Heavy Drag is doing its best to live up to its name. "Pop music can be found in any part of music," Michael Ruiz-Unger tells us. "It's a little harder to make something more of a bummer."
Spawned out of the ashes of local act Lil Daggers, Heavy Drag consists of Ruiz-Unger on bass, drummer Andres Bedoya, and guitarists Andreas Wong Chong and Jacob Israel.
The group's 2015 EP, Wood Sessions, was four songs of dark dive-bar atmospherics that will please fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Brian Jonestown Massacre. But in spite of what Ruiz-Unger says, there is a hint of pop catchiness in those lyrics, especially "LSD" — even if the Phil Spector influence gets obscured by the fuzz of a surf guitar.
Ruiz-Unger, though, promises Heavy Drag will continue to become more of a drag. "Wood Sessions was our first attempt at songs after Lil Daggers. There was a lot we needed to figure out in terms of direction and the sound we wanted to share."
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He thinks the band's new full length, Sábana Ghost, takes Heavy Drag's sound to an even gloomier dimension. It was recorded in Gainesville at Black Bear Studios with Ryan “Chooch” Haft, who has previously worked with bands like Wrong, Capsule, and Torche. Heavy Drag shared that ten-song LP with New Times a few days before it becomes available to the general public July 22. Songs like "Stoned," and "Bad Times," and "Strangle the Neck of Time" continue the quest of soundtracking the most laid-back of opium dreams.
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Ruiz-Unger even directed a few videos from the album, which are already on YouTube. The videos are a clear indication that heartbreak is a major theme on the record. "Kinda Slow" is a black and white western in which members of the band are led down a trail at gunpoint by a female bounty hunter, while "S 2 9" features the band bathed in red lighting as a man crawls on his belly toward a woman who beats him mercilessly.
Not exactly romantic comedies.
Heavy Drag spent July on a nine-date tour that took them up to the Northeast and will culminate with the band's record release show July 22 at Churchill's with the support of fellow South Florida rockers Peyote Coyote and Long Shore Drift. It is an evening Ruiz-Unger promises will live up to the true Heavy Drag sound: "Alcohol, pot, fog, and some bummer songs."
Heavy Drag with Peyote Coyote and Long Shore Drift. 10 p.m. Friday, July 22, at Churchill's, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com; admission costs $6.