Athens Popfest Wednesday: Review + Photos

Athens Popfest is always a bittersweet event –the four day festival is always fun, but it marks the end of the student-less summer and sends Athens off with a bang back into its typical chaotic state of students, traffic, and football.

Oddly, the bands start playing in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. I had to work during the day so I didn’t make it till the evening shows at 40 Watt.

First up was White Violet, a kind of trippy, synthy duo that seemed to take a little while to get into their groove. I felt like they had loosened up a lot by the later songs and sounded a lot better–I liked their livelier stuff. The vocals were very reminiscent of Elvis Costello (always a good thing in my book).

The second band on stage was Happy Abandon, a Chapel Hill-based trio. The lead singer’s hair made him look like he belonged in A Flock of Seagulls–he was adorably nervous and definitely correct when he said “talking is not [his] strong suit.” Their music sounded great and I loved their harder stuff–some of the breathier vocals on the quieter songs didn’t really seem to fit with the rocking guitar. Their first album will be released on 8/25 but they were selling it at the show.

New Music Monday – 8/14/17

We present new work this week from:

  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Big Hush
  • The Effects
  • SHEHEHE
  • Jason Isbell
  • The National

Enjoy!

Queens of the Stone Age
Palm Desert, CA
“The Evil has Landed” from Villains, due Aug. 25.

I don’t know, I see people bitching about the Mark Ronson production of the new QOTSA album, but the lead single grew on me, and I’m currently a little obsessed with this 6 and a half minute desert/psych rock gem. Man, that last minute and a half really grabs me. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the new album.
tom

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The Effects
Washington, DC
“Back and Forth”, from Eyes to the Light, out Sept 29th on Dischord Records.

I’ll be honest, I have a weak spot for late era Dischord mathy/emo/post rock. Off kilter rhythms, angular guitars and clear, articulate vocals from a band featuring a dude from that one band that released that one record I liked 25 years ago? Yeah, I’m in. Dischord is pretty discerning about what they release anymore, and I flat out trust them at this point.
tom

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Big Hush
Washington, D.C.
Spirit/Wholes

After years of EPs and singles, D.C.’s Big Hush has released their debut album, Spirit/Wholes on Robotic Empire Records. In the vein of Creepoid, Spirit/Wholes is a lush, occasionally heavy, shoegaze album with pop and punk sensibilities sprinkled throughout. Following the reunion of shoegaze titans Slowdive, and the release of a new album, it’s probably safe to say this genre, which peaked in the ‘90s, is getting a reboot of late. You won’t hear any complaints from me. — Joshua

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The National
Cincinnati, Ohio
“Carin at the Liquor Store”

The National released the third single from the forthcoming, seventh LP, Sleep Well Beast. The National does some its best songwriting in ballad form. This new single is no exception, hitting with the same emotional satisfaction of older tunes like, “Pink Rabbits,” “I Need My Girl,” and “England.” Matt Berninger’s melancholy baritone helms a sugary piano-based score (reminiscent of his other band El VY), completed by subtle strings, and a watery guitar solo at the end. A lot of The National’s music can be a downer if you’re flying high on life, but behind intimate and introspective lyrics, and exceptional musicianship, there is nigh another band that can speak to you in the darkest moments of life like this band does. Well, in my experience, anyways. — Joshua

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SHEHEHE
Athens, GA
Endless Summer out now on Laser Brains Records

Technically, summer’s almost over, but if SHEHEHE has their way, the party won’t be ending anytime soon. Endless Summer is packed to the gills with catchy riffs and is a total blast from start to finish. A bit retro-rock, a bit modern day punk, Endless Summer is a scorcher through and through. It’s just like a summer kegger packed into CD form and can you really go wrong with a party like that? – Petey

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Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Muscle Shoals
“If We Were Vampires” from The Nashville Sound, out now

OK, maybe a little corny, but this animated video for a lovely song from Isbell’s rocking new album tackles themes of aging, love, loss, and mortality. It’s a testament to Isbell’s sheer talent that he can do so much with so little. – bill

Roadkill Ghost Choir + Becca Mancari at Service Brewing’s 3rd anniversary party

Service Brewing Company celebrated its 3rd anniversary last month with a party that pretty much lasted all day. Guests could sample Service’s current selection of beers, including SBC 3, a strong, rich Wheatwine that I found addictive.

