The Dimes' second album, The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry, contains 12 jangly pop songs about early American history. After basing tracks on their 2007 debut, The Silent Generation, on old newspaper articles found in guitarist Pierre Kaiser's turn-of-the-century home, Harbour tackles subjects like the Great Boston Fire of 1872, Susan B. Anthony, Winslow Homer and Beantown's Charles Street Jail which is now a luxury hotel. Though the group hails from Portland, Ore., Kaiser is a Boston native and he encouraged the band's history-nerd singer Johnny Clay to indulge his interests. As a result, the work's educational focus never wavers. Still, it manages to avoid being dry or pedantic, and its history lessons are easy to swallow due to the easy folk and indie melodies accented by string and harmonica. If they fail as rock stars, the Dimes will likely have to settle for being the world's coolest high school history teachers. (Pet Marmoset Records/Timber Carnival Records) 4 out of 5 stars.
For more than two decades, the Impotent Sea Snakes pushed the limits of what Atlantans considered alternative by bringing various subcultures (glam, goth, gay, S&M and drag) together for one big rock 'n' roll spectacle. Comprised of five guys in drag and a troupe of sexy performers, the band practiced free speech with a decadent message that promoted individuality, safe sex and tolerance.
But the party came to a tragic end a few years ago.
"We decided to take an indefinite hiatus a few years ago because we had two more [band members commit] suicide," says pink-wigged frontman 13 (née Dean Riopelle). "That's six in 21 years. That was just too much for the rest of us."
With an international following that included Lemmy Kilmister and Jenna Jameson, the Sea Snakes were featured on HBO specials, one of which included 13's marriage to singer Princess Christy at the star-studded Exotic Erotic Ball.
With Nashville Pussy, the Love Buzzards and the Hot Rods. $10-$12. Thurs., Dec. 31. Masquerade (Heaven), 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.
(Photo courtesy Impotent Sea Snakes)
Athens' post-grunge rockers Dead Confederate have posted a free download of their new live Dirty Ammo EP at Dirtyammo.com.
The 7-song 12-inch/download was recorded live at the Earl on May 27, 2009 and features a cover of Elliot Smith's "Roman Candle," a cover of Officer May's "Smoking A Minor" and five original numbers.
The website is also set up to take donations to help fund the rebuilding of the Georgia Theatre, which was destroyed in a fire in June 2009. For a $1 donation you get the EP download. For $21 you get the download + a 12-inch vinyl copy of the EP, and for $41 you get the download, the vinyl and a Dead Confederate T-shirt, and it's all for a cause.
News of Vic Chesnutt's death on Christmas Day brought much sadness to everyone who knew him, either in person or through his music. The 45-year-old singer/songwriter, born James Victor Chesnutt on Nov. 12, 1964, in Jacksonville, Fla., was raised in Zebulon, Ga., but called Athens his home since 1985.
After a 1983 car accident left him a quadriplegic, the wheelchair-bound Chesnutt, who had been writing songs since the age of 5, began honing his talents as a songwriter. Upon moving to Athens he began working with the band the La-Di-Da's. But soon he struck out on his own, working as a solo performer. He became a regular fixture at the 40 Watt Club, where he was discovered by Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Stipe produced his first two records, Little, in 1990, and West of Rome, a year later, both on Texas Hotel Records.
Chesnutt released 15 records over the years, most recently At The Cut (Constellation Records) and Skitter on Take Off (Ada/Vapor) in 2009.
Chesnutt slipped into a coma on Dec. 24 after overdosing on muscle relaxants. He died the following day at approximately 3 p.m. in an Athens, Ga., hospital.
I had the honor of interviewing Chesnutt twice over the years. The first time was in February of 2004. I was writing a piece commemorating the five-year anniversary of Benjamin from Smoke's death, for Athens' weekly The Flagpole. The story was titled The Art Of Self-Destruction: Five Years After His Death, Benjamins Presence Lingers.
The second time was a Q&A for this blog on Oct. 30, when I spoke with both Vic and Guy Picciotto (Fugazi). We talked about the making of At The Cut.
