A couple weeks back, we caught the very tail end of a performance from new local duo called Black Stone Rangers. It wasn't much, but it was enough to pique our interest in the outfit, which, apparently, is named after an infamous 1960s Chicago gang. So we did as we do, and we checked out their MySpace page.
There, we found some nice little sonic surprises--enough to confirm our interest. The duo, we've found, pleasurably splits the difference between the bubblegum-like electro-pop of Museum Creatures and the darker, oddball electro-pop of Darktown Strutters. It's an alluring mix, for sure.
So we reached out to the band for a little more info. In return, they sent a pretty extended bio you can read in full after the jump. It's a little long, but it's a good read. The highlights? The band members met in Kansas, traveled together to Dallas, where singer Ruth Smith has performed as a DJ for the last four years under the name of DJ Baby Ruthless. She and guitarist Derek Kutzer shared some musical influences--post-punk and new wave, mostly, which makes some sense upon hearing their music. But they pretty much hated everything else the other enjoyed, which, oddly enough, you can kind of hear in the music, too, as the band tries to cram various sonic elements into their sound.
Suffice it to say that it's an interesting blend--and one well worth hearing. On that note, give a listen to the band's song, "Plug It In," which Smith and Kutzer were kind enough to pass along as a free download to DC9 readers, after the jump. It's the latest in a long line of great mp3s from we've shared with you from promising local bands in recent weeks.
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We met in Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the contiguous United States, which will inevitably and forever make us centrists, politically, socially, economically, and so on. I was delivering hogs to a local hog farm. Farming seems to be the preeminent form of economic activity in Lebanon. Ruth was trying to be one of two things: the female version of Jack Kerouac or the twenty-first century hobo, also female. Two things struck me. She had neither the love of bebop nor the true grit of a road warn rambler. What she did have was a sweet angelic voice, which I heard one morning as she sang herself awake beneath a big Kansas dawn. She wasn't really singing. As I fueled up the rig for the haul back to Texas, she was requesting. She was asking for a ride, and I could here something in her voice that didn't necessarily have anything to do with music. It was honesty. She had an honest sounding and soft voice. I had no problem bringing her aboard the ship. As we floated down the sea of grass, towards Texas, we learned many things about each other, one of those being that we both had a common interest in playing music.
Ironically, the hobo, the primitivist, who believed she got around using only her thumb, had a background in electronic music. In Dallas, the previous four years, she had performed as a dj. Recently, however, she had learned some piano chords. The Kerouac inside of her made her want to write, and she had a few songs. She showed them to me. I contributed what I could, but it really went nowhere. We had known from the beginning that we both had an obsession with Bob Dylan. Yet, beyond that, our tastes frayed and meandered in various directions. Little common ground could be found. My early days playing guitar revolved around playing punk rock, which means I didn't learn much beyond bar chords. Moreover, this attitude didn't teach me respect for instruments, and thus, by twenty, I was guitar-less. I made sure to befriend people with guitars, though, and in this manner I got a few strums in here and there. Meanwhile, a great transformation took place. I doused myself in blues, gospel, country, and folk. Every time I picked up a guitar I tried to emulate those old sounds. The best thing was shacking up with a girl who had an acoustic guitar. When she left, I refused to relinquish it. She understood.
I went on picking blues and folk right up to the moment I met Ruth. She didn't want to play that stuff though. The rambler rambled in an untraditional manner. I did not battle her too fiercely, but instead searched for common ground, the center, you know? We found that we both very much liked late 70s, early 80s post-punk. And 80s new wave had an impression too. Joy Division, Talking Heads, the Cure, the Pixies, that's how we came together. And, of course, Mr. Dylan forever lurked in the shadows. Other than that, our tastes and influences wander in many separate directions, only sometimes coming back towards congruence. I love Chuck Berry. Ruth does not. She loves Devo. I can't stand them. Yet we both like, in some weird way, the Misfits. Who knows where this band will take us. We've only been playing together for eight months. But as long as we can play the music that makes us happy, we will be happy. It's all about us, and the center.