By Nathan Pavolko
Groovy Olympia natives, Gun Outfit, have been nonchalantly releasing music under the radar since their debut Dim Light in 2009. Through the infamous cassette revival on the west coast, the band picked up steam within the local punk scene. Gun Outfit are often times revered as one of the softest punk bands within the scene, due to their loose psychedelic folk style. After their third album, Hard Coming Down, the band took a long deserved break to work on various art film projects and getting day jobs at a weed farm to help them settle into their new home in Los Angeles. Now the dusky western rockers release their fourth full length record, Dream All Over, on the newly joined label Paradise Of Bachelors, which is engineered and co-produced by Fecundo Bermudez (Ty Segall, No Age, King Tuff).
Though Gun Outfit has many ties to punk music, their sound is much less abrasive. They cast a gloss of beautiful melodies and guy-girl duets over top punk songwriting fundamentals, similar to Sonic Youth or anything off the famed Nuggets collection. This combination creates a strong dose of atmospheric psychedelia and modern Americana best heard in the opening track and first single “Gotta Wanna”. Dylan Sharp (guitar, vocals, and banjo) and Carrie Keith (guitar, vocals, and slide) trade off enticing vocal melodies while dueling guitars weave together like the tips of a fire. Keith sings, “I’m a stranger getting stranger still // If you don’t see your luck, you probably never will”. This song makes me think of camping in the desert, sitting next to a warm fire as it cackles and wisps, conjuring up old memories under a starry night.
What truly sets them apart from their noisy counterparts is how genuinely poetic the songs are. Gun Outfit tells a story through their lyrics, drawing influence from classic artists such as Bob Dylan and Patti Smith. With the band’s American-folk style, they paint a picture of a weary journey across the desert, filled with the blistering heat of the sun, tumble weeds, and blurred visions in a mirage. In the dusky canyon blues song “Came To Be,” a yawning guitar bends while Sharp croons in his deep soothing voice. Dream All Over is a great late night walk album, if you’re feeling a bit introspective yet curious about the world. Many times throughout this record I found myself thinking of the world’s problems and how if we strive to be better people, we could overcome many of these issues. However, many of Sharp and Keith’s lyrics present a realistic point of view rather than joining the surreal music that follows.
Dream All Over presents a much more refined and polished sound compared to the band’s earlier releases. Maintaining their loose dream folk ambiance, they have perfected the subtle art of letting a song breathe; best heard in the soft sway of “Angelino” as sitars twang in the back of a slowly rising ballad. Too many songs these days tend to get too convoluted, so hearing a band that respects space to move around in is quite refreshing. That being said, Bermudez did a wonderful job containing the wandering jams of Gun Outfit. Part of that, I’m sure, is due to his work with the fuzzy noise punk of No Age. In the blistering heat of “Worldly Way” dueling guitars bounce off each others' melodies with a Middle Eastern energy.
With each band members’ involvement in film, their music can’t help but be translated into a somewhat cinematic experience. The cute energetic feels of “Legends Of My Own” could easily be heard in a romantic comedy or coming-of-age drama. Gun Outfit have truly honed their craft on this record, even though this may arguably be their best record to date, I believe they have greater things ahead of them. Dream All Over is an elegant and woeful album that spins a more mature side of this poetic group.