(embed at bottom of email)Preorder Lemon Lime:
04/01 Chicago @ Empty Bottle
04/02 Cleveland @ Mahall’s
04/03 Toronto @ the Ossington
04/04 Montreal @ l’Escogriffe Bar
04/05 Boston @ Hong Kong in Harvard Square
04/06 Albany @ St. Rose College
04/07 Western Mass @ Red Cross
04/08 NYC @ Trans Pecos
04/09 NYC @ Alphaville
04/10 Philadelphia @ Super Wimpy
04/11 Baltimore @ Joe Squared
04/12 DC @ Dwell
04/13 Richmond @ Space Litter Records
04/16 New Orleans @ Banks St. Bar
04/18 Nashville @ drkmttrBiography:
The quiet/loud/quiet/loud dynamic is one of the most popular elements in songwriting. Easy to use, and easier to misuse, it’s a technique that many bands employ but few master, and even fewer as skillfully as Shady Bug. The St. Louis, Missouri-based four-piece doesn’t just utilize contrast, they revel in it. Lemon Lime, the band’s appropriately titled sophomore full-length is a sweet and sharp sonic confection, each song a push and pull of jagged distortion and rich melodies. The album finds Shady Bug–comprised of guitarist/vocalist Hannah Rainey, guitarist Tom Krenning, drummer Aaron O’Neill, and bassist Chris Chartrand (Todd Anderson plays bass on the recording)–twisting their brand of noisy, dynamic guitar pop into new directions.
Rainey began studying classical guitar at ten years old, and by 15 she was touring with her twin sister as a folk duo. “I was used to reading sheet music but I rarely played electric guitar. I just didn’t really think I could play rock music,” she explains. “I don’t think people realize what it’s like to be a young woman trying to play music and all you see is men on stage. Seeing all these guys playing guitar licks was intimidating. Eventually I thought, ‘If I can play a Bach suite, I can do that too!’ So I did.”
Rainey began writing solo music but envisioned a bigger sound. Luckily, in St. Louis’ tight knit music scene, she didn’t have to look far to find O’Neill and Anderson, both multi-instrumentalists who studied jazz, and her guitar counterpart, Krenning. In contrast to Rainey, Krenning–a self-taught, relatively new guitarist–had a more raw technique: “I was playing with these three people who studied music but my approach is just more about feel than theory.” The seemingly incongruous styles proved surprisingly compatible. “I had to learn to break a lot of the rules I’d learned,” Rainey explains, with Krenning adding, “We were both learning new things but from very different directions.”
The new band excitedly discovered their creative chemistry over caffeine-fueled marathon practices that resulted in their 2017 debut, tbh idk. The album was met enthusiastically by the St. Louis scene: “St. Louis is a pretty big city, but it’s more insulated than Chicago or New York,” says Krenning. “That makes the community very close and supportive, and it motivates people to make the music they want to hear.” Shady Bug did just that, leaning into their productive streak and immediately beginning to shape the songs that would become Lemon Lime.
Building on the promise of tbh idk, Lemon Lime further sharpens Shady Bug’s sound. “Make It Up” opens the album with a wall of explosive fuzz that barely gives the listener time to acclimate before shifting gears to a shimmering verse of interwoven guitars and Rainey’s warm voice. Her uniquely phrased melodies set the stage for the Lemon Lime’s lyrical explorations of late night hangouts, existential angst, and the poignancy of mundane moments—like the reference to sharing a can of Sprite that lends the record its’ title.
“A lot of these songs are about living in St. Louis,” Rainey explains, “The rent is low but so is minimum wage, so it’s a pretty easy place to live but also an easy place to feel stuck.” Tracks like “Whining” and “Flood Song” lament that stagnation, but also celebrate the charms of city life and the relationships within it—a love/hate also reflected in the battling guitars and rollercoaster volume changes. On “Canada Dry,” O’Neill’s drumming shines as it seamlessly shifts between plaintive and pummeling, while Rainey’s way with words makes even something as innocuous as cell phone screen brightness seem weighty. Absent minded phone habits appear again in the chorus of “Lucky,” as Rainey wonders if her generation is fortunate or not to experience the breakneck pace of the modern world.
On album closer “Flake,” Shady Bug demonstrates how far they’ve come in such a short time, flexing their cohesion as well as their ambitious songwriting. O’Neill and Anderson’s agile rhythm section leads the song’s intricate movements and tempo changes, building to a massive conclusion where Rainey and Krenning’s feedback-drenched guitars collide with a cacophony of saxophones. It’s a stunning ending that captures the effortless balance of sheer beauty and unhinged discord at which Shady Bug excels, and it makes something very clear: Lemon Lime isn’t your average pedal-stomping indie rock album, it’s lightning in a bottle—or perhaps more accurately, lightning in a Sprite can.