Album Review: Gun Runner – “Obstacles and Experiments”

San Diego alt-rockers Gun Runner are not an easy band to pin down.

Their music draws from an array of influences, styles, and genres so diverse that it defies categorization. With just one listen to the band’s San Diego Music Award-nominated EP, Bad Neighbor, you’ll find yourself taking musical trips into classic rock, indie, punk, jazz, and even dance.

That’s not to say their music is in any way schizophrenic, however. The band, led by Sean Davenport, has a clear vision for their sound. This notion is reinforced by their debut full-length, Obstacles and Experiments, which saw a surprise release August 10 on iTunes.

With Obstacles and Experiments — recorded in January at Escondido’s Chaos Records — the band is essentially guaranteed another nod at the next SDMAs. Like Neighbor, Obstacles showcases Davenport’s immense talent behind the keys, as well as the abilities of his bandmates — Tommy Graf (vocals, keys, guitar), Diego Rojano (vocals, bass), and Seth Cash (drums) — who follow his demanding lead.

Traces of influences like Paul McCartney, Tom Waits, and LCD Soundsystem ebb and flow throughout the album, but the presence of such musical heavyweights is never overbearing. Similarly, the band teases different genres from song to song, but instead of adopting a predetermined style, they just leave subtle hints — or fuse genres together in a live action shout-out to mashup artists like Girl Talk. Yet for all the twists and turns, Obstacles and Experiments never feels disjointed. If anything, it’s a solid landing by a group of talented musical acrobats.

The album is currently available only on iTunes, but physical copies should be pressed in time for Gun Runner’s next show — September 15 at the Soda Bar.

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