Before they made the trek up to New York, indie rockers Birds With Fleas were a staple of the Chattanooga music scene, offering dense but memorable slices of sound that highlighted their classic indie influences and a more modern production aesthetic. And despite the distance, they’ve kept in touch with friends still living in the Scenic City and are still aware of bands working to keep Chattanooga’s music spark alive and burning. Among those helping to keep sounds rising from the Tennessee River is Summer Dregs, a band known for their vivid electro pop expulsions and complex visual accompaniments in a live setting.
And with roughly 800 miles between New York and Chattanooga, there wasn’t much hope for a collaboration between these two bands. But when Birds With Fleas released a new EP, “Every Room,” back in May, Summer Dregs saw an opportunity to connect with their friends and released a remix of the title track. This long-distance musical collusion wasn’t planned and is actually the result of an unexpected text.
According to Summer Dregs’ Bandcamp page, “Sometimes all it takes is a random text from an old friend to remind us of how the passage of time can take its toll—on relationships, friendships and ourselves. And when that happens, sometimes the only choice is to dance it out.”
And dance it out they have, with the band taking the indie rock balladeering that characterized the original song and injecting their ecstatic pop enthusiasm into its DNA. Wrapping the vocals in an atmosphere of reverb and echoed rhythms, Summer Dregs basically take a song that’s in the vein of The National and add some artificial euphoria that wouldn’t sound out of place on a track from M83. The nuance from the source material is intact, but there’s a greater buildup and release anchored by a collection of whooshing synths and bobbing beats.
Despite the differences in the way they approach the production of their own music, you can still hear a commonality between Summer Dregs and Birds With Fleas, a bridge between the brightly lit pop world and a looping indie rock concentration. The skeleton of the song still exists; Summer Dregs have just dressed it up in a different set of clothes. They’ve retained the infectious melody and emotional tones but have added their own distinct surface treatment. And by staying true to their creative impulses, they’ve created a wondrous twin to an already-remarkable song.
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.