The Almlies and Kilgores band together for a superb sound
Some bands go through temporary phases in which they experiment with new sounds or directions, generally returning to their roots before very long. Other bands intentionally reinvent themselves every so often, though the number that manages to do so successfully is very small indeed.
Then there’s the Scarlet Love Conspiracy. They neither “go through phases,” nor do they reinvent themselves; they simply add to the collective awesomeness of the band and their latest single (and sneak peak at their upcoming album) is the proof in the pudding.
Before I even get started on the single, or the album it is a part of, I have to offer a nod to one aspect of the project in particular. Like everything else SLC has done so far, this was recorded at home and I am continually impressed with the level of quality home recording can produce these days.
Once upon a time, home recording came in two flavors: really, really expensive, or pretty low-tech and god-awful. Lest you wonder which school I belonged to, my earliest projects were done by recording the band with a Realistic stereo microphone hanging from a light fixture. Extra tracks were added by ping-ponging between two cheap cassette decks. It was great fun, but gloriously bad. Today, a savvy group with modest equipment can achieve pro sound at home and SLC has absolutely done that.
The upcoming album, Secrets and Ashes, is very nearly ready (they lack one track and a little tweaking here and there) and I look forward to writing about it when it’s done. For now, I have the single, “Muddy Water,” to work with and it is pretty damn special. I had been told that the single had a sort of Latin flavor, and the staccato acoustic guitar chords of the first few measures confirm that, but then Eric Almlie lays in to the lead and dios mio! If Carlos Santana ever needs a stand-in, Eric could do it and no one would be any the wiser.
It actually caught me off guard because I’ve heard Eric’s guitar work before and while it is always top-notch, it never sounded particularly like the man who gave us “Black Magic Woman.” Almlie is one of those guitar players who, while retaining his own signature sound, is able to move fluidly between various styles depending on what seems best suited to the tune.
As impressive as the guitar work is, I admit I kind of forgot about it once Heather Kilgore let loose with the vocals. Just as I’ve heard Eric play guitar before, I’ve heard Heather sing as well, but this…this is (exciting) new territory. Her voice is low, powerful but sultry, reserved even, until she hits the chorus and it...blooms. Can’t think of a better word for it.
The interplay between verse and chorus is a kind of tension and release that is, plainly put, damned sexy. On this song in particular Heather seems to share quite a few vocal qualities with Natalie Merchant.
The rhythm section is held down by the flawless drumming of Kat Almlie (one of the most solid drummers in the area) and the long, hot, throbbing bass of Travis Kilgore. As superb as all these players are, what pushes the song from “really good” to “wow” is the addition of young Katie Kilgore on keys (the organ is the perfect backing to the leads) and trumpet. The brass is an especially nice touch to the Latin feel of the tune.
The Latin feel, however, only makes it three quarters of the way through the song. After that the band decides to “give it a Foo Fighter ending” (they refer to this as “Fooing it’) and it is fooing awesome.
“Muddy Water” is a brilliant little tune that leaves me anxious to hear the rest of the new album and demonstrates in no uncertain terms the artistic flexibility of the band. For now, you’ll just have to hear the song live and there are a few upcoming opportunities. The band is playing Tremont Tavern on May 6th, June 21st at Miller Plaza (Make Music Chattanooga) and then, because they are both very talented and kinda nuts, they will be performing the entirety of Pink Floyd’s The Wall at the Revelry Room on July 2nd.
Look here for a full review of Secrets and Ashes once it becomes available.
*Five people all named Almlie and Kilgore? What are the odds?!