Monsoon Music Monday

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I hope you haven’t been living underneath a rock but if you have, please allow me to introduce you to Monsoon. If you’ve heard of Monsoon, consider this a fawning post because I love this band so much.

Essential things to know about the band

  • The members are very young, like barely out of high school
  • The group turns 3 this year
  • They’re playing the 40 Watt February 11th (with the Drive By Truckers)
  • They’re one of two local bands to make me actually dance (Pylon’s the other)
  • Think upbeat punk, shades of Pylon and B-52s without the cheese
  • Heavy affinity for Japanese pop culture
  • All of the merch on their site is sold out (save one t-shirt)
  • You really need to see them live
  • But if you can’t then I’ve put their album below for your listening pleasure

 

Oh, hey. A snow day. Sorta

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the South does not handle snow and freezing conditions well. As I’m writing this, the cat is freaking out at the white stuff falling outside. My Yankee friends love to remind me how much snow they’ve gotten this season already and laugh when I say school has been cancelled due to an inch of snow. To which I say, “Try dealing with a week of 100+ degree weather in the summer and we’ll talk.”

But it’s weather like this that always brings out my favorite music. I’m of the mind that music should be grouped by the emotion it evokes, rather than genre. Is this tune more of a “sunny spring day in the city” type or a “summer nightlife in a small town” melody? Naturally, snowy weather is different from harsh, never ending winter weather and thus the “genres” are quite the opposite as well. Snowy weather is Azure Ray. Harsh winter is The Powder Room.

Take this song for example.

Randomly speeds up and down, bright sounds (but not too bright), and its something you can dance to. I’d label it Summer House Party. What about this one?

Ok, so it has many of the same qualities as the Moonsoon tune. But something about it takes me from Summer House Party to Driving Through The Cool Part of Town at Night. I think it’s the more steady rhythm and the harmonic vocals.

But that’s just how I organize things. You’ll find certain songs in your collection can fit multiple situations and that’s the beauty of having a personal collection: customization. Thankfully, we have a ton of bands in town that can cater to most of your tastes. It just takes a bit of asking around to find out who.

Have a fun snow day, gang!

Catching Up on Campus

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Grady, official naysayer and laptop warmer of AMJ

In an effort to expand my horizons, and by extension, this blog, I’ve begun trying to read the Red & Black, the student newspaper, now and again. I stopped paying attention to it long ago after the paper moved to a digital format during my undergrad days. But, we tend to not pay attention to goings on on campus, especially in the student population, and we end up missing out on up and coming bands, non-indie music, and a host of music related events that never make it into town past the Arch.

So I was rewarded with this gem of a review in the R&B.

The least talented prevailed at ‘Battle of the Bands’ charity event

Now, there are so many reasons why this type of thing is not on my radar. Charity show thrown by a Greek organization, “battle of the bands,” Tuesday night (is there anything more useless in this town than a Tuesday night show?), etc. But this headline alone makes me glad that I wasn’t there. Kudos.

WUOG‘s staffers have just gotten back into the groove after Winter Break so expect a few drops here and there as they solidify their schedules. New DJs will begin training soon so your favorite 2 a.m. staffers might be shuffled around. On the bright side, if you’re wondering what song was just played on 90.5, they’re keeping up with everything via Spinitron now. Support your local radio, folks, before it’s gone.

I’d also like to toss some attention over to our lovely Performing Arts Center. They’ve got comedy, ballroom dancing, aerial showcases, orchestral performances, and a step-show all coming in the next month and a half.

So cast your attention to UGA once in a while and maybe you’ll stumble across something interesting in the music scene. At the very least, you’ll be up on what’s hip with the kiddos, right? Right?…

Locally Bowie

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from Michael Stipe’s instagram

It’s not hard to imagine that someone as influential as David Bowie would have an impact on music in Athens. You can’t swing a guitar around without hitting someone who could pluck out “Space Oddity” or at the very least spout every line from Labyrinth. But our departed Starman had a more than a few connections to the Classic City.

Let’s start with one of the big diamond dogs: R.E.M.

