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Blunt Bangs, Jeremy Boger & The Golden Eagles, Nordista Freeze, Future Crib
September 13 @ 8:00 pm
–7PM DOORS / 8PM SHOW
-STANDING ROOM ONLY
COVID-19 POLICY UPDATE: The Grey Eagle requires all patrons attending performances to provide proof of vaccination or negative test within 48 hours prior to the event. Currently Buncombe Co. mandates that masks be worn indoors. THIS MEANS YOU NEED TO MASK UP. Patrons will need to provide physical or digital documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test. Professional negative test results must be dated no more than 48 hours prior to the event. At-home testing will not be accepted.
Proper Smoker, the debut LP from indie-supergroup Blunt Bangs, is proof that power pop remains perennial. Boasting a lineup that includes Reggie Youngblood (Black Kids) on guitar and vocals, Christian “Smokey” DeRoeck (Woods, Deep State, Meneguar, Little Gold) on guitar and vocals, and Cash Carter (Tracy Shedd, The Cadets) on drums, Blunt Bangs’ debut melds the canon of 90s indie rock with a spark of optimism for these uncertain times.
Following a move to Athens, GA from Jacksonville, FL, Youngblood and Carter settled into the storied scene and recruited veteran song slinger DeRoeck (who had previously moved to Athens following his tenure in Woods) to round out the band’s central songwriting unit. If the result is a tightly-spun collection of hooks that sounds like longtime friends making music for themselves with the hope that others would also enjoy it, that’s by design — that was precisely Blunt Bangs’ plan all along. As Carter attests, “This band gives me the opportunity to play music with my friends that I would love listening to. We made a record we wanted to hear.”
While members of the band have earned their stripes in critically-lauded projects, the record also owes some of its polish to seasoned producer/engineer Drew Vandenberg, whose prior credits include works with Of Montreal, Drive-By Truckers, Toro Y Moi and more.
“Reggie and Christian both bring something different to the table as songwriters and how they approach music, but they complement each other perfectly,” says Vandenberg of making Proper Smoker. “Reggie is meticulous, Christian is instinctual. Then you throw in Cash’s enthusiasm and energy behind the kit and it makes something special.”
The record took shape as Carter assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer at Kindercore Vinyl, a record pressing plant in Athens he co-owns with Dan Geller and Ryan Lewis, the duo at the helm of legendary indie label Kindercore Records. Youngblood began working at the pressing plant in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving the band creative license to use the industrial space as a location to rehearse and safely film the music video for “Decide,” the record’s infectious lead single.
After nearly a decade of international touring with Black Kids (which included appearances at massive festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury) and sharing bills with acts like Cut Copy, Kaiser Chiefs, and Kate Nash, Youngblood refocused his attention on making the Blunt Bangs LP his top priority.
“Like quite a lot of artists before me, after committing a significant amount of time to one project, I wanted to switch up my mode of songwriting and work on ideas that didn’t quite feel right in Black Kids,” says Youngblood.
“Odessa,” a song penned by Youngblood for the record, may be the closest track in the bunch that harkens to his previous act. The song veers into slinky doo-wop, but steers clear of nostalgia. If there’s a mantra on the record, it might come here in the form of Youngblood’s vocal, “We don’t get points for trying, but we’ve got to try a little.”
DeRoeck’s contributions include the hopped-up “Speed Reader” and “Silence Is Golden,” a sleek reworking of a song that first appeared on recordings during his tenure with indie-rock darlings Woods. This punchy rendition shows the band displaying its chops while also conveying a pop-sensibility that echoes luminaries like Superchunk and Built To Spill, influences that are apparent throughout the LP.
“The first time I saw these guys I lost my shit,” says DeRoeck. “No one I knew was doing that kind of Teenage Fanclub-meets-Matthew Sweet-style power pop. I was already playing in a couple other bands at the time, but when the opportunity to join the Bangs came up, I absolutely had to be part of it.”
After a tumultuous year for… well, everyone, Proper Smoker offers a pleasant escape into a sonic landscape where guitar-driven rock is still alive and well. “This is supposed to be power-pop,” says Carter of the record’s ebullient sound. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.”
Whatever the future may hold for the music industry, Proper Smoker offers a pleasant escape into a sonic landscape where guitar-driven rock like that found on records pressed in the 90s are honored throughout.
“This is supposed to be power-pop,” says Carter of the record’s ebullient sound. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything.”
