Rock and roll is alive and well. One just needs to know where to find it — Ada, in this case. This oft-overlooked college town is a hidden treasure of original music, from metal to folk to hip-hop styles. It figures that one of its major wayward sons would strike gold with his new band, one forged in a smoky furnace of dynamic vocals, rambunctious drums, and tasty varieties of guitar tones.
Stunna is a lean, mean quartet fronted by resident singer-songwriter Justin Logan that gets down to the business of partying hard. While the pop hooks and funky swagger of Logan’s solo outings are certainly here, he steers them into a four-wheel drive vehicle for his rock star inclinations. This is a band built for dirt roads and highways alike.
Stunna’s debut album, Solid Gold, is front-loaded with range. Opener “American Dream” pushes along a chugging southern rock feel while dishing a bit of class commentary, ramping up until Logan’s vocals explode in a grizzled upper register with a refrain of, “I got your medicine.” Both this singing style and the theme of self-medication are set up here to return throughout the album. Second track “meiwantubad” is a bad-boy number that leaves the south for a bit to set up a couple more recurring themes—partying and horniness. Third track “Love” cools off with an alt/indie flair while reflecting on volatile relations, questioning if the intensity is love, lust, or blind attraction to danger. This opening triple punch would suffice as a brilliant EP on its own.
There are over a half dozen more tracks, however, and while they tend to play within the bounds of this opening stretch, there remain major surprises that keep redefining the Stunna sound. “The Party,” for example, bursts over a quick-paced dixie-devil tempo with some of the album’s most unhinged lyrics. “Monsters” offers some of the LP’s biggest dynamic shifts within a single track. It jumps from haunting, jittery percussion and low vocals in its pre-chorus to a balls-to-the-wall stomp over the central refrain. That refrain slam dunks a lyrical lay-up of “What do you feed your sexy monsters?” by answering, loudly, “I’m feeding it gold.”
“Monsters” is another horny anthem for bad girls in hoop earrings that like to shake their ample cabooses, and while it is more artfully delivered than, say, a Buckcherry song, it is still notable that so much of Solid Gold is about, well, the infamous trio of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. There isn’t a ballad to be found here, which is probably for the best, but make no mistake that Stunna is not capable of getting introspective. “Solid Gold,” “Tyrant,” and “Finer Things” all wear shades of a self-aware ego burdened by past baggage, and these are good songs. It is clear, however, that the band is more interested in enjoying its adrenaline-fueled highs than decrypting them. Its rowdier cuts are the most memorable.
Stunna’s official website draws sensible comparisons to other rock bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Kings of Leon. The latter is a particularly adept choice not so much for its musical style but more for the tonal similarities in Logan’s voice. “Love” is basically the best Kings of Leon song in years despite being a Stunna original. Ultimately, though, this group is doing something all its own. For instance, it is hard to imagine any act with the gall to slip a musical wink to EDM in a rock jam the way Stunna does in the climax of “Monsters” (seriously, this track is insane).
Logan and company are no strangers to the city — OKC’s Blue Note hosted Solid Gold’s album release show — but the band’s Ada roots may still have some unacquainted music fans overlooking this band. That is their loss. For anyone to think that rock and roll is dead suggests that they have simply not been listening outside of the box. Don’t be that person. Give Stunna a spin.