hissing lawns | a music blog in Savannah, Ga.

I’ve been following and writing about American Aquarium for years now — it’s so exciting to see such a talented and hard-working group of guys continue to climb the ladder, one rung at a time, on the way to the attention and audiences they deserve.

Don’t believe me that American Aquarium is one of the hardest working bands out there? Well they had 206 tour dates in 2014, the most in the country, according to Bandsintown.

The video for “Wolves” — the title track for American Aquarium’s upcoming album — has been premiered today by Rolling Stone. Check out Watch American Aquarium’s Road-Weary New Video for ‘Wolves’.

From the piece, which is well worth a read:

Rooted in the brawny, barroom country-rock of fellow road warriors like Lucero and Drive-By Truckers — whose most famous alum, Jason Isbell, produced American Aquarium’s Burn.Flicker.Die. in 2012 — Wolves is a rallying cry from a band that’s spent the bulk of the past nine years onstage, hunting for their big break. It’s music for dive bars and pools halls, for late-night drives and early morning hangovers. Barham, who played with more than 20 different bandmates before nailing down American Aquarium’s current lineup, calls it “the sound of a band that’s firing on all cylinders.”

And here’s the new video (I can’t wait to hear the entire album):

As I’ve mentioned before Graveface Records and Curiosities has really turned into an interesting venue. The space itself has always been entertaining, with slightly off taxidermy, weird art, costumes, video games and, of course, a superbly curated collection of vinyl. In the last year or so, the live act booking has really picked the pace and because it’s the rare (for Savannah) all ages venue that is also not afraid of any genre of music. Some really great, sometimes obscure acts have stopped in the Hostess City.

Almost every time that I have gone to The Starland District venue I have come away impressed by a solid act or three, sometimes confused, but almost always impressed.

That was the case again Wednesday night when I saw Tare, Lions and Big Awesome at the tiny record store. I missed last minute add Au Revoir, but got there in time to catch Tare from the beginning of their set. All three acts that I saw share a common area on the rock Venn Diagram. They all could be described as indie, post punk, mathy, rock bands, but each had their own flavor, too.

Tare, out of New Orleans, leaned a little more toward the mathy, angular, post punk with an occasional foray into some atmospheric passages. Personally, I heard pretty direct lineage toward late era Dischord Records bands like Q and Not U, Faraquet, and maybe even Fugazi, at least instrumentally. The vocals recalled The Promise Ring at times. I really dug Tare, and I totally recommend their free download album if you even sort of understood my description of them. Song titles from the Don Caballero school of titling. Great start to the night.

Lions sound was a little more driving and melodic, but still firmly entrenched in the more complex math rock end of things. Really, really interesting dual guitar interplay, with great hooks and surprisingly good vocals that dip a bit into the best parts of emo. Yet more good rock out of Nashville. Keep them coming. Free stream or download here.

Savannah/Bluffton’s Big Awesome closed out the night. I tried to catch them at FEST, but it didn’t work out, so it was my first time seeing them. They call themselves “power emo” and I guess that kind of makes sense. The best thing to do is check out the trio’s Bandcamp tunes, they sound great, and it looks like there is a new album on the horizon. I’d really like to see them play around Savannah more often, but I’m guessing that having a drummer that lives in Nashville (they share Lion’s drummer) puts a bit of a damper on that. Anyway, great show, great night.

Here’s a few pictures, more after the jump.

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My buddy Chris recently visited Savannah for several days, and after doing as much of the tourist thing as we could tolerate, and after somehow finding ourselves at two performances of a Christmas burlesque show in which a young lady divorced herself of her clothes to the strains of a wholesome, mid-century recording of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” we needed to do something we could more easily wrap our heads around. Chris and I share an appreciation for the aesthetic of old, East Coast beach towns, so we decided to head out to Tybee Island.

The beach town aesthetic takes on an even lonelier and grimier hue when the throngs of people milling about during the summer disappear. The Tybee Market’s reader board proudly declared the town “BACK TO NORMAL.” It seemed only the local business owners and a handful of diehard beach bums remained on the island.

