BRONCHO “Fantasy Boys”
Any working rock and roll band will tell you that the path to success — however you choose to define it — is rarely easy. In the case of Oklahoma band BRONCHO, the path leading to the release of their excellent sophomore album, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman, is one characterized by lots of luck (both good and bad) and a series of left turns that no one could have predicted would end up resulting in one of 2014’s most unexpectedly superb rock records.
Formed in 2010 by Ryan Lindsey, BRONCHO made a name for themselves playing in and around Oklahoma before recording their debut album, 2011’s Can’t Get Past The Lips. That record, which instantly called to mind gritty 70’s punk and glammy surf rock vibes, helped the band stay on the road for the better part of two years and generated the singles “Try Me Out Sometime,” “I Don’t Really Wanna Be Social” and “Record Store.” Still, just as momentum was building for the band their record label very unceremoniously collapsed, leaving them out on the road with no real support. For a lot of young bands, this might have been the death knell, but for BRONCHO the experience proved to be oddly liberating. “It was really no one’s fault,” says Lindsey, “Just one of those things. We decided to just keep trucking through it and to focus on making new songs. We really believed in these new songs. There was never any moment when we thought about quitting. If you are a musician, you just keep making music. That’s what you do.”
Label woes aside, things eventually turned around for BRONCHO. In a nice bit of serendipity, one of the band’s new demos — the unstoppably catchy “It’s On” — found its way to GIRLS creator Lena Dunham who used the song as the end title for the season three premiere of her series. “We couldn’t believe how much attention that gave us,” recalls Lindsey. “Suddenly there was all of this renewed interest in the band. Our feelings about what we were doing had never wavered, but now people were paying attention again.” Seeing their fortunes turn once again, the band eventually worked out a new label deal with Dine Alone Records and set about putting the finishing touches on album number two.
Just Enough Hip To Be Woman is a bold step forward for BRONCHO. Though it certainly bears the hallmarks of their previous work — fuzzy, guitar driven rock – the production and energy of the record moves into decidedly sleeker and decidedly more new wave directions (think Cheap Trick meets the Drive soundtrack meets every great song from Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets the greatest after-hours party you’ve never been to). Tracks like “Stay Loose,” “NC-17” and “What” are the kind of pop-rock that could have easily been beamed in from the same universe that gave rise to The Cars (or a looser version of The Strokes), while the album’s first single, “Class Historian” — with its unstoppable “do do do do” vocal refrain is the kind of song that seems scientifically engineered to stick in your brain forever and is arguably best played loudly over a car stereo with the windows down and your long hair blowing in the breeze. Clocking in at just more than 30 minutes, the eleven tracks on the new record are a potent statement of intent: an effortless sounding rock record that dips its toe into a variety of different styles without every succumbing to any of them. It’s a record that sounds like the summer. Or the future.
For Lindsey, making Just Enough Hip To Be Woman was more than just a labor of love; it was the culmination of a lifetime of playing around in bands and spending a million hours kicking around in rock clubs. Having just made one of the year’s most infinitely playable records, BRONCHO will spend much of the fall on the road, which is just fine with the band. “Playing live is the entire reason you start a band,” says Lindsey, “We always want to change things and keeps things new — and I’m really proud of how this record came out and the ways we were able to push things forward — but playing live is always the test. We want people to hear us. We want everyone to have a good time.”