'Brimstone' to Bonnaroo
By Bliss Bowen 06/26/2013
Tis the season for music festivals across the country - a boon for dedicated fans and a rare opportunity for artists to connect in person with a wide spectrum of listeners. Marquee acts dominate even the smaller fests, but it's gratifying to see local bands play major events like this month's four-day Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.
Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and Bjork inevitably garnered the lion's share of press related to this year's Bonnaroo, one of the largest and most respected music festivals in the country. But the eclectic lineup also hosted a few indie bands from Los Angeles, including Nocona, which plays the Echo this Sunday.
The band is fronted by husband-and-wife team Chris Isom and Adrienne Isom, who also led the less accessible Paladino. What began as an extra outlet for Chris Isom's prolific songwriting gradually evolved into a proper, separate band, rounded out by Paladino bassist Annie Rothschild and drummer Justin Smith from Pasadena-based band Old Californio.
The enterprising foursome recently shot a video for their single "Brimstone," which shows them hiking forest trails, jamming around a bonfire and rocking out in foothills overlooking the city. Such bucolic visuals belie the song's bristling anger. Chris Isom's defining guitar lick pulls you in right from the top of the song, gathering dramatic momentum as Adrienne adds tough harmony. Payoff comes at the 1:26 mark, with a wicked blast of harmonica and Smith's kick drum.
"Brimstone" is the midpoint setpiece of Nocona's recently completed album, which, in typical DIY fashion, they're deciding how to release and market now that they've returned from the adrenaline rush of Bonnaroo. From the shifting punk-country time signatures of "Whites of Their Eyes" through the galloping Western "Sink Like a Stone" and bluesy slide of the closing rocker "Dead Ganglion," the eponymously titled album's 10 tracks reflect their kitchen-sink mix of influences. It can be geeky fun to name check them: a bucketful of 13th Floor Elevators here, a dash of Buddy Holly there, a little Stones. Between flashes of guest Greg Leisz's pedal steel on "Machine Gun Fire," there are moments that call to mind the much mellower Beachwood Sparks. Yet, to Nocona's credit, they don't sound much like any other band.
The Grand Ole Echo presents Nocona at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday; free admission. Also performing: Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Single Girl, Married Girl and Abby Posner. For information, call (213) 413-8200. noconamusic.com