Ninja Gun draws from a lot of sources, playing in the Suburban Home-style market of alt country derived from obtuse punk influences. They tend to eschew chord progressions in favor of soft music and easy articulation built from the steady, honest delivery of their frontman Johnathan Coody. Roman Nose is their latest EP, this one coming from Sabot Productions.
Ninja Gun’s style is mellow and maybe a little coy. The band draws from country, but their delivery and dominant sound are more steeped in power pop, with the country influence honing the lyrical tone and the somber, reflective atmosphere while the music is more ethereal with a touch of Southern eeriness at its backdrop. Coody keeps the mood steady, never bursting into angry aggression or sorrowful misery, but walking a calm line down the middle. If there is a fault, it’s that Coody’s delivery is so even keel that it can lull the listener at times, without the dynamics to push forth a more positive energy. For a band with two guitars, this record is surprisingly calm throughout. The music is collected, with layered acoustic guitars and careful arrangements that maintain an emotional gray area. “That’s Not What I Heard” utilizes a first person perspective with soothing background vocals, but the even keel nature distances the first-person perspective and the focus remains on the feel rather than the lyrics. It’s got a repetitive, singalong structure combined with a country lament, and the balance falls right in the middle between the two styles. In its follow-up, “Hot Rain,” Coody drawls a little louder, dropping his pitch to a more forceful delivery to carry over the louder guitars and drums, utilizing a ‘70s rock structure that builds to a climax in just over three minutes. Despite the big ‘70s rock influence, the song never fully rocks out, instead keeping its austere manner.
On Side B, Coody’s vocals remain at the forefront. This time, there’s a power pop feel with big guitar crunch at the chorus, but emotive heart-on-sleeve crooning on the verse levels. The middle two songs offer the most sonic variance, but the titular “Roman Nose,” is the most memorable track on the EP, and it hints that Ninja Gun’s next full-length will be wide-reaching in its scope. It takes a Southern gothic guitar and a sorrowful tone that relies on descriptive imagery to leave on something of a depressing note.
Ninja Gun hail from rural Georgia and they embrace their roots, drawing from an isolated, open setting and incorporating that into their sound, and utilizing descriptive imagery to establish such a tone. It should appeal to fans of power pop and alt country equally.
This is music for a slower pace, sitting on the porch at sunset, playing this soundtrack just over the chirping of the crickets as opposed to blaring over headphones on a loud city bus.
6.4 / 10
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