Published on August 5th, 2017



Band relationships function like most others: When the newness wears off, something else has to be in place to keep the interested parties going. For Small Reactions, from Atlanta, Georgia, a persistent creative chemistry binds the core trio that first joined forces in high school. Its presence is audible on RXN_002, the second full-length album from these catchy, noisy saboteurs of pop-song style.

The 12 years that drummer Sean Zearfoss has spent alongside singer-guitarist Scotty Hoffman and bassist-vocalist Clinton Callahan are not uninterrupted. Time-outs for family matters, a lineup shuffle and plain-old band fatigue have put Small Reactions through cycles of teardown and rebuilding. The idea now, Zearfoss tells PureHoney, is to establish momentum: “We’re going to try to grow it again, instead of just trying to rebuild.”

Small Reactions are hitting the road after not touring for two years. RXN_002 is their first album since keyboardist Sam Jacobsen moved out of state for a job and was succeeded, after almost a decade, by a guitarist, Rossellini Politi. The newest band member started out using his guitar in concert as a kind of keyboard substitute. “He was emulating that Vox Continental — that huge, distorted organ — with the guitar,” says Zearfoss.

Nowadays Politi — who is also Zearfoss’s co-worker at an Atlanta record store —  has more license to play as he sees fit. Small Reactions have not entirely abandoned keyboard textures on RXN_002, but the album is primarily a work of guitar, bass, drums and vocals united in attractively managed chaos. The air of unease that greets the listener on the opener, Sessions Street, with its pressing guitars and Hoffman’s pining voice, becomes more pronounced on later tracks such as Flagrant and Sliding Glass Nightmare.  

Zearfoss calls the album “pretty dark” in places. But there’s joy in the varied combinations of squall and melody that are this band’s signature. “I think we’re still trying to figure out how to grow and evolve with a new band member,” says Zearfoss. On RXN_002 it sounds like Small Reactions are making the adjustments that help a good band carry on.

Small Reactions perform on September 9 in Fort Lauderdale w Shark Valley Sisters and Milk Spot. Fuzz Baby knows the way;) ~Sean Piccoli

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