Otis The Destroyer’s Belushi is Wry and Blistering Rock N Roll


Otis the Destroyer is a rock n’ roll band that has registered a prominent signal on the live music radar of Austin for a little over two years now. Spring boarding off the momentum created by the band’s earlier roots in The Couch, Otis the Destroyer released its first EP Dark Arts in 2014. A muscular amalgam of blues, psych and indie-rock elements, the first EP showcased a band with a fairly cohesive sound and penchant for melodramatic tunes punctuated by compelling dynamic peaks and valleys. On the band’s latest release, the EP Belushi, we hear an effort being made by a still fairly nascent band to hone its sound and identity and producing admirable results. Stylistically, we’re in the ballpark of bands like Foo Fighters and Death From Above 1979.

The first thing I noticed about this album is that it’s more up-tempo and lively sounding than its predecessor (no mean feat as the first EP was pretty rocking itself). Where mostly introspectively delivered vocal melodies in chromatic half-steps once dominated—a feature of pysch-rock that permeated throughout tracks on Dark Arts—we now hear anthemic and impassioned vocals relating tales of strained personal relationships that are sifted through a filter of sardonic humor. This is a rowdy, raucous and fun album.

Opener “Fight” begins with a thudding propulsive drumbeat followed by a gnarly guitar riff that does make it sound like a fight is imminent. This is a song to kick ass to. And though the fight here is over a strained relationship, the song still has the ancillary effect of making one feel pumped (I listened to it while riding my bike one sunny day and was like, “oh, hell yeah”). The song closes with a drop in tempo while vocalist Taylor Wilkins sings the mantra, “I stay inside while you’re away. The sun can’t reach my cave,” before suddenly careening into a fist-pumping crescendo.

The next track “Cheetah” (a tune that never really rests) opens with a similar gusto punch and a crunchy guitar lick dirty enough to crack the paint on the wall. The chorus keeps up the momentum and segues into an outro that is capped off with a sick guitar solo.  Third track “Swallow” begins with a quiet/loud format in the verse. Wilkins shouts, “wake up!” on the downbeat of the band exploding in unison together before the song goes into a trippy sounding delay drenched chorus that makes for a great bit of contrast and is probably my favorite musical transition on the album.

The closing track “Hatchet” is a  barnburner that clocks in at  just a little over two minutes.  A seemingly altruistic declaration against having bad sex “Don’t want to fuck you in the dark. I want to see all your parts,” sounded a little cheesy to me but doesn’t fall outside of rock n’ roll parlance so far as the genre goes. There are some catchy ’60s spy-thriller guitar riffs in the first half, and a hairpin turn into a wall-of-sound bridge midway through that sounds deliciously ominous. The end of the song reintroduces and  closes with the bruising bop of the main melody.

Belushi is not as much of a stylistic shift as it is a decent nudge toward a more cohesive sound—a natural progression for a hardworking band. The inherent challenge of capturing the essence and vitality of a rock band in a studio setting is not a problem here either. These tracks will shake your house to its foundation if you crank them loud enough.

Otis the Destroyer now has two EPs that both hit their marks impressively—good evidence of a trend to be continued that I look forward to watching and hearing unfold in the future.

The band’s EP will be available for the masses on Tuesday, March 1 and they’re throwing an EP release party on Saturday, March 5 at Barracuda with Think No Think, Megafauna and The Shame and The Waste.


Justin Finney moved from Oklahoma to Austin TX in 2004 and has never looked back. He played in the local band Shortwave Party for a few years and attributes most of his social capital in this fair city to that experience.