Though it clocks in with less than 20 minutes, the four-track EP packs in electronic riffs, howling vocals, fuzz guitars and growling basses, heavy hitting drum driven beats, and everything in between (including hand claps, which are always a good thing).
If this EP is your first foray into the Bixby Knoll’s catalogue, Tomorrow Never Comes certainly sets the tone. This is a band that clearly knows their way around composing a solid, multi-layered instrumental track, given how well each riff, cymbal crash, bass and percussion line blend into one another before giving way to front man Curt Barlage’s signature vocal drawl, full of conviction and a story to tell. “Juvenile Heart Crime” is dark, dreamy, and catchy, but ultimately very focused and deliberate. The second track, “Preacher, Teacher”, takes a somewhat mellower turn, resulting sonically in what sounds like a very good revival of The Clash’s Combat Rock era.
The latter half of the EP provides a good demonstration of the band’s versatility and navigation of sounds, as tracks 3 and 4 take a much more New Wave and Britpop-influenced approach. As far as potential singles go, the eponymous “Tomorrow Never Comes” seems to be the track that stands out the most on the EP – catchy and rhythmic without compromising any of the band’s instrumental strengths or stylistic touches (think Moz and The Smiths or Duran Duran, but heavier). That being said, the EP’s closing track “You Gotta Give” could very well give the latter track a run for it’s money, as it seems to be the track that really takes the best of both worlds The Bixby Knolls seem to come from.
Catchy, but substantial, energetic but with the right amount of darkness and melancholy – there really is no end to hybrid of sounds and sense that The Bixby Knolls seem to be able to create with just four tracks. Suffice it to say that Tomorrow Never Comes is an all-around solid EP that is most definitely worth looking into, as I’m sure it is only a preview of what this LA band has in store.