Atlanta rockers All the Saints are something of an anomaly. On one hand, their brazen, aggressive, amped-up sound goes straight for the jugular. On the other, their off-kilter melodies and languid pace give them a brooding, ominous feel. Throw in some of the most intense feedback you're likely to hear all year, and you have a sound that could be Mudhoney-era grunge or Stone Roses-era psychedelia, with some early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fuzz added in for kicks.
The trio—Matt Lambert on guitar and vocals, Jim Crook on drums, Titus Brown on bass and vocals—just dropped its first full-length album, Fire on Corridor X. The record was released on Boston's hard-rocking label Killer Pimp Records, which boasts a bevy of reverb-laden bands, including current indie darlings A Place to Bury Strangers. But the members of All the Saints seem to have no problem making their own way. The 10 songs on the album are powerful and loud enough to make you sit up and pay attention.
The record follows the same dynamic found on the band's 2007 EP release, just refined a bit. "Nothing's changed too drastically," Crook says. "It's certainly a continuation of that earlier sound—loud, aggressive, maybe darker."
Crook also says that the band takes it time perfecting each song. "We've definitely never been the band to write three-minute pop songs," he says. "The new record is more experimental; there's some influence from bands like Can and Loop. But we never lose that raw Southern sound. The guitar feedback is as obnoxious as ever. It's really all about the rock."
He's definitely on to something. Tracks like "Sheffield" and "Farmacia" come on strong and weighty, while "Hornett" slows things down to a caterpillar crawl. The lyrics add to the drama, as Lambert's breathy voice ebbs and flows with the music. All the Saints might pummel you at first, but they will also lure you into their dreamy soundscape.
All the Saints began their trek to aural oblivion about three years ago, after a happenstance reunion at The Earl, the legendary music club that serves as ground central for East Atlanta's thriving music scene. After playing in different bands back home in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Crook says, the Saints all separately moved to Atlanta, but had completely lost touch. After reconnecting, it didn't take long for the three to start laying the foundation for their own band. "We've been locked in the basement ever since," Crook says.
Crook is quick to give credit to the band's surrogate home of Atlanta, which has seen several of its quirky indie bands get some major acclaim in the last few years. Bands like rock gods Mastodon and the irreverent Deerhunter might have gained major notoriety from music blogs and mainstream magazines, but endless touring and incredible live shows have cemented their status. It's a path that All the Saints seem poised to follow, earning some impressive reviews at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, and a major following in their hometown.
"Atlanta in recent years has been a great training ground for young bands," Crook says. "It's really competitive, but in a good way. Plus there are all types of great bands here, and everyone plays in Atlanta. It's just been a great base for us."
For the album, the band worked with Atlanta-based producer Ben H. Allen, best known for his work with Gnarls Barkley, P-Diddy, and Christina Aguilera. Allen shares a recording studio with Cee-Lo Green and most recently worked with Animal Collective. His dirty pop style seems an odd fit for All the Saints, but Crook claims Allen helped the band refine its sound and made it "even more dense, particularly with the percussion."
The band is currently headed up and down the East Coast on a brief 10-date tour with up-and-coming Athens, Ga., band Dead Confederate. The Saints have played before in Knoxville, at both the Pilot Light and at Barley's in the Old City, where they'll perform on June 6, just before returning home to a show at The Earl. Just bring your earplugs and brace yourself—this show promises to knock summer into full gear.