It's been 40 years since the Summer of Love, when rock became the voice of a movement and a generation. You can still hear the effects of that transformation listening to the flowing grooves of Atlanta's Hoplites. But the lyrics will entice you to take a break from the swaying and pay attention.
The group's singer and main songwriter, Eva Sotus, has finally laid open her heart and soul, and the words tell quite a story. She's no stranger to the Atlanta scene, but the Hoplites' self-titled disc is the first time in her 25-plus years of performing that she has actually delivered a recorded product. "It's my journal put to music," she says, "and if you hang around me long enough you will probably end up in a song."
Sotus earned local respect as a vocalist and member of Calculated Risk in the '80s. She's been a part of numerous band configurations since then. Currently, in addition to the Hoplites, she sings in Code Blue and contributed backup vocals to the recent Diamond Lil CD. But it's Sotus' own words and the Hoplites' sound that shines here. "This music is very personal," she says.
The band emerged from an ongoing informal jam session that started around 2004 and continues today. Sotus, along with friends Roland Alston (guitar), Kevin Andrews (bass) and latecomer Bryan Brownlow (drums) still get together weekly – gig or no gig. "It's like a family band, we hang out, talk, but don't always play music. If we do jam or work on new material, I bring in a song and play it for them, and then these guys turn it into something completely different." With a free style that takes you back to the sounds of early Jefferson Airplane and It's a Beautiful Day, the Hoplites take plenty of chances with rhythm and structure, but the feel is real.
The Hoplites' CD release party takes place at Birdi's on the Decatur Square. No cover. 9 p.m. Sat., Sept. 15.
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