In The Local this week, Nooga.com spends some time with music from Strung Like a Horse, Superbody, The Deacons and Sickness in the System. Who do you think should have a spot in The Local next week?
Strung Like a Horse, “Free“
The music of Strung Like a Horse is a mixture of eastern European rhythms and Appalachian bluegrass-but even that description fails to accurately convey the melodic whirlwind that is this band. Their songs are built around a surging momentum, stacks of strings and singer Clay Maselle’s sonorous bellow. The music hits you in a skewed fashion, becoming more memorable as each note drifts past your ears. Equal parts bluegrass, punk and rock, Strung Like a Horse is a fiery group of individuals who will soon find a permanent home in your music collection.
On their latest record, “Free,” they continue this exploration of their “gypsy punk” aesthetic, brandishing folk instrumentation and punk fury with equal force. The way they link these disparate sounds is truly something to behold. Old-timey folk sounds give way to danceable melodies and come to rest somewhere in a hazy middle ground of rhythm and noise. There’s never a sense of disconnect between the band and their influences; rather, they seem to have perfected the ability to tie each segment to the next. These songs feel alive in a way that few artists can manage and wind up feeling as intrinsically necessary as anything you’re likely to hear this year.
Superbody, “Wings 4 Two“
North Georgia avant pop duo Superbody has been peddling their skewed melodies since the release of their debut record, “Hades Land,” back in May. Built around the work of multi-instrumentalists Robert Gregg McCurry 2nd and Caleb Jackson Dills, the band contorts and subverts their influences into something that could possibly be recognized by its musical impulses but is so off-kilter you’d be hard-pressed to concoct a full picture of their individual inspirations. With a voice that seems to be dragged through some haunted house and then thrown into a murky lake, McCurry pounces like some noirish crooner, while Dills creates the opaque landscapes in which the songs exists.
For the video to recent single “Wings 4 Two,” the band plays to some nightmarish, VHS-quality supper club atmosphere where everyone seems to be slightly out of focus and on the verge of fading into the darkness. The music is smeared in a viscous pop haze, with everything seemingly run through a gauzy fog of pop influence and ’80s moodiness. There’s a seediness to the visuals that matches the music point for point-they’ve managed to summon a sound that’s as difficult to describe as it is to dig into. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to digest and offers no challenge, you’d best look elsewhere; but if you want something that’ll push past your expectations and carry you willingly into the shadows, “Wings 4 Two” is it.
The Deacons, “Golden Trees“
Self-described “dad rock band” The Deacons are a recent transplant from Atlanta who now reside in Cleveland. That label can be a little misleading-in fact, the music feels more tied to a strain of tremulous indie rock than anything else. The sounds shuffle and shift around, just waiting for someone to pass by and offer some attention. This is exactly the sort of subtle, unassuming music that sticks to your brain and refuses to budge. There are moments when everything seems to be going along on an even keel, and then suddenly the bottom drops out from beneath you and plunges you feet-first into a surging riptide of unexpected rhythms.
With their latest release, “Golden Trees,” they shed any sense of assumption and create a collection of songs that build and empty their rising catharses into your ears. The songs are reserved, until they’re not, wielding rock melodies like a scalpel. The voice of singer Andrew Thomas glides among the sounds like some ghost inhabiting these songs, a present but intangible spirit there to show us the way in and the way out, should we choose to leave. They manage to incorporate what some might call yacht rock into a sustained burst of rock noise. You might be reminded of the easygoing rock of the ’70s when listening to “Golden Trees,” but there’s a pointed slyness in the way they meticulously appropriate these familiar sounds.
Sickness in the System, “Veins (Radio Version)“
Sickness in the System began life as an experimental noise metal outfit but has since evolved into something much more. Although the noise aspect of their music has faded slightly, the hard-hitting guitars and chest-rattling percussive blasts are no less effective. Taking inspiration from such bands as X Japan and System of a Down, they sling ecstatic guitar riffs and lyrical barbs until your ears are raw but still aching to hear more. And the fact that they work a good deal of melodicism into their sound isn’t evidence of them abandoning their metal roots-on the contrary, it only goes to show how much can be done within this genre.
On their latest single, “Veins (Radio Version),” the band tears through a hardcore-influenced atmosphere that feels serrated and poison-tipped. Each word is positioned so that they catch on your ears and pull the skin back, leaving you sore and bleeding. But there’s more than an overwhelming sense of aggression here; the band has given us a direct and compelling narrative on which to hang their words and noise. And buried beneath all the hiss and body-shaking rhythms, the song is actually catchy in its own blistering way (which isn’t an insult) and compounds one feral moment on top of the next in a devastating cycle of repeating melodies and lightning-fast riffs.
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.