Chapel Hill five-piece *SONS doesn't try to hide the fact that they live for guitars: Their frontline—songwriters Scott Endres and William Bratcher and lead guitarist Hugh Swaso (Swaso has since left the band)—sports three teles and SGs, strings of pedals and powerful amps. They're not afraid to aim their notes for unison or divergence, either, the songs on their debut, Viracochas, built on equal parts driving, jagged riffs and billowy, floating textures. That approach is wont to suffer the consequences of its creation, and—occasionally during Viracochas—the band relies too heavily on strings and stompboxes to fill space uniformly instead of building new, more dynamic approaches to suit each song. Viracochos can be monotonous over its 35 minutes.
But the best threads of Viracochos suggest that *SONS is one of the brightest new bands in the Triangle, juxtaposing kaleidoscopic psychedelics and resplendent tones with sundried melancholy and bleached atmospheres. Bratcher and Endres seem like natural songwriting foils with chemistry to spare. Endres' songs vacillate between reverb-soaked shoegazer drift (opener "Wax Museum") and agile hook construction; his ironically titled "White Noise," for instance, furls up with one of the record's strongest draws, a long, doubled riff led by Hugh Swaso's remarkable chops, allowing drummer John Perros to collapse the theme on itself with a stuttered beat before casting everything back out into the verses, now blazing. Bratcher pairs both qualities in single songs, though, epitomized by closing anthem "Cielo." The song's first three minutes move as if governed by an on-off switch, jumping from heavy, pulsing moments to sweet, gliding breaks in an instant. The halcyon finally motions to take the lead, building slowly into a simmering, deserved crescendo. It's one of the best, smartest arrangements here, a fitting closer that suggests there's a lot to await in *SONS.
*SONS play The Reservoir Sunday, May 6, at 10 p.m. This is a free show.