- Gang of Thieves, Born to Be Loud
(Self-released, CD, digital download)
If you've seen your Vermont friends posting about "GoT" on social media in the past few weeks, there's a good chance they weren't talking about "Game of Thrones." Rather, they might have been raving about Burlington's hard-funk sextet Gang of Thieves, who just dropped their fourth full-length album, Born to Be Loud. It's a return to form of sorts, when contrasted with their slightly less in-your-face 2015 EP, Mantra. The latter is by no means a downer, however. It's just more subdued than the funk-and-roll bitch-slap that is the new record.
The band is well-known beyond the Queen City bubble. Massive touring schedules and shout-outs in outlets such as Paste Magazine — which named the band one of the top 10 Vermont bands in 2015 — have helped to generate mass exposure for the '90s-flavored party boys. GoT create thoroughly accessible and undeniably danceable music.
One thing the band has mastered is the interplay between instrumentation and vocals. Bass licks and horns bubble and pop at just the right times to undercut vocal melodies. This keeps the songs lively and fresh as Born hurtles forward. Depending on how you hear music, it's a toss-up over which themes will get stuck in your head. Nearly every component is catchy as hell.
Just prior to the album's release came the adorably dorky music video for GoT's soon-to-be mega-hit, "Work Together." The song's message of unity and tolerance comes to life in an epic mini-blockbuster. In it, the band members cast themselves as C-list superheroes who overcome one-upmanship and infighting to defeat evil and apathy. It's the perfect combination of silliness and timeliness, reminding us that self-righteousness is a waste of time. The video also suggests that the growing divide in American society could be mended if everyone just flushed their hubris down the crapper.
Other standout cuts include the explosive opener, "Bow to the Pedal," which grabs the listener by the (insert body part) as singer Michael Reit warns, "It's only a matter of time before the people rise." "Love Ya 'Til the Morning," a sexy ode to one-night stands, is perhaps the smoothest and gentlest cut — until its shredding electric guitar solo takes over.
Born to Be Loud is the perfect introduction to GoT for new listeners and should invigorate longtime fans as well. Every track is teeming with energetic vigor, and a nonstop party atmosphere tempers the band's social messages. Play it loud.
Born to Be Loud by Gang of Thieves is available at gangofthieves.bandcamp.com.