Imagine it’s the late 1800’s and you just robbed a bank. You jump in the back of your getaway car, but instead of riding with Jesse James or Butch Cassidy, it’s Eddie Van Halen behind the wheel and Jack White riding shotgun. Maybe throw in a dragon or some other gnarly mystical beast in the backseat for good measure. Did I mention that the car is fully capable of interdimensional travel?
If you’re having trouble picturing this, it’s time to give a listen to Coyote Gunfight, the debut, full-length album by Cincinnati’s very own Dynamite Thunderpunch. Presented as a concept album, the group considers it “a post-apocalyptic spaghetti western rock opera”. It’s clear when you hear the layers of guitar shredding on tracks like “Blood Stallion” that the band took a meticulous approach to their writing and production. It’s equally clear when you hear the melodic whistles of a cowboy on “Solar Winds” that they also have an awesome imagination and sense of humor.
Guitarist Maxwell Hentosh had this to say about the writing and collaborative process:
“Working on Coyote Gunfight was an incredible experience to share with the four other members of the band…It was a long process with most of the music being written out in Guitar Pro first and then brought to the table and presented as a working song. However, [bassist] Mike Hühn, was fantastic to work with when we presented him these long works and he really took it upon himself to make the bass / rhythm section of each song stand out. You might say Dynamite Thunderpunch is a band of three lead guitarists who all work together to make the music we wanted to hear. The story was based on a long-standing concept that [drummer] Michael Clouse mapped out and the final version of the album is very close to the original.”
Guitarists Hentosh and Michael Ragan take turns soloing throughout the record, with leads that are as memorable and catchy as they are technically proficient. bassist Mike Hühn tastefully keeps his playing locked in with the drums when it needs to be but isn’t afraid to explore funkier, experimental leads like in “Volterra.” Orchestral instruments are frequently utilized, increasing the album’s thematic qualities from cellist Kate Wakefield (from the Cincinnati band Lung), flutist Heidi Clouse, and pianist Max Higginbotham. drummer Michael Clouse holds it all together with some beats that are danceable, slamming, and expertly executed.
Vocalist Aaron Kirby similarly delivers an impassioned and powerful performance. Songs like “Matchstick Tango” demonstrate his ability to keep it cool, while simultaneously expressing his darker and aggressive side. The album also features guest vocals from Marisa Seremet from the Cincinnati band Lipstick Fiction. Together, Kirby and Seremet create some unforgettable moments with rich vocal harmonies on tracks like “Watcher In The Wall.”
Coyote Gunfight, the first full-length album by Dynamite Thunderpunch was released on August 4, 2017 and is currently available to stream and purchase on the group’s bandcamp page. (Words by Andrew Humphrey)