“Back before T Bone Burnett became the go to producer of americana he made Lennonesque power pop, big drums, choice reverbs, with sharp edited lyrics, and back before the smoke up his ass dulled the talent of Wayne Coyne he made fantastic epic records with his collaborators. if you are wistful about any music in those peak “outside of times” and dig crazy horse guitars, autoharps and mellotrons, ballads that grow into anthems, quick shadows of folks like the late great mark linkous and horns and strings that could have been arranged by van dyke parks not to mention great vocals delivered with the confidence of (not sound of) jason lytle or jonathan donahue Jeremy Boger’s Golden Eagles is where you wanna lay your money down. 21st century music with swag and heart and just enough retro touch to defy timeframe.” – Rick Morris
The Golden Eagles are some killer local celebs that have played with all the cool kids:
Drums: Kevin “Krum” Rumley
Piano: Billy Sheeran
Guitar: Joshua Carpenter
Guitar and Keys: J Seeger
NPR described Nordista Freeze as “the most beautiful and perfect example of the Nashville music scene” and the Nashville Scene declared “the cosmic Tom Petty” as most likely to “rule” in 2019 with his modern, timeless sound. Freeze’s distinct fusion of 60s pop and modern psychedelia has infatuated audiences across the US & Canada. Infamous for tireless DIY touring (400 shows since 2016) and prolific composition (20+ albums since 2012), his monstrous stage presence & Beach Boys harmonies convert lifelong fans at every show.
On the tailend of a pandemic that stunted artistic production around the globe, the sentiment chosen to open Future Crib’s Full Time Smile may seem at first listen a bit untimely. “Happiness is going out of style/pretend you are miserable for a while,” croons multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Johnny Hopson as keys and synths swish into a lush, blissful crescendo.
For the five-piece Nashville-based band, happiness isn’t so much passe as it is a process, or the end result of a transitional and sometimes tumultuous period. As drummer and vocalist Noah Pope puts it, the record’s central theme revolves around “recontextualizing” the parts of life that are less than pleasant. “It’s about searching and having the guts and strength to move on and explore new territory,” Pope adds.
Recorded in the outskirts of Atlanta in December 2020, the band gave themselves the selfimposed limitation to record Full Time Smile in the span of a week. While challenging, the method of building a makeshift studio with analog gear was a testament to the friendship that undergirds how Future Crib operates on the regular. “We were in a state of being open and communicative about where we were in our lives and I think that comes off in the record,” says bassist and vocalist Julia Anderson. “We all weighed in because these songs were important to all of us.”
Whereas the band’s second LP, Silverdays, was, in the words of multi-instrumentalist Bryce DuBray’s words, “a reimagining” and a “polishing up” of previously-produced demos, Full Time Smile is a more carefully-crafted affair, a concerted effort to reflect the band in the most accurate way possible. It’s the first record by the band that features contributions of guitarist and vocalist George Rezek, who joined the group in a full-time capacity after filling in for Pope on a series of dates in 2019.
This “retreat” approach to making the record took the already-established bonds within the band to new levels. “When you make a record at home, it’s going to be pretty predictable,” says Hopson. Though bands are rarely a democracy, Future Crib sought to develop Full Time Smile without any particular member having absolute authority over a song’s final form. Blending electronic or synthesized instrumentation with organic sounds gives the album a balance so rarely found in even the most modern of releases.
Indeed, the band made a point to put egos aside during the production and craft something that transcended any one member’s preferences. “We decided to stay away from doing anything that would make the record sound like any particular band or influence,” says Hopson. “We were making all of the choices that were best for each song. The influences come no matter what.”
Though there was a conscious effort to avoid sounding like anything in particular, the result draws on a range of influential artists that dominated rock clubs and college radio in the 90s and early aughts. It comes as no surprise then, this alt-pop masterpiece dares to be embraced by fans of Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Dr. Dog, and other acts of their ilk.
“We all really enjoy listening to records front-to-back,” says Pope. “We put a lot of effort into arrangements and how songs flow.” Though dynamic, the album retains an obvious cohesion that is owed to the band’s reliance on self-recording and making a point to avoid more traditional studio setups. “There’s a lot going on and a lot of room for error, but we trust each other with sounds and creative decisions because we know that ultimately we will do what’s best for the song,” adds Hopson.
The album’s lead single, “Most Likely Never Going To Die,” is an aptly-named earworm that is representative of the band’s penchant for writing indelible melodies with punchy guitar licks that will surely resonate with fans of the aforementioned acts. Hopson is at his best when he waxes philosophical about what constitutes the good life without coming off as pretentious.
On “Horses,” “Leaves,” and less-rollicking numbers, the tempos may slow down considerably, but the emotional weight and maturity remains. While these songs may be closer in presentation to the outsider art of Bill Callahan and Daniel Johnston than radio-rock, they’re no less effective.
The record’s title track also trades raucous sing-alongs for a reflection on how to find happiness in spite of ever-present struggle. Despite its ecstatic moments and joyful performances throughout, Future Crib exercise a stunning amount of humility on Full Time Smile — perhaps most especially on the record’s closing track, “Forever Ain’t A Long Time And We Still Have A Lot To Do.” As Hopson sings, “We’re kidding ourselves if we ask for a three-minute rocker to last forever.” With songs as crafty as those found on Full Time Smile, though, it’s very possible that these three-minute rockers may stick around for quite a long time.
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