Unsuspecting listeners who aren’t familiar with Turtle Bangs’ music might get the impression they are a country act upon first glance at the cover art of their new album Mountain. However, that notion quickly disintegrates as the ear-splitting fuzz of electric guitar rips into the heavy rock sound of the opening track, “Desert Stone,” which continues relentlessly throughout the set’s entire duration.
Guitarist and vocalist Greg Stephen and drummer Casey Carter formed Turtle Bangs in the fall of 2008 while both were residents at Murfreesboro’s notorious Country House. The local duo released their second full-length recording earlier this year, which is a follow-up to their debut, Give Me Your Daughter.
Co-produced with Hank Parker Pruett, the album incorporates a profusion of post-grunge, alternative and garage rock elements slightly tempered with hints of punk to create a powerful and beautifully chaotic musical statement. Stephen’s raw and gritty vocal style is at times reminiscent of Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, as he delivers each song with reckless abandon that never eases up during the 12 tracks.
“Lost in West Virginia/roaming in the cold/mountains overwhelming/waiting for the calm to come,” Stephen intimately reveals in the closing track “Mountain Song.” However, listeners should be forewarned that calm is not something easily heard anywhere on this strikingly frenzied indie rock release.
While plenty of passion is evident, these songs are presented in a rough and unpolished, almost demo-like quality that at times becomes monotonous. This fact could hinder some listeners from completing the entire musical journey the duo may have ultimately envisioned. Also, the somewhat less-than-spectacular songwriting contained here only hints at the duo’s promise that is anticipated after hearing the initial tracks.
Although Turtle Bangs’ sound may be an acquired taste, the band certainly deserves credit for creating a bold and aggressive album, which is sure to permeate astute rock fans’ ears and give them something to sink their teeth into.