Allegheny Drive | Denton TX
By David Fletcher
Allegheny Drive is the angular concoction of Denton, Texas-based cro-magnons Noe Palacios (Singer/Guitar), Nathan Clark (Percussionist), Ian Clark (Keyboardist) and Mackey Divine (Bassist). Usually joined by an extra member or two on stage, the result is a fun dismemberment of music, catchy melodies and beautiful dynamics as they throw a hodgepodge of genres together such as psychedelia, jazz, punk, post-hardcore and electronica.
The band initially came together in the summer of 2015 for one evening and parted ways to enjoy life until the winter of early 2016 brought them back to each other to perform originals written by Palacios and Divine. These went on to amass an EP by the name of Jaybird. Bowling For Soup’s singer and guitarist, Jaret Reddick, heard the main single from that EP and decided it was a sound that needed to be elevated, so he brought the band into Valve Studios and produced six of their songs.
Now with their new single released on Independence Day, “Hippodrome,” Allegheny Drive is really starting to show its teeth.
Noe Palacios (Singer/Guitar) | Allegheny Drive
Nathan Clark (Percussionist) | Allegheny Drive
A result of Palacios and Clark locking themselves into a room for 36 hours, the track describes the world’s youth at the hands of authority and modernity, stripping them of identity by means of unnatural ruling and living. Entirely self-produced, recorded, mixed and mastered, “Hippodrome” is angular with moments of lush dynamics, bold rhythms, perverted structure and intensely performed but catchy vocals. The group is currently working Reddick again as producer for an EP.
From the moment the needle drops, fans familiar with the band’s catalogue will notice that something has drastically changed in its approach. Gone is the underlying spaciness of their previous work. What is left is a brutal chaos masterfully steered on its way to the apocalypse.
It would be easy to make comparisons to At the Drive-In at this point as there are definitely some similarities. The lyrics, while not overtly political, simmer over the flames of social injustice – “Tent city blooms and we’re raising the poles” – while the music only adds to the feelings of confusion and anger.
What is different about Allegheny Drive’s approach, however, is how raw it all feels.
Granted, the band does not have the same record-label production of their Capitol-by-way-of-Grand-Royal-records ancestors, but one gets the sense in listening to the single that even if they had it, Allegheny Drive would have shirked it.
As the vocals seek to find order over the music’s chaos, there are still moments in which the voice cannot be contained.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the second verse when the ice-cold delivery of “Twenty naughts stacked neck high / In my mahogany chest / Demerits as a…” is disrupted by the three clearly enunciated syllables of “MO-NI-KER!” As though the feeling of being labeled for nothing at all is too much stress for any voice to contain.
After the repetition of the song’s chorus, there is a kind of false ending that attempts to ease the band out of the disorder the song has displayed, but this is only a false ending.
What happens in the song’s final minute-and-a-half is a rising tension that is able to find structure in one moment and completely break down again as the band attempts to repeat the chorus one last time and fails.
This is not the failure of the song or its structure, this is a bold statement about the failure of “nice music” to truly fix what is broken.
“All our young festooned on the coup at the southpaw of a concrete noose” is what the song says and what it is refusing to be – adorned in flowers in the face of an illegal seizure of power that has displaced and murdered its own people.
No, this is ugly.