After driving 14 hours from New Orleans, enduring severe gastroenteritis induced by Krystal's knock-off White Castle sliders, and being hit by an errant beer from a drunk patron, The Moaners can be excused for not turning in their most scintillating performance at Sleazefest--even by their own estimation. But all that aside, the duo of guitarist Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride) and drummer Laura King (ex-Gerty, Grand National) couldn't be happier. They've just returned from a tour supporting Athens' Drive By Truckers ("It was like being on tour with the Stones because they're really hot right now and drawing some really big crowds") and finished work on their debut full-length. Recorded at Rick (Southern Culture on the Skids) Miller's Kudzu Ranch Studios, the 13-song album is due for release by Yep Roc in either late December or January.
"It went great. The songs turned out even better than I thought they would, and we're really happy. Rick is amazing at getting a really good live sound," says Swingle. "One of the best things about recording with Rick is that he has all different kinds of amps and guitars, and if you're a guitar player, it's like being in a candy store. 'Oh, gee, I want to play this one. Can I play this one? What about this one?'"
The recording took about a week and a half of concentrated time and was done almost entirely live. They added Drive By Truckers bassist Shawna Isbell on one track, but according to Swingle, "for the most part I don't think we need a bass player."
Swingle describes the album's music as "a heavy, big sound," and judging from even the performance last Sunday, those color-coded White kids from Detroit had better watch out. Swingle certainly loosens the alt-country ties that bound her in Trailer Bride, unleashing a squall of ribald guitar that must have made them a nice complement to the Truckers' southern-fried rawk.
While they haven't decided on a name for the album, Swingle is leaning toward calling it Dark Snack.
"I got the idea when I was in a gas station in South Carolina, and they had a big sign that said 'Dark Snack $3.99,'" Swingle says. "And I thought 'Dark Snack,' that's a great idea for a band or a song or something."
As for Trailer Bride, Swingle suggests the band is on hiatus for the moment.
"It's not over, but all of us have side projects and are taking a break from Trailer Bride to pursue other things. I really don't know what the future holds," she says. "We may put out another record next year. It might take another couple years to put out a record."
Preceding The Moaners on stage at Sleazefest were rugged rockers Chrome Plated Apostles, which reunites Bad Checks vocalist Hunter Landen with guitarist Clif Mann. The four-piece, which combines the murky, sludge-driven pulse of Mudhoney with the old-school punk roar of New Bomb Turks, has just recorded its debut album primarily at Kudzu Ranch, where Rick Miller co-produced it with the band.
The Apostles recorded ten tracks with Miller and another two with Jerry Kee at Duck Kee Studios. It was largely done live, though there are "a few overdubs. Not too many, we kept it pretty basic," says Mann.
The as-yet untitled album is also looking for a home.
"We have sent out a few to different labels and if nobody picks up on it, then we'll put it out on the Demonbeach," says Mann. "But it won't be the next thing we put out because we have a couple of other things in the works." The Moaners play The Cave in Chapel Hill, Saturday, Sept. 18 as part of an Independent-sponsored showcase, with John Howie, Jr. of Two Dollar Pistols. Chrome Plated Apostles play Kings in Raleigh, Thursday, Sept. 16, with Kung Flude and The Spinns.
The Comas, Conductor (Yep Roc
The somnambulant drift of their shiny song-like baubles defy gravity, floating on an invisible wave like soap bubbles given a hazy shine of melody and buffeted along by a wellspring of subdued rhythm. Happier than slowcore and quieter than dream pop, The Comas' first two albums existed in a rarified world like a snow globe tumbling across a bed, tossing the little flakes about, but always in a well-circumscribed manner. With their third album, the globe smashes on the floor, spilling out previously unseen elements, such as the thick, chunky sonics of "The Last Transmission," which exists amidst a swirl of synth and sweet, gangly guitar like a refugee from The Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, the bubbling new wave-ish pop of "Employment," or the pretty "Hologram" with its Wedding Present guitar lilt and despondency. While still bookended by the kind of wispy, winsome songs on which The Comas cut their teeth, the creamy middle nearly defies the taste buds, and none more so than "Tonight On The WB," an allusion to singer/guitarist Andy Herod's ill-fated relationship with Dawson Creek's Michelle Williams, and a stunning pop song which simultaneously recalls The Pixies and Jesus & Mary Chain. Better at texture than hooks in the past, The Comas deliver here on both, constructing a start-to-finish sterling album.