There is something wonderful about finding music that impresses you with no expectations. Melkbelly fell into our laps while trawling for new sounds and their combination of warm midwest AM radio-friendly “howdy, ya’ll” with that colder, harder-edged Albiniverse “fuck you” makes for excellent songs that intertwine different musical traditions into new forms. Though it has elements of both post-punk and country twangs, it’s not cowpunk; no prodigal grandsons of Grand Ole Opry striking out on their own whiskey fueled benders. Nah, this is closer to the sounds you’ll find in bands like Joanna Gruesome than Mojo Nixon.
Melkbelly is a newish band out of Chicago with four members making some complex and stylish sounds. Not overly complex enough to be math rock, you won’t find weird time signatures or abrupt structural changes, nor will you find the band noodling their way deep into the crevasse of their own navels. There’s solid guitar work, a rhythm section which works well in a range of traditions, and the omnipresent threat that the whole thing will flop over onto its side, spent.
“Doomspringa” is a heavy churning thing muscling its way forward with few, if any, detours with an ethereal touch from vocalist / guitarist Miranda Stokes. The opening bars of the song hit chords as Miranda and Blar’s dual guitars grind against each other (duel guitars?) while Blar Jr on Bass and James Wetzel on drums set the gears spinning up before the full machine of the song catches, transforming the listener up from a semi-passive bobblehead to a full on spinning top while remaining grounded by vocals that never lose sync with the gentler elements of the song. Each part separated would be interesting enough to stand alone, but the combination proves for some rather addicting listening.
The full album is expected out on Automatic Records in August, but for now you can check out Melkbelly’s “Doomspringa” below. If they can continue to marry these seemingly wildly contrasting elements, then August’s release of Pennsylvania is an album to keep on your radar.