In The Local this week, I take a look at some new music from Lord Subliminal, Birds With Fleas, PLVNET and Desmond’s Dream. Who do you think deserves a spot in The Local next week?
Lord Subliminal, “Lone Wolf Saga/Full Moon Assassin“
Hip-hop in Chattanooga is flourishing-local artists have taken the foundations established by hundreds of previous musicians and built something that both pays homage to these influences while forging their own musical visions. Helping guide this unabated insurgence of creativity is Chattanooga artist Lord Subliminal (AKA Shahkim, Shahkim Allah and Shellshahk Shahkim), who uses his music as a way of finding inner peace and a natural equilibrium with his surroundings.
On his latest release, “Lone Wolf Saga/Full Moon Assassin,” he uses the storyline of the Japanese cult classic manga series “Lone Wolf and Cub” and its subsequent film adaptations to tell a story of betrayal and redemption as only he can. Words are barbed and precision tuned for maximum impact, resulting in a whirl of syllables that feel more like verbal shrapnel than anything else. The music itself veers between a more maximalist tone and something that steps back and allows the space between each note to feel like entire landscapes for his words to traverse. There’s a complex but ultimately relatable tone here that gives each track a personal relevance to everyone who hears them. Lord Subliminal isn’t looking to shut anyone out but is more intent on sharing his experiences and the resulting emotional detritus with any person who happens to pass by.
Birds With Fleas, “Flat Circles“
Chattanooga indie rock outfit Birds With Fleas have been churning out melodic and hook-laden sounds for years now, and doing so without artifice or pretension. Their music speaks for itself and lodges somewhere deep in your brain where it refuses to budge-not that you’d really want it to. Driven by singer/guitarist/keyboardist Matt Siegel, drummer Drew Daniels, singer/guitarist Spencer Karges and bassist James Skelley, the band combs through a seemingly inexhaustible list of influences while carving out their musical niche filled with indie rock rhythms, pop hooks and lithe instrumentation.
The band has recently announced that they will release a new record called “Wider Seas” sometime in the near future and given us our first glimpse with new single “Flat Circles.” The song follows in the footsteps of their previous work but never feels as though they’re simply going through the motions. Higher-register vocals float over a comforting mélange of pop and rock sounds that drift dreamily by-a testament to their ability to make the familiar feel distinct. Guitars sprint alongside a shuffling drumbeat that creates a casual momentum, never wavering and gladly carrying you along in its welcoming arms. If more of this is what we’re to expect when “Wider Sea” comes out, Birds With Fleas will have once again proven their pop meddle and given us something to gleefully obsess over.
PLVNET, “Street Lights“
PLVNET consists of six guys who call Chattanooga their hometown and create a certain bombastic alt rock sound that’s equal part grunge and glam. With each person drawing from a communal well of influences, the band is a melting pot of ideas and musical perspectives. The music is often loud and forceful but doesn’t forsake the importance of melody and concise arrangements. Exploring these sounds in an expansive and unfettered manner, the band touches on all aspects of rock from the past couple of decades-from Foo Fighters to Queens of the Stone Age to Alice in Chains.
And on their latest single, “Street Lights,” they pull all these influences together into a succinct yet sweeping display of rock prowess. Guitars bellow, voices howl, and drums tear away at your eardrums. And while this may seem like par for the course for PLVNET, they manage to instill an immediacy and weight to the music that sets them apart from the mass of generic rock bands littering the musical landscape. On “Street Lights,” they sound like the greatest radio rock band you’ve never heard while still making their own way through the resulting detritus of hard rock’s storied lineage. Turn the volume up and roll the windows down-I’m pretty sure that’s mandatory.
Desmond’s Dream, “Mountains“
One of the greatest pleasures in writing a column like The Local is that you’re exposed to music that you might not have otherwise heard. Combing through Facebook posts, Bandcamp pages and Soundcloud links affords me the time to get a comprehensive view of the music scene in Chattanooga. And even more importantly, I get to hear some really incredible music-which brings me to Desmond’s Dream (AKA Josh Rosa). I’ve come late to his music, as he uploaded two tracks, under what I’d assume was a “Mountains EP” heading, to his Bandcamp page earlier this year, but these two tracks of gorgeously shuffling instrumental music are definitely worth your time.
Composed of “The Climb” and “Rain,” this short collection finds Rosa deftly maneuvering his way through some minimal sounds and coming out on the other side with something that feels completely personal and fully formed-even if “Rain” is painfully short (you just want it to keep going). Gentle percussion and swaying guitar notes blend together in a swirl of impressionistic hues. He keeps things simple, but there’s a certain power in the simple things. He finds that inner strength and is able to convey it through a very uncomplicated approach to his own arrangements. There’s been no activity since these songs were uploaded, but here’s hoping that he’s hard at work on more that he’ll soon share with us.
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.