Concert Picks

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Case/Lang/Viers: A trio greater than the sum of its parts

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 10:35 AM

  • Jason Quigley

When venerated pop artist K.D. Lang e-mails out of the blue and suggests starting a band together, you say yes. That pretty much sums up the origin of Case/Lang/Veirs, the new supergroup featuring Lang and indie-folk singer-songwriters Neko Case and Laura Veirs. On their self-titled debut album, the three women craft a sound that's lush, beautiful, and cohesive without sacrificing any of the respective artists' most distinctive qualities. The results are sublime, particularly on "Blue Fires," a slow, burning-torch song layered with luxurious harmonies. "Delirium" is a buoyant pop song that's perfectly built for Case's world-class voice.

With Andy Shauf. $69.50. Fri., July 29. 8 p.m. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E. 404-876-5859.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Big Thing celebrates diversity

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 11:47 AM

POP TONES: Robert Gregg McCurry (from left) and Caleb Jackson Dills are Superbody. - CHRISTOPHER ARTELL
  • Christopher Artell
  • POP TONES: Robert Gregg McCurry (from left) and Caleb Jackson Dills are Superbody.

Despite championing inclusion and acceptance, DIY spaces often have to actively work to ensure shows represent the demographics of the community. Atlanta musician Jay Douglas wants to do his part in dismantling the homogeneity of lineups by creating his own event, The Big Thing. “It's important to showcase different, diverse musical acts because it feels so wrong to do shows where people of the same genre are recycling the same show over and over with a different lineup,” Douglas says.

Boasting 22 bands and a slew of local artists, The Big Thing brings together an array of sounds from the Southeast. Chattanooga-based experimental pop duo Superbody, known for its fuzzy electronic textures and warped vocals, headlines the event. Lo-fi rap duo Coco & Clair Clair’s powerfully absurdist lyricism, the shivering ambiance of Dendera Bloodbath, Fuiste’s intricate rock structures, and Kudzu Kids’ daydreaming guitar pop join them to round out the lineup. “For awhile I took in different submissions from people who were interested in playing and tried my best to pick out of that bunch. I got over 60 submissions and they were all really good,” Douglas says.

The Big Thing’s focus on variety and inclusivity follows a similar template shared by other local DIY festivals such as Peace Fest, JORTSFEST, and Irrelevant Music Festival. Douglas and others are using the power of multi-band lineups to break down musical barriers, creating a fresh chapter of Atlanta music defined by cohesion and an exchange of contrasting sounds. “There's so much talent here that doesn’t get tapped into,” Douglas says. “I know some people aren’t deliberately trying to exclude certain groups of people but it happens regardless and that's not ok.”

The Big Thing takes over Rowdy Dowdy at Fort Pryor on Sat., July 30. $5. 3:30 p.m. 730 Pryor St. S.W. 3:30 p.m. 

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Water Liars preach idyllic concepts

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 11:09 AM

  • courtesy of water liars
Water Liars make music for making out in a pile of hay or dancing barefoot on the outskirts of a best friends' wedding reception or kneading bread dough in a sunny kitchen. The Oxford, Mississippi outfit makes unpretentious folk music that celebrates life in its moments of private joy.

The alt-country trio echoes this sentiment in thoughtful lyrics. Their stand-out single, "Let It Breathe," off 2014's self-titled full-length, boasts lots of golden, vulnerable lines bedded in well-placed hums. "There's a room inside my heart that no one ever goes," it starts, setting the scene of a secure, romantic relationship, as reclined in bed one slow morning. It rings with a quiet sense of hope, a facet increasingly unique during this renaissance of booty texts and dating tech.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Pylon unearthed

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 5:27 PM

PYLON IN THE FLESH:  Michael Lachowski (clockwise from left), Curtis Crowe, Randy Bewley, and Vanessa Briscoe Hay circa 1980. - MICHAEL LACHOWSKI
  • Michael Lachowski
  • PYLON IN THE FLESH: Michael Lachowski (clockwise from left), Curtis Crowe, Randy Bewley, and Vanessa Briscoe Hay circa 1980.

On Dec. 1, 1983, Pylon played its final show — for the first time. History proved it wouldn’t be the last. But while reveling in buzz band accolades alongside Athens’ early ’80s new wave peers R.E.M. and the B-52’s, the post-punk outfit went out on a high note. At the time, Pylon singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay, bass player Michael Lachowski, drummer Curtis Crowe, and guitarist Randy Bewley had reached an impasse. After releasing two critically acclaimed albums, 1980’s Gyrate, and 1983’s Chomp, via DB Records, the group played Athens’ Mad Hatter one last time. “We had a pact that we would go our separate ways when we were no longer having fun,” Briscoe Hay says. “We still enjoyed playing, and we remained friends. Really, we were sort of a family.”

