Club Awesome/ The Orphins/ Moorish Idols (Live Review)
Club Awesome Pool Party
May 26th, 2007
Atlanta has many traditions for Memorial Day Weekend: the Decatur Arts Festival, the Braves sink deeper in the NL East standing to the once-heralded New York “Mess,” and the latest up-and-coming tradition sponsored by local musical stalwarts Club Awesome when they bring out the three feet deep kiddie-pool and allow the masses to float their bloated selves through a cacophony of rock and roll indulgence.
Yes, it is a real pool... (more)
The Press - "Red Comes Ringin'" (CD Review)
If there were Atlanta Music Awards, the trophy for "Hardest Working Band" would no doubt go to The Press; their touring monstrosity road shows rival that of the Rolling Stones within the months of May and June. Strangely enough, there is no such Atlanta show.
The Press is on the road to promote its recent 7-inch release, Red Comes Ringin', a double-sided single from Goodnight Records. If anything, the single of the same is a clear reflection of what The Press us about: up-tempo and off-beat indie pop with vocal stylings that sound like a man being sent to a mental institution. The song swings back and forth from a reggae-influenced chorus into an intense, post-grunge riffed chorus that contains a strange vocal hook that sounds like Beavis playing tribute to an old Judas Priest song. It is quirky and interesting.
The second song, "I Like To Talk To Myself" is a pop-absorbed track that illustrates the band's ability to write solid rock songs. The strength of the song reflects poorly on their earlier track, making "Red Comes Ringin'" sound downright silly in comparison. Although "Red Cross Ringin'" is the college radio hit, it is "I Like To Talk To Myself" that will be more accessible to mainstream radio play.
The Press brings a refreshing change to the humdrum and sometimes-too-serious atmosphere that has overtaken the Atlanta music scene: an ability to bend the rules of songwriting and to have fun while doing it. (Goodnight Records)
The Annunaki - The Annunaki (CD Review)
Part medieval and part stream of consciousness jazz, Atlanta’s The Annunaki stir up haunting yet beautiful melodies on their new self titled CD. With constant time signature changes and sweeping crescendos, The Annunaki’s abilities as musicians shine.
The CD begins with the transcendent “120 Sars”, a complex and sweeping guitar and piano piece that escalates back and forth through off rhythm fills and a beautiful, goth-laced sexuality that many song writers can only dream of. The four song CD ends with “Silver Moon”, a sullen and sultry track that properly illustrate Natalie Stewart’s incredible voice – akin to Sarah Maclachlan, her angelic vocal melodies add to The Annunaki’s haunting presence.
The fact that The Annunaki is made up of only two members, the aforementioned Stewart and Matthew Banathy, the production leaves little to be desired. The crispness of the only two instruments on the CD, guitar and piano, add an organic quality to the songs; as if the musicians were playing live in front of you. The lack of studio polish and magic by engineer Ken Ferrara allows the members of The Annunaki to infiltrate your ears with their own mysticism, rather than that of a compressor channel or delay track.
The Annunaki should be proud. Atlanta has little to offer for the non-indie rock, non-garage rock garbage, or non-John Mayer/ acoustic-clowns that clog the night life like some urban cholesterol. To create a near-perfect recording of haunting melodies that rightfully deserve to be the backdrop of the indie film of the year is swimming upstream, and to be as completed as successfully as The Annunaki is a miracle.
The Graboids - Infinite Delay (CD Review)
Functional differential equations with infinite delay on an abstract space can be characterized by several axioms which are satisfied by different kinds of functional space. In a sense, with the increasing amount of textural space that can be found within a given area, it is simple to suggest that time would increase as within certain boundaries of that space; thusly, it can be ever so simply logically implied that this movement of time would become infinite as well: infinite delay.
In the back of the minds of Virginia’s The Graboids, this must have weighed heavily. Band meetings must have been an idea-pool of physical and meta-physical debate and philosophizing on infinite delay, and how to capture such complexity within 72 minutes. Like Doc Brown bumping his head and visualizing the Flux Capacitor in Back to The Future, The Graboids’ vision was realized.
Infinite Delay delivers the soundscape of twisting dementia, abstraction post-hardcore, mixed with a fusion jazz edge which permeates such songs as “Longing on the Horizon” – until it twists into a distortion filled opus which pans from speaker to speaker. The Graboids are sans vocalist so it is important that the songs are atmospheric and ambient and, like the scientific theory that the album title is based on, slowly jump upward, moving forward and ever expanding.
