In terms of gritty, garage-y rock 'n' roll, the heartland has it — and few bands display that more confidently than Tulsa, Okla., four-piece, Broncho. The garage-punks released their first full-length, Can't Get Past the Lips, almost three years ago, but it was re-released this summer by Fairfax Recordings, and brought with it all the trappings, including a tour that comes to Brillobox later this week.
Some other Midwestern acts come to mind as contemporary cognates: the late Jay Reatard (from Memphis), or Smith Westerns (Chicago). What Broncho does that sets it apart from the garage crowd, though, is hitting the right balances — Can't Get Past the Lips is old-school, but not nostalgic, it's snotty but not spiteful, it's immature but not stupid.
Founder and singer Ryan Lindsey hits Jonathan Richman-like notes on tunes like "Psychiatrist," talk-singing the introduction. ("I've got a psychiatrist for YOU!") He evokes late-'70s punk on tunes like the album opener, "Pick a Fight." (The track includes subtle wordplay even in its silly brutality: "You tried to get my girl, and now you're gonna get it / Now you're gonna get it, world, now you're gonna get it!") "Insert Coin" brings to mind '80s post-punk; "Try Me Out Sometime" sounds like a poppy head-bobber until you digest that it's referencing hook-up culture.
Smart but not self-consciously intellectual — it's a tough spot to hit, especially in garage rock, which often prides itself on not trying too hard. But Broncho lands it time and time again, and makes it sound effortless.