The music of Chattanooga artist Alex Volz comes in two separate and distinct packages. His work under his own name is more aimed towards kids, or more precisely, it offers children a look into the complexities of the world around them from within a safe and comforting place. His work as Burly Temple is far more adult-oriented, and you would generally keep your kids well clear of it. That doesn’t mean that one approach is better than the other—he simply has a talent for revealing the nuance and emotion in both of these forms.
He grew up in Chattanooga but moved to New York to get his degree in film and television from NYU. He eventually moved to Los Angeles where he wrote but never found a way to allow his creativity to shine in the way that he wanted. And once discussions came around to having a child, he and his wife made the decision to move back to Chattanooga to raise their family. However, during his time in LA, he wrote and recorded songs with a handful of friends, visiting bedroom studios and larger, more professional places before heading back to the Scenic City. And it was there that the roots of his latest album, “The State I’m In,” first began their slow descent into his brain.
The product of a raucous 3-electric guitar rock band with friends, “The State I’m In” finds Burly Temple bulking up and layering lots of instruments across Volz’s usual lyrical dexterity. This 10-track collection harnesses the band’s uncanny intuition along with some killer rock melodies. There’s a laid-back vibe here that recalls the open, sun-soaked highways of California and nights spent partying with friends who want to keep the hold the morning sun back for just a few more hours. Volz has said that he hopes to convince those friends to make the trek to Chattanooga, and if these songs are the results of their specific cavorting, then we all need to do our best to persuade them as well.
As soon as that voice is loosed through your speaker, you know exactly who it is, but with just a little help from his friends, Volz has crafted a rocking soundtrack to your next road trip. Songs like “Up All Night,” with its whip-smart guitar licks, and the ’80s-drenched arena rock bliss of “Cold Beers” show us a completely different side than we might be expecting from him. But don’t worry, his acoustic guitar is still a force to be reckoned with, a strummy reminder that there’s more than one way to rock out. “The State I’m In” is a fantastic bit of musical cross-pollination, a compendium of influences and energy that leave a lasting imprint on your bones. Now we just need to get the band back together.
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