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Playing guitar-based indie rock deeply indebted to shoegaze and 1990s alternative sounds, Smut build their music from equal portions of six-string noise and bent-but-playful melodicism. Lead singer Tay Roebuck gives their performances an energy and spiky charm that complements the attack of guitarists Andrew Min and Sam Ruschman, while the songs let the edgy sound share the stage with their emotionally expressive side. The band’s trademark sound began to coalesce on their 2017 cassette release End of Sam-soon, while they refined and expanded their approach on their first full-length album, 2022′s How the Light Felt.
Smut was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in the mid-2010s by guitarist Andrew Min. Min was in a band that fell apart, and a few months later, he found himself eager to write and perform again. Wanting a collaborator, he turned to his girlfriend, Tay Roebuck, whose opinionated nature stuck him as good qualifications for a lyricist and lead singer. They wrote songs together, and after recording a few rough demos, they recruited a bassist, Sam Ruschman. With the addition of drummer Leo Kessler IV, the first lineup of Smut was complete, and they recorded a five-song EP, Purse, that was released in 2014 by the local Torn Light label. A limited-edition cassette album, the eight-song End of Sam-soon, followed in 2016. By this time, bassist and keyboard player Bell Cenower had been playing in what she described as “this really terrible, god-awful band” when Roebuck, Min, and Ruschman saw her and thought she would be a good fit for their group. Cenower became Smut’s bassist and keyboard player, while Ruschman moved to second guitar, and Harold Bon took over on drums for Leo Kessler IV. Smut took to the road, playing small headlining gigs and sharing bills with groups such Bully, Swirlies, and Nothing.
A three-song vinyl EP, Power Fantasy, followed in 2020, and in the midst of the live-music lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Smut left Ohio to relocate to Chicago, Illinois, with financial stimulus checks helping to finance the move. After settling in the Windy City, they began writing material for their first full-length album, and the addition of drummer Aidan O’Connor helped them hone a more full-bodied and hard-hitting sound. Once touring opened up again, they set out to play a string of dates with Wavves, tightening their sound as they began blocking out plans to record again. In November 2022, Smut’s first full-length release, How the Light Felt, was issued by Bayonet Records, and the group soon went back on the road in support. ~ Mark Deming