Louisville's Trophy Wives do some heavy pounding, but they leave a little breathing room. They cite the influence of stoner-metal group Kyuss, but I think they more often evoke one of Kyuss' descendants, Queens of the Stone Age. The vocals of guitarist Billy Bisig recall the wry slurring of Queens frontman Josh Homme.
Another similarity: Trophy Wives understand sonic balance. Hard rockers, mainstream and otherwise, would do well to listen. Trophy Wives includes members of other Louisville bands that have balanced abrasion with directness, including hardcore powerhouse Coliseum and eerily spacious post-punk group Young Widows.
Trophy Wives' 2011 album Old Scratch features "Bless You All," which initially sounds too harsh and dreary to be all that pleasing. Yet drummer Geoff Paton leaves just the right amount of looseness and swing in his insistent beat. That carries the song deftly into its simple chorus but also helps it transition into a bridge that's choppier and noisier.
Sometimes the band flirt with more complex elements. "Picture Perfect" has a whiff of Quicksand's odd rhythms and risks sounding pompous. But Trophy Wives are focused enough to ward that off. They're also wise enough to let a chunky hard-rock song simply be that, as with "Bad Tattoo."
Old Scratch ends with the seven-minute "King Cab," which slowly twists around a beat that's a dead giveaway to Paton's time in Young Widows. Bisig and fellow guitarist Elliott Turton have lots of time to smear into each other with dissonant chords and flickering pull-offs.
Expect Trophy Wives to have a straightforward impact, but also plenty of sonic variety, when they play July 3 at the Dragonfly Lounge. The bill includes a new band, the Book Burners (with a member of the Madison band the Suit) as well as Madison post-hardcore trio the United Sons of Toil, who are returning from a yearlong break.