The first time I saw him perform was in the fall of 1992, or maybe it was '93. He was mostly playing songs from the album Little and West of Rome in the upstairs art gallery at The Antiquarium in Omaha, Neb.
Seeing a man with such a crumpled frame singing such intensely personal songs about death, wrapped in stark tones and inspired by some heavy duty literary references, was really captivating. But to see him laughing and telling jokes after the show gave the impression of someone truly enlightened. It was as though he had the universe figured out.
Chickens and Pigs singer/guitarist Jeff Evans often says that his songs are mostly about food or animals, which is a bit misleading. Sometimes a pig is a pig, but in "Green Lights" it's a metaphor for any number of characters. Other times a dog is a dog, as in "Molly Wolly Doodle," a sweet sing-along ode to Evans' dog who's now barking down from heaven. The hook in these stripped-down bouts of PBR poetry and acoustic strumming is his ability to turn a phrase that is both childlike and allegorical, steeped in depression and tongue-in-cheek humor. See Through Soul balances introspective moments with "aw shucks" inflections, and when he wheezes "You put the 'u' in douche bag" in the song "U," it's hard not to relate to his quietly gruff but unmistakably human voice. (Self-released) 4 out of 5 stars.
Mon., Dec. 28
Mon., Dec. 28
Fox Trotsky, Kid Stuff Come say goodbye to Atlanta trio Fox Trotsky as it gives one final show of jumbled, melodic punk chaos and tension. Burgeoning dance band Kid Stuff opens. Fellow locals Wrister were supposed to be playing a farewell show of loud, sneering vocals and warped, three-chord chargers as well, but alas, they have called it off. Likewise, long-defunct Marietta math/noise/emo rockers Left to Rust, featuring Hawks guitarist Andrew Wiggins on drums were said to be reuniting for this show too, but they've backed out as well. Free. 8 p.m. 529. 404-228-6769.
Tues., Dec. 29
Failures, Salvation, Aerosols, Slavescene, Nazi Dust Prepare yourself for an evening of screeching, squelching post-post hardcore grind and miasma from up and down the East Coast. Each of the four bands on the bill carries the torch of Youth Attack Records' fast and acerbic aesthetics into a new era of noise and intensity that reels with feedback and motorik brutality. Be warned. This show is not for the faint of heart. $7. 9 p.m. Eyedrum. 404-522-0655.
Col. Bruce Hampton, Blueground Undergrass Col. Bruce is an old school Atlanta staple who's improv. sets are the stuff of legend. I wouldn't exactly call him a jam band guru, but if that's your thing than this show with BGUG is for you. $15. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar. 404-875-1522.
Two album titles get tossed around when the singer/guitarist and founding member of Athens' folk-punk six-piece Nana Grizol talks about records that have resonated with him over the years: the Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society and X's Los Angeles. Although they are wholly divergent albums, both have left a mark on Theo Hiltons stylistic musical chops. Those influences are heard throughout Nana Grizol's sophomore full-length, Ruth (Orange Twin).
I found my dad's copy of Los Angeles when I was 14 and it was amazing, Hilton recalls. Their songs and lyrics were so powerful but never self-conscious. The first time I heard it, I thought, X fucking rules!
That sense of excitement shines in his own songwriting, in the sparkling horns heard throughout such songs as Galaxies and Alice and Gertrude. Other numbers, including Cynicism and Blackbox, take on a more sentimental approach with strident, punk singing and shouting that ebbs on sappiness. Its undeniably self-conscious. I write songs that are self-help literature for myself, he laughs.
(Photo by Juniper Burrows)
UPDATE: Constellation confirms that Vic Chesnutt passed away on the afternoon of Dec. 25.
The label posted the following note on it's website:
Surrounded by family and friends, Vic Chesnutt died in Athens Georgia this afternoon, Friday 25 December at 14:59.
In the few short years that we knew him personally, Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace and determination are all about. Our grief is inexpressible and Vics absence unfathomable.
We will make more information available according to the wishes of Vics family and friends.
UPDATE: The rumors of Vic Chesnutt's death have been exaggerated. Various sources around the web have been commenting on his death, though nothing substantial has been reported. On Dec. 25 Spinner.com posted the following update:
After multiple reports of Vic Chesnutt's passing Thursday night, his label, Constellation Records, confirms that the singer-songwriter is still in a coma following an apparent suicide attempt.
