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Tilts: a love letter to classic rock and why that’s a great thing

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Tilts

By Conan Neutron

There’s this band called Tilts I’ve been listening to a lot lately from St. Louis, MO, USA. They do not play the kind of music that is in the zeitgeist right now, there’s nary a glockenspiel to be found. There are loud guitars that send the Bon Iver-loving masses heading for the hills. However, they are a first-rate act that made a record that is absolutely a love letter about all that is great about so-called “classic rock” and you need to pay attention.

All I knew from hearing this record was that it was one of the fellows from St. Louis noisemakers Riddle Of Steel – Andrew Elstner, who last year was wisely chosen to join excellent Doom Pop(?) US band Torche in the second guitar/harmony vocal category. As a huge fan of Torche and of Riddle Of Steel I was intrigued, but it took me a minute to check it out. Why? Who knows?

When I did finally listen to the self-titled record (a pastiche of three EPs, re-released by Robotic Empire and mastered specifically for vinyl), I was blown away. Listen: I simply cannot get down with hack bands like Wolfmother. There’s every reason that I should, but I cannot. I come from punk rock, but I have the rock genome in my blood, blame my parents for playing Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Neil Young in the cradle. However most of the bands that TRY to do proper hard rock these days do so with a smirking insincerity that makes me want kick them square in the nuts.

Over my years of playing and writing about music I’ve found that the one thing that makes me crazy is a lack of commitment to purpose and sound. Maybe that’s why Pavement so frequently pissed me off, disaffection, as a laudable attribute is solidly not my jam. If you don’t believe in what you are doing why the fuck should I?

So enter Tilts.

Tilts make the kind of music that you simply must turn up. It’s the law.

All of the things I love about Queens Of The Stone Age, ZZ Top (pre-disco Eliminator era), Cheap Trick, and the like are embodied in this band with a passion and sincerity that actually invites the listener along. Instead of just inviting the listener to listen to the records that the music is clearly influenced by. Yet the intolerably slow “blues jams”, pathetic attempts at crossover ballads and other eyerolling missteps are absent.

This is excellent music for people that like rock music.

It’s like how I feel about Mudhoney and what they did, but in a different way. There is humor, but with purpose and an honest love for the form. This is music that the punk rockers and the co-worker that hasn’t listened to a new record in 20 years can all get behind. And that’s rad.

Don’t get me wrong there is a song called ‘Hot For Pizza’ that is utterly dead on in the style of Van Halen. But instead of their being a WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE, “HEY GUYS! LOOK AT WHAT WE ARE DOING!” kind of smirking irony to it, you can tell that these guys really mean it. Is that your thing? Well, you can probably answer that question better than I.

It’s mine.

My point here is that all humor aside, this is a band that takes its music very seriously. And do a damn fine job of it. When I listen to the Tilts record I hear everything I love about glam rockers Sweet of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ fame. The intelligence, the ridiculousness, the skill and the bombast. This is the record people wanted, and rightfully expected, Them Crooked Vultures to make. These references are probably making Everett True cringe, but I’m not wrong. And if that kind of thing even remotely appeals to you, you NEED this record.

Tilts, remember the name.

If something knocks this record out of my Top 5 for the year it’ll be a force to be reckoned with and it’s already a great year for music.

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