Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We've heard that there's a dirty south, a place that gets a little nasty, does things a little differently. And we've heard - though not seen any of the corroborating evidence in-person - that the city of Atlanta is a hotbed for this quintessential southern dirtiness. Working out of those thorny and steamy deeps is the rock and roll band, Carnivores, themselves a foursome of people who do nothing at all to dispel any of that dirtiness, that scuzziness that is being suggested here. The group tattoos the dirtiness all over their bodies, lets it seep out of their pores and into their hair follicles, into the wiring of their beards and mustaches, or whatever they have or don't have at any given times. Philip Frobos, Nathaniel Higgins, Caitlin Lang and Ross Politi seem to believe in the beauty that can exist in the trainwreck of certain matters of living. It's as if they're able to find the glints of goodness out of the shit - or at least, they're able to dress that shit up a little, in rough and ragged bunting, in tattered threads, to present to us in the manner of most of their compositions. They are fuzzy documents that lead us into spooked alleyways, the ones that we'd never walk down at night, even in gigantic clusters of people. These are the alleyways for the rats and the sharks, for the knives and the shadows and we're hearing the privileged secrets of these sinister spots through the dark and torrential lyrics.
Lang sings, as an opening line to "Salts To Mine, "This world grows fast and cruel/I've pulled out the string and fell off the spool," setting the groundwork for an album that gets us into the thoughts of thing being in the toilet, or getting into the crapper sooner rather than later. It's one of those, give it some time and it's sure to get there, things. Carnivores get to love in a roundabout way, caking the thoughts with skid marks and screeching guitars, giving the idea some frightful fits, as if it's something chasing you down with a machete and you know that if you stop to tie your shoes or slow down at all that you're gonna get it. "Georgia Power Company," from "If I'm Ancient," is a song that sounds like it could be a different way to talk about the night that they burned old Dixie down. The power lines have been cut, everyone's in the dark and there are a bunch of people hearing sounds, believing there are things lurking around in the ground, as if there are zombies at work, ready to lunch on some brains. It sounds as if it can be a love letter to the band's home state in parts and a science fiction murder mystery in so many other parts.
*Essay originally published April, 2011