By L. Michael Gipson
There's much hoopla over Mayer Hawthorne getting signed to Stones Throw Records on the strength of two songs. From the retro-soul sound of Hawthorne's debut, the blue-eyed soulster from Detroit must have succeeded on his lyricism, because the voice just isn't there. A thin natural and blender falsetto that's part Smokey Robinson, part Curtis Mayfield and too much talent show crooner, Hawthorne mistakes vulnerability for soul. His songwriting, however, and the band's soft funk playing elevate the set. "Maybe So, Maybe No" goes from a gauzy "Wake Up Everybody" opener to a swinging, complex doo-wop extravaganza that never once sacrifices melody for band pyrotechnics. The title track is a loving massage boasting Hawthorne's best performance. These tunes are just slightly more soulful than the pop ditties that made the Rascals, the Association, and the Lovin' Spoonful '60s favorites. What's strange is how often you find yourself pressing repeat. (Stones Throw) 4 stars out of 5
Clean, sweet soul is not exactly what Bobby Womack was known for. But under Calvin Richardson's gentle tenor, Womack is pleasantly reimagined on this tribute to the undersung icon. Don't be fooled by the cigar on the cover; Richardson's easy voice glides and soars over this tribute album's live orchestrations on such cuts as "Daylight" and "That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha." Recorded live in one week, Muscle Shoals-style, by producer Tres Gilbert, the band keeps the organic project moving along. Richardson's commitment to traditional interpretations of this popular material highlights Womack's skill as a lyricist and arranger on par with Barry White, Leon Ware and Willie Hutch a fact often lost because of the prominence of Womack's unique vocal ability. Try as Richardson might and he tries hard here he just doesn't have that enviable problem. (Shanachie) 3 stars out of 5
Much of the Pinx's Look What You Made Me Do builds on the thump of a kickdrum, riffs and bass to underscore the feelings of elation that dominate the album. But visceral hooks are the guiding light here. Opening number "The Desert" swells with guitar bombast while the band members play as if their lives depend on it. Rock exuberance a la Sabbath, Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age puts an emphasis on skewed pop, which comes across in the bellow and chug of frontman Adam McIntyre on "The Owl" and "Killing Me." The only down point is "Change Me," a broken-hearted, Billy Corgan-style downer, but it's only a momentary lapse in a maelstrom of tight, hard rock songs that burst with melody. (Self-released) 4 stars out of 5
Lead by former Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes, A Hawk & A Hacksaw explores various enclaves of Eastern European and American folk music with an accordion and something of a surreal bent. The group is touring in support of their latest release, Délivrance (Leaf). Jeffrey Butzer and Damon & Naomi open.
$10. 9 p.m. The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Rd. 404-522-3950.
The title of Killer Mike's new compilation album featuring local MCs is a little misleading. After all, many of the artists who appear on Underground Atlanta like recent XXL cover boys OJ da Juiceman, Gucci Mane, Shawty Lo and Soulja Boy are household rap names who have received plenty of national exposure. Still, the two-disc set is charming and solid all the way through, and features highlights from such lesser-known talents as Rich Kidz ("Bowling") and Prynce Cyhi ("Don't Go Outside"), as well as winners from veterans including Pastor Troy and Trillville, whose "I Be Off Dat" recalls the group's crunk-era glory. Killer Mike pops up periodically, usually to great effect, on such tracks as "N*ggaz Down South (Remix)," which also features T.I. and honorary Atlantan Bun B. A project like this is long overdue, and Mike's ability to unite this diverse group of folks demonstrates his wide-ranging influence around these parts. (SMC Recordings) 4 stars out of 5
"Seeing the Dark" and "Spirit Molecule," the first two cuts from Zoroaster's The Voice of Saturn, have materialized on the B-side of a split 7-inch with Portland, Oregon's Aldebaran (Kreation Records).
Both acts are cut from a similar cloth of slow, doom-laden metal riffs, and the vinyl treatment really blows out the bottom end of the dirge. The bass-heavy mix draws out the rich and blackened qualities, and as a teaser to the forthcoming vinyl version of The Voice of Saturn, it definitely leaves you wanting more.
