PART ANIMAL PART MACHINE. Those are the words scrawled across Jason Jesse's back and a phrase well suited to describe San Francisco’s Peter Nguyen AKA The Gold Medalists. Famed as the drummer monster behind noise/metalheads Total Shutdown and indie-rockers eE, Nguyen (pronounced Win) is now releasing his debut album, The City Lights Us on Fire, to the world, and woe to those who turn a deaf ear.
The City Lights Us on Fire draws heavily on Nguyen’s vast array of cultural influences (Public Enemy, Minor Threat, Metallica, Skankin' Pickle, Top Gun and Thundercats) and King Kong Balls musical chops to create a tour de force debut. These are the sounds of a musician unafraid to contrast songs you want to hear on a sunny day when you wish it were raining next to high energy, throat ripping, noise-laden dance-funk riots. Beginning with the haunting ‘Forgotten’, the album quickly launches into the one-two punch of ‘Where We Land’ and ‘Whitely Screams, Denver Sleeps’, the former a model of glistening electro-pop and the latter a fractured noise revolt. The album then travels from the bittersweet (‘Drift’, ‘Quiet Town’, and ‘Flight’), the reflective (‘Tennessee’), the splintered (‘The Bay’), to the cathartic yet yearning (‘Slow Machines’).
Before the album’s conclusion, the listener’s heart breaks with the appearance of an intimate and evocative quartet of songs (‘In This Room’, ‘We Can Try’, ‘Summer After’, and ‘A Little Knife’). Connected via the shared traits of delicate singing, autumnal lyrics, and enigmatic field recordings, Nguyen creates an aural tableau so private and precious that it almost feels intrusive to listen to them. Culminating with the heartbreaking and regretful ‘Blue Skies’, The City Lights Us on Fire leaves the listener marked by a sonic experience rich in its emotional honesty and fiery determination.
Guest appearances on The City Lights Us on Fire are as vast as the sounds on the record itself and include stellar contributions from Paul Costuros (Total Shutdown, Death Sentence Panda), Nate Denver (Total Shutdown, Nate Denver's Neck), Che Chou (EE), Paul Allan (Sounds of the Barbary Coast), George Chen (Boxleitner, K.I.T., 7 Year Rabbit Cycle) and one giraffe-face breaking scream from Mark Whiteley (editor of Slap Skateboarding Magazine).