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The Pollies: “Transmissions”

Everyone talks about “Muscle Shoals soul,” but no one ever talks about “Muscle Shoals rock.” The Pollies might change that.


Folks think of Southern music in generic boxes. Our region has, at various times throughout history, gained fame for its blues, its R&B, its rock and roll, its jazz, and these days, of course, its hip-hop.

But every now and then, bands emerge who fit none of those boxes. Such bands step outside genre by letting their influences coalesce — then by reccording whatever music comes out. The Pollies of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, are such a group.

When we hear “Muscle Shoals,” our brains conjure a soundtrack of soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. The Pollies do play with the precision Shoals musicians are famous for, but their music sounds nary a whit like Wilson Pickett's. Instead, like R.E.M. or Big Star, the Pollies reference few genres directly, while somehow letting their roots be heard in your ears. Shoals native Jay Burgess, long considered a “young pup” with high potential among local musicians, regularly collaborates with the likes of Dylan Leblanc and John Paul White. But now he leads the Pollies through a fine album — one that clearly deserves attention.

This Is American Music will release “Transmissions” next Friday. The Bitter Southerner is proud to bring you a first listen. — Chuck Reece

Preorder the album from This Is American Music here: