Twin Tigers, a bracing new rock outfit out of Athens, Georgia, might have to get big enough to play arenas and stadiums, simply out of necessity. The sound they churn out on their full-length debut, Gray Waves, though it has the intimacy of a rock club, is far too big for such a confining space.
To make that sound, these guys certainly channel some wall-of-sound bands. There’s small tastes of My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain to be heard here, but Twin Tigers don’t rest on musical history. They like noise — big, muscled noise — but they’re not interested in the feedback squalls of those predecessors. Instead, they build their loud, ever-expanding rock sound and fill it with catchy and affecting melody.
Much of the credit for that melodic drive is due to singer Matthew Rain. Surrounded by all this clamoring sound, Rain’s voice is the eye of the storm. It’s rough at the edges, but it also croons with self-assured sweetness. He brings opener “Passive Idol” to a halt, stopping thundering drums in their tracks, before building the track back up again with his own rising howl. Even when this big band doesn’t part to make room for his voice, Rain bays all the louder, rising up around it and adding a blood-and-bone strength to each song. “Sexless Love” in particular is a jangling, raucous song, and Rain rises to the challenge and bleats out every word, then draws his bandmates in to sing with him on the haunting chorus.
In all this expanse, the band explores all varieties of textures. There’s plenty of fuzz, sure, but there’s also the sharp angles of “Automatic”, the brooding chug of “Feathers”, and the sinister, grinding thump of closer “Island”. Each song feels tied to the last, but they never tread the same ground twice.
In fact, Gray Waves shows an impressive breadth of talent for such a young band. You can, however, still feel them growing into their own in places. The title track, which stretches past six minutes in the middle of the record, is an experiment in the fragile, shimmering side of their sizeable rock that may extend beyond its limits. And though Rain is an arresting front man, with just enough bravado behind the lilting hurt in his voice, he often hides it behind a gauze of fuzz, or hollows it out with an overdose of reverb. That voice is a fine instrument all on its own, and the more we get to hear it in the future, the better.
Overall, you’ve got to be impressed with the vision Twin Tigers show right out of the gate. They place themselves firmly in the American rock music landscape with Gray Waves, mark out their own plot of land, and make a hell of a racket with it. These guys are doing what lesser acts — like those Kings of Leon, for example — keep trying to pull off. They achieve size without sacrificing heart; they’re loud without being monolithic. And they’re worth keeping an eye on.