Alan Sparhawk doesn't have a reputation for writing exciting music, which makes his ascent into the exuberant rock of Retribution Gospel Choir's aptly titled second coming, 2, so remarkable. "Hide It Away" opens the album with undulating guitar and drum rolls that create a reflexive spiritual outlet. The vast and searing riffage of "Your Bird" and "'68 Comeback" are far away from the minimalist slowcore crawl of Sparhawk's band Low. But RGC isn't a complete 180 degrees. The songs are massive, but they require patience. At a glance, "Workin' Hard" takes shape like a Crazy Horse rip-off, driven instead by tasteful, roaring guitars. The misplaced arena rock swagger is tempered by the penitence of Sparhawk's writing that keeps the album grounded with a refreshingly introspective take on such rousing music. (Sub Pop) 3 out of 5 stars.
with Jupiter Watts. $10. 9 p.m. Sat., Feb. 6. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.
The second album from this Southern boy by way of Los Angeles would more aptly have been titled Past Sons & Daughters. Following the path he forged with his 2006 debut Troubled Times, AM rummages through the '60s and '70s looking for ideas in unlikely places. Future sound-bites Philly soul, Brazilian flavors and Italian soundtracks, but it all turns out like country-tinged, throwback Cali pop. A bit Turtles, a bit Byrds, a bit Mamas and Papas, the perfectly dated instrumentation on Future is as raw and genuine as AM's heart-baring sentiments. Perfumed, breezy rhythms tingle on "It's Been So Long," where AM shares the mic with Angela Correa. The quiet strums of "Leavenworth" almost squeeze out a tear, and "Grand Opinion" has a jaunty approach Jim Morrison couldn't quite latch onto. Future closes with the lullaby hums of "Endings Are Beginnings," signifying a start as much as a finish. (Filter U.S. Recordings) 3 out of 5 stars.
Nneka is a neo-soul singer and guitarist whose songs call out corrupt politicians and villainous oil companies in her native Nigeria. Probably not the quickest route to international pop stardom, but then again, her biography is probably unlike anyone's you've heard. The daughter of a German woman she never really knew and a polygamous architect (her father has had two "official" wives, she says, though she has no idea how many "unofficial" ones), she lived through years of tribal warfare and moved to Hamburg after being forced to flee Nigeria for reasons she won't go into.
$10-$12. 8:30 p.m. Tues., Feb. 9. Vinyl, 1374 W. Peachtree Street. 404-885-1365. www.vinylatlanta.com.
Along the way she dropped a pair of albums in Europe to great acclaim and some chart success, played shows with Gnarls Barkley and Lenny Kravitz, and has now returned home to live in Lagos. Her first American album, Concrete Jungle, a compilation of songs from her previous discs, drops on Feb. 2, and she plays "Late Show with David Letterman" the next night.
(Photo by Jason Goldwatch)
In the summer of 2009, Exene Cervenka was putting the finishing touches on Somewhere Gone, her first solo album since Running Scared hit the streets back in 1991. The vocalist for L.A. punk stalwarts X, poet, and former wife of actor Viggo Mortensen was assembling a collection of bucolic country songs to be counted among her strongest work. But in the midst of it all she wasn't feeling well. After a few months, she went to a doctor for some tests and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the chronic nervous disorder that can result in the loss of muscle control, vision and balance.
Although she isn't displaying any acute signs of the disease yet, it was a depressing blow. But she's taking it in stride. Since she started singing with X in the late '70s, Cervenka has long stood as one of the most formidable female figures on the American punk scene. She wasn't going to let a diagnosis of MS tarnish her strong will. When she made the news public via her website, she made it clear that it would not affect her commitment to finish the album. In October, Bloodshot Records released Somewhere Gone, and true to her word the disease has done little to slow her down.
with Dexter Romweber Duo, Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause. $10. 8 p.m. Wed., Feb. 3. Star Bar, 437 Moreland Ave. 404-681-9018. www.starbaratlanta.com.
Without missing a beat, Cervenka is back on the road, living her life to the fullest while she can. "That's the only way to do it," declares the 54-year-old singer, born Christine ?ervenková. "I'm not sick right now I'm walking and talking and everything's fine but someday that won't be the case. So I just try to forget about it as much as possible and keep living with this mind-set for as long as possible. That's the only way to go about it and keep your sanity. You can't live in the future.
(Photo by Ali Smith)
Ya-Ka-May is a Chinese soup enjoyed by New Orleanians, made from meat (just about any kind will do), noodles, a hard-boiled egg and green onions. Galactic's latest, Ya-Ka-May, is infused with the same spirit, combining disparate genres and a diverse cast of Big Easy characters into a charming, substantial dish. Galactic is an instrumental group composed of horns, guitar, keyboard and percussion players, and the album features local jazz, funk and bounce performers. (Though bounce is best known as the call-and-response party music popularized by such early Cash Money Records' rappers as Juvenile, the sound has been taken over nowadays by gender-bending artists including Katey Red and Sissy Nobby, who appear here on the supercharged "Katey vs. Nobby.") Unlike Galactic's last album, which featured mostly conscious MCs from outside the city, Ya-Ka-May is a wholly unique, fully New Orleans creation. For that reason it is a blast, literally, from beginning to end. (Anti-) 4 out of 5 stars
Fri., Jan. 29 -- The N.E.C., All the Saints, Predator, Jovantes Known for wielding dense, improvised psychedelic rock, the N.E.C celebrates the release of Is, a new CD/cassette/LP (Double Phantom) that merges the group's signature rhythmic experiments with refined and heady hooks guiding the haze. The group's Lexington, Ky., counterpart Jovantes also perform, while terse and respectively arty and amped-up locals All the Saints and Predator open. $7. 9 p.m. 529. 404-228-6769.
