Braden Dotson (lead singer of Asheville’s Antique Firearms) has a voice that makes you go, “Whoa, who’s that?” It’s a breathy rasp, sore and rough, sometimes a nasal wheeze and sometimes a forced yowl — but it’s also compelling and dreamy, swooning into an easy falsetto for just a note or two, here and there.
The band is good, too. Solid, spare, a perfect backdrop of muted tones and haunting melodies, so moody and aloof that its as much atmosphere as song. But that doesn’t mean that Antique Firearms is the sort of band you only listen to with headphones, or on a Sunday morning or after a breakup. I caught the end of their set last weekend when they were opening for another band (they should have been the main events) and was instantly drawn in.
So far the band just has one album — a self-titled debut from a year ago. Check it out here. Two standouts on that collection are the somber almost-waltz “Carolina” (which nods to Americana and country rock while bypassing both genres in an indie-rock/folk-noir cloud of dust), and the achingly lush “Crooked Grin” (all sweeping guitars, vocal effects, echo, cold water plunge, velvet night sky, time machine and radio static).
"Two Sets of Headphones" builds off similar themes, leading in with the nostalgia and firefly flicker of a Sixpence None the Richer hit, and then adding slow-burn riffs of longing, a pulse-quick drum beat and … and what? Something scary but exciting. A train wreck, a precipice, a dream of love half-recalled.
I’m looking forward to the next album. And show. Both of which I hope are soon.