Music Review: Community Gun

by Rick Rockwell

Technology and the changing shape of music distribution now create some interesting questions and new dynamics. It is old hat for bands to stake out a page on myspace and appeal directly for fans. That isn’t enough.

So bands like Community Gun, which do not have labels (yet), must find other avenues. With a website, a new EP, and e-mail, Community Gun is appealing directly to critics as a way to amplify its message, find new fans, and, with luck, get a record contract too. (That is until they’re big enough, like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails, to distribute directly without a label.) So the question for critics: brave enough to pan a struggling band that claims to live in a house without heat when they have your e-mail?

Sure, if they deserved it.

Instead, Community Gun probably deserves that beginners’ recording contract.

That’s not to say the band’s second EP is perfect. Far from it. But the raw talent is evident. With some support, working utilities in their house, and the right producer, Community Gun might actually have a breakthrough.

On this new self-titled six-song release, “Midnight Moses and Elaine,” is the stand-out: a soundtrack for a film noir. Vocalist/guitarist Cove Aaronoff has a distinctive rasp to his singing. Others have compared his vocals to Tom Waits, and yes, there are some of those rich textures, but there’s also more than a dash of Jim Morrison, not to mention various blues influences. When Aaronoff moans, “all that’s left / are cigarettes and cocaine,” you feel his despair.

At times, Community Gun electronically processes Aaronoff’s growl which manages to sell lyrics that sometimes fall to cliché. “Before She Goes” with its nods to cosmic jokes, girls wrapped in overcoats, and teardrops attempts to sound Dylanesque (“Just Like a Woman”) but instead comes off like a lame ballad from Warrant.

Part of Community Gun’s difficulty is the band isn’t sure what it wants to be. The band describes itself as “a folk, rock, blues, indie, punk band.” But playing songs barely over 90 seconds doesn’t make them punkers. They lack the sonic crunch and politics for that. However, when Community Gun sticks to its bluesy, gritty core, as on, “James Brown” and “Ain’t Like Before” you can hear the band playing a bourbon-soaked barroom. And technology can’t change the fact that if you can rock there, you can rock anywhere.

(The promotional photo of Community Gun is from the band's website.)

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