hissing lawns | a music blog in Savannah, Ga.

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Devotees of Savannah’s hip hop scene will recognize this bearded emcee as Miggs Son, staple of rap collective Dope Sandwich, former member of musical jamboree Word Of Mouth, SCAD grad and accomplished visual artist. After releasing his first solo album, “Son Of A Gun,” this past summer, Miggs and Dope Sandwich founder Knife embarked on an epic tour of the eastern USA, and are planning another extensive road run for November.

If that weren’t enough, Miggs has just released a new EP with F.E.B (Four Elements & Beyond), a 3-member NYC-based tribute to classic hip hop. Miggs and I sat down to discuss the new music.

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Garrett – So, Miggs, I’ve seen you performing around town with all kinds of groups – rock bands, psychedelic groups, hip hop acts, visual arts – but this is the first I’m hearing about F.E.B.

MIGGS – F.E.B. stands for Four Elements & Beyond. The 3 main members are my brother, Freak Tha Monsta, Werd Life and myself. My brother makes the beats and we all rhyme. We grew up in NY and have a deep respect for the art of rapping and producing. You’ll notice in F.E.B. music that there’s a lot of attention to detail.

Garrett – For sure. The production has a very vintage sound to it, that organic feel that is missing in so much hip hop today. I think the same could be said about the production and style of your latest solo album “Son Of A Gun.”

MIGGS – I feel our sound truly captures the essence of NY hip-hop. The only difference between F.E.B. and myself as a solo artist is just that you get a lot more of a personal scope in my solo work. But it’s still very much a part of the whole. We enjoy that classic hip-hop group energy and all feed off each other’s skills.

Garrett – That group energy definitely comes across on the recordings. It sounds like y’all have been doing this forever.

MIGGS – We’ve been making music together for about 10 years. We were freestyling at age 10 or 11 and by the time we were 16 we began recording a bit. We’ve got TONS of material over the years, and projects include a few solo mixtapes from each of us, a Freak Tha Monsta EP, a Miggs LP, and a Freak Tha Monsta/Werd Life LP. This project, ‘Beyond The Elements’ is a 6 track EP and it’s the first full group project to be released.

Garrett – I really dig “Cold Blooded,” the EP’s lead single. You can smell the subway soot, very New York hip hop.

MIGGS – It’s featured on the free Dope Sandwich mixtape ‘Behind Bars’ that’s available at the Dope Sandwich website. We also just dropped the music video alongside the release of the album.

Garrett – So can we expect any F.E.B. performances in the near future?

MIGGS – There’s a good chance we’ll all do a show sometime. Over the years I’ve had either Freak or Life come through separately and we always rock shows. The whole group did one show last year at the Summer Solstice Festival but we’re lookin’ forward to having the whole crew down here again!

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We also discussed the upcoming Dope Sandwich “Naked Lunch Tour” which kicks off next month. Until then, you can download the new F.E.B. EP here, and stay tuned in the next week for a full interview, on rye with mayo.

 

Bear Fight-2

Bear Fight! is headlining the Jinx on Saturday for their first show since opening for local sludge metal legends Black Tusk back in June. It might also be their last show of 2014.

According to guitarist Jeff Hinely, the band is taking a brief hiatus to work on some new material. Hinely said they will probably return to the stage for the Savannah Stopover Festival next year.

Since I first saw these guys, their 2012 album Gnarmageddon (below) has been a staple of my “Hammer of Thor” playlist. (Which by the name you might guess doesn’t have any John Mayer on it.)

Gnar is a blaring mix of soaring riffs and some of the best metal breakdowns you’ve ever heard, in a conglomerate of neck-breaking progressive metal.

From the opening title track, to the love song “No Body” a third of the way through, to the closing instrumental “Night Of The Living Shred,” this album, while two years old, still packs a punch, and is some refreshing metallurgy yielded by some very skilled musicians.

And if you’re afraid, be assured that their live shows justify their recorded selves.

Bear Fight! has yet to release music since new guitarist Dave Andergg joined up. While there might be some new material on Saturday (one can hope), it’s going to be exciting to see what these guys have in store for the future.

