Bottle Up And Explode is a foursome from Auburn, AL, and it does not play country music. This is a band that reflects modern and classic influences, the two most salient being the Beatles and the Strokes (singer Chris Cargile’s vocals recall proven Lennon/McCartney formulas as well as Julian Casablancas’ lyrical styling). This dynamic is surprising for guys whose upbringing largely forbade music and pop culture at large.

The band members grew up in a deeply religious part of the South where church wasn’t just on Sundays. The Thomas brothers—Micah (keyboard) and Caleb (lead guitar)—were home-schooled, so steady glimpses of the outside world were snatched here and there until the cultural blast-shields wore thin and finally collapsed all together. The other half of the band went through a similar experience. Just how severe was the music ban growing up? Remember the movie Footloose? The band’s bio tells tale of burnings at the local chapel of popular books, movies and music. “It was more like breaking,” explains Cargile, who tore up a Goosebumps book and had a friend stomp on his Lion King VHS. Cargile’s father took a hammer to his records, and only the Beatles were spared. “Oldies were somehow exempt from the devil,” says Cargile. “I don’t understand the logic of that, but the early ’60s and earlier were exempt. I’m glad he saved those.” The boys are full of stories from those days, perhaps because they’re so elemental to their music. The taste of freedom, after so long without it, proved to be intoxicating.

Bottle Up And Explode’s EP, Kingsley, embodies that spirit wholeheartedly. It’s exuberant and uptempo, a rallying cry, free of the hang-ups of modern malaise. Cargile sings about the friends in his hometown, getting older, getting dumped. This is all typical pop-fair but freshly packaged in both Cargile’s boyish voice and sheer musical energy. It’s no secret that these guys are genuine, as their honesty shows up in whatever they’re doing. “I think as far as our sound goes we wanted to do something that sounded as young and immediate as we feel and live our lives,” says Cargile. “Everything down South is a little old, a little worn out,” says Caleb Thomas, “and it’s easy to see that you’re headed for a graveyard like all your kin before you. It’s hard to believe in being young sometimes.” The local honkey-tonks are a monument to that since they only play music you can two-step or line dance to.

Bottle Up And Explode plays a lot in Atlanta, and its recordings are all done in a truly DIY style; egg cartons cover the walls of the house the guys share, wires run every which way, and the drum room they built out of two-by-fours and sleeping bags. If the band lacks anything it is not ambition or willpower. Despite the disheveled digs, the recording is very clean and well produced. Last year, the multi-Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse) recorded a 7″ with the band. It’s slated for release sometime this year, but the band is sitting on it while the EP gets spread around. The boys will be touring the South and the East as well this year, proof that their energy is still going strong.

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