Aldebaran's side is a growly voiced anthem called "Aldebaran Red," which fits smoldering guitars and war drums over dueling high/low godlike grumbles. There's less of a psychedelic bent to Aldebaran's side of the record. Instead, these Portland tormentors summon a maelstrom of teeth-gnashing, scorched-earth vitriol. 900 copies pressed on black vinyl, 100 on clear/"black haze" vinyl.
Zoroaster's "Spirit Molecule" mp3
Zoroaster plays the Masquerade Thurs., Sept. Sep 24 with Gojira and Burst and Scale the Summit. $13. 8 p.m. 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178.
The Coathangers are heading back out on tour this fall in support of their second album, Scramble. This time around the Atlanta lady punks are playing a handful of shows with Vancouver duo Japandroids who are touring behind their debut full-length, Post-Nothing.
The tour kicks-off in Atlanta at 529 on Fri., Sept. 25 and will be followed by a several dates leading up to Quebec's Pop Montreal Festival. After that they hook-up with Japandroids to make a trek across Canada and down to the East Coast and Midwestern states before heading South again.
Normally we wouldn't condone watching reality TV shows of any stripe, but we'll make an exception to keep an eye out from Coathangers' drummer Stephanie Luke's appearance on an upcoming episode of TLC's "LA INK." The air date is still TBA but we'll let you know when we hear anything.
The Coathangers' "Toomerhead" mp3
Japandroids performing "Heart Sweats"
Click below to see the Coathangers' fall tour dates
(Photo by Lamar George)
AIROES, EAR PWR Atlantas Airoes create spastic music that sounds like you are fighting the boss of the last level of an old Nintendo game with time running out. Baltimores Ear Pwr has a similar affinity for retro video games, as well as 80s dance and hip-hop. Toro Y Moi and the Crunk Punk DJs round out this electro bill.
$5. 10 p.m. 529. 404-228-6769. www.529atl.com. Jonathan Williams
AMON TOBIN, WELDER, SIMON B Headlining the opening of Athens latest music venue, Tobin is known for his dark mix of jungle grooves, breakbeats and hip-hop's low end. Welder mixes glitchy IDM with ambient pop while Simon B spins a set of techno, electro and anything else that will keep bodies moving.
$20-$25. 9 p.m. New Earth Music Hall, Athens. 706-543-8283. www.newearthmusichall.com. JW
EDWIN MCCAIN, FREDDY JONES BAND Both McCain and Jones make easy, fairly light music for folks who don't need a lot of heavy stuff bringing them down. Not that it is a bad thing, but it is a pretty common thing.
$15-$45. 7:30 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre. 404-733-4800. www.classicchastain.com. JK
LOS LOBOS There arent many acts still touring with their original members 36 years down the line, but East L.A.s Los Lobos inventive combination of Latin, rockabilly, country, folk, blues, world and even experimental roots music remains fresh and inspirational. Expect all that and some new material, too, from a soon to be released 18th album. Delta Moon opens.
$35. 8 p.m. Atlanta Botanical Garden. 404-249-6400. www.concertsinthegarden.org. Hal Horowitz
NEBULA, THE ENTRANCE BAND, EL CAMINOS Featuring ex-Fu Manchu guitarist Eddie Glass, Nebula arrives draped in more fuzz than the work frigs year-old leftovers. The wah wails and rhythm section quakes setting controls to the heart of the sun on their raucous garage-psych exploration.
$12. 8 p.m. Masquerade. 404-577-8178. masq.com. CP
ANNA KRAMER & THE LOST CAUSE, OCHA LA ROCHA, JOHN PAUL KEITH & THE ONE FOUR FIVES, HAYSHAKER All four bands on the bill tonight embrace a skewed, although deeply engrained sense of Americana in their songwriting, ranging from straight-forward rock 'n' roll to a more robust mix of earth-toned and traditional country songs. Memphis rockers Keith and the One Four Fives are the only non-local act on the bill.
