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Strange Culprits - Strange Culprits (Self-Released)

22 May 2018

A garage band that’s more influenced by Nick Cave than Roky Erickson, Strange Culprits are a trio from the Bay Area comfortable with combining elements of soul, blues, country, and whatever else feels right on their self-titled debut, Strange Culprits. The band has described themselves as the musical equivalent of poutine—a bunch of separate, disparate ingredients coming together to form one unified and satisfying oddity. It also says a lot about what Strange Culprits thinks about themselves, and their ability to have fun while still creating a serious artistic statement within a genre that sometimes has a tendency to straitjacket itself.

Many of the songs like “Moonlight” capture that rugged, sun-baked strain of garage for which the Bay Area is famous, but there’s clear influences of grungey post-punk as well; never more clear than on “Fleeting Moments.” Flirting with subtle motifs of traditional country music is similarly popular with the band, but the most jarring moment comes at the end of the album with the piano and synth-led “Concrete in the Rain.” It’s radically different than anything on the album, leading the listener to question whether it’s really the same band at all, but it does at least open them up to possibility of exploring this route more thoroughly in future releases. Strange Culprits captures a band still finding their footing, but there’s plenty of glimpses of a strong, captivating identity to warrant numerous listens.