In the midst of Hot Winter, the debut album from Baltimore psych trio Scroll Downers, singer Lexie "Mountain" Macchi launches into "I Want to Believe," a cathartic ripper that splits the difference between Stuart Smalley-like affirmation ("I want to be free/ I want to believe in myself") and violent exorcism.

In the midst of Hot Winter, the debut album from Baltimore psych trio Scroll Downers, singer Lexie "Mountain" Macchi launches into "I Want to Believe," a cathartic ripper that splits the difference between Stuart Smalley-like affirmation ("I want to be free/ I want to believe in myself") and violent exorcism.

"Who told you that you're not worth it," the frontwoman howls as the song reaches its apex, coming on as though she's purging herself of these past dissenters.

"A lot of these doubts we have about ourselves are passed on. This comes from our parents [and] it comes from society," said Macchi, who joins bandmates and former Dope Body members Dave Jacober (drums) and Zach Utz (guitar) in opening for Moving Units at Double Happiness on Sunday, June 12. "I also think that has to do with the political climate and people passing off their fear on to other people, or people manipulating others through fear. I think there's a way to break out of it, but you have to find it in yourself."

In many ways Hot Winter (Ehse Records) serves as a chronicle of this search, with Macchi and Co. utilizing personal tragedy (a number of the songs are rooted in heartbreak) as a means of exploring larger issues of political corruption, economic disparity, racial injustice and climate change. Note the album title, for one, which the musicians adopted due in large part to the 60-degree temperatures that accompanied December 2015 recording sessions on Hooper's Island, a Chesapeake Bay-adjacent retreat that rests a couple hours by car from the band's Baltimore home.

"The core thing was a lot of these lyrics were coming out of a time of personal upheaval and major depression, and also thinking about a larger climate of people being lied to and fucked over," Macchi said. "In Baltimore, the political landscape has changed because of the uprising [spurred by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody]. There's a lot of dialogue coming out of the city, and in a lot of ways the question is, 'How far have we advanced?'

"The basic idea of Hot Winter... [is] we're being lied to and we're being manipulated. It's a fact that a huge component of our population is disenfranchised by class inequality and [political legislation like voter ID laws]. There's a whole system that keeps those things in place, and I think maybe a lot of this album is trying to rail against feeling powerless in that situation. We didn't sit together like, 'OK, we're going to make a political record,' but ... I'm mad, and you have to draw on that energy."

At times, this anger boils over, Macchi's voice cracking as though pushed well beyond its breaking point. "I don't care anymore," she growls on the hypnotic "Shake Off the Rays," her impassioned, blistered tone suggesting she actually cares a great deal in spite of protestations to the contrary.

"I'm not a trained singer; I even hesitate to call myself a singer. I prefer vocalist, or yeller," Macchi said, and laughed. "I did freak out and push myself super hard on the recording, and now it's like, 'How can I make performing these songs sustainable so my throat doesn't pop out of my neck?' But that was also important about the record, to leave a lot of stuff in there that was kind of gnarly. We really wanted it to be immediate and raw and reflect this moment in time."

Though Scroll Downers is a relatively new project - this Columbus stop marks the end of the band's first-ever run of shows outside Baltimore - the players have already established a strong musical chemistry, owing largely to the shared history between Jacober and Utz, who played together in Dope Body and continue to perform as a duo under the name Holy Ghost Party.

"Zach and Dave have been playing together since they were like in the womb, essentially," Macchi said. "Initially we were like, 'Oh this is Lexie Mountain and Holy Ghost Party.' And then we were like, 'No, this is different. We're going to make this a thing. We're going to give it its own name. And we're going to make a record.'"

This chemistry is particularly evident in the band's still-evolving live show, where album tracks exist next to more adlibbed, improvised cuts.

"This is the first time a lot of these songs are seeing the light of day, so it's exciting to play them and also give ourselves some space when we're out to stretch our legs as a band and jam out and enjoy it," Macchi said. "That's one of our strengths as a group: Our ability to flow together in a way where people have something of a difficult time figuring out which ones are … written ahead of time and which ones are sort of blossoming on the spot."

It helps, of course, that Macchi has always been quick on her feet (she moonlights as a standup comic) and comfortable in the spotlight - traits that date back to her childhood years growing up in Massachusetts.

"During show and tell [in kindergarten] I sang a song about a unicorn who had to go to work one day, and I remember when show and tell was over I was still singing, like, 'This is what I do!'" Macchi said. "There was always that urge to want to goof off and perform and be the center of attention. And that never goes away."