More information will be reported here as it becomes available.
UPDATE: Southern Shelter reports that Vic Chesnutt died late in the evening on Dec. 24. More details will be reported as they become available.
Constellation Records co-owner Don Wilkie announced today that Athens, GA folk-fixture Vic Chesnutt is in a coma after an alleged suicide.
According to the statement from the label:
Vic is in the middle of a serious medical situation, he is in a coma, and his family and friends are with him. We have no comment right now on the specifics other than that his doctors are continuing to assess his condition. We will issue a full statement at an appropriate time. In the interim, we request that everybody respect Vics privacy and that of his family.
No further information is available at the moment, but a Twitter post from Kristern Hersh says,
"...i can tell you what i know, but no one knows much: another suicide attempt, looks bad, coma--if he survives, there may be brain damage"
Chesnutt (45) has been a paraplegic since a 1983 car accident left him wheel chair-bound, though he has written songs since the age of 5. His first two solo records, Little (1990) and West of Rome ('91) were produced by Michael Stipe of R.E.M.
More details regarding his condition will be reported as soon as they become available.
(Photo courtesy Constellation Records)
Nearly a month had passed since Shaka Girvan received an e-mail from Negashi Harvey last October saying he was finished with Supreeme for good, and still Shaka was desperate for a sense of closure.
The day he read Negashi's e-mail, he'd been busy putting the finishing touches on Supreeme's long-awaited Gold Medallion album: Warner Bros. had finally granted the group permission to release it independently. But with Negashi out and third member Sam "King Self" Terrell already quitting to pursue culinary school, the trio's career had come to an abrupt halt.
So Shaka decided to send his own e-mail to a handful of Supreeme supporters. In it, he would include Supreeme's last testament not Gold Medallion, but another LP apropriately titled God Bless the Child. He and Negashi had recorded God Bless on a whim, with minimal contribution from Sam, in two short weeks before Negashi's exit.
In Shaka's bedroom studio, the group founder and producer/MC worked into the wee hours mixing the last album. "Fuck it," he thought to himself after downing a bottle of Hennessy and smoking some weed with his roommates, "I want this to be over."
As he mixed the tracks, the raw vocals of his former partners in rhyme were almost haunting. "It was kinda eerie, all night for hours and hours on end, just listening to them screaming raps at me," says Shaka. "It's a crazy experience to mix an album and hear somebody's voice like that esepcially if you have certain feelings about them."
Though Shaka felt betrayed by his partners, he had nothing but love for what they'd accomplished. In a city where the craft of hip-hop often takes a backseat to the business, the three teenage friends from Grady High had found a way to turn their love into their livelihood if only for a moment. In the end, the industry experience they gained cost them their innocence, and ultimately, the group. Supreeme's swan song, God Bless the Child, mourns that loss of innocence while celebrating a coming of age.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
David Maysiak's Atlanta-based art-music coop, Coco Art has posted a free holiday download comp. that features a lot of good Atlanta music, titled Roam 4 the Holidaze.
Click the cover art on the right to download the entire comp.
1. Kiwis of the South Pacific - "We Bring The Rock To The Cave"
2. A to Z - "Aurora"
3. Atlas Sound - "It Drones"
4. Coyote Bones - "Spanish Moon"
5. Georgiana Starlington - "Johnny Come Listen"
6. Nice Weekend - "Longest Days"
7. Brainworlds - "Empyrean Spectrum"
8. Nik Fackler - "Dream Fool Fuck"
9. Oh Dorian - "Happy Hookah"
10. Hollow Stars - "Beneath The Waves"
11. Dereck Higgins - "Sky At Sunset"
12. Brian Connell - "Have A Happy New Year Anyway"
13. Thayer Sarrano "Emmanuel"
14. Zoo Trip Mind Casino (Gold Future Remix)
15. Decomposer Christmas Tease
16. Little Blackbird 4SOULZTISS
17. Lazy Monsters My Life, My Pain (Part 2)
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