Anyone who’s seen Velvet Goldmine knows that the fictional Brian Slade is a stand in for Bowie, but did you know that Michael Stipe acted as a producer for the film?

And you should be familiar with R.E.M.’s covers of Bowie penned songs such as Iggy Pop’s “Funtime.” Stipe would often quote from “Diamond Dogs” during the band’s 1987 tour. But this is probably my favorite at this point in time.

You can also guess that some of Stipe’s stage personas had a bit of Bowie. And when someone like Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows is a side musician for your group, you’re bound to have a few Bowie influences floating around at all times.

So let’s move along to another local group: Pylon

It was quietly released a while back in 2012 but “The First Time I Heard David Bowie” included a small selection from Vanessa. In one section she writes

“David Bowie first entered my awareness via the radio version of Space Oddity. It was easy to imagine that I was an astronaut, singing along while driving to my part-time job. My car was a sort of tin can and there was nothing I could do.”

Naturally this brings us to The B-52s.

While Bowie had been in business for years before the B’s released “Rock Lobster”, the artists shared an appreciation for the zany. Take a look sometime at the costumes Bowie employed in his early days and the crazy makeup and dresses of the B’s. There’s definitely a kinship there.

For a more solid connection, you need only to look at the number one most underrated musician in the world, Nile Rodgers. In 1983, Rodgers produced “China Girl,” “Modern Love,” and most notably, “Let’s Dance.” All of them hits for sure. A few years later in 1989, the B-52s biggest album Cosmic Thing came out featuring guitar work and production from Nile. It’s no coincidence that the album was also well received. Pierson also sang on “Candy” by Iggy Pop but that’s more of a Six Degrees of Separation thing than a direct connection. It should also be noted that the two bands both toured with drummer Sterling Campbell (who left the B’s for Bowie, I think…)

(late edit)

And have you seen this Elf Power performance of “Queen Bitch”?

So you can see that Athens has quite a few connections to our now dearly departed starman.It’s not surprising in the least that his death has hit our little burg quite hard. If you’re up for it, there’s a screening of Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth on Saturday at the Georgia Theatre (Free!). And tickets are already on sale for “A Night of David Bowie” next Thursday at the GATH ($10). Maybe I’ll see ya there.

Flagpole gathered a few words from local musicians if you want to check it out here.

Personally, I never knew how deeply ingrained Bowie was in my psyche until now. When did I pick up all these Bowie related shirts? Why do I know how to play “Life on Mars?” on piano? What do you mean I ran around singing “Let’s Dance” as a kid? Just goes to show that sometimes the best legacies are the ones that you don’t even realize you’re living after the person is gone. Goodbye Bowie.

Athens Music News Roundup Jan 2016

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For a band that’s no longer active, Pylon‘s sure been active lately. Bassist Michael Lachowski just rapped up an art exhibit at the World Famous called “I’m in the Band” featuring black light works and a bass only performance of a few Pylon songs. Singer Vanessa Hay has joined forces with Kay Stanton, Jason NeSmith, Joe Rowe, and Damon Denton to form the Pylon Reenactment Society. Yes, they do play Pylon songs and yes, they are touring during February. Tour dates here. AND word on the street is that we may have a live Pylon record to look forward to soon…

If you’re a fan of the 33 1/3 book series, you might be interested to know that local awesome dude Walter Biggins will be writing a volume on Bob Mould‘s Workbook with Daniel Couch. You can keep taps on the duo’s progress on their Tumblr page here. (Editor’s note: Walter’s a co-worker of mine at the day job – JS)

The deadline to vote for someone in the Athens Hip Hop Awards is rapidly approaching. Get to clickin’ before January 15th here! The awards themselves will be in March.

Speaking of March, Slingshot will be held March 31st-April 2nd. They’re mum on the big names for now but if it’s anything like last year’s lineup, you’d better set aside the money for it now.

Muuy Biien has joined the Billions roster. Congrats! If you want to see ’em, they’re playing the 40 Watt this Wednesday.

