It’s long believed that dreams are a way for our subconscious and conscious selves to interact. A chance meeting between cognitive thought and the expanse of imagination. Our dreams are often half remembered upon waking, leaving bits and shards of the story left to be pieced together. That process of pulling together fragments feels infused within Austin’s Neckbolt, a band with a radiant understanding of pairing disparate elements together to create something magnificent. Introduced back in 2021 with Midwestern Drawl, their self-released debut album, the duo of James Roo and Benjamin Krause formed the project with a specific energy and an alien sound. At its core, that record laid the blueprint for the band, a forward thinking mix of caustic noise rock and vivid psychedelic pop, combining to create something wild yet ingenious, reshaping common genre ideals.
At some point between the recording and release of their debut, Neckbolt expanded, reverse engineering their sound to form a live band that could pull off the music of their recordings. The line-up grew from a duo to the quintet, with Roo (vocals) and Krause (guitar) joined by longtime friends and collaborators, Bill Indelicato (bass), Brent Hodge (drums), and Kilyn Massey (guitar), forming an instant chemistry apparent in their earliest of live shows. With members split between Austin and Oklahoma City, the band adapted their approach to songwriting, opting to record in bits and pieces as they wrote, bouncing ideas back and forth, watching songs take shape in ways that none of the members had intended, but all were quick to embrace. Neckbolt are a freaky band and their second album, Dream Dump, seizes the opportunity to dial up the strange in their own vibrant way.
Due out on 09/22/2023 via Chicago’s Born Yesterday Records (Stuck, Lifeguard, Glow In The Dark Flowers), the album is personal, a reflection of Roo’s emotions and his residual dream imagery. He is the “character” at its center, searching for meaning among the scattered visions and hazy recollections. The band acts as “a synecdoche,” describing the process and themes as being constructed “alone together.” Recorded in pieces over the better part of a year, Neckbolt found a way to record wherever and whenever, setting up shop in living rooms, bedrooms, practice spaces, and traditional studios throughout Austin and Oklahoma City. The process allowed true freedom, picking up and recording ideas as they developed, engineered by the band with contributions from John “Hutch” Hutchinson and Connor Schmigle (who recorded separate in-studio drum sessions) as well as Jasper den Hartigh (who assisted in capturing the vocals and bringing the record to a state of coherence). The results are staggering, it’s an album that captures the band in their prime, raw and focused, subverting expectations at every turn.
Neckbolt strives to dismantle the overtly masculine pitfalls of noise rock. There’s no tough guy posturing. There’s no hyper-macho aggression. If anything, Dream Dump is a headtrip into the recesses of the unconscious mind, a reflection of dreams interpreted and reinterpreted, and the weirdness that results. The dream state is thick and dense. There are songs about sleep paralysis via Chinatown bus rides (“Fung Wah or Lucky Star”), talking rocks and malevolent off-screen entities (“Cicada”), and what might be the singular tree at the beginning of the world (“No Magic”). This is a stream of conscious songwriting from the framework of the unconscious. While Roo’s backlog of dreams lend inspiration to the lyrics and themes, the music pulls influence from the unique and distinguished sounds of Boredoms, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Mystic Djim & The Spirits, and Polvo, as well as modern day genre expanding acts like Thee Oh Sees, Palm, and Guerilla Toss. Neckbolt understands context and divergent sounds, their music is often swarming and easy to get lost in, amorphous and fervently interesting. The band are primed to re-contextualize noise rock, creating their own animalistic sound, a swirling, ground shaking mix of acid fueled structures, primal rhythmic force, and cosmic asides. The record convulses and spits with character rather than angst or anxiety, the sonic brutality is met with cartoonish glee and dynamic textures. Roo’s processed vocals wail, slither, and screech against fractured motorik boogie and disjointed grooves. Their music is energetic and dance-floor ready, juxtaposing loud and abrasive with hypnotic and fluid. They’ve adopted an atonal bliss, where dread is transposed into possibility. Anything can happen. Dream Dump feels like a celebration, the landscapes of our dreams have been brought out into the open, and now we’re all just scraping for our own meanings.