EP Premiere: Lightning Rules, Fossil Fuels
I don’t always listen to the onslaught of unsigned bands who come through during our annual January promotion, but a select few catch my eye and end up proving an excellent find. Portland, OR progressive rock trio Lightning Rules are the catchiest of the batch for me this year.
The first few notes of their new EP Fossil Fuels opens up with heavy but digestible hooks that come off relentlessly positive in spite of the content: an examination of carbon, energy, and the nature of rebirth that followed a few months of growth and change for the band. This nerdery lends itself to the pop-laden progressive grooves within, and the results evoke a certain type of nostalgia for me that existed in early ’00s radio rock. The vocals of singer Wess Willis are genuinely emotive and soulful without an ounce of saccharine falsehood. I am generally wont to disregard anything prog on sight, but the infectious bangers on Fossil Fuels made me rethink my fogey-ish stance on doing so.
The themes dropped on the opening titular track continue throughout the EP and are inspired by a tumultuous time when the band was going through a lineup change, missing out on live shows, and tight on cash. Those are all common issues that pop up with any emerging band, but where most are broken, Lighting Rules were driven enough to push forward. The fruits of those efforts reach fever pitch on the album’s closer and single “Gnarpeggiator,” a triumphant three-and-a-half minute anthem about giving yourself permission to abandon the things in life that don’t benefit you rather than sticking to them out of pride of obligation. Read more about that here.
Willis sent this thoughtful statement with the album, further proving himself a genuine treasure in the jaded landscape of so much music out there today:
“We knew we wanted the EP to be ‘all killer no filler.’ So we demoed out about twice as many songs as we needed. Then we edited those tracks down even further until we were sure every measure was purposeful and exciting to us. There’s enough rock music out there, so if you don’t totally believe in what you’re doing I don’t know why the hell you’d subject the rest of the world to it. That doesn’t make the songs good, but we certainly aren’t coming to waste your time.”