If you want to see the Drive-By Truckers at the Watt in February, Thursday is your only opportunity. All the rest is sold out, folks. Moose out front should’a told ya.

Of course, if you want to see Drive-By before February, maybe look into Peter Buck‘s Todos Santos Music Festival. It is a RIDICULOUS lineup of artists including Death Cab for Cutie, Kevn Kinney, and so many more.

 

Got a show coming up? Need to unload some hot band gossip? Let us know at athensmusicjunkie@gmail.com.

On the upcoming year

If you haven’t read Gordon Lamb’s 2016 in Review, then I’d highly recommend taking a gander. Yes, his tongue is lodged firmly in cheek but if you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ll see that he’s calling out some of the behavior we’d really like to sweep under the rug.

July’s entry is particularly brutal and awfully true. I’ll be first to admit that I have not covered Athens hip hop really at all. It’s something I’m trying to remedy and yes, I am ashamed of it.

Gordon also hits on some Pinterest friendly festivals, the puzzling pushback Kai gets every year for Slingshot, and our general “eh, it’ll get done by someone” attitude. I look forward to these every year and this one’s a goodie.

I’m sure you’re DYING to know what I think will happen this upcoming year. So I made you a list.

  1. Athfest Hits 20, Faces Midlife Crisis about where to go next
  2. Local band/promoter/jackass declares someone is “selling out”, proceeds to badmouth said someone across the Internet
  3. David Lowry sues someone/writes opinion piece, general public gets behind it without any idea of the law/practices of music licensing
  4. Another local musician leaves Athens for NYC, Portland, Austin or Nashville.
  5. AMJ will continue to scream into the endless void and pay our bills via the day job
  6. The Eastside will continue to be ignored
  7. Ditto to musicians who aren’t white and male
  8. Someone will start another Discover Athens blog with lovely photos and content

A bit bleak, huh? Yeah, I agree. So I also made a list of all the good things I think will happen this year.

  1. New musicians will move into town, bringing much needed new blood into bands around town
  2. Nuci’s Space will continue to save and improve lives
  3. Gordon Lamb will piss off a band with a correct judgement in his column, all but the band will agree
  4. A leading band will sign with a label, get press from all over and become our new town sweethearts
  5. There will be at least two AMAZING albums out of Athens this year
  6. An old band/artist will come out of retirement and all will rejoice
  7. Someone will see their first live show at the 40 Watt and fall in love with the place
  8. Athfest
  9. Slingshot
  10. Athens Intensified
  11. The Wild Rumpus (even bigger!)
  12. and so on…

I think we’re in for an interesting year. To use sportsball terms, we’re in a rebuilding phase. But we can make it great, don’t you think?

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PREACH

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Forward Forecast

Since it’s the first real Monday of the month, I thought I’d do something a bit different and let you know of the shows I’m really looking forward to this month.

January is always a bit of a mixed bag as far as shows. You can thank the cold (it will be cold, right?) weather and the strange UGA schedule for that. This is also the time of year when we come back to many shuttered storefronts and changed up interiors. Change is in the air my friends. Onward!

If you want a show that sounds as bleak as the midwinter itself, look no further than the 40 Watt on Jan. 13th. Locals Feather Trade and Muuy Biien open for The Soft Moon. Expect gothic overtones, lyrical madness, and clashing guitars. 9 pm $12

The Whigs are coming home for a short spell, playing the Watt on Jan. 23rd. Purses, a hodge podge of local musicians you’ve probably seen before, will open. Think your usual popish rock and you’re not too far off. 9 pm $15

The Georgia Theatre‘s spring season usually speaks more to me than the fall. I’m not seeing a whole lot on the schedule that caters to my tastes this January though I might recommend going to see Waka Flocka Flame on the 15th just to say you have. 9 pm $22

The band formerly known as Pinecones makes its way to Caledonia on Jan. 27th as Arbor Labor Union. Weird Vibers and Fabulous Bird round out the night. It’s $5 at 9:30 on a Wednesday, you really have nothing else to do.

Just FYI, Lumpkin Street Station is closed until the 21st of this month for renovations/winter break.