Reed Turchi, the frontman of the Asheville trio that takes his last name, grew up in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains. Bluegrass and old-time seeped into his pores, you might think. But Turchi ain't about that. Rather, the band mixes hill-country fuzz and hoodoo funk: They call it "kudzu boogie."
In only two years, the band has issued three albums and an EP, complete with esteemed guests such as The North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson. They recorded their latest, Can't Bury Your Past, in Memphis. The record rolls like the Mississippi hills, but Turchi—born wanderers who travel to the Triangle so often they seem more local than regional—embraces multiple Deep South strains. "Take Me Back Home" sounds like ZZ Top fuzz choked out by weeds, though a few lysergic licks leach through. "Burning In Your Eyes" puts Dr. John-like hoodoo vocals over a swampy, psychedelic guitar lifted from Tony Joe White's back pages.
For this album, the core trio recruited saxophonist Art Edmaiston and keyboardist Anthony Farrell, both of stylistic kin JJ Grey and Mofro: "We've been pushing to get it a little swampier and murkier and groovier," Turchi says. Some of Turchi's best comes encased in hard-shell boogie. "Sawzall," for instance, is a hill country drone underscored by Farrell's Memphis choogle—that is, Booker T-style burbling organ paired with the leader's raspy musings on a guy cutting his house in half, so he can split it with his ex-wife. The band doles out swampy, spoken-word revenge for "Your Ex, He's Next" and carves out a deep, dark hole of despair for "Of Brother's Blood." It's a haunting pontification on the death of a brother and what lies beyond the grave. Over a droning guitar, Turchi repeats, "We all gotta die someday."
Good for us, this young, busy trio seems only to have started.
Label: Devil Down Records
This article appeared in print with the headline "Mountain blast."