With nothing better to do, Chris and I decided to walk all the way around the island. When we first turned down one of Tybee’s residential streets, I half-braced myself for trouble. After all, in the eyes of a local, what were we doing there? Continue reading →

This last year was great for live music, and related photography. The images I’m posting in this review are by no means a ‘best of the best’ of my work, but rather ten of my photos that I personally found appealing that also seemed to capture the current, diverse Savannah music scene. Quite frankly, there were so many shows from both local & touring acts that it would be nearly impossible to put together a true ‘best of’ list. I’m grateful for that as it means that Savannah has a growing, and vibrant community of musicians and appreciators. Keep on supporting live music!

Cusses

Cusses

The Train Wrecks

The Train Wrecks

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Matrimony

Matrimony

Christopher Paul Stelling

Christopher Paul Stelling

Vinyl Appreciation 912

Vinyl Appreciation 912

Primate

Primate

Velvet Caravan

Velvet Caravan

4th Ward Afro Klezmer Orchestra

4th Ward Afro Klezmer Orchestra

Walter Parks

Walter Parks

The holiday season can be a tricky thing to ease into, especially when the Savannah winter season consists of temperatures that would have other regions of the country ready to throw on shorts and a tee shirt. Luckily, for those of us that were feeling a little less than festive (I’m convinced Scrooge McDuck may be my spirit animal), a little cure for the holiday blues came to The Jinx last Friday to help make the holidays just a bit more jolly.

Savannah Sweet Tease has a knack for pairing their lovely burlesque performances with stellar musical acts and last Friday was no different. For their two night, holiday blow out, Sweet Tease partnered up with COEDS and Pee Wee Moore to ring in the Yuletide. In the spirit of the show, COEDS even premiered a cover of possibly one of the best holiday songs to come out of rock and roll by The Ramones. Following COEDS, Sweet Tease had a slew of Savannah’s favorite locals shimmy and strip to a variety of festive motifs.

Sweet Tease shows are always guaranteed to be a few things: sexy, fun, and packed! Check out a few shots from both nights below and hit the jump for the full gallery, fair warning though, it’s pretty huge!

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Larry Jack already posted a review of Life is a Carnival: A Tribute to The Band at the Lucas Theatre on the night before Thanksgiving, so be sure to check that out for the candid reactions of the city’s #1 live music supporter.

The Train Wrecks and The Accomplices were the featured artists, and special guests included Ray Lundy (Bottles ‘n’ Cans), John Banks (Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love), Passafire, Eric Culberson, Craig Tanner, Ricardo Ochoa and Jared Hall (Velvet Caravan), Aaron Zimmer (City Hotel), Eric Daubert, Shane Baldwin, Austin Quattlebaum, Charles Hodge, Ron Yatzek, and Larry Golding.

Here is a collection of photos by Ann Sosbe of One Horse Photography, the official photographer for the night. Not enough photos for you? Well Ann has posted over 150 images on her website.

A few here, with lots more after the jump:

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LifeIsACarnival_TheBandTribute-5 Continue reading →

Hey guys,
There are several good choices for our music entertainment this week. It does seem that some of these choices drop off at the beginning of the week, so you better get your music fix this weekend. There are actually two big shows coming up. Luckily, one is Friday and one is Saturday, so you can make it to both of them. The annual Homegrown Holiday Hoedown is at the Legion Ballroom this Friday. That is always a fun event. And Feather & Freight is hosting a good show with several local favorites on Saturday. I believe the Saturday event is a bad Christmas Sweater event, so be sure to dress ugly.

