Southeast Engine is a potent example of a band whose sound doesn’t necessarily reflect its initial influences. The seeds of Southeast Engine were planted in the ’90s, when vocalist/guitarist Adam Remnant and drummer Leo DeLuca attended the same Dayton-area high school. Like most musically inclined teenagers at that time, Remnant and DeLuca were profoundly moved by the work being done by local heroes like Guided By Voices, Swearing at Motorists and Brainiac, but it was the duo’s move to Athens, Ohio, in 2000 that ultimately made the greater impact. The influence of Dayton’s local scene paled in comparison to the inspiration and adoration they felt after being exposed to the area’s Appalachian and dusty Folk traditions and, as a result, the band that they formed 11 years ago bore the unmistakable brand of Americana.
Although Southeast Engine has endured a number of lineup shifts over the past decade, the band’s sound has remained remarkably consistent with Remnant at the creative tiller. SE self-released its first two albums before signing with a small label for their third release, the well-received Coming to Terms with Gravity.
With a little help from their pals in The Wrens, Southeast Engine signed with respected indie label Misra (distributed by Bloodshot), which reissued Gravity and released the biblically conceptual A Wheel Within a Wheel in 2007 and From the Forest to the Sea in 2009. Southeast Engine’s new album, Canary, is a sonic scrapbook of the band’s impressive accomplishments to date and a further evolution of its lyrical depth and maturation, variously reminiscent of Wilco’s rootsy urbanity, My Morning Jacket’s textural passion, Cracker’s dusty swagger and Bare Jr.’s scuffed Country Rock rasp.
Canary is another conceptual work, set in America’s darkest days — “What’s so great about the Great Depression?” sings Remnant on the track “1933” — but the enjoyment of Southeast Engine’s story will come long after the love of the songs has sunk in and taken over completely.
Southeast Engine plays MOTR Pub March 22.