I'm always a little weirded out when I realize a local band has completely flown under my radar. How did I miss them? Such is the case with local experimental trio Bunkers, who recently sent me a link to their third album, Exit Weather.
- Photo Courtesy Of Bunkers
- BONKERS FOR BUNKERS Experimental electric trio, Bunkers, releases their third album, Exit Weather, available on Bandcamp.
The band, which includes Andrew Grivjack, Matt Wilder, and Michael vandenBerg, are all "longtime residents of San Luis Obispo" who formed their band in 2017, they explained in an email. In 2018, they released Freehand, and in 2020, they followed up with To What End. Four years and now three albums and I've never heard of them?
On Exit Weather, some songs—like "Scraped Off the Scenery"—sound like electronica meets industrial meets speed metal. It's atmospheric and experimental and weird. Other tracks like "Fictionless" have a carnival quality that morphs into doom rock and then fantasy rock.
Needless to say, this is a band that isn't one thing or one sound. The many instrumental tracks feel layered, improvised, and organically created. When voice occasionally comes in, like on "Oz," it feels urgent and energetic and dark. Think Nine Inch Nails.
According to the band, they use standard guitar, bass, percussion but add in "anything we can get our hot little hands on: synths, edrums, samplers, loopers—one time we miked-up a card shuffler."
As for their process, "Some of our stuff is planned out ahead of time, but a lot of it is improvised and recorded on the spot. Other than that we try not to add any extra limitations. There's a difference between the music we choose to make and the music we have to make, but we're not quite sure what that difference is. A lot of what we do feels inevitable. And when it's done and made, there's no way to prove it wasn't."
One of my favorite tracks off Exit Weather is "Light Luggage," with its funky bassline and samples of a child's voice and a solemn choir layering over the music. It's playful and clanging and reverent and spacy all at once.
"A Wax Room" throbs with the sound of helicopter blades and swelling synth before a highly processed voice dips in and turns the song into a screeching banshee of dissonance. "I, Thorax" sounds like a kalimba experiment of syncopated rhythm. It's odd yet beautiful.
While the music might feel challenging, it's also surprising and fascinating. There's no way to predict what you'll hear next, and all the strange sounds and effects are wonderous even if they're not traditionally melodic. Listen to this album with headphones on for a fully immersive experience.
"Admittedly, we're not everyone's cup of tea," the band added, "but back in the previous world, we played a live set on KCPR, opened for The Ragged Jubilee at The Siren in Morro Bay, and headlined at Raconteur Room, The Warehouse on Mars, and A Satellite of Love, among others. So we've been to rodeos.
"Out of necessity, we're DIY from beginning to end," they continued. "Our recordings are a little rough around the edges, but on the upside, doing everything ourselves means there's no one telling us what to not to do, or what horrible sounds to leave out.
"This past year has been intense, with a lot of time spent cooped up, and a lot to process. But we know a lot of our neighbors around the county have been bunkering down and recording their hearts out. We're eager to hear it. Somehow our actual neighbors never complained, which is wild and wonderful. Cheers to cool neighbors everywhere."
Basin Street stream
The Basin Street Regulars continue to offer streaming concerts in lieu of their normal in-person Pismo Beach swing dance shows. This Sunday, Feb. 28, they welcome Temecula trio Gino and the Lone Gunmen, performing a mix of rockabilly, swing, blues, country, and vintage rock 'n' roll (2 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube @basinstreetregulars).
- Photo Courtesy Of Gino And The Lone Gunmen
- VINTAGE ROCK This month the Basin Street Regulars expand beyond their hot jazz genre to welcome rockabilly, swing, blues, and country act Gino and The Lone Gunmen to their Feb. 28 streaming concert.
The band's repertoire includes originals as well as music made famous by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and even The Beatles circa the Cavern Club days.
Frontman Gino Meregillano comes from a musical family. He was just 14 when he played his first professional gig! He now has 30 years of experience on guitar, vocals, bass, mandolin, and ukulele. The band includes Andrew Verdugo (bass and vocals) and Bob Sale (drums and vocals), and they've shared the stage with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Slim Jim Phantom (of The Stray Cats), Three Bad Jacks, and Big Sandy.
Move the coffee table out of the way and get ready to rip up your living room dance floor! Donations are encouraged at PayPal @basinstreetregulars. Δ
Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at firstname.lastname@example.org.