Infinite Delay is the sound of a freefall; a toppling and flailing sonic masterpiece which contorts from controlled and smooth into panic-filled nonsensicality and return. This is by far, one of the best new releases of 2007.
I Would Set Myself on Fire For You - Believes in Patterns (CD Review)
Atlanta’s I Would Set Myself On Fire For You (who, for here on out, shall be referred to as IWSMOFFY) swims in the murky waters that make Atlanta’s emo/screamo music scene, and if there is a lighthouse within these murky waters that lead screamo sea captains back to port safely, it would local stalwart’s Stickfigure Distribution.
Let’s start by giving the kind folks at Stickfigure a big round of applause for allowing the majority of Atlanta’s emo kids sink respectfully to the bottom of the ocean and only focus on bands that seem to give a damn about transcending a stale, repetitivc, and conformists genre of music the spotlight they deserve.
IWSMOFFY’s second CD, Believes in Patterns, is an intensely heart warming collection of songs that defy genre-lization. From the flamenco influenced Spanish guitar opening to “Twelve” and the saxophone-ridden Coltrane-esque nod in “Six”, the childlike world of emo/screamo is opened just enough to allow some open-minded 12 year olds the opportunity to hear something different. IWSMOFFY drops a nod to Sonic Youth on “Eight”, where a recorded telephone message is played against a colorful layer of acute melodic patterns of sounds.
Let’s face it, most emo/hardcore kids where black on the outside because that is the prominent color sold at Hot Topic, it is a genre meant for adolescent revolt when hip-hop and rap are recognized as garbage. The bands that make emo and screamo genres into the institution of correctedness that they are do nothing to move the music into the next phase should be catalogued in the same context as Nickelback and Saliva. IWSMOFFY is not one of those bands, and, if given the opportunity, should find safe harbors nationally.
Zenith Pulse - Super Fuzzy First Supper (CD Review)
There is something strangely comforting in home recordings that are sans ProTools: nostalgia sweeps the listener to days when “home recording” was adjusting the distance of the guitar amps, bass rig, and drum kit from the boombox that sat in the middle of the practice space – or your parents’ garage.
Alabama’s Zenith Pulse’s Super Fuzzy First Supper is such a recording: a crackling, peaked bed of white noise with enough background noise to send any mixing engineer out to the nearest gun store to purchase a .44 and a single bullet (which would be inserted directly into his/her brain).
In most cases, the boombox recordings are a yellow flag indicating some highly crappy – but in the case of Zenith Pulse, this is not true. Cutting through the garbage of this recording is an avant-garde noise rock combo which merits a recording studio. Willing to take risks (as portrayed in the squeaky rubber duck solo at the end of “Uptight Stoner”) Zenith Pulse deserves the opportunity to put a record that rivals that of Butthole Surfers’ earliest recordings, and Zenith Pulse seems like a band that could do it.
Best track on this demo is “In The Red Already,” a Television/Richard Hell-esque which happens to be one of the best songs to come out of Alabama in awhile. The world doesn’t know what is in for them when Zenith Pulse gets their first bill from a pro recording studio… it may change things.
Brass Castle - Brass Castle (CD Review)
“Post Hardcore” is a label that is easy to apply to a genre of music that, after 25 years of existence, is still without a solid identity. To some, post hardcore refers to a certain branch of macho-posing institute popularized by modern day Active Rock Radio formatting. To the jaded and scorned music lover, post-hardcore is a term that can be slapped onto anything that is loud and is released post 1985.
Atlanta’s Brass Castle is a band that is at odds with the never ending war of hardcore’s identity and their latest self titled release, can be chalked up as an epic battle. Brass Castle’s take on post hardcore is easily defined on this, their second release; a raw an intense piece of music that contains the raw strength of such influences as Fugazi and their earlier incantation: Minor Threat, but more importantly, maintains the genre’s intelligence.
Members Christian Gordy and Chris Strawn, both sharing equal responsibilities of all recorded instruments, are solid musicians and talented songwriters. Unfortunately, the semi-lo-fi recording takes away from a listener’s ability to digest the full talent of these songs as many tracks fall inaudible to the ears; possibly a nod to early low-fi recordings of many Dischord Records era bands.
In all, Brass Castle is one of Atlanta’s most intelligent and interesting bands; an intense trip of old school hardcore angst along with the genre’s much lost artistic integrity.
Maserati (Featured Article)
To normal bands, when a member announces that he or she is packing their bags and moving to the further-most part of the country, it is the time to start hanging “musician wanted” posters around town; or in a worst case scenario, break up.
