If you’re allotted only sub-six minutes to introduce all you’re about and inspired by, how’d you do it? That scenario could be potentially panic-inducing, but for RMBLR, briefness is the catalyst to displaying uniqueness, not a constrainer.
The Atlanta-based quartet’s debut 7″ single, Territory, features tinges of ’70s punk and blues over its four tracks. Those traces are just the backdrop, though, and other snippets like a playground-like name game, ad libs and sleek transitions show what these self-coined “four mercenaries” embody, less than a year after their founding.
Opening track ‘Cannibals’ fades with background chants to ‘Name Game,’ where RMBLR charms with familiar motifs. Here, the band give their take on the classic 60’s novelty song, originally performed by Shirley Ellis, and more recently by Jessica Lange’s in American Horror Story: Asylum.
The lyrics play on rhyming a string of names — lines about the likes of “Bland Anne” and “ill Jill” over buzzy riffs that balance between Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy. Recorded in a Baltimore basement, ‘Name Game’ and Territory’s other pieces reflect the group’s previous lives “living in jungles as cannibals and fighting in the Vietnam war.” ‘Name Game’s’ premise comes off a bit lighter than those two examples; but dark, ambiguous stanzas like “Young Dick, young Dick, he liked to take a dip / He swam so many holes that it made him really sick,” reinforce the theme that chaotic pasts play a large part in the modern-day mania RMBLR deploys.
Predicting how a longer project by this rambunctious act will play out proves daunting because much of Territory’s appeal lies in the way RMBLR thrives in short form. If the energy and spurts of hilarity displayed here are at all transferable to something more sprawling, that’s promising.
Territory is out February 17th via Fat Possum.