Listen Local: New Louisville Music

Polk reviews new releases by four Louisville artists

Apr 10, 2024 at 12:44 pm
Listen Local: New Louisville Music

Ben Fugate & The Burning Trash Band

Ben Fugate & The Burning Trash Band - EP 

The first thing you notice as soon as opening track “Dream Song #1” begins playing is that this isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill, boring, pop-country dreck that dominates the country music airwaves and charts. This is the real-deal honky-tonk, traditional country music straight out of the Appalachian Mountains. But don’t let Hazard, KY, native Ben Fugate’s youthful appearance fool you, this is a man who writes, plays, and sings his songs with all the heart and soul of a seasoned country music veteran — bringing to mind legends like Hank Williams, George Jones, Joe Diffie, Keith Whitley, Travis Tritt, and Charlie Daniels, (all influences of Fugate). Backed by The Burning Trash Band — a group of extremely talented musician and songwriters - Fugate and company are a throwback to the days when country music was about more than image, while also bringing a southern rock feel and vibe to their sound. After amassing a large following on Tik Tok and Spotify, Fugate was signed to sonaBLAST! Records here in Louisville in 2021. Label founder Gill Holland brought Fugate and his band to Louisville to work with Anne Gauthier at La La Land Studios, whose production work I have raved about many times in the past, resulting in 8-songs of pure, true, real country music. 

Catch the band at the album release show Thursday, April 11th at The Monarch, 1318 Bardstown Rd., at 8 p.m. Tim DeLonjay & The Level Ride open. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Chenille oKeel

“Knuckle Sandwich (Barry and the Baseball Glove)” / “Magical Fish” - singles 

If you’re one of the many thousands of Spotify listeners who’ve heard any of oKeel’s previous releases, then you might think you know what to expect here. And you’re right… but you’re wrong. I’ll explain: oKeel’s music has always been heavily rooted in 1980’s British new wave synth-pop, but with modern day EDM and trip hop influences that create lush, danceable soundscapes. But for his latest two new tracks, oKeel has stripped down his sound a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot. If you’ve ever listened to his music and thought, “He really needs more ukulele,” you’re in luck! Gone are the synth and EDM beats — this is just straight up ukulele and vocals, Tiny-Tim-style. However, that ukulele is backing oKeel’s distinctively unique, wonderfully strange vocals and his somewhat off-the-wall but thoughtful and introspective lyrics. Put that together and what you get are two sweet, fun, and oddly charming songs. Honestly, this shouldn’t work; yet oKeel has a certain charisma that comes through in his music — a sense of self-awareness and enough of a “I’m being serious, but I’m not being serious” goofiness to his style of vocals that make him extremely likable, all of which come through in spades on these two tracks. With oKeel, you have to check your expectations at the door, close your eyes, and trust that he is going to take you on a weird, wonderful ride.


The Invincible Spit Kicker 3 - album 

Rappers who come out slinging lyrics about how hard they are, how much money they have, and how many girls they get are a dime a dozen. The same can also be said about pop rappers with corny lyrics about nothing. But rappers who can look deep within themselves, at the world around them, and present the listener with the good, the bad, and the ugly through an unflinching eye, those are the diamonds in the rough that truly shine brighter than the rest. FuriousFloyd is firmly planted in that latter class of rappers. His latest album, the aptly titled, The Invincible Spit Kicker 3, is an 11-song journey through his life and his world as seen through his eyes and experiences, and the results are staggering. A Long Island, NY native but a Louisvillian since 2014, Floyd isn’t new to the rap game by any means, but he brings a level of wisdom, honesty, positive outlook, and raw authenticity to his lyrics that cannot be faked, only learned through years of living through it all. And, Floyd is an amazing storyteller; painting vivid pictures for the listener throughout each these tracks. Each lyric meticulously sharp and pointed, leaving no doubt where he stands and where he’s taking you. And with his boom bap style of hip hop, Floyd hits hard — his flow taking center stage, bringing to mind legends like Wu-Tang Clan, KRS-One, and Mobb Deep. He is currently giving the download of the full album away for free on his label’s website, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be listening right now.

High Commander

The Melody Industrial Complex - album 

Describing your band as “a very low rent jazz group from the Dixie Highway side of South Louisville,” is certainly a great way to grab my attention. The thing is though — there is nothing low rent about this band. These are some seriously talented musicians who bring an amazing amount of originality and complex songwriting skills to their music. Self-described as “a unique style of South Louisville trap jazz,” High Commander combine bebop, funk, lounge, and bluegrass with elements of hip hop, rock, punk and ska for a sound they’ve dubbed “Economy Music,” going on to say; “With High Commander you get the basics flavors of almost every genre, but nothing extra.” It’s not surprising to learn that most of the band cut their teeth in the hardcore, metal and punk scenes here in Louisville before gravitating towards jazz, as they play it with such vigor and energy that you can help but get excited while listening to these guys jam. This album is a blast to listen to, and is one of those few records that as soon as it was over, I couldn’t wait to play through the whole thing again. Formed in 2019, The Melody Industrial.

Complex is already the band’s third full length album and is set to be released on April 20th. High Commander is proof that while the chances of a mosh pit happening at a jazz show are extremely low, they’re never zero.