Secret Guest is one of those bands that you can’t fully understand until you’ve seen them live. Listening to their first two records you’ll say to yourself, “Okay, this reminds me of Built to Spill”, but then you head out to a show and watch Andrei molesting his guitar or smoking a cigarette backwards and you see Michael shirtless and with drumsticks cracked from smacking them too hard on his cymbals and understand that they’re more than just another rock ‘n’ roll band. They’re chasing something that’s probably important, but clearly have no idea what it is, and their shows are the embodiment of them trying to figure it out at the expense of their own personal well-being and the well-being of everyone in the audience.
Being a rock n roll band in itself is something that’s hard to come by these days, but Secret Guest is the type of band that walks onto a stage and snaps guitar strings and falls all over each other and knocks shit over while drinking heavily, all to remind you what a real rock ‘n’ roll band is supposed to be like. Then at they end of their set they pull a Replacements and pass off their instruments to any musician in the audience who will take them and walk away like nothing happened. With Secret Guest, it’s just as much about the music as it is about watching the spectacle that surrounds and enhances it.
When I first heard “No Buzz” on the Scene SC Sampler back in March, I didn’t know that it would end up as track one on Dry Jest, but I did know that it was my favorite song on the sampler. This new EP seems to show Secret Guest taking themselves more seriously as a band. They recorded in a studio (Seaboard Recording in Columbia), so the production quality is much higher than it was on Goodnight Nothing or Joker City, yet we still get them cranking guitars and asking not-so-politely for you to please just turn up the fucking volume if you’re gonna listen to the damn record. Perhaps more than ever.
Another sign that Secret Guest is starting to realize that they’re onto something cool is the newly formed APT record label. Frontman Brett Nash formed the label with ET Anderson frontman Wilson W. Wilson a few months back, and Dry Jest is the first release on the label. Nothing like having a record label to help launch your tunes high into the airwaves, and if this EP is any sign of things to come in the future of APT, then I think I found myself a new favorite label. I’ve been waiting for some simple and badass shit like this to come out of Charleston for a while now. And here it is.
Dry Jest by Secret Guest is available now. Stream it below, and head on out to Local 616 tomorrow night for the release party with Del Sur and Dylan Gilbert. It’s free.