Dusted Reviews

Gun Outfit - Hard Coming Down

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Gun Outfit

Album: Hard Coming Down

Label: Post Present Medium

Review date: Apr. 1, 2013

Not long ago, I was having a conversation about White Lung, Merchandise, Milk Music, The Young, and other bands who don’t exactly play hardcore, but who owe a large artistic debt to their past connections to the hardcore scene. Different from the typical route of using basement shows and the like as a stepping stone or farm system, these bands have maintained a meaningful connection to the DIY circuit that birthed them while focusing about an eye and a half on what can be done on a larger and more varied musical stage.

Toward the end of that conversation, I wondered aloud what had happened to Gun Outfit. It hasn’t been that long since 2010’s Possession Sound LP, but their approach -- one they’ve been steadfastly refining and sticking by since their 2008 debut -- seems to be reaching a kind of fever pitch. Fast forward a few months, and would you look at that: We’ve got Hard Coming Down, a new Gun Outfit LP full of downtempo bumouts and Sonic Youth/Meat Puppets dance numbers. In short, it’s exactly what I was hoping guitarists/songwriters Carrie Keith and Dylan Sharp still had in them.

Having left their native Olympia for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, it would have been no surprise if Gun Outfit had brightened (or at least broadened) their approach a little, but if anything Hard Coming Down shows more maturity and restraint than Possession Sound did. Weariness, too, is a major through-line: "High as I’ve always been," sings Dylan Sharp on "Young Lord," "It’s never really meant that much to me."

It’s possibly a testament to their weariness, then, that Hard Coming Down’s biggest shortcoming is the way its expressions thereof tend to run together. Sharp’s slower songs, in particular, end up awfully samey, and his flat, creaky croon has character to spare but lacks the weight necessary to carry them.

To Sharp’s credit, his songs "I’ve Got a Gift" and "Death Drive" serve as the energetic centerpieces of Hard Coming Down. But it’s the downtempo tunes where Keith takes the reins that distinguish the album. Keith’s songs recall Gun Outfit’s fellow Pacific Northwesterners The Whines in the way her fragile, forceful voice seems to push the music and arrangements aside, demanding room for what she’s saying and how she’s saying it. There’s a distinctly unrehearsed intensity behind her contributions to Hard Coming Down; her performances are sad and striking, and they seem content to exist on their own terms. As much as Gun Outfit try to reach past the conventions of 90’s revivalism, it’s Keith’s vocals that do the most in helping them actually grasp something.

As best I can tell, to know Gun Outfit is to like them. They’ve quietly amassed admirers since they formed, but have seemed content to build steam slowly and steadily rather than make any kind of power play toward crossover success. They’re seemingly built around not attracting the kind of attention that brings negative vibes to the table. They moved to Los Angeles, but didn’t let the weather talk them into going pop. They write slow, sad songs without any cheap heartstrings-yanking inanity. And they’ve stuck by a highly personal, sparse mode whose best chance at widespread marketability is tied pretty closely to being inaccurately compared to Dinosaur Jr. I don’t know what kind of repeated listening Hard Coming Down will get in these parts, but I can’t help but admire Gun Outfit’s methods.

By Joe Bernardi

Other Reviews of Gun Outfit

Dim Light

Possession Sound

Read More

View all articles by Joe Bernardi

Find out more about Post Present Medium

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.