The same year that hoards of teenage girls were packing theatres across the country to see a vampire love story, Tennessee filmmaking collective the Deagol Brothers were premiering their own independent film featuring zombie romance. Luckily, Hendersonville High School “bros” Andy Duensing and Christopher Doyle didn’t follow the obviously underthought, cheesy route of hiring Murfreesboro zombie-themed rockabilly band Zombie Bazooka Patrol to score the film. Rather, they commissioned a legitimately biological set of brothers from Nashville, Eric and Jordan Lehning, to compose and perform music for the film under the name the Non-Commissioned Officers. “Make Out With Violence” (2008) won awards at film festivals throughout the southeast, including Best Soundtrack at the Nashville Film Festival.
I don’t know that the work of the Non-Commissioned Officers was initially intended to live beyond writing songs for a movie about the undead, but as the Non-Coms played live shows in Nashville over the next few years, the undeniable power of their dance-pop took hold.
Eric Lehning, the band’s spastic front man, always seems to resemble a used car salesman from the 1970’s in his traditional performance get-up of oversized rose colored shades and an ill-fitting suit. His determined delivery, combined with the hypnotic keys and driving energy of the six-piece as a whole, earned the Non-Coms a dedicated local following.
Nearly two years from the day the “Make Out With Violence” soundtrack dropped at SXSW 2009, an evolved line-up of the Non-Commissioned Officers, released “Money Looking for Thieves” on March 11 of this year. This record isn’t a soundtrack, but it may lead you to believe that your life is a John Hughes film.
The nine-song LP harkens back to the 80’s, expounds upon the ensemble’s trademark Eno-esque composition, and features some brilliant, sentimental lyrics. While the entirety of the album exudes dance-ability, “Rich Stuff” and “Love Will Conquer All” surfaced as my favorites. The final track, “Party for 40 Bucks,” is literally affirmation in the value of thrifty social gatherings.
From start to finish, “Money Looking for Thieves” only spans 30 minutes, but as quality trumps quantity for this Nashville powerhouse, you’ll be thanking the resurrected, undead savior of indie rock for allowing you to play through these beats twice every hour.