Shifting between the droning shoegazer stylings of the U.K. and the more melodic post-jangle indie rock of the late '90s, Charleston quartet Company stand out as a stylishly retro act. Despite the bits and pieces that seem drawn directly from the bona fide college radio fare of the early alternative rock era, there's plenty of fresh thinking and sincerity in Company's music.
"To me, it's mostly like a philosophical thing," says singer, guitarist, and songwriter Brian Hannon. "Your lyrics, what you're saying, how you say it, and what you're all about — that's a big part of it. There's a message in the music of a lot of those bands. It's artistically, so it's a hard message to discern."
Hannon, 24, enjoys digging through the low-key, lo-fi indie rock of the 1990s — much of which has now faded into relative obscurity. "That's my favorite kind of music," he says. "All the early stuff, like Guided By Voices, Pavement, Yo La Tengo ... plus even older stuff like Big Star."
During his college years, he sought hard-to-find independent rock music, built up a respectable album collection, and broadened his music palette.
"I remember discovering Guided by Voices, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Modest Mouse and not really liking them at first," Hannon says. "It wasn't until I heard The Shins that I started getting into Sub Pop bands and indie music."
Hannon eased into the local band community over the last three years. He formed Company with drummer Kelly Grant, a childhood friend from Greenville. The pair played together a bit while attending the Fine Arts Center as high school students.
"We both did college for a little while, then we both dropped out and moved to Charleston," says Hannon, who attended USC for two years before relocating.
"Ben Bridwell [of Band of Horses] basically named us," he laughs. "The name started out as 'Ko,' which is one of the symbols of the I Ching. It became a lengthy explanation, trying to explain what the name is and what the I Ching is to people. Also, some people thought it was 'knock out.' We changed it to the abbreviation for the word 'company.' Ben suggested changing it to the full word."
Last spring, Hannon, Grant, bassist Matthew Royse, and guitarist T.J. Ave-Lallemant traveled with Band of Horses to Colorado and Texas. Company recently recorded a five-song EP at the elegant Echo Mountain Recordings in Asheville, N.C. — the facility where the Horses tracked their most recent albums. The EP is due on the independent label Fat Possum this fall.
A sneak-peak of the unmastered tracks reveals a surprisingly full, clean production quality, replete with delicate, chiming guitar work and sheets of cymbal wash and punchy drum fills. Some songs are slow and mysterious, like the waltzy "Put on a Show" and the acoustic guitar ballad "Henry." Others, like the four-on-floor "You Win," rock stiffly and cheerfully.
"The thing is, our brand-new EP is slick," Hannon laughs. "And we are officially signed, so I feel like a hypocrite, saying we're an indie band. We recorded to a click [track], we had access to the studio amps and guitars, and we could add overdubs ... it was totally different from recording in a home bedroom studio.
"I would still call my music indie rock," Hannon adds. "There's definitely a distinguishing point between what indie rock technically means and how people use the term to define a sound. My only fall-back term is rock 'n' roll, which is also such a nebulous term."
DealMobs is offering two tickets for this Music Farm show for a hot bargain: $5 for two.