Hailing from Rome, Georgia, but pulling from numerous musical traditions—both geographical and temporal—The Georgia Thunderbolts announce their arrival with a concise but powerful, self-titled EP. The quintet delves deeply into the halcyon days of southern rock, but they also touch upon vintage country sounds and even a bit of ‘90s grunge. Quality instrumental sound choices combined with well written songs impress upon listeners a unique style that sets the band apart from many of their contemporaries, who often fall into the category of Lynyrd Skynyrd wannabes.
If the first rule of debut recordings is to cull any filler from the set, the band meets and surpasses that requirement. All five tracks are strong. They achieve this by writing about what they know, and playing within themselves; there isn’t any pretense or needless note-pushing. The straightforward verse and chorus structure of the songs allows great individual contributions and a cohesion usually heard in veteran bands.
“Looking For An Old Friend” leads off with frontman T.J. Lyle sounding decidedly country in his vocal delivery. The welcoming guitar phrase is loose and relaxed and bassist Zach Everett quickly harmonizes with Lyle on the chorus, creating a warm-vintage feel to the track. Riley Couzzourt adds to this retro-sound with a languid, slide riff, several interspersed licks, and a tight but soulful solo. Lyle shifts his vocals towards southern rock and the band follows suit on “So You Wanna Change The World.” The loud/quiet dynamics accentuate the changes from verse to chorus and allow the mix to showcase the excellent sonic choices the band makes with the help of producer Richard Young. Throughout this tune, and on the EP in general, the instrumental tones are sublime: the amplifiers range from a crunchy grit to warm overdrive, the bass alternately throbs and thwacks, and Bristol Perry is as happy to dutifully hold down the rhythm as he is to provide snappy drums leads.
The EP also demonstrates the band’s ability to shift techniques and styles on “Lend A Hand.” Sounding as much ‘90s grunge as ‘70s rock, the riffs, vocals and overall tone of the track are harder, as each member shows a different side of their playing. Whether it’s Couzzourt’s and Logan Tolbert’s newfound edge on their guitars, or Lyle’s visceral growl, the band’s aggression is palpable.
True to its title, “Spirit Of A Workin’ Man” reveals much about the band’s ethos, as they speak to their lives and their approach to the music industry. “Set Me Free” offers the most memorable riff and perhaps the most engrossing groove of the set. Everett’s work on the organ simmers, the rhythm section thumps, and the song finishes the album with a chord progression that seems to continually fall in upon itself.
The Georgia Thunderbolts play with more maturity and confidence than their age and experience would suggest. On their first offering, they avoid trying to re-invent the genre, or make bold artistic statements that tend to fail on freshman albums. What remains is a solid set of rock songs that would fit just as comfortably in the ‘70s, as they would in the ‘90s, and are sure to fit in today. This impressive debut is worth several spins, and it shows great potential.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Looking For An Old Friend
– Lend A Hand
– Set Me Free
The Big Hit
– Looking For An Old Friend