Nashville, TN has long been known as the spiritual and physical home and heart of country music; however, over the last four or five years or so, Nashville has become known for a much more diverse music scene than what most people across the States would have thought or known. Sure, country music will likely be the primary music scene that people will immediately think of and that’s not changing any time soon. But the city is increasingly becoming known as the home of an emergent retro soul and funk scene that has received both national and international attention through the efforts of the folks at G.E.D Soul Records. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as to the incredible diversity of Nashville’s music scene. The last few years have revealed Music City to also be the home of an indie rock scene that has started to get quite a bit of attention nationally and across the blogosphere with acts such as Bad Cop, Ugly Kids Club, Tesla Rossa, Pencillin Baby, Tetherball, Plastic Visions and several others.
And with the release of the Nashville, TN-based Ex Cult’s urgent and bruising album Midnight Passenger earlier this year, Nashville has suddenly emerged as the home of an impressive hardcore scene. Ex Cult’s earliest efforts revealed that the band had a genre mashing sound as it was comprised of elements of psychedelia, punk rock, and thrash tied together with a howling fury and “Cigarette Machine” the title track off their forthcoming Cigarette Machine EP may cement the band’s reputation for a sound and aesthetic that burrows into the dark, anxious recesses. And for a band who’s developed a reputation for a bruising sound and an equally bruising live set, “Cigarette Machine" may arguably be the band’s darkest, angriest, scuzziest and most forceful song to date – in some small way, the song evokes the sound of sweaty bodies colliding in a small club to slashing guitars and howled vocals. (i’ve played this song a number of times before writing about it, and every time I’ve played it, I can still picture about three-quarters of the room at The Acheron turning into a frenzied tangle of limbs akimbo as it turned into one of the more furious mosh pits i’ve seen in some time. At one point this ballsy yet very petite woman, who was maybe 110 pounds had gotten shoved so hard that she literally went airborne at a 45 degree angle and crashed in such a way that the top half of her body hit a step that was attached to the stage and the venue’s wall. It looked so painful that me and another guy who was near her asked if she was alright. She smiled and went back in there as though nothing happened. That was pretty fucking awesome.)
Much like Midnight Passenger, "Cigarette Machine” is heavily inspired by sordid and lurid personal experience. Whereas Passenger was inspired by the band’s exploits on tour, “Cigarette Machine” comes form vocalist Chris Shaw’s memories of growing up in rural Germany – and in fact, lyrically speaking, the song makes extremely direct references to that period of his life. As Shaw has publicity mentioned, “The bus stop for the American school I attended was simply a cigarette machine on the side of the road. It also served as a meeting place for seedy characters looking to take advantage of impressionable youth. While it was 6:00AM and dark, the kids at the cigarette machine were learning more than they would at school."