By: Ty Velasquez
I’m a sucker for boy/girl harmonies. It’s a big reason that I still obsess over the Postal Service’s “Give Up” (see also: Ben Gibbard is a Golden God of songwriting). It also explains my fawning over the recent trend of poppy, sugary, melodies dripped over acoustic guitar, a la The Lumineers or Of Monsters and Men.
Gungor, who recently performed at the HOB, is a band that embraces the boy/girl harmonies completely. The lovely melodies stream from the mouths of the husband and wife, Michael and Lisa Gungor. Michael is the driving creative force of the band taking on most of the songwriting duties. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and son of a pastor. Gungor’s music is steeped in Christian themes but in a way that isn’t preachy or in your face. The music has some of the same concepts from what I remember from my childhood church days: grandiose, great dynamic range, sweeping harmonies that swell in your throat. The formula transfers well to more secular music. I fell for their newer songs instantly. Some for the spacey synth (!!!) like the album namesake “I am Mountain” and others for the bluegrassy twang that shone through on songs like “Wayward and Torn”. The name of this band alone caught my attention. It harkens back to childhood and the super-villains that populated my favorite cartoons.
What I really enjoy about them is their dynamic range, one of the tastiest musical treats. This band exhibits it well, not just within their songs but also throughout the span of the album. The songs range dramatically from future seeking electric melodies to soaring stadium filling ambiance to twinkling ethereal daydreams. It’s hard to genre-ize Gungor and they like it that way. In this New Order of Music where Audiophiles seek not a style but the next great sound who needs labels? The mastermind was asked to describe his’ bands sound: “Alternative, folk, textured, and experimental”. I’ll take it! And you should, too. Gungor is a good dose to take in this over saturated musical landscape.