Atlanta foursome Jock Gang describe themselves as harsh art rock. This is both accurate yet eye-roll inducing, if only because such a categorization usually results in ponderous revisionism or unengaging noise. On their self-titled debut, the band avoids either extreme, mostly due to the wild diversity of tracks which defy comparison.
The four-piece is a collaboration between guitarist Jonathan Merenivitch (Shepherds), drummer Adrian Switon (Shepherds, Bataille), bassist Kimberly Drew, and guitarist/vocalist Jared Collins, and while the careful listener can hear hints of both Shepherds and Bataille, this is a completely different animal from either of those groups.
Out of the eight tracks, no two sound similar. Some drown the listener in stagnant lo-fi oceans while others cut through with brutal clarity. For the most part, Merenivitch discards his usual vintage hooks in favor of dissonant minimalism and quavering soundscapes. “They Vacation,” one of the strongest tracks on the record, is a pop song twisted inside out and deconstructed to the point that even the chromatic scale is unable to cope. On the other hand, “Tell Me About It” is a beautifully simple pastiche of dark psychedelia. The track was recently chosen for Danger Mouse’s first compilation for his new label 30th Century Records, so expect Jock Gang to start making waves soon.
Less linear than their live performances, the record is filled with minute flourishes and idiosyncrasies which peek from beneath reverb and establish Jock Gang as a project more than as a band. Sure, anyone could make comparisons to Suicide, Bauhaus, or even David Lynch, but there is a willingness to experiment here that is so far from pretension, it might even be considered fun — albeit some pretty depressing fun.
Jock Gang will perform on Saturday, March 26 at the 40 Watt when they play in support of of Montreal and Pillar Point. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $13.