Bang Bangz, Red City

Bang Bangz, <em>Red City</em>

There’s something about Bang Bangz’s Red City — the band’s music in general, really — that makes me want to get out. I feel like I need to just to get up and walk out the door into the darkness, and just keep walking until something, I couldn’t tell you what, happens. It’s an odd feeling, honestly.

See, most of the time, I can happily listen to an album by Rock Band X at home, on my headphones, with the TV going and whatever else, and hey, I’m fine; with Red City, though, I suddenly start feeling confined out here in my too-comfy little near-urban nest.

That’s kind of the magic of Bang Bangz’s music: this is late-night-in-the-naked-city music, music that’s a soundtrack for lonely souls roaming dirty downtown streets and alleyways, and it makes you want to be rambling through those streets, too. It just doesn’t seem right to listen to it from the comfort of the couch.

It’s fitting, then, that the band the trio makes me think of most is another “late-night” band, M83. The two bands share an unabashed love of ’80s synths and beats, while at the same time aiming for an atmospheric, high-flying sound. On tracks like “Voltron” and “Otherside,” in particular, Bang Bangz bears a serious resemblance to Saturdays = Youth-era M83, especially with the processed-sounding drums that kick off the former track. And oh, wow, those rubbery, ’80s-sounding synths, like on “Life for Now”; they’re like every pop song I ever heard on top-40 radio in my youth, and yet, I’m finding I don’t mind.

At the same time, there’s a Goldfrapp-esque vibe to several of the tracks, especially where singer Elizabeth Salazar takes center stage; she comes off like a muddier, murkier Alison Goldfrapp, and production on Red City has a similar sheen to Black Cherry, sleeker and more neon-brighter than Bang Bangz’s debut EP. There’s also a bit of a trip-hop thing going on, like the band’s a sleepier, less menacing Massive Attack, and lots of warbly keys that evoke My Bloody Valentine.

The true oddball of the album is “Beach Life,” which takes the night-electro-pop and shifts it smoothly to a beach scene, with singer/guitarist Mario A. Rodriguez crooning in an almost-monotone as the rest of the band bumps and trudges along. It’s like chillwave as done by the Talking Heads, with a freakishly addictive chorus that evokes the slowed-down pace of summer days and nights spent out on the sand.

The title track’s a definite highlight; there’s more of a focus on Rodriguez’s vocals, with he and Salazar finally doing more harmonizing than they have to that point. The melding of their vocals is gorgeous and lush, almost Kate Bush-like, particularly in the chorus. I like the duet of “All I Want,” as well, with its electronics-tinged pop sound and sweet, earnest, impassioned vocals (despite the quasi-distant New Wave vocals).

Also high on my personal list is “Life for Now,” which steadily builds and builds into something majestic and swooning. Even when the band’s at its prettiest, though, Bang Bangz remains a little unsettling, like something’s more dangerous than it seems. Beautiful and soulful as the vocals may be, with those utterly irrepressible melodies, it always feels like there’s something menacing going on behind the scenes.

All of which adds to the allure, thankfully; it’s nice to have a little vinegar to balance out the sugar. And the end result works pretty ridiculously well, building a dark, electronic, hazy/shiny, seductive-yet-dangerous album of music to get you through those late, late nights spent alone roaming the alleys and back roads of The Big Bad City.

(Feature photo by Anthony Rathbun.)

[Bang Bangz is playing its record release 3/23/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with A Sea Es & The Suffers.]
(self-released; Bang Bangz --; Bang Bangz (Facebook) --; Bang Bangz (Twitter) --
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Review by . Review posted Saturday, March 23rd, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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5 Responses to “Bang Bangz, Red City

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Bang Bangz + The Fox Derby + A Sundae Drive + Jimmie Dale Gilmore + Humungus + More on March 23rd, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    […] Bang Bangz (record release)/A Sea Es/The Suffers @ Fitzgerald’s The highlight of tonight, at least for me; I’ve been dying to hear Bang Bangz‘s full-length album, Red City, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. It’s dark, murky, and hazy, while simultaneously managing to be gorgeous and intense and multi-layered, and yeah, there’re a lot of high points, especially “Red City” and “Life for Now”; check out the full review on over here. […]

  2. Bang Bangz, The Wheel Workers play free shows at Cactus Music on April 12th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    […] Bangz recently released the excellent Red City, which you can read a review of at Space City Rock and stream online at Impose. Visit the band online at […]

  3. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Adam Bricks (rev’d!) + Bang Bangz + Black Flag Tattoo Party + Space City Beat Battle + Woodlands Waterway Arts Fest + More on April 13th, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    […] Bangz are hitting the stage right now (1PM), presumably playing songs mostly from brand-new album Red City, which is excellent and gorgeous and lush and dark all at the same time (and gives some of the same […]

  4. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Second Lovers + Adam Bricks + Shellee Coley + New York City Queens + The Lotus Effect + BLSHS + Bang Bangz + Final Fest + More on September 19th, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    […] to make things even better, they’re playing with fellow keyboard lovers Bang Bangz, whose Red City lived in my subconscious for a large, large chunk of last year. It’s a little more in my […]

  5. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. (Late) Weekend, Pt. 1: Rocket From The Crypt + Modest Mouse + Tinariwen + The Lotus Effect (Rev’d!) + The Octopus Project + Bastille + More on November 7th, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    […] Bang Bangz along for the ride, and that’s never a bad thing; the band’s 2013 release, Red City, was one of the most alluring things I heard all that […]

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