Guitarists Bill Anderson and Billysteve (yep, one word) Kopri turn the blues inside out on Churchwood’s “Vendidi Fumar,” then wear it around like Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Theirs is a sound — sudden, bright and menacing — not unlike a car crash, with six strings. Then there’s Vocalist Joe Doerr, who simply howls the title out into the night — like brailing call from an insistent drunk. It’s wild and actually wooly, this Austin amalgam of Delta grind, slit-wrist punk and Captain Beefheart-y weird-rock.
Then Churchwood, whose self-titled release is out on San Antonio, Texas-based Saustex Media, downshifts into a nightscape exploration, as Doerr falls into a snarling whisper. The sense of anticipation for the band’s crashing return is as palpable as far-off thunder. You begin to count off the seconds until the room lights up with the next bolt of lightning, closer now, heartstoppingly close. And then … they do: Doerr whispers his angry entreaty — Vendidi FUMAAAARRRRR! — one last time, and Andersion and Korpi unleash a paired torrent of scalding yelps on their instruments.
“Fire,” Doerr rails, over a rattling rhythm from bassist Adam Kahan and drummer Julien Peterson, “everything must go” — and you can almost smell the glowing ash.