Bulls: Then We Die LP
Most Gen-X music obsessives, especially those reared in the secluded, aseptic confines of suburbia, can probably relate stories about their own local record store and one or two practically messianic employees who worked there and whom they credit for the beginnings of their musical education. Through these often unkempt and overtly sarcastic sages, armed with their encyclopedic knowledge of limited-run Japanese 7-inches from labels like K Records and SST, countless bands were discovered by eager youths who studied them. As a result, a few ambitious students were even inspired to form their own bands.Bulls — one of North Texas’ most expressive underground-inspired groups — is one such band. The three-piece’s signature blending of powerful cascading post-rock motifs with the raw emotional charge of punk rock could have been incubated only in this special time in music history — a time when experimentation was at its peak and when what could be called “rock” music was stretched to its limits, encompassing the electronic-tinged jazz of Tortoise and the Baroque-style chamber music of Rachels, the Spaghetti Western mourning of the Dirty Three, and the noisy aural assault of Shellac. Bulls are currently celebrating the release of their first album, a milestone long overdue.
"Then We Die" does, in fact, seem to successfully capture all the energy and contrasting moods that Bulls are known for as a live band. The frenetic break-neck momentum of songs like album opener “Seismic” and the rapid eighth-note onslaught of “Salt” are balanced tastefully with the dreamy, ocean wave-riding of “Hart” and the mournful plea “Cartel.” Del Toro’s vocal is mixed more prevalently than it is on the previous EPs, which adds a deeper dimension to the emotional push and pull of Bulls’ music. From whisper-quiet lines to all out anguished screams, the anchor that Del Toro wished for when he decided to tackle singing keeps the boat that is Bulls’ sound moored closely to the dock of the vision they want the listener to experience.
Themes of conflict and struggle, of panic and discomfort, permeate the jittery rumble and gliding slumber inherent in the band’s polar sonic textures.
Blue vinyl in full colour sleeve.