As was noted in bill’s Unplugged column this week (here), these guys typically open for bigger acts. Saturday is an exception as Athen’s The Powder Room and Savannah’s Rotten Blush will be opening. Which means, by Jinx time standards (JST – time zone), Bear Fight! will probably hit the stage after midnight.

But, that is no excuse to miss the opening acts, yo.

Powder Room is a gripping sludge metal trio out of Athens. Their latest 9-track assault “Curtains” dropped in April of this year. (check it out below)

Sludge metal is a good moniker for these gents, but there is so much more to their own brand of hardcore punk/shoegaze/noise/melodic metal. Yeah, lots of genres in there. I typically love bands that are hard to define. It means they’re doing something different. Powder Room is different in all the right ways.

The enigmatic Rotten Blush will probably not disappoint. Here are some photos and words about Rotten Blush from fellow HL contributor/photo man Petee Worrell (here)

I am bringing my ear protection to this one.

Cheers. Continue reading →

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Rarely do we see a gathering of local talent like the Electric Moonlight Festival, a two-day event happening from this Friday and Saturday (Oct. 17-18) at Brainiacs in Statesboro, GA. The festival features local musical talent (including psych rockers Omingnome, sound guru Matt Duplessie and prog jazz 3-piece Culture Vulture,) live artists (Lauren Schwind, Jessica McMillan, Alexandra Huntoon, Mariah Howington and Maria DeCerce,) yoga and sound healing by Anahata Healing Arts, local vendors, glass blowers, swimming, camping and lots more.

Brainiacs is a new venue on a 40 acre lake, complete with outdoors stages, indoor VIP areas and swimming galore. Admission is free to the outdoor area, $5 for indoor access and $20 gets you full access and a camping slot. Check out the event page here for more details.

It became painfully apparent on Sunday that I had been at a loud ass rock ‘n’ roll show Saturday night. I had all the usual symptoms; ringing in the ears, crick in the neck, and that hint of PBR delivered dehydration. However, it was – as it most often is – completely worth it.

A CUSSES show is always a good time. Saturday night’s romp at The Jinx with Atlanta’s Baby Baby was no exception.

I accidentally slipped to stage left, mere inches from guitarist Bryan Harder for this show. Typically, I stay further back, as I am resisting the compulsion to wear ear protection at rock ‘n’ roll shows. (I am beginning to think it might be a good idea, though. I am pretty sure my 50 year old self would be thankful.)

At my first CUSSES show a while ago, I was immediately drawn to the charismatic stage presence of singer Angel Bond and drummer Brian Lackey. However, having positioned myself differently this time, I stood witness to the greatness of Mr. Harder. I’ve heard the majority of Saturday’s playlist before, but there were little nuances in Harder’s guitar work that I’d never noticed before. I suppose being inches away helped.

At the outset, his blaring rock riffs are most noticeable in CUSSES’ music, but the subtle composition he takes with the versus is brimming and rich without being overstated, leaving plenty of room for Bond’s vocals. Helping to arrange his configuration is a custom two-pickup setup on his Fender Stratocaster, and a vast pedal board that he works like a wizard fine tuning a concoction of tonal witchcraft.

CUSSES Baby Baby14all photos in this post by Petee Worrell

What seemed to escape me in previous listens is Harder’s bass work. In several of the bands tunes, Harder ditches the traditional distorted rock anthem sound in favor of a rich bass sound and bass-guitar riffs, successfully adding another layer to the band’s musical texture.

CUSSES’ hard-rock is as good live as it is recorded. The elements that make any rock band, and especially a trio, exceptional are sometimes hard to pinpoint. The biggest and most obvious marker I’ve come to realize – as is the case with legendary rock trio Rush – is every musician in the band is exceptional at what they do.

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Since first hearing CUSSES, I’ve never felt like they were lacking any instrumentation. As some might criticize a trio for the lack of a bass player, or keys, or a second guitar, CUSSES is full of sound and little B.S. I think this is due to the talent of each person in the wielding of their own instrument. Continue reading →

If the name didn’t intrigue you, there may be no hope for you. Neon Napalm’s “Omnidimensional Pathos Factory” Saturday night at Ampersand was just that as all three floors offered a different sensory experience. With a musical lineup of psych rockers Kyle, atonal rompers Unicycle Escape Pod, progressive professors Culture Vulture and the atmospheric doom of Blackrune rounding out the night, the third floor interactive art gallery was icing on an already delicious cake. After viewing a curious promotional video, we knew we just had to check this one out.

