Released August 19, 2016
by Dan Styslinger
Brash Teeth’s new album, Heavy Lungs, is just that: heavy. This 9-song record makes it clear the band is on a mission to perform clever, progressive pop music. From the anthemic call and response in the opening track “Adult Sentences” to the trashy groove in the closer “Garbage Bags” the album keeps a constant and cohesive energy throughout.
The title track is a mid tempo blues rock jam. The fuzzy lead guitar riff is soon accompanied by a harmony that creates a dissonant vibe that suits the song well. Singer/guitarist Gene Vercamman bellows about defunct claims of love while the rhythm section holds down a laid-back backbeat provided by Matthew Stromberg on bass and Derek Krystek on drums/guitar. “I see the song as a guitar player most of the time so I end up playing drums the same way I would play it on the guitar. I try to emphasize the same beats or be in the same place” said Kyrstek in my interview with the band for the April 2016 episode of the Notable Music Podcast.
The 6/4 time signature in the track “Sea Glass” perfectly encapsulates the band at it’s finest. The use of complex rhythms and syncopations keeps the listener’s attention with a sense of uncertainty while maintaining an easily digestible pop core in the melody. “We have always been very fascinated with the pop element of the song structure” Vercamman said. “Even when we were playing acoustic music growing up we’d have songs with chorus, verses, a bridge, that are a set amount of time. Over the years of getting better at doing that we can say ‘Alright, we can make it super technical for this small period of time’ and go back to the hook”.
“Short and Sweet” – the seventh song on the album highlights Vercammen’s powerful vocals and Stromberg’s melodic bass playing. The bridge to the song features Stromberg harmonizing elegantly with two heavily distorted guitars. “A big thing for me is I’m very rhythmic centric. I love rhythms. So when Derek and I are working something and there are just chords playing on top of it we try to make it very technical, not confusing, but a technical rhythm behind it” Stromberg said.
The 9-song LP has been a work in the making since the bands formation in 2014. The band travelled to rural Ohio to completely devote a week to recording at the National Audio Preservation Society. “We woke up everyday went in for 8 hours to track and mix” said Vercamman. “It was interesting. We knew we had five days of solid time. We had people’s time – they said ‘You know we’ll be here from this time to this time. We want the fullest amount of progress that we can make in that time’ and we instantly reverted into a two-day sleep cycle.We’d wake up at 10, we’d work until 4, we’d sleep until 6, we’d go back from 6-10; repeat. We made most of our time there and I think it paid off”
With songs like the ones on Heavy Lungs the upward trajectory of the band seems limitless. Balancing the provocative rhythms and riffy guitars while still maintaing a pop sound can be difficult but Brash Teeth seems to have perfected the formula. Be sure to check out the rest of my interview with the band from the April 2016 episode of the Notable Music Podcast as well as the upcoming episode on September first featuring David Bernabo (Host Skull, Golden Magnet) and Wreck Loose.