On Swindle Boys’ new, sophomore recording, the EP Motion, the huge choruses, driving rhythms, and frontman Joey Swindle’s breathy, powerful, heart-on-his-sleeve vocals immediately call to mind Kings of Leon.
But wait. What’s up with those brightly yawning synths in the background and those swishy, danceable beats? They’re really out of left field.
They’re also really cool.
These pop flourishes, in their elegant restraint, separate Motion slightly from anything you might have heard before, bespeaking a focused, fully formed, highly idiosyncratic songwriting team at work. Think: Kings of Leon meets The Killers. (Killers of Leon?)
Familiar yet also distinctive, Motion is not necessarily head and shoulders above One and Three, the Swindle Boys’ fantastic 2012 debut album, but it is an unqualified success for Joey, guitarist (and younger brother) Matt Swindle, drummer Chance Cochran, and bassist Josh Smith. Released last week by Hand Drawn Records (Un Chien, Exit 380, Andrew Tinker), Motion was recorded last January in Dallas with producer Alex Gerst (Doosu, Slow Roosevelt, The Feds), and while all five songs sound great through earbuds, Joey feels they really kick onstage. “All we want is for people to come out to a show and give us a shot,” he said. “These songs have to be experienced live.”
The Swindles started writing material for Motion last fall, after adding Smith and Cochran as the full-time rhythm section. Putting out an entire album, Joey said, simply would have taken too long. “The songs were so different,” he said, “and, we felt, so much better than One and Three that we couldn’t wait to get them out and kinda relaunch the band.”
Gerst, Joey said, was a natural choice. “He makes really full, polished sounds without relying too much on computers,” Joey said. “We wanted to make a pop record that had major balls.”
And “major balls” Motion definitely has. Swindle Boys are swinging for the fences here — you can almost see the veins popping in Joey’s neck as he sings/shouts the monster chorus to “Omaha Beach” — and more often than not the guys hit home runs. The only misses are the sometimes maudlin lyrics and instances of swelling sonic melodrama. (Then again, pulling off mainstream arena-rock grandeur on tape isn’t easy — the only local bands I know of that can do it masterfully are Alan and KatsüK, and Alan founder Chris Hardee and KatsüK founder Daniel Katsük have both been at this epic-music thing for nearly two decades now. The barely thirtysomething Swindles are newbies by comparison.)
The Swindles’ goal now is to get out there and just play. “Our expectations are … that Fort Worth loves the record and allows us to be a part of their entertainment lives,” Joey said. “We are highly aware that our music falls out of the realm of what is hot in the Fort right now, and we embrace the challenge of winning folks over in spite of that. We obviously write music that’s decently commercial and perfect for huge spaces, and we would love to take on the world one day, but right now, all we care about is becoming a big part of what this town has going on and offering just another flavor to the Fort Worth spice rack.”
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