In The Local this week, Nooga.com spends some time with music from Bran Money, Concrete Beez, Tessa Lynn Plank and Sickness in the System. Who do you think should have a spot in The Local next week?
Bran Money, “16”
The music and lyricism of Chattanooga hip-hop artist Bran Money are as envenomed as a copperhead. His words attack and break down before rebuilding the surrounding detritus in his own image. Beats clatter and spread out from behind his verbose voice and charged words; creating a whirlwind of intention and momentum, Money layers his tracks in a way that extracts every bit of punch and aims it directly between your eyes. The music hits hard and leaves its mark so that you’ll never forget who and what you’ve come across. Among the wealth of phenomenal rap artists in Chattanooga, Money stands out as a singular and determined personality.
On his new track, “16,” he deftly spars with a clacking beat and some atmospheric electronic flourishes that spin webs of mystery and skewed melodies. Spitting out syllables almost faster than the music can handle, the song gives him the room to explore this sound and his own inspiration. It’s brief-clocking in at just two minutes-but it’s a study in lean and wiry execution. No note is wasted; no space is left untouched. His vocals echo against themselves in an endless spiral of harmony and rapid-fire delay. The hip-hop scene in Chattanooga is as crowded as they come-and as rewarding to dig through-but Money has given us one more distinct voice to pick out from the crowd.
Concrete Beez, “Concrete Beez Tape”
Chattanooga rock trio Concrete Beez knows how to tear apart amps and demolish their instrument, but it’s all part and parcel of their reckless creativity, not some byproduct of a string of lazy influences. Their music is a wild mixture of punk, garage rock and indie rock-and it seems all too necessary for them to show some teeth and resolve at a time when music seems to have lost its bite. The guitar riffs are equal parts Dinosaur Jr. and The Modern Lovers, a dissonant but melodic explosion of sound and fury. There are also elements of pop punk racing through their songs, a burst of light and racket that catches you off guard before sucking you into its restless gravity.
On their new self-titled release, “Concrete Beez Tape,” the band churns and stomps through a collection of vintage garage rockers that just so happen to have some pop expulsions thrown in for good measure. The melodies and ear-catching rhythms are never beat down by the ferocity of their performance, but are held up by it as examples of how best to combine the heavy and the harmonic. These songs move at a quick pace, barely pausing to look around before heading down the road to the next town. There’s damage and anger but also a humor that keeps them from becoming too enmeshed in their own awareness-it’s loud and catchy and just what you need.
Tessa Lynn Plank, “Sex, Love and Self-Loathing”
There’s a certain kind of musician who excels at straddling the boundaries between genres and creating something truly memorable from what surrounds them. Tessa Lynn Plank, also of Chattanooga folk punk outfit Trashbin Souvenirs, manages to take the influences that put their mark on her band and find new ways to utilize them in her own work. The DIY aesthetic is still there, as are the folk and punk roots, but when looking at creating something that is solely her own, her songs become almost impossibly personal and seem to exist within our own experiences and those that feed her inspiration. The sound is ragged but cogent, a warped perspective on a wide range of competing noise.
On “Sex, Love and Self-Loathing,” she pours her heart into every track and creates a seething cauldron of doubt, anger and release. The songs are still as rough-hewn as those of Trashbin Souvenirs but also feel a bit more personal. These tracks are drawn straight from inspiration to fully delve into the events that helped mold Plank’s own musical development. The extremely lo-fi production only lends them a more storied background on which to ply their disintegrating wares. It’s just through sheer force of will on her part that these songs manage to hold together, when every instinct would have them flying apart at the seams. They’re broken and riddled with anxiety, but are as immediate and affecting as anything in recent memory.
Sickness in the System, “Disappointed”
Change is the lifeblood of music. There are those artists, though, who recycle the same sounds, record after record, and never create any sort of identity for themselves. For Chattanooga metal group Sickness in the System, this evolution has come over time and revealed a more nuanced but still ferocious personality-what started out as an experimental noise metal outfit slowly began to evolve into the melodic metal fury that fans have come to love and expect from the band. They’ve basically lost the noise but gained a truckload of amperage. The guitars cut into your ears like waves of scalpels while the drums batter away at your chest-although in this instance, that’s not such a bad thing.
On their new song, “Disappointed,” the band completely subverts our expectations. Instead of the roaring metal chug of past work, they opt for something quieter and more nuanced-and with more piano. The song barely registers above a whisper at times, with a carefully languid piano rhythm underscoring some threadbare vocals and some slight flourishes hanging out in the background. There’s no rush, no anticipation, only the calm roll of a fluid melody brushing up against some eerie vocals and a sense of quiet foreboding. It’s fascinating to hear a band move so far outside their comfort area and still create something so intensely affecting that still possesses the nerve and grit of their heavier work.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.