Roadkill Ghost Choir and Becca Mancari performed predictably excellent sets for the soldout crowd.

Congrats to our good friends at Service on their hard-earned success over the last three years. Many of us will be headed down to Service again for the big Indian Street Block Party on 9/1.

New Music Monday (ish) – 8/7/17

A little late getting this week’s post up because of travel schedules, but Tom has four great selections for New Music Monday. Enjoy!

Bully
Nashville, TN
“Feel The Same” from Losing, out October 20 on Sub Pop

I really dug Bully’s 2015 debut album, Feels Like. The new single might push Alicia Bognanno’s vocals a bit more in front of the guitars than the Feels Like mix, but I can’t imagine I won’t love the new stuff if this is where it’s headed. Bully would sound right at home on a classic alternative station, and I mean that in the best way possible.
tom
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Neil Young
Los Angeles, CA
“Hitchhiker” from album of the same name, due Sept. 8 via Reprise Records


An unreleased, acoustic, prime era Neil Young full album recorded in 1976 with David Briggs???? Yes, Please, and Thank You.
tom

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Plaque Marks
Philadelphia, PA
“Plaque Marks” single out now on Bandcamp

Do you miss Fight Amp? Do you catch Creepoid every time they come through town? Do you wish The Powder Room would play Savannah more often? Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, this is right up your alley (and it’s a dirty, nasty alley, at that). Featuring members of all of those bands, plus Ecstatic Vision, Plaque Marks is just as gnarly and noisy as you would expect. Good stuff if you like it aggressive.
tom

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The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die
Connecticut, USA
“Dillon and Her Son” from Always Foreign, out September 29 on Epitaph Records

It might actually take you longer to read the band name than to listen to this song, a compact, upbeat, synth driven sort of thing. I dig it.
tom

Key Change Cabaret – Go Your Own Way – photos

Last week’s sold-out show by Key Change Cabaret was slightly different than normal performances, in that it was dedicated solely to Fleetwood Mac material; hence ‘Go Your Own Way’. This was the final summer gig for the Cabaret, and while this year was a shorter run (five shows) than in years past, the enthusiasm from audience members, and the performers themselves was palpable. It’s a little bit different when most of the singers have the theatre/actor background thing going for them, but it certainly takes their professionalism & comfort on stage to another level. The backing musicians this year have been nothing less than stellar. Here’s looking forward to the next season!

Here are a few photos, with many more after the jump….