But Maserati is not a normal band, and when founding member Steve Scarborough and his new bride Amy Scarborough (formerly Amy Dykes) of Athens’ I Am The World Trade Center announced that the couple was planning on moving to Portland, Oregon, about as polar opposite of Atlanta/Athens, Georgia as you can get while still staying in the United States, the other band members viewed it as a good thing.“I’m actually looking forward to it,” laughs guitarist Matt Cherry.“It might be good for us.”... (more)
Ahleuchatistas - What You Will (CD Review)
It takes a hell of a lot of talent to be a musician in a musical outfit that is strictly instrumental. The lack of vocals on a recording or in a live show, requires the performers to transcend the disciplined and not-noticed “back-up guys” for a frontperson who is to be the focus of an audience’s attention. An instrumental outfit, foregoing this focal point, must create a canvas of music that allows a listener to focus elsewhere; therefore it is necessary for their music and talent to be light years beyond a standard four piece rock ‘n’ roll band; Ahleuchatistas are able to pull of this distraction.
The trio of musicians create an intricate tapestry of sonic tributes that run the gambit between later era Fugazi to Zappa during his “let’s take a lot of speed” years. The band’s ability to craft tightly knit 7/4 melodies is an excellent display of the artistic talent’s of this group; best heard in such songs as “Sherman’s March” and the spacey “Before The Law”, which starts as a surreal bassline that seems to be ripped from the musical score of a Kubrick film.
However, there is a downfall in the realm of instrumentalist performance and, unfortunately, the Ahleuchatistas fall flat on their face in it. Despite the musical achievement that this band displays, by the time a listener gets to track four, a “I have already heard this song before” mentality appears; the songs all sound the same. This holds true up until the aforementioned “Before The Law”, which is track nine, plays. Until that point, and even after that point, the listener is stuck listening to the high speed “blip-blah-blip-blah-blup” shredding of the bass and guitar through the muddled and sinfully poor mix that has been given to the talented and quickhanded drummer.
All and all, Ahleuchatistas have fallen into the trap that many musical whiz kids fall into: leaving the listener out of their songwriting and adopting a “look what I can do” approach to song writing; a daring and impressive stretch to make as a unit, however, nearly suicidal from an audience’s perspective. (Cuniform Records)
The New Sounds of Numbers - Liberty Seeds (CD Review)
The New Sounds of Numbers are/is Hannah Jones, visual artist and percussionist for Circulatory System and The Instruments. Liberty Seeds is her solo outing, a strange cacophony of reed instrument loops, over-tracked drum beats, and fart sounds that leave your head spinning in confusion. Thick and dense, the songs are more reminiscent of New Hampshire’s cult-adored The Shaggs than the The Raincoats.
Shocking is Jones’ seemingly non-caring recording technique of the percussive instruments within Liberty Seeds; as a percussionist, Jones should have avoided the cardboard box sounding snare drum or the chicken shake that sounds like a bag full of clam shells being shaken on the shoreline by a Selling Sally. Ugh.
The Writer is angry. The writer is angry because The New Sounds of Numbers’ Liberty Seeds” is packed with super-cool, hipper than him, songs that scream for a professional production; the intense, uber-upbeat, melodically liberal tracks deserve to be heard, and the lo-fi approach, although loved by many, is dead to the writer. In the world of Pro-Tools and Reason, there is no excuse for a lo-fi home recording other than, the artist wanting to release something that sounds sick. The writer feels cheated.
“the atmosphere of the afternoon” is a droning, Kim Gordon-esque, rhapsody of the benign tinged songs that make up The New Sounds of Numbers. The thickness of the song, the pure density of sounds is the blessing that The New Sounds of Numbers strive for and usually comes up successful. “Liberty Seeds” is a great listen, although a better production would make the album a classic.
Plate Six - Battle Hymns for a New Republic (CD Review)
Plate Six sounds like Fugazi, which must be thrown out onto the table. Plate Six also emphasizes the worthlessness of bass players in their one sheet, citing that “it was no advantage to put up with them any longer.” Dancing around the topic no longer, Fugazi’s bass player Joe Lally revolutionized hardcore music when he inserted reggae rhythm’s and bass lines into the versatile Washington DC band’s music. Without this addition, Fugazi’s music would have been great, but too trebly and lacking the guttural grunt necessary for the guitars to do what they do.
