Concert Preview: Cairo Gang, CFM to headline evening of music

The Cairo Gang, CFM, and Hardy and the Hardknocks will headline an evening of music at JJ’s Bohemia July 9. (Photos: Contributed)

JJ’s Bohemia will host an evening of music Friday that will include mutated rock group The Cairo Gang, fuzzed-out garage rockers CFM (AKA Charles Moothart of Fuzz and Ty Segall’s band) and Athens, Georgia, rockers Hardy and the Hardknocks.

Local indie rock trio Elk Milk and Knoxville psych-punkers Psychic Baos will also perform.

Tickets for the show are $10 and can be purchased at the door. The music is scheduled to start at 8 p.m., and with this many bands, you might want to get there a bit early to stake out your spot near the stage.

Emmett Kelly, the main architect behind rock outfit The Cairo Gang, has some serious history performing and recording with artists such as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Angel Olsen and Edith Frost—all of which has given him a unique perspective on how music can be imbued with a variable awareness of its place within its influences. His records have veered between British folk rock, post-rock and classic pop storytelling.

On his latest album, “Untouchable,” he ventures into some singer-songwriter atmospheres where his rock and pop inclinations are distilled into a pure musical essence. The songs don’t push or forcefully present themselves—they allow the listener to absorb them in their own time; they’re vignettes that slowly crawl under your skin and release various emotions into your bloodstream. It’s a colossal melding of classic pop tendencies and ’60s rock production, and one that will find its way into your regular routine, providing the needed mix of sounds that act as both homage and mantle bearer. And to hear these sounds translated live onstage will be something that you really do not want to miss.

CFM is the name under which guitarist Charles Moothart delivers his searing West Coast riffs while meticulously crafting a neo-garage noise that imprints itself on your subconscious. Rising to national fame for his work with Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, his work under CFM finds the musician heading a quartet who wanders through an environment where The Kinks and Black Sabbath are jamming in adjacent studios, and the bleed-over between them creates a wonderful blend of casual pop melodies and hard rock weight.

On the band’s latest record, “Dichotomy Desaturated,” Moothart leads the band through a series of Stooges-influenced rhythms that attempt to bridge the distance between these antecedent rock sounds and a more modern sense of garage rock production. The record finds Moothart delving deep into his complicated head space and “coming to terms with the fact that all I want to do is push myself, but it becomes scary.” The band’s work is a mix of introspective narratives and full-blown rock spectacle, but they do give each side time to develop until each perspective is as fully formed as the other.

For years, T. Hardy Morris plied his Southern-streaked rock with Dead Confederate before turning his attention to a bit of solo work. He eventually broke bread with a couple of Athens veterans and founded Hardy and the Hardknocks, a band that revels in the kind of muscular (and melodic) rock that you might have found on college radio stations in the early ’90s—not grunge but composed of the same threads of volatile emotion and formidable riffs.

The guitars cut through the air, licks rolling over one another as Hardy’s voice pierces through the dense haze of classic rock nostalgia. But their music isn’t simply built on the foundations of the past—they manage to create a solid block of noise while still working in some pedal guitar and sizable melodies that give each song the necessary lift to achieve their individual aims. It’s a sonic mash that builds to a greater roar with each passing minute.

Chattanooga rockers Elk Milk tear through a mixture of indie rock and post-punk sounds with an effortless roll. Their recent release, “Sea Within,” is a thundering capsule of early ’90s rock and serrated melodies that cling to the deepest parts of your brain. Despite the familiarity of their influences, the band doesn’t settle for common imitation but successfully molds their inspirations into a wholly original musical ideology. Streaks of lithe guitar lines and caustic percussion collide and expose the underlying relevance of these communal rhythmic adaptations.

If you’re searching for a grizzled, psych rock churn, look no further than Knoxville band Psychic Baos and their raucous “Nuggets”-era garage noise. They release lo-fi rockers that look back to the classic rhythms of bands like The Monks and The Sonics for inspiration, even as they carve out their own unique space in this expansive landscape. Their roiling rock roar is something to behold and is sure to catch your attention. If they’re not on your radar at the moment, now’s the time to check into their work.

Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not or its employees.

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