By Jonah Covell
These are celebrations of love, both of oneself and others, and they can be exhilarating.
Release Date: 3/3/23
Producers: Robbie Crowell, John Meehan, Preston Cochran and Scottie Prudhoe.
2. Creatures of Culture
4. Keep Warm
5. Sweet Treat
6. The Love I Have
7. Another Trip
8. Leo’s Rodeo
9. Take It Easy
10. Feelin’ Good
11. I’ve Gotta Fly
12. Whistle While You Work
There are a few things most of us picture when thinking of Nashville. Rows of honky tonks and pink hat parties, studios upon studios and the Mother Church, hot chicken, endless traffic...the list goes on. Bombastic indie rock bands are probably a touch further down the list, but maybe they shouldn't be.
The Minks are storming in to change that with Creatures of Culture. The East Nashville four-piece's second LP makes up a celebration of love in all its forms and does a pretty damn good job of it too.
Through a fusion of ‘90s grunge, a few strains of prog rock and some truly skronky guitar playing, Creatures of Culture carves out a space to satisfy ears that don't mind taking a break from their preconceived notions of a Nashville band.
Don’t expect a country album. The band’s self-designation of being a “psychedelic blues” act seems pretty on the nose. The song structures vary throughout, with the title track, ‘Take it Easy’ and ‘Lavender’ offering extended musical breaks and compositional change-ups that you’re not gonna get from the twangers two miles over.
While their commitment to sonic experimentation veers them away from any story songs or extended wordplay, they certainly still pen some strong lyrics, especially on ‘The Love I Have’ and ‘I’ve Gotta Fly’. A few riffs sound a little canned, especially on ‘Motorbike’ which sounds a little too much like something that would soundtrack a Toyota ad.
These are few exceptions though - most of the band’s instrumentation rips. After opening with a lone arpeggiated guitar and Nikki Barber’s torn, distorted vocals, ‘Sweet Treet’ tears itself apart with an ascending solo that seems to blister in from another dimension, coupling with falling background vocals before petering into a soft silence.
The band leaves their best moment till last though with ‘Lavender’, the finale. Though simpler in construction than most of the record, its mantra-like chant evokes the sort of catharsis that only music and lavender can.
Part of what makes Creatures of Culture so satisfying is the open sincerity pervading The Minks’ songs. These are celebrations of love, both of oneself and others, and they can be exhilarating.
Barber, Ben Giesecke, Dylan Sevey and Henri Young are all grinders and lifers, not baby-faced kids. Their celebrations are backed by urgency and you can feel their creed throughout: “If you don’t create you’ll combust”.
7 / 10.
The Minks 2023 album, Creatures of Culture, is out now.