New rock acts of every ilk, at one point, primarily emerged from three different areas of the United States. They came out of New York City and its surrounding environs, Southern California, or an assortment of points throughout the Midwest. There are exceptions, of course, and some era specific – i.e. the Seattle revolution during the early/mid 1990’s. Nashville, Tennessee was the longtime power center for rock’s direct commercial rival and cultural nemesis – country music.
It isn’t the case these days. The Internet democratized every artistic medium but probably none more so than the music industry as we once knew it. Genres aren’t the impenetrable citadels of style they once were; many songwriters and musicians have rendered distinctions moot with their increasing daring and willingness to blend incongruous elements into an unified whole. Nashville, once a bastion of cowboy hats and Fender Telecasters, has proven fertile ground for challenging music in this young century.
The Rhythm Bullies are among the latter groups. Sebastian Gogan’s songwriting attempts entwining strands of rock, symphonic, world, and synthesizer into a compelling musical thread. Judging by the five compositions included on The Dysnomia EP, Gogan’s efforts are a notable success. The first track “Dysnomia”, however, is more rock than anything else. It comes brawling out of its corner with hard-hitting bass and drums working together in duet. Gogan’s electric guitar never achieves any sort of prominence until the chorus and synthesizers play a key supporting role.
“Escape from Dysnomia” is the EP’s sole instrumental and a musical bonanza. His talents for structuring compositions are apparent to any open-minded listeners; “Escape from Dysnomia” has a defined and inevitable progression from one idea to the next. The abundance of synthesizers doesn’t drain color from the song. It fills the track with a wide spectrum of chromatic peaks and valleys and radiates warmth throughout. Despite its ambitious aims, there’s no wasted motion during “Escape from Dysnomia” and it rates among the EP’s finest moments.
“So Far Away” could scarcely be more different. Its acoustic character possesses a sensitivity the preceding cut lacks and there’s a strong sense of individuality rife during the track. The acoustic guitar work sparkles with clarity and physicality. It is the longest song on the EP and the strongest lyric. There are earlier moments when Gogan lets his guitar chops fly, but he ratchets up the intensity for “Theo”. His vocal is full of confidence and blood-shot eyes, passion sparking off each line, and its gradual segue from the bass and drum opening into a full-fledged guitar workout is masterfully handled.
Gogan closes The Rhythm Bullies’ release with “Through the Glass”. It combines aspects of the band’s rock approach with a sprinkling of their more individual traits. Grammy-nominated engineer Bobby Holland’s production talents are particularly obvious here as the delicate balance he achieves for Gogan’s music in this instance. The Dysnomia EP is a minor masterpiece of style and concision. There is not a single instance of Gogan biting off more than he can chew and a level of control that would sound impressive from grizzled veterans, let alone relative newcomers. It’s well worth your attention.