With Manray and Modern Skirts
At 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16
The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
Savannah has a proprietary interest in the dance/punk trio Cusses. Together Angel Bond, Brian Lackey and Bryan Harder are our Little Band That Could, and they've spent the past two months polishing their chops, pushing the envelope and working hard to honor and retain the trifecta of titles they won in the Connect 2011 Best of Savannah readers' poll: Best Punk Band, Best Rock Band and Best Vocalist (that's Angel).
Bond is breathless while talking about Cusses' recent recording sessions (there's a full-length coming in a few months) at the prestigious Echo Mountain Studios, a converted church sanctuary in Asheville (Band of Horses and the Avett Brothers, among others, have cut tracks there).
"It's a mix of old and new," she explains. "Some of the first songs we ever wrote are on there, and some of our latest songs. And some in between. So I really think you can hear how we've evolved in the record."
Bond and the others have been in Atlanta this week, finagling some of the Asheville vocal tracks. The (self-titled) album, she says "is all live in the studio. Obviously, there's some overdubs - I do some backup vocals here and there, and some harmonies here and there - but we're trying to keep it as true to the live sound as possible. Because we're just a two-piece musically, with vocals. So we're not going over the top, production-wise."
At the band's Jinx show this weekend - their first hometown gig since July - they intend to play the entire album live.
Once the studio sessions were wrapped, Cusses traveled to Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. In The Apple, they performed at Arlene's Grocery, the Litt Lounge and Cameo Gallery.
"It was amazing," says Bond. "It was only our second time playing there. Our first show, I asked the crowd ‘Who has seen us before?' and ‘Who's from Savannah?' and three-quarters of the crowd raised their hands.
"A lot of people that graduate in Savannah end up in New York. That's to our advantage. We had a great Savannah support."
Then came dates in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Columbia and Charleston, where 500 people turned up to see them (sharing the bill with the Shaniqua Brown).
All this for a band that didn't exist 16 months ago, and began with a small, grassroots following here in Savannah. Bond acknowledges the easy accessibility of regional music on the Internet as a factor. "We're already seeing people singing along to the songs, which is I think pretty crazy after a year! And there were people that showed up in New York who said ‘I saw you here last year, and I've been waiting all year for you to come back.' That was pretty great."
For guitarist Harder, who's a working architect, a teacher, a husband and a father, Cusses' summer vacation was something entirely new.
"It was the first time he'd ever actually been away that long from his family," Bond says. "So it was definitely a true testament! And we are very grateful to his wife for sticking it through and being able to hold down the fort while we did this record." See myspace.com/cussesmusic
With Rev. Bro Diddley & the Hips
At 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17
The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
With a new album (Count Yer Lucky Stars) dropping in two weeks, produced by Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter), Atlanta’s heirs apparent to the Kinks might just be poised for the indie acclaim they’ve always deserved. The Gringos (brothers Nicholas and Pete Furgiuele, Pete DeLorenzo and Chris Kaufmann) play no-apologies Britipop with a tough, hard edge, and their songs are hooky and punchy, with shimmering harmonies and Ray Daves-ian music hall piano (the band members’ preferred label is “circus pop”).
The GS live show is loud and explosive, and all four of them trade instruments and take turns singing lead. Psst: They’re funny, too – here’s a quote from a recent interview with Nicholas Furgiuele. “Having as many songwriters in the band as we do, we’ve never had a shortage of songs, and a strict drug regimen helps with the focus. We wanted to write an album that was killer, and we thrive on pressure, so it was easy. Also, if you eat enough chile rellenos, you can do anything.” See gringostar.net
CHECK IT OUT
The South's premiere progressive bluegrass band, Mountain Heart, makes a long-awaited return to Randy Wood Guitars Friday, Sept. 16 ... Saturday at Live Wire Music Hall, it's an electronica smorgasbord with Wet Paint, Sir Charles, Ployd, Dope Dialect and Stupid Boy (the super-cool Ultraviolet Hippopotamus returns to the club Oct. 20, by the way) ... Free Candy and Electric Grandma are onstage Friday at the Wormhole, part of an "upcycled" art bazaar called Cyberclectic Exchange ...