By Alison Babka
By Nick Horn
By RFT Music
By Drew Ailes
By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
In the time since Tilts' first release, the 2010 EP Cassingle, the band has added some bullet points to its bio. Singer and guitarist Andrew Elstner left St. Louis to join Florida-based stoner rock band Torche, receiving mentions in the national press not only for his guitar skills but for an unfortunate run-in with a possibly rabid bat (check the RFT archives; it's a surreal story). Guitarist and backing vocalist Andy White joined the now-defunct Blind Eyes, while his old outfit Shame Club recently revived itself for a one-off reunion gig. Oh, and Elstner and White went on FOX News' late-night program Red Eye to pimp its newest release.
What hasn't changed in that time is Tilts' adherence to riff-heavy rock & roll that folds in harmonically dazzling interchanges amid head-banging rhythms. The long-distance relationship means fewer local shows and perhaps a longer lead time between albums, but Quatro Hombres, released in late June, is an amber-cured moment of thick, slabby guitar tones deployed with nimble dexterity. Tilts lives in a world where Van Hagar is only a vague threat on the horizon and where the phrase "Trans Am" is never preceded by "the post-rock band."
For the throwback aesthetics of Tilts' approach, the album never sounds like a sanctimonious retread or consciously retro rehash. You're bound to hear a little Led Zeppelin in the intro to a song like "The Chunge," but the song's manic boogie and Elstner's magnetic tenor help it sound as close to a love song as the band can muster. "Skeletears" only pauses its nonstop rumble long enough for White to whip out his best solo of the LP. The breakneck thrash of "Touchdowns" gives drummer Ken McCray and bassist Shawn Hart space to flex, while "The Sleepover," the album's seven-minute closing track, puts a declarative mark on just how formidable these instrumentalists are. That's always been one of the best traits about Tilts, and it's what makes Quatro Hombres filler free; there might be a knowing smirk in these songs, but the band members drill them with a fierceness.
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