The video feedback birth canal

The video feedback birth canal

Upstairs Gallery at Ampersand

Upstairs Gallery at Ampersand

Ty Derousseau

Ty Derousseau

Meg Reiley

Meg Reiley

On the main floor, with its upscale cocktail lounge vibe, local painters Melissa Hagerty and Lauren Schwind were watercoloring on a canvas in the corner, inviting people to collaborate and paint along with them. This served as an introduction to the third floor, which had been completely set up to showcase local fine art. As one walked up the stairs, lasers on each step chimed a different tone as their streams were broken, resulting in a musical staircase. At the top of the stairs was what could only be described as a video feedback birth canal – folded layers of cloth onto which were projected images from a video camera pointed at the cloth, then run through various video feedback lops to create a truly strange visual sensation. After birthing, we walked through the open loft area, its walls covered with paintings, sketches and photographs.
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blackrune

I’m quickly realizing how big of an underground scene there is for instrumental bands here in Savannah, and I’m not even sure if anyone besides the bands themselves realize it. I went to a show at Ampersand recently (read Garrett’s writeup here), the entire lineup of which consisted of awesome instrumental groups. One in particular that really grabbed my attention was Blackrune, consisting of Paul Goerner (guitar), Matt McCullough (percussion), and Chris Goggans (bass). Their style is one that not even they can agree on, but the word I would use is captivating. And watching how they take over a room is half of the experience.

I met with them the day after the show to really get into what brought the band about.

Enen: Where did you get your name?

Goerner: I had a project called Magic Places around here, in Savannah, for awhile, just like a solo electronic thing that I did. I was working it out with Ryan McCardle, the guy who runs the DIY label Furious Hooves that’s released all of our stuff so far. And he plays in mumbledust, another good music duo around here, and he’s just been a really good support. And the idea was, if you’ll let me be conceptual here for a second in a stupid way, I wanted to stop being a general idea, and be more of a specific one. Blackrune is like a surname to me. Like the name of a person, or a place. That was the idea, to kind of settle down to a more specific personality. Otherwise, honestly, it’s just cliché, like a mystical place, or a mystical name.

Enen: How would you describe your music?

McCullough: I usually go with post-rock. Or lately I’ve been saying ‘Horror Movie Soundtracks.’

Goggans:  It’s hard for us to even agree on it. I always picture robed monks walking through the desert.

Goerner: I don’t think we should [agree on a description]. We’re more leaning towards the idea of soundtracks, recently. Almost like program music. It’s meant to be attached to a bigger context, almost. Or maybe meant to invoke a sort of imaginary thing.

Enen: You said you’re going to be taking a break from playing shows because you’re going to be recording soon?

Goerner: Yeah, we’re finally going to Dollhouse. We’ve been talking to them about it forever and ever, and we kept telling them ‘we’re coming soon.’ Finally doing it.

Enen: What are your goals for that album?

Goerner: Really, just what you see right here. Us, and everything we’ve done in the past. Continue reading →

Though often overlooked by the downtown music crowd, The Wormhole is one of the best places to see live music in Savannah. Stylistically eclectic, acoustically superior and significantly cheaper at the bar, this club is more spacious than any of the Congress Street spots and has an excellent sound system. Nearly every night of the week one can find live music or stand-up comedy, and on some nights, both.

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The Wormhole : A Nerd’s Paradise

Friday night at The Wormhole saw the return of one of Savannah’s veteran rock acts, the formidable IAMSOUND. Though the group has gone through some line-up changes over the years, creative fountainhead Chris Horton continues to crank out new material and pursue his sound. The band can be heard sporadically on Rock 106.1’s local music show “Underexposed,” yet the band’s previous recordings don’t do the current group justice. Formerly known for their borderline-metal brand of aggressive hard rock music, Horton has focused more on layering of textures than volume for the new round of material, and we were excited to see what the group had to offer. After roughly six months of inactivity, anticipation was high for Friday night.

