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Empire of Sound: Fresh tunes from the Savannah scene

  • Street Clothes (Photo by Adriana Iris Boatwright)
  • Matt Eckstine (Photo by Wen McNally)
 

Empire of Sound: Fresh tunes from the Savannah scene

21 Jun 2017

Savannah’s well of talented musicians is seemingly always at work on a new album or project.

Despite a continuing exodus that has seen several of the area’s more prolific musicians move away, a bedrock of talent is still playing regular live shows and recording in Savannah.

Below you’ll find a strong sampling of recent releases. There are several artists releasing work later this summer and in the fall, and even more working on new material. The majority of these albums can be purchased on the world wide web of awesome.

These are all hardworking musicians who have regular jobs. If you find something you like in the mix, I urge you to support their effort by buying the album or track. A little encouragement goes a long way in this world.

Music is an expensive venture. It can cost thousands of dollars to record an album in a professional studio, after tracking, mixing, artwork and pressing are done. Helping stave that cost, the DIY method has become increasingly more popular, with home studios becoming a regular home of independent bands — a category all of the following artist are in.

The point is simple: if you love it, prove it. Buy it.

Here are some highlights from the latest releases, along with a look at what’s coming down the line. There is a broad spectrum of styles here and so I am sure everyone will find something they can enjoy.

Hotplate: “Any Surface Can Be Your Death Bed”

(Instrumental progressive metal)

hotplaterock.bandcamp.com

I am going to plagiarize myself. I wrote this blurb a week or so ago ahead of one of their shows:

One of Savannah’s strongest metal exports, the instrumental quartet Hotplate expands on progressive metal, math rock and stoner metal themes in an explosion of sound that is constantly interesting, often unpredictable and perpetually driving. Their second studio album, “Any Surface Can Be Your Death Bed,” was recorded at The Garage in Savannah, and is essentially one 22-minute song. Turn it up to 11.

Matt Eckstine: “Self-Titled”

(Singer/songwriter, Americana, country)

matteckstinemusic.com/home

For years, Eckstine has been the frontman and main songwriter for Savannah’s The Accomplices. Last year, the band bid a farewell for now as husband/wife members Colleen Heine and Zach Smith moved themselves and their forthcoming progeny to Colorado.

Eckstine has soldiered on with his solo project, continuing to play several times a week all over the Savannah region. On his eponymous debut solo effort, released June 16 with a show at the Roasting Room in Bluffton, Eckstine proves the strength and depth of his songwriting, which was apparent in his work with The Accomplices.

An ardent student of John Prine and a wide breadth of singer/songwriters, Eckstine strings together solid Americana tunes from his scrapbook of influences, but always with his own endearing personality entwined. There are moments of levity mixed with serious jaunts throughout this album, all forming a well-rounded, extremely pleasant solo debut.

The Train Wrecks: “Once Again”

(Alt-country, Americana, rock)

thetrainwrecksband.com

On their fourth studio album, The Train Wrecks have solidified a new precedent. With the addition of bassist Colin Motlagh (Bear Fight!), they’ve added a harder rock edge to the band’s sound. The output, as was evident in their insane five-hour album release party last Friday, is louder and tougher. I could bet it would be enjoyed equally by both Hank Williams and Zakk Wylde.

Principal songwriter and frontman Jason Bible’s Texas-drenched aesthetic is of the old country order and solid as a rock. What helps to push The Train Wrecks into the compelling sound they are making as a group is the variations they bring in as individuals. Jeremy Hammons pulls from jazz influences in his drumming, while Stu Harmening is a stalwart of slide and rhythm guitar stylings from Nashville to the dirty Mississippi. And Motlagh brings in his metal influence with ripping bass lines that follow the standard of traditional and country music, though far more abrasive.

Together, this latest Train Wrecks incarnation is a tight unit, and one of the best live shows you can catch in this city. They recorded most of the new album live, capturing the rowdy sound they churn out on a regular basis in the Lowcountry.

Greta O. & The Toxic Shock: “Sinkhole”

(Hardcore punk)

gretaoandthetoxicshock.bandcamp.com

Comprised of members of Cray Bags with the rock goddess Greta O. out the front, The Toxic Shock are set to release a brand-new effort at some point this year. They dropped this new single earlier this month.

The Toxic Shock draws from the best hardcore punk, pulling out of the Circle Jerks/Black Flag/Bad Brains musical bag of tricks. Fun, short and simple. Can’t go wrong with these punks.

Street Clothes: “Superautomatica”

(Indie pop)

streetclothes.bandcamp.com

Over the last year or so, this band has gone through some major transitions in both personnel and sound. While local rock star producer Peter Mavrogeorgis was working on their album, he ended up joining the band permanently on bass. Which, perhaps, was the best thing that could have happened to this band.

Drummer David Murray and Mavrogeorgis lay down a solid rhythmic bedrock. New guitarist John Xarras, frontman Andy Sutphen and synth queen and vocalist Veronica Garcia all top their groove with a solid rock/pop tone, exporting as a fun and danceable glam rock.

FUTURE ALBUMS

Here are some great local bands who are also working on new material:

Issac Smith (singer/songwriter, Americana, indie rock)

A.M. Rodriguez (alt-country, singer/songwriter, folk)

The Gumps (punk)

Sins of Godless Men (progressive, post-punk metal)

Black Tusk (swamp metal)

Machine Dreams (hard rock, indie rock)

Joshua Peacock is a freelance writer in Savannah. He studied playwriting and music at the University of Iowa. Contact him at joshua.rpeacock@gmail.com.

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