The Reignsmen
Paul Wellman

We knew The Reignsmen had the advantage early on. Before last week’s Downtown Sound Battle of the Bands even started, the Santa Barbara quartet had made their presence known, clinching both the audience vote and the judges’ approval in the week-long online vote-off that led up to Friday’s live show. Onstage at SOhO, the band lived up to its web presence, too, unleashing a furious and anthem-filled mini set filled with in-your-face deliveries, grinding guitar work, whip-like drumming, and a punk-rock ethos that somehow managed to be both hard-hitting and utterly danceable.

Formed in 2011, The Reignsmen include bassist/vocalist Tommy Trujillo, lead guitarist/vocalist Daniel Vasquez, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Matt Thompson, and drummer Matthew Drake. The band’s modus operandi is simple: “We are not a studio band,” their Facebook page brazenly proclaims, and if you’ve caught them live, you understand why. Onstage, The Reignsmen exude energy first and foremost. Sure, the guitar tones are a little muddy, but that’s kind of the point. Taking cues from the anthem-sized harmonies and triumphant lyricism of bands like Mumford & Sons and Kings of Leon, The Reignsmen inject their brand of folk rock with a hard-drinking, hard-partying swagger that’s helped them find a happy home in the bars and clubs of lower State Street. And with song title’s like “Forever Faded,” who can argue?

As for the recordings, well, they’re not too shabby either. Though the band has yet to release a proper EP, their Soundcloud page boasts two solid tracks: “Faded” and the psych-inspired “Thief In The Night.” Both are swinging, guitar-heavy affairs that speak to The Reignsmen’s brazen stage set. Sonically speaking, they both fall somewhere in between The Hold Steady’s brand of elevated bar rock and the new-school rockabilly of Social Distortion, with the reckless spirit of The Black Lips thrown in for good measure.

“[It’s about] raw passion and catchy melodies,” Trujillo and Vasquez say of The Reignsmen’s sound. “And rock ’n’ roll, baby.”

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