“You want to go see a show with four bands doing the exact same thing and have a pretty good time, that’s pretty easy to find,” said Colin Burns of local throwback power pop band Gal Gun. “But what we are trying to do is just a little bit different.”
That difference most clearly translates to the group’s sound, which is a little bit poppier and a little bit sharper than its peers’. Straightforward garage rock this is not. Burns said he and drummer Anthony Vaccaro originally formed Gal Gun (which includes Thomas O’Brien and John O’Brien) after connecting about their mutual enjoyment of classic power pop music.
“The performing aspect of it is not narrow, but in terms of what I want to do, I wouldn’t want to be in an experimental electronic group or something,” said Vaccaro. “I can enjoy that and I like to watch it, but that’s not for my composition.”
Burns and Vaccaro cited the Beatles, the Smiths and “early ’70s English power pop kind of stuff” among their list of influences, though you can also trace their roots to the late-’80s and early-’90s pop punk sound.
But defined tastes don’t mean the group is myopic in its songwriting and musical enjoyment. In fact, it is the members’ eclectic interests that make them eager to create simpler tunes. From LCD Soundsystem to Led Zeppelin to Phish, the band’s personal tastes wildly diverge.
The group is set to release its first full-length album, “Special Music of Emotion,” later this year. The album is the culmination of nearly two years worth of writing and sporadic recording as Gal Gun continued to refine its sound.
In the end, the band landed on simplicity, specifically simplicity in songwriting, melody construction and instrumentation. “It’s just understatement, just keeping things relatively low-key and simple and not trying to rock your socks off or show off or anything,” Burns said. “Just doing what we think we like and what other people might like.”
Simplicity doesn’t mean sterile. Album opener “Demon Eyes” is a propulsive introduction to the group’s sharp song construction. The song kicks off with aggressive guitar riffs pummeling into precise, perfect percussion. Infectious, melodic verses segue into one of the most catchy choruses born in this city.
The rest of the album plays out similarly, making “Special Music of Emotion” both an entirely accurate album title and one of the more interesting and enjoyable releases of the year. In a city overflowing with jangly garage rock upstarts, it’s refreshing to hear a group not afraid to actually rock and have fun doing so in the process.
In terms of contemporary bands, one might draw parallels to California-bred acts like Wavves, No Age and the now-defunct Girls. If Gal Gun makes music rooted in the melodic “simplicity” of the past, it’s a sound we certainly need more of in the present.
Despite their artistic intentions, the members of Gal Gun remain humble. “It’s nothing too remarkable,” Burns said about their sound. Audiences will surely disagree.
Britt Julious is a freelance writer.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Shuga Records, 1272 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: Free; www.shugarecordschicago.com