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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 1, “Wiseblood,” a barnburner devoted to Flannery O’Connor that sounds like the quartet’s pitching a tent and prepping a Southern Baptist revival.
Guitarist/singer Adrian Carroll’s fire-and-brimstone inflection is the song’s selling point. Carroll stretches syllables with a Jimmie Rodgers–style blue yodel (“Wednesday night” becomes “Wednesday ni-igh-ight” and so on) and infuses each line with portent that cuts against the song’s otherwise sanguine tempo.
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: Carroll generally concentrates on “tone” and “mood” when composing lyrics, but for this song, he wanted to experiment with narrative. So the Columbia Heights resident hit the books. “Reading is such an emotional experience that I wanted to find a way to create characters and breathe life into the world they inhabit,” says Carroll, 29.
He settled on O’Connor’s 1952 novel Wise Blood, recasting the tale into a song about a door-to-door Bible salesman and the daughter of a phony preacher. The moral content was perhaps inspired by Carroll working from a book he didn’t own. “Here’s my guilty admission: I was visiting [my sister] a few years ago and felt compelled to steal it,” he says. “I dunno if she knows I have it, but I’m definitely keeping it now.”
THE ARTIFICIAL REJIGGER: Shortstack sat on a nearly complete record for six months before the band decided it needed to remix the song. Now, says multi-instrumentalist Burleigh Seaver, it has more “bite.” “The lyrics are innocent, but the vocal delivery gives the song a sinister twist,” he says. “And we know that all good rock ’n’ roll sounds immoral.” —Nick Green