Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
One of the things that you can find yourself admiring about the Oxford, Mississippi, duo Bass Drum of Death is that they can make the season of autumn feel ten times as violent as you'd ever thought of it being before. The song "Leaves," from the band's debut full-length on the hometown legend label Fat Possum, features lead singer John Barrett repeating the chorus, "The leaves are falling," a few times and it - sung in conjunction with the dirty blues that and Colin Sneed surround it with - sounds like a section of a transcript from a serial killer's strain of consciousness, as well as his stream of consciousness. It sounds as if they might be sharpened leaves, or dipped in an explosive powder that might burst upon impact. He makes it feel as if, should we leave the apples on the trees too long and should they detach themselves from their branches before we can get to them, those red fruits would fall to the earth like grenades and…heaven help us. It would be a whole new world of hurt. Bass Drum of Death creates a sound that fits inside of a black leather jacket. It belongs on the seat of a Harley-Davidson, loudly bellowing its intentions throughout the city, passing through with the most distinguished haze of sound that it considers its coo or its whisper, a charming form of the sweet nothings that it would utter into the ear of a paramour.
Barrett and Sneed make the kind of soundtrack to a warm night in a small town, where there is that lone drag - the main drag - where kids are piled into their cars to drive up and down the road, wasting fuel and on the lookout for something, anything that might catch their attention. Granted, this sounds like an olden days pursuit, or one for the smallest of towns, but the music takes us to these simple forms of gratification, making you feel as if there are some easy and certain emotions that can come out of the sometimes complicated things that are being worried about. The songs on "GB City" feel as if they're most affected by the concerns of the young, with Barrett's guitar and lyrics going off on their fiery trysts and tangents, eating through space with a focused point. It rips and it tears through the air and if you're listening while out walking around the city, odds are your legs are moving faster and you're getting to where you need to be quicker than you usually do. It's music that comes from a damp basement, where there's an ample supply of cheap beer, decent weed and blinds over the dinky ground level windows so that no one ever needs to know if it's night or day. The time doesn't matter because, if the music had its way, it would be nighttime all the time and the body would never be sure how it was supposed to feel. It's supposed to not know what it's supposed to do next - sleep or eat, dance or lean against the wall, coolly nodding.