Thursday 18th – There are a few shows on Thursday that look interesting. These are the ones that look best to me.
Strangled DarlingsSentient Bean (8-10p)
Eric CulbersonBayou Cafe
Danielle HicksB. Tillman

Friday 19th – I am looking forward to the Holiday Show at the Legion this year, it is always a great event. If you can’t make it there, I have listed a few more shows that look good. I am looking forward to finally catching Ben Keiser’s new band at Molly’s later this night.
Danielle Hicks BandRail Pub (6-9p)
Bottles & Cans - Jazz’d
Gold Light, Elim Bolt, Sunglow, COEDSHang Fire
Strangled DarlingsSentient Bean (8-10p)
Those Cats - Barrelhouse South
Ben Keiser BandMolly MacPherson’s Pub
Wet Brain, Wave Slaves - Jinx
Train Wrecks, Accomplices, SOAP - Homegrown Holiday HoedownAmerican Legion Ballroom ($15/20, 7p)

Saturday 20th – There are quite a few good choices on Saturday. I am looking forward to finally catching a show at Feather & Freight, and it is gonna be a good one, all three are some of Savannah’s best bands. There are several other good choices, I hope to catch another of my favorites, the Hypnotics, at Rocks on the Roof. It will be interesting to see if Ty and the boys can get that crowd dancing, like they do everywhere else. I’m hoping to make it to Congress Street for Les Racquet at Social and Magic Rocks at Molly’s to finish the evening.
Bottles & CansJinx
HypnoticsRocks On The Roof
Les RacquetCongress Street Social Club
Liquid Ginger - Boomy’s
Magic RocksMolly MacPherson’s
American Hologram, City Hotel, COEDSFeather & Freight ($5 + 1can of food)

When the sounds of vibrating gongs finally became fainter on Saturday night, I found myself struggling to find the precise moment when silence prevailed. At the end, was I still hearing a sound, or the memory of sound?

Tatsuya Nakatani‘s performance in the black box theatre at SPACE on Henry Street probably prompted all sorts of unanswerable questions like that among the several dozen in attendance. Nakatani is billed as a percussionist and sound artist, but there’s something meditative, even sacral, about listening to both his extended and sometimes-cacophonous solo piece and his collaboration with a Gong Orchestra comprised of students who had workshopped with him for a few hours earlier in the day. (I don’t know the names of all the performers, but the orchestra included a number of friends of mine, including Louis Clausi, Andrew Hartzell, Andrew Olson, Jose Ray, Robyn Reeder, and Jeff Zagers.)

I’ll confess that I kept expecting the bowing and drumming of the gongs would eventually unleash a bigger sound, but at key moments Nakatani seemed to pull his musicians back, to encourage them to feel the silence amidst the notes.

It was a mesmerizing experience. Thanks to Jeff Zagers and Dollhouse Productions for organizing it. I took some photos, but the layout of the theatre and the quality of the experience limited me, fittingly, to a handful of shots from the fringes.

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The Savannah market is considerably smaller than other cities in the region that for years seemed more attractive to booking agents — places like Atlanta, Jacksonville, Columbia, S.C. Athens, Ga., is smaller than Savannah, but obviously has a great indie music tradition and excellent venues.

But now it’s pretty clear that Savannah has turned a big corner in recent years, thanks to the work of a whole lot of good people — and thanks too to the simple fact that bands and agents seem to be getting a little savvier about booking shows in medium-sized markets even if it means making a few compromises.

Much of our thanks goes to Savannah Stopover and CEO Kayne Lanahan (a very occasional contributor to hissing lawns). Stopover just started 4 years ago, and parent company MusicFile Productions has expanded into the daylong Revival Fest in the fall and some pretty extraordinary shows throughout the year.

For a quick barometer of the success of these efforts, plus the work of the Savannah Music Festival, check out Stopover’s post The Year in Music, which links to 8 different “Best of” lists of albums or songs for 2014. A typical entry is this one for Paste’s 50 Best Albums of 2014:

Highlights:Savannah Music Festival alums Justin Townes Earle and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are here along with Rosanne Cash who plays SMF next year. HFTRR makes another list, along with fellow Stopover IV artists Future Islands and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Mac Demarco, Sturgill Simpson and The War on Drugs also appear, as does King Tuff who plays at Hang Fire in January.

Savannah Stopover books a lot of bands that most music fans don’t know — yet. The festival is establishing a great track record of presenting talent poised to break out on the national stage.

Future Islands at the 2014 Savannah Stopover

Future Islands at the 2014 Savannah Stopover