I’m kind of really into Georgia bands right now, apparently. I didn’t mean for it to happen — I thought there was only one person in the state of Georgia with whom I was smitten! You know! The one I like to kiss! — but then all of a sudden I’ve got a couple of guys I really trust feeding me all these groovy Athens and ATL rockers, and I’m just completely obsessed.
Take Athens’ New Madrid, for example, who released their sophomore LP Sunswimmer — produced by Athens mainstay David Barbe, whose name all good Truckers fans know instantly — a few weeks ago. It’s hazy, guitar driven rock and roll — the Whigs, maybe, if the Whigs’ vocals were more muted and the guitars were more mathrock than Southern rock, and I liked the Whigs more — and I’m completely enamored. The songs crash and rumble along, some of them ending abruptly and others stretching out into soundscapes of Southern wants and universals needs that run 6, 7, 10 minutes. It’s music that wants earplugs, and maybe for you to sit down on the floor at Kings, where New Madrid plays the middle slot (between TEEN and locals Blanko Basnet) on Thursday night, so you can let all the drums and bass rumble all the way up into that spot underneath your chest.
Or maybe it makes you want to shake your ass, like “Manners” (catch it streaming on Pitchfork here), one of the only two tracks on the record under four minutes. “Manners” grooves and sputters along, and “Forest Gum” bores itself into your brain with a delicious chorus and some well-placed hand-claps. “Dead Legs” swims with pedal steel and vocals that nearly disappear under the layers of sound; “Find My Blood” flips the equation with a leading chorus and heartbreaking verses over muted, chorused acoustic guitars.
The record closes with two tracks both over 11 minutes, “Homesick” and “And She Smiles”, that amble through heartbreak and regret in something that’s almost symphonic. They’re big songs, with big ideas, and they both swell and recede like the tides; clean vocals that fade into droning guitars and back out, a shiver in the vocals and a shudder in the drumming. Ob. Sessed.
Like I said, New Madrid has the middle spot at Kings in Raleigh on 3/6, between locals Blanko Basnet and headliners TEEN. Tickets $8, doors 8pm, show 8:30pm. I recommend it highly.