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IAMSOUND @ The Wormhole 10/10/14

The group did not disappoint. Continue reading →

I had never attended The Jam Room Festival before, even though the headliners in its first two years have been bands that I really like, The Hold Steady and Son Volt. This year though, the featured act was a band that I unabashedly love, Superchunk, so a road trip was in order. I’ve logged many a mile around the Southeast over the last 20 years or so to catch more than a handful of Superchunk shows. From Jackrabbits to Rockafellas, The Music Farm to The Mohawk, they’ve rocked every single time. (I don’t think they’ve ever played Savannah?)

Even though I was only at the festival a few hours, I really can’t say enough nice things about it. First and foremost, it was FREE!?! Parking literally couldn’t have been easier (also free??), the vibe was super relaxed, short lines for beverages, and an easily navigable crowd of appreciative music fans ranging from children to weathered rock veterans. Heck, they were throwing free tee shirts into the crowd. I caught the last couple songs of The Love Language‘s set (but none of the tees), they sounded just as solid as they had at Hang Fire a few weeks ago. I walked the two short blocks to the other stage, checking out the merch and sponsor tents on the way, everything was well laid out and organized.

Southern Culture on the Skids was just hitting the stage as I made it to the other end of the festival. I admit to being sadly underexposed to them, barring a slight familiarity with “Camel Walk“, their alternative novelty “hit” from back in the day when MTV played, you know, music. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s cool to like Southern Culture on the Skids, but they were freaking awesome. Fried chicken was thrown into the crowd, songs were sung about banana pudding and Tiki Houses, all set to an upbeat punk/rockabilly/surf/punky instrumentation that was infectious.

At the end of the set the band pulled people out of the crowd to dance to “Camel Walk” and “Eight Piece Box” and a young girl in knee high pink Chuck Taylors and a Flashdance outfit proceeded to dance the most joyous, non self-conscious, totally amazing and hilarious dance I have ever seen on a stage. Honestly, I could do an entire post on how great it was. May your entire life rule as much as that dance did, young lady.

I made the quick walk back to the Whig Stage and caught a couple of songs from Leagues. They sounded pretty good but I decided to grab a beer and a spot near the front of the Palmetto Brewing Co. Stage for the Superchunk set. Oh, and by the way, “near the front” meant against the stage. Serious fanboy-ism ensued. The band ripped through a set that was pulled from their entire catalog, including their very excellent recent release, I Hate Music (clearly they do not actually hate music). Merge Records head honcho and indie rock guitar hero Mac McCaughan seemingly spent as much time in the air pogoing and leaping as he did on the floor. We were all pogoing and singing the punky indie anthems right along with him. A lot (read “all”) of young artists could learn more than a little from watching the 47 year old McCaughan on a stage. After finishing the set with the uber indie anthem “Slack Motherfucker“, the crowd demanded an encore that culminated with “Precision Auto“. So many great songs to pull from. Stellar set from a legendary artist.

Click on through for TONS more photos.

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Southern Culture on the Skids-1
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On Saturday night, I found myself choked up by Ian McLagan’s performance of “Glad and Sorry,” a bittersweet number originally recorded by his former band The Faces. I’ve always found it an incredibly touching song, but as performed in tribute to its writer, the departed Ronnie Lane (whom McLagan spoke warmly of throughout the evening), it took on an additional heartbreaking layer of poignancy. The moment’s weight was only slightly diminished when an older gentleman in dad jeans saw the song as reason to shake a tail feather like it was still 1973.

Ian McLagan at The Wormhole

The Wormhole proved a fitting venue for McLagan. Honestly, I usually forget The Wormhole—a wonderfully divy midtown joint with black ceilings, vintage PBR and Bud Light pool lamps, a cordoned-off VIP section that looks like it might be the last remaining vestige of a time when the space was a dance club, and a delightful unwillingness to cover up the dozens of screeds found upon the men’s room walls—is a potential watering hole. However, after seeing McLagan make that place his home for 90 minutes on Saturday, I plan on moseying over to The Wormhole much more frequently.
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