Now that the yearly best-ofs have finally run their course and we can confidently say that the past year has properly been put into perspective, let us never speak of 2007 again. Instead, let us look to the future (or, you know, the present): 2008—the Year of the Rat. Nashville’s underground is teeming with artists so varied that attempting an adequate cross-section would be fruitless. While the underground may be overcrowded, we’ve sifted through the muck and found a batch—but by no means a comprehensive list—of off-the-radar locals who should be making blips this year:
MEEMAW With the proper mix of pop hooks and grit, this co-ed trio had a bit of a coming-out party in the last few weeks of that year we decided not to talk about anymore. After months of playing shows exclusively in the basement of their East Nashville home, aptly dubbed Meemaw House, Meemaw eventually took their garage rock to other people’s garages, then finally an honest-to-goodness rock club. RIYL: Television, The Sonics, Black Lips.
DAWN Originally formed by a rag-tag group of 13-year-olds who called themselves The Cripple Beaters, this local thrash/hardcore crossover has grown more introspective as they approach the ripe old age of not quite 20. Ditching their original, patently offensive moniker for something a bit more PC, Dawn’s music by no means conjures the same sunny disposition the name implies. These kids blend angry hardcore with thrash’s hallmark combo of shredding guitars and double kick, while still managing to avoid the genre’s ever-present pitfall—cheesy breakdowns. And with songs rarely clocking over two minutes in length, Dawn barely have time for those anyway. RIYL: Bad Brains, Municipal Waste, Black Flag
SETH MOORE Sometimes quirky, sometimes serious, sometimes sad and sometimes funny, Seth Moore’s songs range from a karaoke-drenched ode to ’80s honky-tonk to clever folk gems with lines you wish you had written. No matter how serious the subject matter might have been when committed to tape, Moore playfully disarms the listener with unexpected lines like “Don’t make your mother cry / Don’t crap a little turd.” RIYL: Daniel Johnston, Beck, Jonathan Richman
EVIL BEBOS Comprised largely of members from the ambiguously long-dormant or broken-up Ascent of Everest, Evil Bebos doesn’t reach for the soaring heights that their predecessor attempted to grasp. Instead, the Bebos shake foundations with rumbling lows and crushing riffs. The post-rock mentality of AOE is still present, but this time around, the sprawl is wedded with the heaviness of bands like Neurosis and more recent metalgaze of acts such as Jesu. RIYL: Neurosis, Isis, Boris
STORIES THAT LIVE mine the terrain where post-punk and new wave intersect. The four-piece mix half-crooned vocals reminiscent of Morrissey with the shimmering, jangly guitars and quasi-disco basslines of bands like Josef K and Orange Juice. Having a dude from Lake Fever Productions—the local studio who’s recorded How I Became the Bomb, The Privates and Silver Jews—on bass probably helps get those sweet recordings too. RIYL: The Smiths, Josef K, Interpol
CANSAUR A volatile maelstrom of bass, vocals and drums, this experimental Murfreesboro trio has finally shown signs of reanimation and proven that they’re still willing to go off the deep end. Frenzied and erratic, the cacophony is equally irritating and head-bangable. This is noise rock that’s penetrable. RIYL: Ruins, Lightning Bolt, GodheadSilo
TOTALLY SNAKE Using all gang vocals all the time, Totally Snake incorporates their own band name into at least two songs. Understandable, given that it’s perhaps the best band name in the city. Using sloppier versions of ZZ Top licks, Totally Snake revel in white-trash vices and link those to proto-punk hedonism. RIYL: New York Dolls, Dead Boys, ZZ Top
UNICORN HARD-ON The musical nom de plume of Val Martino, Unicorn Hard-On was engrossed in the hyper-saturated Providence, R.I., noise scene before carpetbagging down here. The sound that Martino has cultivated is a blend of abstract blips and clicks sequenced into danceable hooks—experimental music that parachute pants could rave to. UHO will also be representing Nashville later this month at the International Noise Conference in Miami along with locals God Willing, Ark, Taiwan Deth, Leslie Keffer, Mouth Pet, Father Figure, Malocchio, Necking and Big Nurse. RIYL: Black Dice, Throbbing Gristle, Gang Gang Dance
INFERI Meshing the aggressive thrash of bands such as Kreator and a penchant for epic Master of Puppets-type song structures, the one-time power trio of Inferi has since ballooned into a hefty five-piece. The shred-fest is tempered with enough melodicism to prevent pure self-indulgence, and offers a slightly more accessible version of extreme metal. RIYL: Death, Slayer, Iron Maiden
AND THE RELATIVES Indie rock in the ’90s was all about guitars. The best of the decade were careful students of rock history with quirky idiosyncrasies. And the Relatives are like that perfectly preserved fossil in amber in Jurassic Park—they play the kind of indie rock that existed before the meaning of “indie” became extinct. Before indie rock was hijacked as an industry buzzword to describe major-label bands like the Killers or the Strokes, indie bands sounded a lot like And the Relatives—pop music amidst an unruly backdrop and some pretty sweet sounding guitars. RIYL: Pavement, Guided by Voices, Sebadoh
SIX GUN LULLABY The dual-guitar and drums trio comprising Six Gun Lullaby have been honing one of the city’s most energetic and entertaining live shows. The female-fronted, bass player-less trio’s obvious and immediate comparison would be Sleater-Kinney, but Six Gun Lullaby contain a few more nods to first generation rock ’n’ roll, ’60s garage and blues-punk. The Lullaby has yet to capture the enthusiasm of their live show to tape, but the moment they do, they just might transcend this whole underground thing. RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, The Slits, The Raincoats
well fuck you anon! Go and Catch fire!
The guitar is a custom made Gretsch he used on the Raconteurs tours...sweet. I couldn't…
I knew him before the beard.
Sometimes I think snowman69 makes good points. But I think he's way off the mark…