Lately, people have been talking about the “resurgence” of the 90s guitar rock sound. A lot. Not that that’s a bad thing; the 90s were cool. There was a sax playing president, an economic boom,and a renaissance of weird music. Amidst all this 90s aural nostalgia, the other decades seem to get left out. Well, not the 80s (chillwave, post-punk, new wave techno jams) or the 60s (any manifestation of psych rock). What I’m really getting at is that 70s rock'n'roll seems to be an unexplored sound in terms of influencing today’s tunes. Maybe it’s because the bands making music then were so idiosyncratic, or maybe it’s the bell bottom jeans, but bands that draw palpable influence from rock’n’roll’s mythic apex seem more rare these days. Luckily, bands like Secret Tombs exist to prove me wrong.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, the dark-ish trio—made up of bassist A.X. McDonald, drummer Dave Rosenstraus, and singer/guitarist Ben Klahr—cites Black Sabbath as a chief influence, not necessarily on their sound but on the air of spook they’re out to spread. Black Sabbath’s goal was to be the sonic equivalent of a horror flick. Secret Tombs are simply unsettling. Their new EP, Secretly Yours, is a perfect example of this. The EP is posted as one twenty-three minute track, simulating the feel of listening to a cassette on a digital platform and providing a more fluid thematic ark.
Lyrically, Secretly Yours deals with loneliness, disillusionment and just plain insanity. And if you need a good example of that, the first lyric on the EP’s Shellac-esque opening song is“Secretly yours/Your sanity’s threshold.” The subsequent songs range from Thin Lizzy's glam to Black Sabbath’s electrical dirge—even seeming to draw influence from Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, especially around the 10:45 mark. Klahr's voice has a remarkably wide range, bouncing between a low hum and an abrasively tinny high that reminds me of Grass Is Green’s Andy Chervenak’s melodic yell.
Despite all its 70s signifiers, Secretly Yours could never exist in that decade. They're too off-kilter, too noisy, too aware of everything that's happened since. It’s part of what makes the cassette so mesmerizing; it could only exist in today's musical landscape. Also it’s only $1, which doesn’t hurt either.
Head over to Secret Tombs’ Bandcamp to download Secretly Yours or catch them live this summer to pick up a cassette.