Myth Is This
Trashy Creatures Records/American Grapefruit Tapes
Playing in bands is not so much an avocation for local musician Jake Vest as a habit. Since arriving here from Arkansas a little less than a decade ago, the young guitar phenom — and, increasingly, go-to studio whiz — has shown a promiscuousness rarely seen outside of Congress or the International Monetary Fund, playing with a dizzying number of local indie acts. A partial list includes gigs backing up the late Jim Dickinson (Ten High & the Trashed Romeos), Richard James & the Special Riders, Jump Back Jake, Holly Cole, and Clay Otis & the Showbiz Lights, plus the groups he himself has formed like Augustine/The Third Man, Bulletproof Vests, the obscure covers outfit The Dream Team, and now Tiger High.
Joining Vest in Tiger High, a sobriquet borrowed from the old University of Memphis put down, is a familiar cast of cohorts, including brother Toby Vest, drummer Greg Faison, and Greg Roberson. With no new blood, the band’s raison d’etre appears to be to give Vest a platform to explore his neo-psychedelic record collection and hone his studio skills, worthy enough goals for this epic-sounding recording, which is being issued digitally (just $3 on Bandcamp) and as the debut release for Vest’s new cassette-only label, American Grapefruit Tapes.
Filling in the blanks between Echo & the Bunnymen and the Church and the Elephant Six bands, Vest crafts dense, moody soundscapes like the hypnotic title track and the Cocteau Twins-y “Why Oh Why” while also bringing a much-needed touch of instrumental prowess to the proceedings by shredding it up Silver Surfer-rock-style on “Carry My Love.”
Tiger High performs Friday at the Hi-Tone, 1913 Poplar, with Modern Convenience. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission: $5, advance tickets available online at hitonememphis.com. For more information, call 901-278-8663.
grief. good grief
La gueule de bois, which translates to “wooden mouth,” is French slang for a hangover, a fact that is revealing of the cerebral and guttural instincts at war within the Memphis four-piece called Woodenmouth. The group formed three years ago with drummer Steve Langford and singer-guitarist Jason Dawes pulling in Darcie Polson, drummer for the garage rock trio The Burning Sands, to play second guitar and sing, and bassist Chris Seaton of the American band Twin Pilot eventually rounding out the group.
As that lineage might suggest, Woodenmouth is an eclectic ensemble, something the band emphasizes on its debut release, an ambitious concept album that mashes styles liberally with a strand of shoe-gazing progressive rock running throughout. (This is a group, after all, that borrowed their record label name from the British science fiction character Doctor Who’s time machine.)
The record’s 10 songs are divided into five stages — two songs per stage — each depicting one of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is also an entomological theme at work here, with insects on the cover art and bug names like “Lepidoptera” for some of the song titles. I frankly don’t know if I got the psychology/symbolism or if I was even supposed to. What I do know is that the record really takes flight when the band members put their heads down and play, whether it’s the metal heroics of “Chevette” or the intricate art rock arrangements of “Phasmida,” one of the seven songs here that come in over 6 minutes.
Woodenmouth opens for Good Luck Dark Star Friday at the Buccaneer, 1368 Monroe. Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission: $5. For more information, call 901-278-0909.