A time and a place can identify a sound—say, Philly soul in the ’70s or D.C. hardcore in the ’80s—so is there a current Chattanooga sound? As far as I can tell, no—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it speaks well for the immense diversity of music in our fair city. This roundup of recent local releases goes from the introspective to the explosive, leading the listener through heaven, hell, and even purgatory.
THE SLACKER THREE
• The Stacker Three (thestackerthree.bandcamp.com) is a new instrumental power trio featuring two former members of The Sha-Pels—guitarist Russ Cannon and bassist Arettie Ford—with drummer Britton Ware (of Thee Something Brothers and Mister Grits), playing charged rock that goes from ominous to furious in a heartbeat. The title of its self-released debut album on cherry-red vinyl, Healter Skelter, is a reference to the misspelled blood-written message from the murderous Manson Family, evoking the band’s twisted sort of mayhem that’s at various times heavy and sleazy, with bits of psychedelic and hard fuzz-rock. The Stacker Three will play a record release show at Sluggo’s North (501 Cherokee Blvd.) on November 5.
• Millipede (millipede.bandcamp.com) is the project of Joseph Davenport, who primarily uses heavily treated guitars to create thick, abrasive, abstract hailstorms of sound on his new album Realms released on the label Dead Pilot. Davenport takes influence from shoegazer acts My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, but this writer actually finds Realms to be more in line with the noisier moments from Flying Saucer Attack; there’s no quick payoff with these tracks, which require a bit of patience, but motifs and melodies emerge to listeners who allow themselves to drown in the relentlessly swirling sound pools.
Millipede also contributes two tracks to a split cassette with the duo Neon Viking Funeral (www.myspace.com/neonvikingfuneral), released on the new cassette label Failed Recordings (failedrecordings.bigcartel.com). Chris Griffin (of Gravebound) creates ear-splitting digital chaos with his laptop while Jerry Reed (of Rough Rope, Gravebound, and Höth) prefers using a bevy of guitar pedals to generate a hulking juggernaut of intense noise, leaning more toward the Merzbow side of noise than the shoegazer side. While dense and seemingly impenetrable, there are stimulating details to behold in this unholy racket—an aural plague of locusts.
tHE HEARtS IN LIGHt
• On the opposite side of the naughty/nice divide, there’s tHE HEARtS IN LIGHt (soundcloud.com/theheartsinlight), a group that combines a new wave sound with a more current electro-pop style on its pristinely recorded mini-album Summer Hearts and Dolphin Death Dreams. With the songwriting core duo of multi-instrumentalists Kyle Malone and Stacey Sausa, bassist Seth Ferguson, and drummer Beau Bridges, the band layers rich synth chords and 8-bit electronics with an earnest, personal spirituality and joie de vivre. Take note—those unaccustomed to unabashedly clean, sugary synth-pop may need a shot of insulin to absorb these bright, sonic heartbeams.
• Diagnosed with a rare type of multiple sclerosis that leaves him in almost constant pain, Christopher Hanson (soundcloud.com/christopher-shane-hanson) has challenged his sickness and turned its power against itself by using it to fuel his music. His debut EP is uneasy, rough listening, to be sure, but it has a brutal, totally unself-conscious frankness that is uncommon and biting. Hanson created and recorded the words and principal music spontaneously, immediately after waking up various mornings in order to provide a totally unfiltered channel of thoughts, leading to an unconventional type of blues. Citing other artists such as Vic Chesnutt, Mark Oliver Everett (of Eels), and Bill Callahan (of Smog) as kindred spirits, Hanson has transmuted his pain into raw, confrontational, therapeutic art.
• JJEMMEIII (soundcloud.com/jjemmeiii) is just one of the musical outlets for Joseph J. Micolo III, a multi-instrumentalist, improviser, sound collage artist, and electronic musician who seems to be in constant flux. Micolo’s latest album is Moon Altar, a cassette release on the Mystery Trails label, and it consists entirely of organ improvisations. As the title suggests, there is a spacey, reverent mood conveyed by the instrumentals, several of which utilize long, sustained tones with a meditative serenity. The ambient music of Brian Eno comes to mind, which need not require studied attention; instead, the listener can let the carefully sauntering notes on Moon Altar hide and lurk in the subconscious. Warm, soothing, and contemplative, it’s an album that can purge distractions and clear your head.