Chris Welch & The Cicada Killers have made a home for themselves and their DIY garage-soul noise in the North Texas town of Denton. Filled with an echoing Southern sway and groove-infused melodies, their work manages to incorporate a host of different influences into a coherent perspective loaded with unexpected rhythmic curves and tumbling rock arrangements. As unique as it is infectious, the music lays no specific allegiances but keeps to its own way, borrowing bits and pieces from various aesthetics to build a considerable musical foundation.
Prior to fronting The Cicada Killers, Welch was the front man of Dallas-based alt-country band Pinebox Serenade, a group which released 4 records in their tenure together. He has also performed with and contributed music to Irish folk band The Jakeys and blues rock outfit Old Warhorse. Continuing to shred genre expectations and assumptions, The Cicada Killers expand upon those earlier sounds to arrive at a potent blend of soul, R&B and rock. Built around the combined creativities of Welch, Patrick Newkirk (Lead Guitar), Clint Sawyer (Drums), Kelly Evans (Vocals, Saxophone), Holly Manning (Vocals, Strings, Keys) and Dave Huff (Bass), The Cicada Killers corral a formidable assortment of inspirations in their quest to unearth the common histories of their varied influences.
They recently released their sophomore record, “Shook,” which was recorded in a hectic five-day session in early 2018 at Cool Devices Studio with Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan of Dentonite punk rock band The Marked Men. In contrast to the recording process of their 2017 debut, “Faded & Frayed,” which found the songs being directed almost exclusively by Welch, this new collection is far more collaborative and allows the band to function in synchronous rhythmic revolutions. Channeling the spirits of Roy Orbison and The Replacements in equal measure, the band doles out roughed-up soul introspection with an effortless bravado and emotional resonance.
With “Borrowed Repertoire,” the band deftly melds brash electric guitar, bursts of sax and bouts of country-rock movements into a cohesive musical point of view, with lyrics exposing what the band sees as “the industry tending to promote image over artistry, and how it’s always a struggle to remain authentic.” Tongue-in-cheek though it may be, the song also touches on some relevant ideas regarding the not-so-subtle monetization of creativity and how so many artists often find themselves falling into this compromising situation.
Th accompanying video was created by Jeffry Chaffin in association with Backyard Films Presents, and it finds the band exploring some campy, Scooby-Doo vibes as they evade (or fail to evade) falling anvils and various monsters and eventually discover the identities of their spooky tormentors. It’s a nostalgic throwback to classic monster movies and the kind of laughable shivers that predated modern horror tropes. And it’s really, really fun.
Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates below the video.
04/07/2019: Dallas, TX @ Deep Ellum Arts Festival
04/12/2019: Arlington, TX @ Division Brewing
04/27/2019: Norman, OK @ Norman Music Festival
06/13/2019: Houston, TX @ Rudyard's
06/14/2019: San Antonio, TX @ The Cove
06/15/2019: Denton, TX @ Dan's Silverleaf
07/05/2019: Denton, TX @ Harvest House
08/02/2019: Brenham, TX @ Home Sweet Farm Biergarten