Grown Up Avenger Stuff – Eclectica
Grown Up Avenger Stuff is an impressive four piece from North Carolina who has blazed an impressive trail over their short lifespan. Since 2014, the band’s reach has extended far beyond its southern roots to European festivals dates, important showcase gigs at South by Southwest, and scads of positive press. The praise is well deserved. Their latest album, Eclectica, has imagination and passion to burn. This ten track collection has a focused aesthetic and visceral production guaranteed to grab listeners and built for live shows. The instrumental attack of guitarist John Thomsen joined by his sons Hunter and Tyler, on bass and drums respectively, hits with its full on energy and singer Deirdre Kroener caps it off with vocals exploring a wide emotional gamut.
The album teeters stylistically between riff-driven hard rockers and muscular guitar powered pop. Melody, however, remains a common denominator in the tracks. Songs like “Brother”, “Love Please”, “Vision”, and “Game” illustrate the band’s talent for raining salvos of overdriven guitar rock on their listeners. The first two songs, in particular, open the album in memorable fashion. “Brother” has enough lyrical narrative to lend added grief to Kroener’s anguished yowl while the band thunders away around her. “Love Please” casts Kroener in the role of a spurned lover now enraged. It’s an eternal topic in popular music, but Kroener dramatizes its lyric with such unbridled feeling and vulnerability that the topic turns new again. Much like in the aforementioned song, Grown Up Avenger Stuff plays like a band toying with the edge of musical chaos and playing what it sounds like for us. “Vision” and “Game” are musical variations on familiar themes but a constant strength for the band still holds true. This tightly constructed and energetically played rock tailored to please live crowds. The band never fails to treat each song on the album is an intimate performance for one.
Eclectica’s lighter offerings still benefit enormously from John Thomsen’s guitar skills. His rhythm guitar work propels “What You Are” while his open chord flavored progressions on “Wasting the Light” and “You and I” keep the arrangements percolating and stress melody. Kroener adeptly handles these turns towards more mainstream fare without sacrificing any of her nakedly emotional style. The album’s finale, “Stars”, is another example of her vocal versatility. Songwriting craftsmanship doesn’t get much better than this. Grown Up Avenger Stuff has marshaled top notch material for their second album and gives them a first rate release to tour behind. Some of the rockers sound a little samey, but as written earlier, the band never loses it playing punch even when covering overly familiar territory. Eclectica is a major release solidifying the band’s position as a blossoming musical force.
8 out of 10 stars.