Now/It's: Something to Listen to - 'Lightweight' by Sandra Bullets

So we’ve already established that Sandra Bullets falls somewhere within the world of math rock, more dynamic than esoteric, but wholly entertaining and good. That being said, if you’ve read the site at all, the practice of genre denominations is one of the more ostentatious components of online writing, and when it comes to Sandra BulletsLightweight EP, such an effort would ultimately become a disservice.

“Why is that?” you might ask, well, simply put, despite being three songs in length, Lightweight covers a lot of genre territory. Imagine the world of rock music as Middle Earth (from Lord of the Rings, for the uninitiated). Within each of the various “realms” of Middle Earth stands some sort of applicable genre parallel - death metal is to Mordor what roots rock is to The Shire, etc. If such is the case, then Sandra Bullets are a nice proxy for “The Fellowship” (Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas, and more) of rock music in Nashville - a collective of well meaning musicians from a diverse musical background, joining forces in the name of good (music) and the like.

I’ll spare you any further Tolkien-ization as an allegory (even though it is kind of fun, right?), but it’ll save us from any sort of standard “genre-defying” rundown of Lightweight. Ultimately, Lightweight does in fact straddle the lines of many different rock subgenres, math and post rock being the two most notable, but there are inflection points reminiscent of neo-soul, R&B, and even hip-hop that lend credence to the dynamism ascribed to Sandra Bullets on a previous post.

As far as the actual songs on Lightweight are concerned, there’s only one - “Notch” - not previously released as a single prior to the EP’s official debut, so that seems as good a place as any to begin our examination of the record. The song opens with a decidedly cinematic feel, partially due to the sampled audio from some work (presumably) of film or screen, but also thanks to the long open guitar bends underscored by piano. It’s something of an art house western (think Slow West meets Cold In July if rewritten by a PhD candidate) feel that quickly jumps into the more familiar post meets math rock vibe we’ve come to recognize as Sandra Bullets’ modus operandi.

Concerning the next single, “Tallboy,” I’ll elect to keep that one brief in terms of review, namely because I’ve best expressed my feelings in the single premiere for the tune about a month back. It’s a killer song that invites a lot of different parallels - Ava Luna and “The Leanover,” as referenced in the single premiere - as well as a hint of Little Dragon, but with (a lot) less Swedish pretension.

Closing out Lightweight is “Ghetto Bright,” arguably the most fulfilled tune off the EP, both in terms of sound and spirit. To this point, if there’s one criticism of an otherwise exceptional EP, it’s the relative underuse of singer Tatiana Alvanelli, that is, until “Ghetto Bright.” After two songs worth of stepping by and allowing melody driven guitar riffs from Brian Wolf and Cotter Childs to drive the tunes, “Ghetto Bright” is Alvanelli’s coming out show when it comes to Lightweight. Multidimensional vocal runs layered over the supreme rhythmic pocket of Christian Baraks and David Nelson bring about a considerably more all-encompassed Sandra Bullets.

There’s a lot to tear into when it comes to the Lightweight EP and Sandra Bullets in general. A quick scan of their socials shows an obvious sense of humor despite the technical prowess of the band itself, which lends further plausibility to the dynamism argument presented in previous Sandra Bullets writeups on this site. Granted, the whole Middle Earth angle might be a little strange, but it's all in good faith, as Lightweight is a damn good record. All in all, Sandra Bullets have a unique and exciting standing within Nashville, and Lightweight is a great CV to see them further ingratiate and grow in the city.