In The Local this week, Nooga.com spends some time with music from Katrina Barclay, Chi Money, Musical Moose and Sour Lemonade. Who do you think should have a spot in The Local next week?
Katrina Barclay, “Coward”
Chattanooga singer-songwriter Katrina Barclay creates music that is honest, forthright and clings to your heart like a barbed memory that just won’t let you forget it. There are aspects of blues, indie rock and soul in her words and music, but it’s the absolute sense of earnestness and plainspoken emotion that comes through, giving each song a ragged but sympathetic appearance. Her voice is confident, though there are times when a certain hesitancy makes its home between each syllable. She’s been honing her affecting approach to her influences for years and, over that time, has developed a quite revelatory voice that shines a light on those experiences that many of us would leave to the shadows.
On her new song, “Coward,” she roars, stomps and reveals a surprisingly vulnerable heart beneath the sound and fury of her words and music. The track is a bluesy stomp through Barclay’s personal experiences, or those few that she chooses to share with us. Love is a tricky thing, and Barclay espouses her difficulty in finding and keeping this elusive affection. A gentle wave of guitar notes drifts across her voice and positions itself as the gradual but determined vehicle through which the song moves forward. There’s a moment when all pretense is dropped, though, and Barclay picks herself up and shouts to the heavens, exorcising all her frailties and questionable decisions, taking responsibility for every action that she’s ever taken.
Chi Money, “Hostage”
Hip-hop artist Chi Money has never shied away from the darker aspects of his creative inspiration. His music is dense, menacing and slams into your chest like a runaway train. His voice slithers and twists aggressively but knows that you have to be far subtler than that to influence your audience in any measurable way. In his past work, his viscous verbal acrobatics have been in the service of a particularly distinct musical palette, and on each consecutive release, he’s grown as a musician, finding new ways to tread some familiar territory while adding his own stamp on the landscape.
With his latest song, “Hostage,” Chi Money has once again driven us to the edge of reality and left us to our own devices. He returns periodically, but it’s all up to us to get out alive. His voice hangs in the air, a feral marionette acting as our guide, although we’re not always sure whether he’s there to help or hinder. The beats strike and retreat before returning louder and heavier than ever. There are some wonderfully orchestral flourishes, a nod to his understanding of how genres interact and support one another. You can’t help but be drawn into the song-it’s a driven and remarkable bit of momentum, and all we can do is hold on and wait for the dizzying scenery to stop spinning.
Musical Moose, “Moose on a Hot Tin Roof”
Musical Moose is an odd grouping of influences and sounds-the music belongs to some time long past, an imaginary decade where Devo and The B-52s regularly shared studio space and would bring in the guys from They Might Be Giants from time to time. It’s self-aware, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take itself seriously. Behind all the warbling pop melodies and ’80s-indebted rhythms, the band knows how to write a song that plays to their strengths and manages to merge their respective musical tendencies without glossing over any individual member’s twisted rhythmic proclivities. The music is supremely confident-there are no half measures. The band goes all out and reaches a miraculous balance between their formative musical experiences and a more modern approach to those same artists.
With “Moose on a Hot Tin Roof,” the band unleashes a collection of songs that shuffles and slides away from our expectations. The influences are there, but they’re skewed just enough to make them almost unrecognizable. They even channel the spirit of David Bowie on a few tracks. Oddly enough, despite their musical touchstones, these songs seem to exist in a parallel universe that keeps them from sounding as though they truly belong to any one decade of music. Musical Moose is a collective of musicians who realize that the ability of music to alter our viewpoint isn’t solely dependent on the sound, but how each piece is meticulously presented to their audience.
Sour Lemonade, “Knocking on the Floor”
“I’m Sour Lemonade and I make music”: Besides that quick description on the group’s Bandcamp page, there’s really not much information about Sour Lemonade out there. But this anonymity can be a good thing, as it lets you approach the music from a completely blank set of expectations. The music of Sour Lemonade is mired in the history of indie rock and singer-songwriter aesthetics. There’s a distinct emotionality at work that allows each song to dig deeply into your subconscious and latch onto certain memories and experiences. There’s a lack of artifice, a lack of distance between the band and its audience-it’s welcoming to hear music so appreciative of its own existence.
With “Knocking on the Floor,” there’s a recognition of the importance of mixing influences with the correct amount of respect and ingenuity. These songs evince a proper understanding of how best to mix and match sounds while still allowing them to retain their individual forms, or at least a semblance of their musical origins. Guitars tromp and stamp while drums creak and rattle-it’s a collage of noise and dramatic pop sensibilities. You’re familiar with the basic elements, but they’re composed in such a way as to defy rote categorization. It’s indie rock with a pop heart, but there’s also a singer-songwriter vibe that mixes with a darker rock pulse that gives each track a unique personality and rhythmic atmosphere.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.