Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
Over the past decade, Greg Cartwright has helped turn Memphis into a garage-punk Mecca. His bands the Oblivians and Reigning Sound have taken garage rock’s early intensity–think the Troggs, early Rolling Stones, even a little Elvis-inspired rockabilly–and merged it with punk scrappiness. Yet what sets Cartwright’s songs apart is his raspy, emotive voice. While other bands play fast and hard, Cartwright always lets in a little sadness.
His adaptability shows throughout Reigning Sound’s lengthy discography. In 2007 the band backed up ex-Shangri-La Mary Weiss on her solo album Dangerous Game, injecting a little toughness into the sweet songs. Now comes Shattered, Reigning Sound’s first new album in five years. A new lineup in the band has led to a smoother sound, but it fits Cartwright well. Recorded at the same Daptone Records studio that gave rise to Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, and more, the new Reigning Sound revels in soulful, in-the-pocket grooves, punctuated by horn blasts and Cartwright’s plaintive melodies. On “Never Coming Home,” strings dress up the driving rhythm, but even with the added production, it still sounds lived-in and true to Cartwright’s past work.