Rob Kayes, Will Montgomery, Bill Scherer, and Gabe Stivala met while students at the University of Miami, and brought their unique tastes to blend in Crosstown Chameleons, a now long-running, Miami-based rock band, built around the eclectic songwriting of each of the four members. Building on the momentum of their previous album Plato’s Stepchildren, the band has now dropped the stunning “Whom Gods Destroy” project. Crosstown Chameleons proudly state that all the rhythm tracks on this new EP were recorded with the band playing together live. There were no additional adjustments made in post, nor any quantizing, only guitar and vocal overdubs.
“Whom Gods Destroy” feels like a new turn for rock n’ roll, or rather, a much-needed step back. It’s pure, back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll that reaches for the heart and not the last fan in the back of the crowd. Revisiting the past, you realize that the genre has always been at its best when bands didn’t overthink things and just were themselves.
In fact this EP checks into the upper echelon of rock’s accomplishments, best showcased throughout the nineties, as it’s certainly cut from the same cloth. There’s a raw energy and emotional drive to these songs that feels very nostalgic.
Vocally superb, instrumentally impacting, the six songs reek of the breezy creativity that coalesces when a group of highly skilled, like-minded people come together in one room. Crosstown Chameleons work with a tired genre that can easily be formulated fodder in the wrong hands.
Just listen to your local radio station, and you’ll hear that rock n’ roll is just that in the majority of band’s hands. What separates the Crosstown Chameleons from the modern muck is their uncanny ability to weld hooks, melody, and true grit into actual 4-minute songs – something almost nonexistent anymore.
From the moment the funky rocker, “Bleed” opens the set, this EP has such a likeable energy and charisma that is unmatched in today’s modern rock scene. “Heaven” is a fantastic listen, with a blended instrumental and empowering vocal work. It shows off a complex, towering inferno of dynamic guitar sections and soaring vocals, teased by incendiary choruses.
“Drone” exhibits its best tendencies towards spot-on lyricism, killer vocals, and jangly panoramic guitars. There is both a more radio-friendly sound to “Top of the World” as well as an arena rock feel to it. Excellent guitar and drum-work give the track its final polish. “
Wash Away” (along with “Heaven”) is one of my favorite tracks here. This is one of those classic slow-to-mid-tempo emotional cuts that builds to a euphoric crescendo. The EP finally comes to a close with the live version of “Drone”. Once “Whom Gods Destroy” concludes, the listener will most likely crave more material since this EP is such a highly satisfying listen.
From my perspective, I prefer the EP format since it provides bands with the ability to concentrate on fewer songs. I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week. Moreover, Crosstown Chameleons’ musical chemistry is way too special to waste away on trite songs. Right now, I would say that Crosstown Chameleons are the most essential rock band I have heard in 2019.