Georgia Dish Boys Unpack the Suitcase of Life

The nine songs that comprise Suitcase of Life, the forthcoming sixth album from Georgia Dish Boys, are partitioned by audio verité snippets recorded by vocalist/guitarist Seth Martin while on tour out West last year, capturing random, displaced scenes from the road: the van door shutting, the engine starting, the dial being impatiently scanned on the dashboard radio, conversations overheard in line at a gas station, a search for a load-in parking spot, illegible chatter at a bar between sets, an unanswered call to a phone with no voicemail. So you’d be forgiven for assuming this would be a concert album (they already did that four months ago with Live in Classic Town, which offered late night Caledonia Lounge versions of several of Suitcase’s tracks) or cohesively themed like a band’s tour diary. Granted, there are a few songs that slide nicely into that premise, but the true upheaval is in the music itself, a twisted configuration of country rock in which everything sounds mutated, off-center and dislodged. It’s just kinda how these particular Athens boys go about things.

So we’re treated to certain tracks such as “You Got Me, I Got You” and “All I Know (Is That I Don’t)” that suggest what might’ve been the outcome had Eugene Chadbourne joined the Flying Burrito Brothers, while the jittery punk pounder “Younger Self” bashes the trash like a meth-head trailer park inversion of “White Light/White Heat.” The firestorm of distinct guitars (Martin, Robert Hibbs and Tyler Key) always manages to merge into a swirling mirage of mutual intent, punctuated by carefree piano plunking (Mark Plemmons), often in something of a barrelhouse boogie-woogie style. As ramshackle as they can sound, the whole band (filled out by bass guitarist Garrett Hibbs and drummer Eric Zock) is downright exhilarating. They wisely avoid any temptation to delve into jam rock. Their songs are, in fact, focused like a precision drill press.

Martin’s odd, distinctive, bloodcurdling voice is certainly the element that is most jarring right off the bat. Like some feral, rubberfaced clown goblin, he always sounds like a constipated Blaine Cartwright in the process of taking the biggest dump in the history of humankind, one that’s as painful as it is euphoric. It’s unconventional, to say the least, and it takes some getting used to, but it’s certainly an integral piece of the group’s uniqueness.

Recorded and mixed by Henry Barbe (son of David) on a weekend last winter at Chase Park Transduction, Suitcase of Life will be released on vinyl and digital June 26th. We’re happy to present a little advance taste for you today, the aforementioned rocker “Younger Self,” along with its gas station checkout line eavesdropping intro. Probably the loudest track on the album, the band learned the four-chord punk song in the studio in about ten minutes on the day of recording. Seth wrote it on the back of a receipt while working at a dishwashing job in Athens.

Live band photo by Sloane Simpson.