Fri., Jan. 29 -- Sonen, Living Rooms, DJ Brian Parris. Call for price. 9 p.m. The Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge. 644 North Highland Ave. 404-874-5756.
Fri., Jan. 29 -- The Preakness, Whale Fall, Social Studies The Preakness drummer Matt Glagola is moving to New Orleans, effectively bringing an end to the Preakness, at least for the foreseeable future. It is uncertain how or if Atlanta's damaged and long-standing indie pop trio will carry on, but this will be the band's final show. Whale Fall and experimental hip-hop duo Social Studies are also on the bill. $7. 9 p.m. The Earl. 404-522-3950.
Social Studies "Assignment 2" mp3
Fri., Jan. 29 -- The Pinx, Dead Rabbits, Masters of Persian Music, Drew Kohl, and Kyle Robbins. Call for price. 8 p.m. WonderRoot. 982 Memorial Drive. 404-254-5955.
UPDATE: SMKA, Fadia Kader and Esperanza hope to recreate the magic of last week's release party at SXSW this year by throwing a free Atlanta showcase involving many of the same artists who performed at the Star Bar on Jan. 22. They're currently seeking partnerships with Atlanta businesses, brands and/or personalities interested in collaborating to pull it off a show that's not intended for them to make profit but to put the spotlight on the local scene. There will be two shows here in Atlanta, March 5 and 12, to raise funds for the SXSW show scheduled to take place Thurs, Mar. 18 at the Light Bar in downtown Austin, Tex. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Hate to sound like a hype man, especially since CL was "co-hosting" SMKA's mixtape compilation release, but even I was surprised when I got to The 808 Experiment: Vol. 2 release party last Friday night after the start time to see a line snaking outside the Star Bar onto Moreland Ave. Inside, the place was vibrating with the kind of energy I haven't felt at a local scene hip-hop show since...dare I say, ever. If you missed the show, you missed an insane amount of underground Atlanta all-stars under one roof. A cat like Tom P could have easily packed out the place by himself with the rabid Decatur fanbase he's built. The same could be said for Yelawolf, Hollyweerd, Rahbi, Gripplyaz and a host of others who were on the bill that night. But the success of that show proved there's strength in numbers.
The best performance of the night came from ALeon Craft, who gave the crowd a snippet of "Botanicals," his song on Vol. 2, while firing up a skinny blunt onstage. Before the song was halfway through, he had DJ Sol Messiah cut the track and asked the crowd if they wanted to hear some new shit. The track Messiah proceeded to play was such a dookie funked-out groove that it felt like we were entering an alternate dimension with ALeon as some extraterrestrial Clintonian (George, not Bill) tour guide.
If La Chansons' King and Queen of the Dance Floor is supposed to be an ironic resuscitation of the most unbearable '80s pop clichés, the joke goes too far. As vocalist Carson Keller warbles to the Casio beat of "Workout Love" and "Sparklin'," her voice is so far off key it's a wonder that these songs made it to disc. Alongside husband Greg, the Kellers mash up simpleminded New Order, Bananarama and Sheena Easton dance beats, resulting in 10 pseudo-sassy numbers that are cute to the point of nausea. "Beauty Queen" carries the line, "My name is Carson Keller I'm from Marietta, Georgia/I love to dance and sing and rock out with my husband." There is nothing dangerous or compelling here, just techno PDA that the couple should keep to themselves. (Stickfigure) 1 out of 5 stars.
With the Orphins, Gold Party. $8. 9 p.m. Sat., Jan. 30. Drunken Unicorn. www.thedrunkenunicorn.net.
Even if you don't pay any attention to American Idol (isn't this season 30 by now?!), chances are you've been exposed to the phenomenon that is "Pants on the Ground." Whether it be through a water cooler conversation, watching The Tonight Show (formerly) with Conan O'Brien, or even football, we've all born witness to the genius that is General Larry Platt.
Two weeks after his appearance on the show, Platt is back in the limelight after being accused of stealing the "hit" song. Two over-the-hill brothers from Detroit claim that the Atlanta-based Platt, 62, stole his idea from their 1996 song, "Back Pockets on the Floor." The Green Brothers don't specify how Platt would have heard their song nor why they waited so long to respond. But perhaps that's beside the point, as Maurice Garland puts it:
When did so many old folks start rapping? What radio stations are they listening to? Who's giving them beats? Who's letting them use their studios? Really, where is all this old man rap coming from? Its one thing to have one old head pop up out of nowhere with a rap song...but to have another pop up and accuse the other of biting his style...
Redd Klay/Ghet-O-Vision artist YelaWolf gets assistance from Atlanta MCs Prynce Cy Hi and Pill on the remix to I Wish. The original track (featuring Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon) is featured on YelaWolf's mixtape, Trunk Muzik, which is available for download on YelaWolf's MySpace.
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...
Their show with Chris, Lord about 3 years at the Unicorn was the best.
I am a connoisseur of this real soul music like the comment above I'm glad…