Their sound: That magical combination of dissonant, Pavement-esque and pavement-ready garage rock & roll with a keen grasp of how to make it all wildly melodic — thanks to super-sticky riffs, restrained psychedelia and a sense of composition that’s restless, surprising and pretty fearless.
Big Break: There is certainly no shortage of bands in Music City, so like many fledgling artists in the saturated town, Blank Range’s first battle was to simply get some time on stage. One evening, they played a quick set at a showcase dedicated to up-and-coming talent called New Faces Night, hosted at local club the Basement. The venue’s owner, Mike Grimes, took an instant liking to the quintet (with Jonathon Childers on guitar/vocals, Matt Novotny on drums, Jonathan Rainville on keys, Grant Gustafson on vocals/baritone guitar and Taylor Zachry on bass) and started slotting them in whenever he could.
“He was really into it, and started giving us calls every time anybody dropped off the bill at the Basement,” says Rainville. “So we started playing there two or three times a month for a good stretch of time. That’s when we saw our first response and decided to get this thing going.”
After steadily building a following, they entered The Road to Bonnaroo, a competition for Nashville-based bands that rewards the winner with a slot at the famed Manchester festival. They won – and gigs opening for Spoon, Alice in Chains and the Drive-By Truckers soon followed.
Why We’re Listening: In an age when you’re as likely to find a synthesizer on a rock record as a mandolin, Blank Range play music that uses tools like distortion pedals, ample fuzz and out-of-the-box vamps to mold their sound – not the trendy tool du jour. Their 2013 EP, Phase II, stands out as not being particularly vintage (a common point of view in a town enamored with the past) without ringing as cloyingly futuristic, either: It’s a natural evolution from the likes of Seattle grunge and post-new wave, the Strokes-inspired New York without heading the way of anything overly orchestral, intentionally weird or dripped in throwback blues. Songs like “Last Crash Landing” and “Same Sun” meld whirling, Seventies style piano with clangy guitar riffs that run an unpredictable line from Childers’ and Gustafson’s dual vocals. It’s inventive rock & roll free of prefixes and modifiers.