Bragg Jam 2017: Write-Up + Pictures

Went down to Macon last weekend for my second edition of Bragg Jam. Such a well-run festival with lots of great venues and artists, it’s really a pleasure to go to and more than worth the drive.
The first act I caught was Widow Pills at Grant’s Lounge. This was one of my favorite venues of the night–it was a run-down looking hole in the wall with graffiti all over the place and records hanging everywhere, tons of history and a very neat set-up with the audience surrounding an open stage. The Widow Pills were fantastic, a soulful southern rock foursome playing in their hometown under constantly changing rainbow colored lights.
Next up was Little Stranger at the Roasted Cafe and Lounge. The duo is from Charleston and apparently occasionally plays with a band. The rapper had great flow and an impressive amount of breath. I checked out some of their songs before the festival–they’ve got an eclectic style and reminded me a little of a less-produced Twenty One Pilots.
I headed back to Grant’s Lounge for a minute to add my own graffiti on the wall and catch the High Divers, an Americana group that was also from Charleston. The four piece had a female keyboardist that sometimes helped out with vocals, which tended towards the chill side. I’m not normally a huge fan of guitar jams in the middle of sets, especially festival sets (what can I say, I prefer them a little faster paced), but they pulled them off well, only occasionally doing long freestyle guitar solos.
Backtracked again to Roasted to catch Athens-based The Norm. Felt almost like deja vu, as they sounded a lot like a more throwback-to-the-90s version of Little Stranger. They were obviously influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers circa Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I loved the lead singer’s guitar skills and the rapper was excellent as well, though he wasn’t quite as prominent as Little Stranger’s.
The Bearfoot Beer Garden featured a performance by *repeat repeat, a rocking four piece with a great sound that had kind of a raw, garage rock type feel. I adored their cool retro telephone mics, which had surprisingly good sound quality and weren’t just there to look neat, though to be honest they looked cool enough that it would’ve been excusable if they were only there for aesthetic purposes.
I caught the first of Mel Washington’s two sets of the night, at the beautiful photo gallery Gallery West. He was one of my favorite acts I saw at Bragg Jam. Another Charleston native, he was incredibly soulful. His backing band was great as well–they were running a little bit late, a problem that plagued many of the night’s later acts, but they were more than worth the wait. He opened with a cover of the classic A Change Is Gonna Come and then moved on into rockier territory, the louder songs really reminded me a lot of the Foo Fighters. He seemed a little restrained by the conservative venue, I would’ve loved to see him somewhere a little looser where he could really let it all out.

Bragg Jam 2017 in Macon – photos

Last weekend, I went up to Bragg Jam in Macon for the 4th year in a row. There wasn’t a bus from Savannah as there has been for the past few years, but a number of Savannahians made their way to the annual concert crawl, and Revival Fest once again sponsored the stage at Fresh Produce Records.

Bragg Jam takes over a large section of downtown Macon for one manic, music-filled Saturday at the end of July. For 2017, the festival added a Friday night lineup at the Cox Capitol Theatre (why can’t Savannah have a venue like the Cox?), but my group decided to spend only one night.

In most years, I see several bands that are new to me at Bragg Jam, but this year I couldn’t resist seeing some truly tremendous acts that I’ve seen before, beginning with Family and Friends at the Cox. The Athens-based ensemble had the 5:30 time slot — early by Bragg Jam standards — but the theatre was largely full.

From there, my night included killer sets by Macon blues artist Robert Lee Coleman and his band in the VIP lounge on the second floor of the Crazy Bull, Okey Dokey at the Library Ballroom, Chrome Pony (with a short appearance by members of Twin Peaks) at the Cox, Little Tybee at the Library Ballroom, Pylon Reenactment Society at Fresh Produce, T. Hardy Morris and The Hardknocks at Grant’s Lounge, White Denim at the Cox, and Roadkill Ghost Choir at Grant’s.

The only three bands I had not seen were festival headliner White Denim, which was a little jammy for me late at night, the really fun Okey Dokey, and the thrilling Pylon Reenactment Society, which includes Vanessa Briscoe Hay from the original Pylon lineup.

Before driving back to Savannah on Sunday, we made a pilgrimage to Rose Hill Cemetery to see the graves of Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, and Berry Oakley and then stopped for brunch at the lovely new Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen in the heart of downtown.

With its wide streets and grand buildings, downtown Macon is a true gem. Over the last few years, revitalization efforts have been steadily paying off, and I look forward to new discoveries in the years to come.

For the sake of ease, I didn’t take my big Nikon on the trip, so I only shot with a FujiFilm x100t. The sensor often seemed to pick up too much color from the stage lights, which I decided to leave in some of the shots here. Because of the crowd and the darkness of the stage, I didn’t get any shots of Roadkill Ghost Choir at Grant’s, but after the jump you’ll find at least one of all the other acts I managed to see.

And to the other 70 or so bands that I did not see on Saturday, my apologies! As much as one would like to see everything at Bragg Jam, there’s just no way.

Victoria Scalisi — a driving force behind Savannah’s metal & punk scene — dies from cancer

Victoria Scalisi died last night after a battle with cancer.

