Led into battle by brothers Matt and Marty Bohannon, the Bohannons have been on the musical frontlines for decades, and on Friday, May 5, 2023, the band delivered their latest LP, Night Construction. The album continues the Bohannons stylistic explorations of the musical heritage ingrained within them, along with brand new sonic territory and the personal experiences which inform the band’s expansive body of work.
As often is the case with compelling work, it can be tough to definitively put one's finger on the sound of Bohannons throughout Night Construction. In a general sense the group sounds a bit like an amalgamation of the Pixies and the Allmans, or like if Lynyrd Skynyrd were backing Jack White for an album cycle. But aside from the very general categorizations of “rock” and “southern rock”, Night Construction tosses various shades of psychedelia into the mix, whether intentionally or otherwise. There’s also an alternative tinge to the music that modernizes it in a certain sense without sacrificing any of the grit or throwback quality.
Southern rock through the filter of alternative psychedelic could serve as one categorization of a track like “Arc of the Arrow,” its bright, melodic guitar passages reminiscent of R.E.M. with a manic vocal by which it might sound at home alongside acts like Modest Mouse or The Black Keys on alternative radio.
Still, the group’s southern roots are a key informant of the work throughout Night Construction, as evidenced by the southern-fried blues affair that is “Don’t You Try My Love.” Beginning as a lament of a relationship gone sour and anchored primarily by arpeggioed electric guitars and spaced out vocals, the band leans in fully about a third of the way through with driving drums and a blaring organ fueling what sounds like My Morning Jacket performing as a divorce court house band.
“Somewhere In The Dark” is a late-album cut that would be a fine contender for a single, as Bohannons manage an engaging but palpable take on the classic “love lost” ballad format. The resulting tune maintains its teeth while presenting as surprisingly accessible, working in a similar vein to the earlier work from bands like The Killers or Cold War Kids.
“I never thought it’d go down this way, never thought we would change,” is among the lyrical highlights throughout the track, and works in favor of the notion that oftentimes the most effective approach is rooted in simplicity.
The variety in dynamics is palpable throughout the project, with opening number ‘Get Me Out of My Head’ serving as an apposite instance of the effect at play. The rising intro, littered with fluid guitar leads from the opening crash, immediately conjures sonic images of Lynyrd Skynyrd. But once things get going and the vocal arrives, things suddenly begin to sound much more like The Clash or the Sex Pistols.
“Sense It Out” is one of the cuts most heavily infused with the southern rock sensibility, particularly the intro section. The verses feature some Ringo-esque drumming, with the snare getting plenty of mic time as the lead vocal is accented by cracks and flourishes and atypical beats throughout the measures.
The title track is also one in which drummer Mike Gault gets to shine, getting things going with a drum intro section - which seems to have become something of a lost art in modern times. The section also features a healthy dose of cowbell, another percussive tool which is unfortunately underexplored in the modern musical landscape.
Night Construction acts as the next progression in an ongoing musical excursion rooted in ideals of rock & roll but constantly and fervently seeking the next sonic plateau. A musical melting pot that retains its energy throughout various permutations, Night Construction is all but certain to appeal to a broad range of perceptive listeners.