08 January 2021 (released)
24 January 2021
Talent is talent is talent. Virtuosity is normally thought of in the realms of jazz, prog, classical, or metal but precision and impressive prowess can show itself in any style. One of the last genres that comes to mind in that category is punk rock. While we all know that playing at speed is a talent, punk is renowned for its outside-the-lines, sloppy attitude. However, as with any style, as it evolves the playing elevates. Furthermore, in terms of virtuosity, an ability to not only dominate your home territory but crossover into many other genres without skipping a beat demonstrates an added level of accomplishment.
Glendale California is the melting pot that blended together the talents of bassist Davey Munch, guitarist/vocalist/producer Light Return and lead vocalist/guitarist Danger Van Gorder to create the politically-tinged patriot porridge project Countless Thousands. The band is a nuclear waste-bred hybrid animal of punk rock energy translating an Americana tradition deeply steeped in Union anthems with rockabilly, indie, and touches of metal thrown in, to kind of perfectly embody the fusion which is America. Although political energy seeps naturally out of such a culturally tumultuous time, it is ramped up by the fact that Danger is an elected delegate to the California State Democratic Party. In a year where politics so directly affects daily life, an album with this kind of recurring historical referencing becomes all the more poignant.
In a page lifted from Hendrix's electrified 'Star-Spangled Banner', Countless Thousands open with a harmonized guitar rendition of 'America, the Beautiful' setting the tone for the rest of the album. The single 'Game Change' begins like a Mumford and Sons acoustic strummer before the band launches into that full-court press produced punk chorus. They rail against the ironic inequities of this government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The band finds that chemistry of blending radio ready infectious choruses with a political rallying cry that Green Day has used to great effect from American Idiot onward. 'Space Nazis Must Die!' is a fast-bopping sarcastic cosmic adventure that may or may not be inspired by the former administration's creation of the Space Force. Lookout for Astro-Hitler!
Additional patriotic standards are reincarnated from the 'Star-Spangled Banner On the Moon' which features some brilliant counterpoint on the bass to the manic punk repurposing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic on 'Solidarity Forever'. The band blast through a blistering ode to the Union reminding us that the fight of the civil war against racism and white supremacy is still being fought to this day. Amid these punk and Americana offerings, the group also sprinkle in other tangential genres. 'Fat Cat' is a bouncing classic rockabilly cabaret that segues itself into the 59-second metal throwdown of 'Ma$k Off'. The band uses the greasy vibe to perfectly illustrate corporate greed and the seedy underbelly of power. 'Lazar Wolf' takes elements of 80s metal and a touch of Mastodon riffage for a fun bark-at-the-moon respite from the political. Final act track 'Hard Times (Come Again No More)' leaves the electric guitars behind leaning fully into the Americana with this hopeful community sing-along.
The facility with which Countless Thousands can slip between styles maintaining their flawless aptitude makes for a deeply entertaining album by allowing them to embody multiple facets of the American experience. It's also a great testament to their abilities as musicians. In this over-saturated music market, you'd be hard-pressed to find another record quite like this one.