The Chattanooga art-minded record label Memetic Society (memeticsociety.com) has released a vibrant, diverse compilation entitled “Tennesthesia,” inspired by the condition of synesthesia, under which one sensation—say, a sound—can trigger an unrelated sensation, like seeing a particular color. Featuring 11 bands from across the state, the set is available as a double-CD or as a special edition mega-package including 11 seven-inch vinyl records (also available individually) with hand-printed artwork, the CDs, a poster and a tote bag. It’s not just the civic pride talking when I declare honestly that the three Chattanooga representatives—Forest Magic, The Distribution, and Moonlight Bride—contribute some of the collection’s best material.
Forest Magic (weareforestmagic.com) is a quintet of sonic scavengers purportedly from the future, which explains why its music doesn’t seem to be entrenched in a particular time. The group’s A-side, “Terrible Creatures,” is a live favorite, presented here as a crisp, perfectly balanced studio recording with an intriguing tug, playful glockenspiel notes, fluid guitar/bass counterpoint, asymmetrical drumming and spirited singing with a few animalistic outbursts. The structure of “Explorin’ Explorin’ ” mirrors its thematic mood, at first acting hesitant before quickly finding its courage and indulging its curiosity, serving up violin flourishes, twists, and hooks before its glorious ending.
The Distribution (facebook.com/TheDistribution) is a soul-funk party band featuring members of Infradig and Coral Castles and a trio of singers, with tight musicianship and a reverent take on classic ’70s funk infused with its own piquant charm. Its contributions are selections from its 2010 album, “Trouble,” including the title track, which first slithers before leading to charged call-and-response exchanges, all the while building up its energy. The B-side, “The Get Down,” is just as fun, bringing to mind Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Curtis Mayfield’s band fronted by a pair of soul sisters. It pulls off a disco breakdown section, with unabashed wah-wah guitar leads.
Moonlight Bride (moonlightbridemusic.com) has subtly transformed its sound over the last four years, but with guitar-noise-band and post-punk influences, it has kept a certain quality constant by delivering an engaging momentum with its songs. “Lemonade” is no exception, beginning with a steady pace and a circa mid-’90s underground-rock aesthetic and methodically adding layers of guitar distortion to its crackling sonic bonfire until it closes with ghostly, dying notes drenched with mystery. “Diego” works as well, conveying a wistful, foggy mood with a boy/girl vocal duet and restless, channel-bouncing piano notes and ending with a blissful ambient wash of sound.
Land Camera (landcamera.bandcamp.com), a quartet formed by Chattanooga mainstay Charles Allison, offers its latest EP, “Land Camera II,” as a digital download on a “name your price” basis, featuring five new, meticulously recorded tracks that tentatively lie within a left-of-center indie-rock context but include details that draw a complicated picture. For example, mandolin and banjo parts suggest folk or bluegrass without ever diving too far in those directions. “What If I Had Never Met You” has a vague prog-rock Mellotron-esque keyboard part lurking in the background, while Callie Harmon’s electric guitar melody that eventually emerges is the kind you hear in westerns when troublemakers appear. “One Day You’ll Feel Wanted” is possibly the EP’s finest track, with a compelling pull from the rhythm section featuring John Lazenby’s meaty, winding fuzz-bass lines and Bob Stagner’s mellifluously roving drumming style.
Guitarist Mark Merriman (cdbaby.com/Artist/MarkMerriman) has given new life to a set of his instrumentals, compiled on the CD “Second Wind,” that sports an inspirational tone and jubilant spirit, from his nimble, jazzy take on “Sweet Lorraine,” popularized by Nat King Cole, or the pair of tender, warm pieces written for his daughters. Bearing influence from Bill Nelson (of Be-Bop Deluxe), several tracks bear an electronic sheen from keyboards and drum machines, and “Second Wind” may find favor with those who enjoy soft rock with soaring electric guitar leads.
Uncle Touchy (uncletouchy.bandcamp.com) took its name from a Patton Oswalt stand-up bit about a hypothetical abductor of trick-or-treaters who has a “naked puzzle basement” and asks, “Does this smell like chloroform to you?” According to the band, “It was the least offensive name that we could agree on.” That should provide an idea of the unrepentant, twisted sense of humor of the group, which has released the full-length “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Violence on Scene Kids in Pain” (scenekidsinpain.com). The quartet has just signed with the “noisiest label in Canada,” No List Records (nolistrecords.com), to be re-mastered by acclaimed engineer Bob Weston (of Shellac) for a vinyl release. It’s a brutal, unhinged aural blitzkrieg, aligning with hardcore and metal camps with throat-shredding vocals and a fierce, unsettling attitude that may appeal to fans of The Jesus Lizard.