There’s not a lot of material on the internet about Born That Guy. Their bandcamp page describes them as an LA-based alternative rock band, so naturally I had little to no expectations coming into their latest album Three. I am happy to report that I was completely blown away and pleasantly surprised by my experience. It turns out that the trio of Joe Zizzo, Sam Bird and Jeremy Arambulo have been making music for over a decade now, and they’ve churned out their best material yet. One that I would gladly recommend to anyone I know.
Three consists of eight tracks that are completely instrumental. The experience is comparable to listening to a motion picture soundtrack or even a classical or free jazz piece in a rock context. I guess the closest parallel would be post-rock in this regard. Each piece makes use of time and instrumentation to tell a story. You can tell that each section or line was painstakingly put there with a great deal of intent and restraint. The same can be said for the soft-and loud dynamics that are delicately orchestrated by the band. Simply put, these are one of the better rock instrumentals I’ve heard in the past ten years. I would dare say even those not interested in the genre would find enjoyment in these pieces.
The opening track “Welcome” and its follow up “Pancho” are heavy hitters. It’s use of muscular guitars and screeching riffs feels very satisfying, but it’s also due in part to the quiet sections in the song where the drums pace themselves and the strings hum quietly above the mix, waiting for their time to explode. Tension and release is used effectively when the breakdowns come in that I can’t help but pull out my exceptional stank face and bang my head through its loud sections.
A similar approach is exhibited in “Nasty Man Drives”, where the initial guzzling of the riffs and the propulsive drums give off the feeling of being inside a Mad Max movie. It’s an immersive experience through and through, with bass that even mimics the revving of a high-octane engine.
“Red Glare” on the other hand starts with a stony silence, with brooding drums and a slow simmer of guitars that slowly develops into an explosive climax. Beyond those heavy hitters, the band also showcases calmer songs with equally amazing skill. “Mothers” has a gentle and calming sensation running through it while “God Rays” feels otherworldly and epic in its scale and proportion.
I can proudly say that Three is one of the more free-flowing and seamless musical albums I’ve experienced this year. Born That Guy has something great going for them and I for one will be looking out for what’s next while spamming the replay button.