In recent years, the sounds of shoegaze and psych rock have been at the forefront of the independent scenes, with pioneering bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine releasing records and touring after many years away from the stage. Other, newer bands have taken this mantle upon themselves to see if they can wrangle some new mystery from these familiar rhythms, with varying degrees of success. But there are those who take these inspirations and create a dense racket that pays homage to their musical antecedents while also revealing some true innovation within the given genres—just look at Kanopi.
Formed in Chattanooga but spending a good deal of their time in Nashville these days, the band—Caleb Myrick, Aanen Butz, Zach Nicholson and Stephen Byard—doles out copious amounts of psych- and shoegaze-influenced rock noise, the kind of enormous sounds that possess a tactile resonance. Their work is marked by slow-burn buildups and wild guitar theatrics, with the band wading through these dense rhythms with the practiced ease of a group that fully understands the underlying associations that hiss and roar from these particular reverberations.
On their new debut record, "King V," the band offers up a mix of Blue Cheer density and the gorgeous complications that emerge from the work of bands like Dungen or Tame Impala. They don't abandon the classic indie rock foundations altogether—they simply mold those crisp guitar tones and melodies to suit their heavier moods. The album is a bruiser, with sheets of pummeling percussion and bouts of gravitational guitar riffs that seem to make temporary dents in the air around you. But the band does explore some softer moods as well, nestled in among all this muscle. They find a specific balance that allows them to throttle the guitars while also rendering down their knotty noise into a more introspective echo.
Opening with the roughed-up fuzz of "Given Up," they kick off the record in fine fashion, with contorting guitar lines and stop-start rhythms overlapping one another. Voices rise within an ecstatic howl as shifting licks pour from the speakers and the drums simultaneously spill their guts. Other tracks such as "Awake" and the euphoric closer "Name" wind their way through quieter moments before loosening their grip and giving way to a wall of weighted rhythms and opaque melodies. They stomp and lunge toward their destination, all cylinders pumping and sparking in sequence. "King V" explores a preternatural maturity within the band regarding their approach to their various influences; and with this record as evidence, there's ample reason to think we'll be hearing much more from Kanopi in the near future.
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.