Plate Six’s lack of bass player works in two different directions for Battle Hymns of the New Republic: a) the lack of a low end raises the urgency of the music, making such songs as “Concrete Mouth of Safety” sound downright urgent to the point of madness, but b) the lack of a forward mixed bass leaves the guitars swirling in the air without a tether; the missing bass makes the guitars flail like released kites twisting up on themselves.
Recording engineer Jim Marrer did an excellent job using the lower end guitar lines of David Hickox and Dan Sartain to emphasize what low end was available to him. Hickox and Sartain do a brilliant job of switching parts, when one goes into the high end, the other drops low; a stand out performance on “Red: The New Black.” This high-end soaked recording is approached from the Fugazi songwriting school, but sonically more like Vision of Disorder who was known for their treble heavy hardcore delivery. As a whole, Hickox, Sartain, and hard-hitting drummer Brad Davis, deliver a strong performace of a powerful rock trio; the band stands capable of releasing an onslaught of power and mayhem on the finale “Maximalist Anthem.”
Plate Six should be recognized as a tight and formidable band, testing the boundaries and limits of hardcore in this “post-hardcore” world. It takes nuts to play music where low end is vital to the genre; and Plate Six can do fine without it. Bass players: don’t send resume to the band, seems like they are not interested.
Elevado - This World is on Fire (CD Review)
In the mythology of Nigerian people there exists a god named Ogun, the god of war. Ogun is a fierce warrior, a deity that is not taken lightly by Yoruban tribes, to cross Ogun results in swift retribution. But the importance of Ogun goes far beyond his war-like tendencies: Ogun is also responsible for connecting the Old World to the New World – to keep the Yoruba people relevant in an ever-changing and advancing world.
Atlanta’s Elevado is the hometown Ogun; the touring juggernaut that can shape and redefine southern music and keep it relevant. Their lastest album, This World is on Fire, is a multi-layered beautiful cacophony of live guitars and bass with computer based percussive loops and effects. “Intervention 1.0” starts off the record which recalls images of, more than likely, everyone’s first encounter with techno-based music, a Nintendo game’s opening montage. From there, the album launches into the dreamy, electro-pop rock seemingly displaced from a Kubrick film that the band is known for. The programmed drums sound clean and crisp, and are difficult to separate from a live drum track.
Highlights of the album include “Indigo Torch Serenade” where lead singer Justin Sias’ vocals match the fragility of the lyrics and Cain Wong’s spy-film/REM inspired guitar riff on “Our Turn Came Tonight.” “Hypnopaedic Sunshine,” the closing opus of the album, sounds like a drunken Beta Band, tripping and falling over themselves, until a moment of clarity which turns the song into a beautiful denouement.
The city of Atlanta suffers from sterility and staleness, the best that the city has to offer are touring bands which mimic top forty radio and/or the insipid writings of holier-than-though national bloggers. Elevado stands out above the crowd with this album, album of the year, pushing Atlanta out of the old and into the new.
Dig Shovel Dig - Real Healer Revealer (CD Review)
Dig Shovel Dig is one of those band’s that reviewers fear; teeth chattering and shivering in a corner, reviewers shake in their shoes over artistically driven, non-clear song structure recordings that cannot be compared to anything post-punk or post-hardcore. And to release a cassette is the same as an 8-track, it begins with an adventure through Atlanta to even find a device to play such an artifact of the golden age.
When such a piece of equipment is discovered, a reviewer would be delighted to know that Dig Shovel Dig’s Real Healer Revealer is a refreshing mix of abstract pop songs to Casio-tone 4/4 beats along with off-the-beaten-path sonic collages of pure mayhem. Dig Shovel Dig pushes the line between what is music and what is art. The opening song, “Diabetes”, sounds like the soundtrack to one of David Lynch’s nightmares: a twisted and demented tribute to insanity. A first time listener would wonder what they got themselves into until the recording eases into the next track, “Southy”, a catchy and friendly companion to the earlier. Meanwhile, the onslaught of “Newave” is enough to make a listener quickly turn down the volume for fear of blowing a speaker.
The scratchy and poor home-recording quality of the cassette actually does the recording justice; it is easy to imagine the evil geniuses behind this recording maliciously creating this masterpiece the same way they would build a letter bomb. The home studio magic and recording tricks turns this would be failure to an attention-grabbing dabble into the world of sonic art.
This cassette remains unpredictable and revolting, yet makes the listener yearn for more; wondering what the next song will bring. In the end, Dig Shovel Dig’s only fault is releasing this gem on a format that is unapproachable and non-user friendly, which may be the band’s purpose to begin with.