If you look up interviews and articles talking about Thadeus Gonzalez, you’ll likely see him described as something of an outsider in the Bay Area’s indie rock scene. They’ll say he goes against the grain of the city’s dominant “hipster rock”—a nebulous sorta-genre that includes new wave nostalgia, neo-psychedelia, and a penchant for xylophones (which isn’t a putdown, as I love all those things). Gonzalez draws from a different well of influences to bring a crunchier, harder sound, as he’s described himself as a metal act in the past. But on his new Spectra Music Group debut album “Silver Inside,” which releases with a titular single, the cultural touchstones he draws on are wide and varied. It’s an album with a multitude of headbanger tracks, and the rare ability to please grunge lovers, pop punk fans, and metalheads all at various points.
It’s important to note that this act is actually a band featuring lead singer/guitarist Gonzalez, bassist Scott Richards, and drummer Robert Tucker. The band’s full-force accompaniments marry well to Gonzalez’s grungy charisma—he’s a gruff, scruffy-haired rocker who looks a bit like Aphex Twin’s Richard James. The music video for “A Murder When I Sing”, one of the album’s singles, is a good showcase for his personality. It features Gonzalez, clad all in black, walking down alleyways in Oakland and singing to the camera—with the words and a bouncing ball on screen, of course! Thadeus sings lines like “get out the way, ‘cause I’ll make you bleed” while supported by a pounding, primal bassline. Then the chorus begins, with a storm of hooky hard rock that deserves to be heard at full volume in a huge stadium. Judging by interviews, Gonzalez is quite a fan of the rough-and-tumble rock star image, citing influences ranging from Jim Morrison to Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. There are even some songs on the record that remind me of turn-of-the-millenium pop punk, and wouldn’t be out of place next to The Offspring. “The Surgeons” features Thadeus snarling “all of my life I’ve been under the knife, everybody wants something from me all of the time!” The song mines just the right note of teenage angst to become cathartic rather than overbearing, and has some of the most incredible guitar work on the disc. Another highlight is the title track “Silver Inside,” with one of the strongest ear-worm choruses I’ve heard in a rock song in a while. A special mention also goes out to “A Real Class Act,” in which Gonzalez gets to show his snarkier side with a series of putdowns. The lyric “it’s a little known fact—you’re a real class act!” is growled with a teeth-gnashing intensity that’s very satisfying. The record does have some moments where the pace slows down a bit, like on “Walk off Cliff.” I was pleased to hear the song begin with a chord that reminded me of The Cure’s “Lovesong,” leading into a nice piece of acoustic-backed power-pop. Silver Inside is an album bursting with personality and energy, the sort which makes me hope I’ll get to see Thadeus Gonzalez live someday.