After a decade fronting the goth-country act Trailer Bride, singer-guitarist Melissa Swingle needed a new direction. So four years ago, she recruited rock-steady drummer Laura King and started playing dirty, slide-guitar blues as the Moaners. Inspired by the percussive throb of hill-country guitarists like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, the Mississippi-born Swingle delivers a sweaty, primal pulse, abetted live by her use of pedals. Vocally, Swingle demonstrates the same dispassionate warble as in her Trailer Bride days: a constrained, emotional volume contrasted with the music's careening churn.
Comparisons to the White Stripes are not completely off base; both acts appreciate the spiky chaos of former Flat Duo Jets guitarist Dexter Romweber, but the Moaners cultivate a more meditative, droning sound. Their latest release, Blackwing Yalobusha, even finds them exploring a few new directions (the expansive, stream-of-consciousness "Dreamin' About Flyin'") while caulking the windows of their steamy hothouse electric blues with the creepy hum of "Monkey Tongue" and the lean, girl-powered blaze of "Brainwash."