Ohio indie rock band Smug Brothers to play Blind Bob’s, release new EP

Kyle Melton — singer, guitarist and songwriter for Ohio indie rock band Smug Brothers — has an unrepentant love for hooks.

That lo-fi pop-rock catchiness Melton digs couldn’t be better represented than in Smug Brothers’ latest EP, ‘Another Bar Behind the Night,’ set to release July 12, 2024, on Anyway Records (Columbus) and Just Because Records (Cleveland).

Preceding the tight six-song, 10-minute album is the band’s Blind Bob’s show on Friday, May 24, alongside Houseghost (spooky Dayton punk) and The 1984 Draft (’90s-tinted Dayton punk-rock), which should prove to be a stellar night of loud music.

Melton initially had two answers when asked where he gets his melodic sensibilities: The Beatles and Robert Pollard, the leader of Dayton’s own Guided By Voices.

While The Beatles seems to be the obvious answer for anyone who’s written a melody before — and though Melton’s voice is often affected to sound Liverpudlian, stating that the Fab Four changed his life at 14 — Guided By Voices’ impact on Smug Brothers’ sizeable discography is much easier to glean.

On art direction alone, both bands often implement collages for their respective album covers that appear to be informed by old Sears catalogs. Even the music, the short and sweet — dare this writer say — earworms that scream, “We know this could be longer but we think it’s perfect,” is also a characteristic of GBV and Smug Brothers.

Those familiar with GBV history are likely also privy to Smug Brothers drummer — and longtime Dayton Daily News contributor — Don Thrasher’s rhythmic contributions to early-nineties GBV albums, like ‘Bee Thousand’ and ‘Propeller,’ further associating the bands.

After a few days of mulling over his initial answer, Melton mentioned in an email that also working closely with brilliant Dayton songwriters like Andy Smith (Me Time) and Jesse Remnant (Human Cannonball) over the years has allowed him to refine his ideas and “sharpen the hooks.”

And ever since the first Smug Brothers release in 2005, Melton has gotten exceptionally great at sharpening those hooks.

Smug Brothers’ new EP — a strong follow-up to September’s full-length, ‘In the Book of Bad Ideas’ — was self-produced by the band, but may prove to be the final release recorded with Melton’s Tascam PortaStudio 424 MKIII; the 4-track cassette deck, which recorded most of the drums and guitars throughout the band’s tenure, is woefully on its way out.

The grittiness of Thrasher’s drum tracks was especially defined by that analog Tascam, so subsequent releases may have a noticeable tonal shift on the bottom end. Then again, Smug Brothers have always overdubbed keys, vocals, bass (courtesy of Kyle Sowash), extra guitars and percussion digitally, even digitally mixing their tracks, yet the final product always sounds like the precise lo-fi end goal — as if the band played as a group and recorded straight to cassette from the start.

“We record the way we record because quite frankly, it’s hard for us to get together to rehearse the material,” Melton said, explaining that Sowash and other members have mostly produced their tracks in their homes. “We’re probably never going to catch up to all the songs I’ve written. But if we do what I’d like us to do, this is kind of the way it has to be done.”

The new EP’s first track, “Javelina Nowhere,” opens with an arpeggiated guitar and an innocent yet commanding mellotron line, setting the stage for a near-perfect album of memorable treasures. The music video for “Javelina Nowhere” (released May 17) features a stoic and committed Thrasher — think a restrained Buster Keaton — on a mission to set flight, taking him through iconic Dayton sights and making deals with the anthropomorphic to acquire the necessary supplies to make the flight happen.

From there, the playfulness of the EP continues with “Seamus & the Younger” and remains until the final chord hit in “Shedding Polymer”: the only song on the record that features new Smug Brothers guitarist, Ryan Shaffer.

Lyrically ambiguous, tonally energetic and economic, Smug Brothers has hooked us once again. As Melton admits, the sequencing makes you want to keep spinning it. Or rewind it. Or put it on repeat.

If only — as is the case with many Smug Brothers releases — it wasn’t so short.

But considering the consistency and prolificity of the Smug Brothers, having 20 releases since 2005, something says we won’t have to wait long until the next one.

Smug Brothers’ new EP ‘Another Bar Behind the Night’ will be released on cassette and digital on July 12, 2024.

More details

They will be playing Blind Bob’s on Friday, May 24 (Kyle Melton’s birthday) with Houseghost and The 1984 Draft. Doors are at 8 p.m. Music at 9 p.m. Admission is $10 and is 21 & up.

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