Winchester 7 & the Runners are a three-piece band based in Atlanta, Georgia, that play indie/garage rock with a delightful twist. Doing away with guitars altogether, the chord work is handled by Winchester’s electric ukulele, and the Runners round out the sound with drums and bass (Jack Kane and Phil Voorhees, respectively). Heart of the Golden Mystics is the trio’s fifth studio album and it serves up another delicious helping of the playful, energetic rock music for which they are known.
The album begins with The Saint Simon Killer Returns, a high-energy number that centers around a punchy, two-chord riff. Arpeggiated keyboard lines and electronic drum hits give the song a nice, digital veneer without sacrificing the raw intensity. The chorus leans into a bit of psychedelia with its use of suspended chords and lines like “Feel the sun on your face / breathe release and escape”. There’s a definite, early Tame Impala vibe to this one. Very cool!
Continuing through the track listing, we arrive at Her Double Life, which has a slightly more chilled atmosphere and is carried by a simple, but catchy melody. The use of backward guitar phrases reaffirms the dreamy mood established with the album opener.
One of the coolest things about this band is the variety of sounds that they manage to conjure up with a ukulele. Winchester sounds as if he’s channeling the Edge at times during The Sum of Our Mistakes; the fuzzed-out lines that he plays are dripping with delay and feature heavy string-bending. The melody has an anxious tone to it, using tense notes to highlight the pain in the lyrics in this song about lost love.
Album finale, Bizarre Love Triangle (a cover of a New Order track) is a real highlight and serves as an ode to the sounds of the 1980s. The intro features some retro drum programming and sampled horn stabs before a driving bassline appears and sets up an infectious, dance floor groove. The guys deliver an exceptional interpretation of one of coolest opening lines ever….“Every time I think of you I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue”.
If you haven’t heard this band’s music before… Well, what are you waiting for? Their songwriting is packed full of melodic hooks and killer riffs, and their penchant for experimenting with sonic textures means that there is never a dull moment from song to song. Heart of the Golden Mystics is one of those albums that makes you want to drop everything and go out and form a band.
BELOW: Listen to Heart of the Golden Mystics and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Winchester 7 & the Runners by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
(Want to have your music reviewed on The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)