Social Cinema is a new band, but they’re not starting from scratch.
The band’s core members set out years ago as aspiring teenage punks with love for “Guitar Hero,” Green Day and bleach-blond hair. They were Kill Vargas, which turned out to be one of the most magnetic bands in the Midwest underground, and whose decade-long history included sold out hometown ballrooms, basement crowd-surfing and cross-country tours — all before its members turned 21.
But the band — brothers Griffin (guitar/vocals) and Logan Bush (drums) and Austin Engler (bass) — needed to shed their skin. When the pandemic stymied their plans for a big 2020, it forced contemplation. What were their next steps? What could they be doing better? They took a moment to ask themselves: “Do we still feel like Kill Vargas?” After 10 years, they went back to the drawing board.
A year and a half later, the trio have reformed as Social Cinema (with the additions of Reed Tiwald on lead guitar and Mari Crisler on synth/backing vocals) and have released their debut single, “Star Quality,” a three-minute rager that invites you to do to the twist in a mosh pit. The drums are snappy, the guitar leads are criminally catchy. And Griffin has honed his distinct howl whose timbre lies somewhere between those of King Krule and Joey Ramone.
You can sense their experience: all the nights on the road in a beat-up 12-passenger, the years of daily practice; if these guys haven’t hit their 10,000 hours to become masters of their craft, they’ve got to be getting close.
Where Kill Vargas’ sonic impact was immediately raw, Social Cinema’s new songs wow with a punch rewarded by patience. These aren’t just verse-chorus-verse rock songs — they sizzle with groove, melody and left turns that lead down a flowering path of pop sensibility from the mind of Griffin Bush. This music is richer, more thought-out. But every once in a while, the band delivers a knockout blow of an outro with the nostalgic invincibility of a night out on the town, paired with the pain of a lost love.
The emotions may be in conflict, but Social Cinema already knows where it wants to go. Bush’s lyrics paint him walking home alone at night; not in loneliness, but with the streetlights promising that the best is yet to come.
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