I never formally met Victoria, but I was in awe of her powerful voice and stage presence when I first saw her perform with her new band Lies in Stone about a year ago at The Jinx.

Victoria was a member of Damad, arguably the most influential metal band from Savannah. Members of Damad formed Kylesa after Victoria stepped away from the stage. Victoria was for a time with Karst, but then in 2016 DAMAD reunited for a benefit show in Savannah and a handful of other shows around the country. DAMAD’s return was cut short when Victoria was diagnosed with cancer.

Throughout the day, Victoria’s friends and fellow musicians — including Phillip Cope of Damad and Kylesa — have posted memories of her and expressions of love for her family. We here at hissing lawns send our love and condolences too.

New Music Monday – 7/31/17

This week’s post is heavy on Savannah-based acts:

  • Vatican
  • Rude Dude and the Creek Freaks
  • Cray Bags
  • Greta O. and The Toxic Shock

We also have new work this week from:

  • Lana Del Ray
  • SHEHEHE

Enjoy!

Cray Bags
Savannah, GA
“Razor Beat”/”Diet Spit”

This may well be the last recorded output from Savannah’s Cray Bags. It’s as good a place to finish as any, a pair of two minute-ish bursts that check all the Cray Bags boxes: frantic vibe, barked vocals, tight instrumentation, and grimy production. These two were definitely staples in the set list at the end of their run. – tom

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Greta O. and The Toxic Shock
Savannah, GA
Greta O. and The Toxic Shock (S/T album)

Yet another Savannah band in limbo, Greta O. and The Toxic Shock posted their debut self titled album in full this week on social media without a ton of build up or fanfare, and no album release show appears imminent. That’s a shame, as their shows were always a blast, and this concise dozen songs are catchy, surprisingly clearly recorded and just plain fun. Here’s to hoping the current reshuffling of the scene results in more music as urgent as this recording. – tom

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Rude Dude and The Creek Freaks
Savannah, GA
Acid Bath full length album on Bandcamp, catch them on tour and pick it up on cassette

Rude Dude and The Creek Freaks are the current Savannah project that works on almost any type of rock show bill. Psych show? Definitely. Punk? Yep. Garage? Absolutely. Metal? Sure, with a relatively open minded crowd. The first time I saw them live was amazing and I’ve never seen them when it wasn’t at least pretty damn good. They lean toward the current psych rock sound (just look at that album cover), often with a decent amount of reverb on the vocals, but there’s definitely enough variety here to keep your attention through the whole album. – tom

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SHEHEHE
Athens, GA
“Endless Summer”

Summer’s winding down so why not have some fun with it while we can? SHEHEHE are here to make sure we all do just that. Think Ramones-y punk but with a bit more grit and edge and you’ve got a pretty good feel for the Athens locals’ newest release. Equal parts catchy punk and headbanging worthy rock for sure. Be sure to keep an ear to the ground for the full release coming soon! ~ Petee

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Vatican
Savannah, GA
“Slit Of Creation” off of the upcoming Ache of Eternity EP due out on August 25th

Savannah’s has been a bastion of heavy music for as long as I can possibly remember. And given some of the tracks that are still making their way out of the marshes, it doesn’t look like that’ll be changing anytime soon. Vatican’s newest release, “Slit of Creation”, is a grinding, 3 minute, hardcore epic that shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of the genre. The fact that the track also deals with the heavy loss involved with suicide also comes at a pretty poignant time for the scene as a whole. ~ Petee

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Lana Del Ray
New York, NY
“When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing”

I admit to having a love/hate relationship with Lana Del Ray’s music. I tend to veer more towards ‘pure manufactured concept’ than ‘talented American songstress’. But her 5th album, Lust For Life, came out last week and maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to come around. Her retro tragic sensibilities are all still there but somehow her message seems more on point. When she sings “is it the end of an era/is it the end of America?” on “When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing”, it feels like she might have scratched it out on the back of an inaugural invite. It’s dark and moody and cinematic and romantic; a sort of sinking ship I wouldn’t mind being on. -Kayne

PASSAFIRE w/ Xulu Prophet at The Jinx – photos

In front of a sold-out crowd at The Jinx last night, PASSAFIRE returned to their old hometown to deliver the goods. Friends & fans turned out & turned it up to show their support, and the place was packed with dancing & singing along to favorites.