$10. 9 p.m. Star Bar. 404-681-9018. www.starbar.net. CR
CHERYL WHEELER Despite the somber nature of much of her catalog, fans know that folk singer Wheelers live shows are as much a showcase for her humorous between-song patter as for the introspective material that dominates her studio work. She tours behind a new album, her eighth, which features three frisky tunes about her late cat.
$22.50-$25. 8:30 p.m. Red Light Cafe. 404-874-7828. www.redlightcafe.com. HH
EN VOGUE, TONY! TONI! TONÉ!, SILK Is anyone else mourning the death of R&B's slow jam? OK, so the quiet storm era wasn't the most magnetic in black music, but at least such groups as EnVogue, Tony! Toni! Toné! and Silk provided the essential baby-making music that helped teen pregnancy rates skyrocket in the early 90s. Nowadays, all these poor young people have to set the mood is Percocet. Now throw your lit cell phone in the air, and wave it side to side like you just don't care.
$25-$60. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre. 404-733-4800. www.classicchastain.com. Rodney Carmichael
KIMBERLY NICHOLE, RAHBI, THE REMNANT Last year, one of Atlanta's most electric soul vocalists Nichole departed for bigger and better in N.Y. Yet she ended up collaborating with a slew of Atlanta-based talent, including producer Q Kegler, to put together her debut album, The Yellow Brick Journey. Nichole returns for the release party this weekend, and she's just what the A's been missing.
$5. 9 p.m. Apache Café. 404-876-5436. www.apachecafe.info. RC
Michael Jackson's death and the 50th anniversary of Motown Records' founding has renewed focus on the pioneering Detroit label, making Smokey Robinson's latest solo CD, Time Flies When You're Having Fun his first in three years well-timed. Though Robinson's name is practically synonymous with the imprint, its signature soul and pop sounds are nowhere to be found on this work, which skews toward contemporary R&B and smooth jazz. Tracks like "Love Bath," "You're the One for Me" and "Time Flies" are particularly overproduced, but most everything here is department store elevator-ready. Robinson's cover of Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" immediately indicates what demographic he's pursuing one that's old, wealthy and unadventurous in its tastes. So perhaps it's not fair to compare the album to the earlier, innovative entries in his catalog. Nevertheless, finding something to appreciate about such a lifeless, passionless CD is a tall order, indeed. (Robso Records) 2 stars out of 5
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him."
- Sun Tzu, the Art of War
In every war there comes a time to call a truce, and when the members of Attractive Eighties Women declared war on me after giving their latest CD, The Ancient Cry of the Tyrannosaur a measly 1 out of 5 stars, it was time to meet face-to-face on a battlefield of their choosing. Guitarist Christie Brinkley and frontman Phoebe Cates chose Octane Coffee. In the past I have described AEW as being equal parts Lenny Bruce impious humor-made-local, and the power-trash jams of the Replacements circa 83, but the first part isn't quite right. These guys are more like Andy Kaufman meets the Mats at the dog end of a three-day amphetamine-fueled performance art bender. They don't mind speaking their minds about their disdain for rock critics, communists and worst of all pandas.
Chad Radford: Thank you for meeting me today.
Christie Brinkley: Thank you. I brought you this statue of a King-Fu Master out of respect for what you do, and for meeting us here today. It's a gift from us as a gesture of respect for you meeting us. But I also cut of his left hand as a warning and to remind you of our disapproval of the album review that you wrote of our new record.
Phoebe Cates: We do that for critics who give us bad reviews. We even wrote a song about the coward Jeff Clark, but it's not a nice song. You made the right decision to come and speak with us today. I looked at your review of our new record online and it had 17 comments. The only other thing that had any comments was something about Dallas Austin, and he only had two comments. That's a pretty accurate percentage of how much more popular we are than Dallas Austin, which if you do the math it works out to about 13,000% more popular. So as you see we are a band that gets people talking and that gets people excited.
Chad Radford: I heard your song about Jeff Clark...
PC: You mean "the coward Jeff Clark" of Stomp & Stammer?
CR: What did he do to you?
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