Xulu Prophet opened up the evening with a blistering set, and obviously had a ball playing to the audience.

Something changed with the lighting after the openers, and I never could quite find my way back to getting the quality of shots that I was hoping for, so I finally decided to pack up and just listen to my friends play music. I mean, that’s what the whole point of going was supposed to be, right? I love live music, but can sometimes get caught up in the ‘work’ of shooting photos. I’m glad I put the gear down & paid attention to the band, because those guys have still got it, and they ‘brought it’ to Savannah last night!

I managed to salvage some snapshots, however. Here are a few, with more after the jump….

Larry Jack’s Magical Music Tour – 7/27/17 – 8/3/17

Hey guys,
It looks like a fairly good weekend coming up for the music scene downtown. There are quite a few shows around, several of them early.  I bet if you check this list, you can find something you like. See y’all around somewhere soon.

Thursday 7/27
Joe Wilson –
Molly MacPherson’s (4-8p)
Heart Of Pine –
Tubby’s Thunderbolt (6p)
AM Rodriguez –
Jinx (6-8p)
Perpetual Care, The Hippie and the Punk –
Sentient Bean (7p)
Custard Pie –
Barrelhouse South

Friday 7/28
John Mapel – Molly MacPherson’s (4-8p)
Willie Jackson & The Tybee Blues Band – Rail Pub (6p)
Chambers Jazz Band – Driftaway Cafe (7p)
8 Mile Bend – Coach’s Corner (7p)
Talking Dreads, Masseuse – Barrelhouse South
Roc Da Mic America Music Summit – Jinx
The Mercers – Molly MacPherson’s
DJ Basik Lee – Congress Street Social Club

Saturday 7/29
Tiger Creek – Tubby’s Thunderbolt (6p)
Damon and the Shitkickers – Jinx Happy Hour
Patty Griffin and Lee Ann Womack – Lucas Theater (8p, $25-50)
Interstellar Echos: A Tribute To Pink Floyd – Barrelhouse South
Hypnotics, Minorcan, Impossible Vacation – El-Rocko
Sarah Poole Band – Molly MacPherson’s
Passafire – Jinx ($10-12)
Eric Culberson Band – Congress Street Social Club

Sunday 7/30
CAD – Tubby’s Thunderbolt (12:30p)
Voodoo Soup – Congress Street Social Club

Monday 7/31
Open Mic – Abe’s On Lincoln
Miggs Son Daddy and Freak tha Monsta, Ambrose, Valore – Jinx ($5)

Tuesday 8/1
The Young Step – Space Station at Starlandia (7p)
Ben Keiser Band – Bay Street Blues
Eric Culberson Open Jam – Bayou Cafe
Open Mic – Molly MacPherson’s

Wednesday 8/4
Eric Culberson – Boomy’s

Thursday 8/3
Surfaris, Laramie Dean, Wave Slaves – Wormhole ($20-30)

Cray Bags at Weekend Mania – photos

Here’s a photo gallery of the last Cray Bags show for the foreseeable future. I am unwilling to say last show ever, because that would be a damn shame, as they were (are?) one of the most powerful bands Savannah has seen in recent memory.

Anyway, the details: Cray Bags closed out Weekend Mania, a mini festival packed with great Southeastern punk, garage, and just generally rad bands. Both bands and fans battled it out with lots and lots of PBR and Wild Turkey. (Maybe that part goes without saying, as the show was at The Jinx?) The band was as tight and feral as ever, the wound up crowd ate it up, pinball machines were walked on, beers were poured into the crowd from the stage, crowds were surfed, pits were formed…you know, Cray Bags show stuff happened.