The show was filmed for a television pilot called “The Athens Shows,” which also included a performance by Athens’ alternative rock act Love Tractor. Ultimately, only a handful of songs performed that night survived the video edit. But a separate 4-Track audio recording was also made — seemingly lost to the sands of time.

When Bewely died of a heart attack in 2009, Briscoe Hay inherited some unreleased Pylon recordings. As the story goes, a few years earlier, Lachowski had borrowed a ring-worn Chomp album sleeve from Chunklet Industries owner Henry Owings, to use when creating the cover art for DFA’s 2009 CD reissue, Chomp More. When Lachowski returned the cover a few years later, Owings bemoaned the shortage of unreleased and rare material on DFA’s reissue.

Lachowski, Briscoe Hay, and Owings started searching for an appropriate live recording that could be considered for release. Briscoe Hay passed along Bewley’s tapes, where they found a CD featuring mixed-down audio of four songs from Pylon’s final 1983 performance. “It met all of our parameters,” she says. “It was a significant show. It was well recorded, and it was complete.”

A search for the rest of the recording led to Swimming Pool Q’s singer and guitarist Jeff Calder who dug up the tape. It was given to Derek Almstead (Circulatory System, Elf Power) who mixed the songs, and then over to Drew Crumbraugh, who mastered it. Bob Weston (Shellac) did the vinyl mastering at Electrical Audio in Chicago.

Simply titled Live, the 20-song double LP reveals new dimensions of Pylon’s personality that are only hinted at throughout Gyrate and Chomp.

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Aaron Lee Tasjan proves that authenticity is still king

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 9:17 AM

click image Aaron Lee Tasjan - CURTIS WAYNE MILLARD
  • Curtis Wayne Millard
  • Aaron Lee Tasjan

East Nashville singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan is decidedly in on the joke when it comes to the growing cliche of the neighborhood he calls home. In fact, he embraces it. Tasjan's self-deprecating (and self-aware) lyrical inclinations lend a knowing wink to each performance, and his voice doesn't slack off, either. Standout number "ENSAAT (East Nashville Song About A Train)" may be a side-eye to to the music industry's hokey elements, but Tasjan's output and personal charm are proof that authenticity is still king, even in bro country's backyard. Given the whispers of new music coming this fall, Tasjan's current tour is a must-see.

With Dean Fields. Thurs., July 28. $10-$14. 9 p.m. Eddie's Attic. 515-B North McDonough St. 404-377-4976.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Aaron Neville is free to follow his muse

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:03 PM

click image Aaron Neville - SARAH A. FRIEDMAN
  • Sarah A. Friedman
  • Aaron Neville

From his first million-selling hit, 1967’s “Tell It Like It Is,” to his latest album, Apache, Aaron Neville’s sweet-as-honey voice has been a bedroom mainstay for generations. Now that his funky Neville Brothers band is over, the man is free to follow his muse, which led him to record 2013’s Don Was-produced set of doo-wop covers, My True Story. Neville co-wrote the songs on his subsequent albums, and released them via Tell It Records. His new music sets his beautifully soulful sound in grittier surroundings, backed by a rugged band that includes members of the Dap-Kings and production by Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno.

$55-85. 8 p.m. Fri., July 22 and Sat., July 23. City Winery. 650 North Ave. Ponce City Market. 404-946-3791.

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Six years after splitting up, the Fall of Troy is 'OK'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:37 AM

The Fall of Troy - AYA TIFFANY SATO
  • Aya Tiffany Sato
  • The Fall of Troy

The Fall of Troy spent most of the aughts releasing albums of wildly technical/spastic post-hardcore, supported by spirited live shows that amassed a fiercely loyal fan base. Six years after the group’s 2010 split-up, which continues to go unexplained, the Mukilteo, Washington band has self-released its fifth album, OK, as a pay-what-you-want download. Good news for longtime fans: The songs on OK come together like a high-speed collision of punk and prog rock going 'round and 'round in a pulsating blender. In other words, it sounds like the Fall of Troy.

$17. 7 p.m. Tues., July 26. With '68 and Illustrations. Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E. 404-577-8178.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Irrelevant Music hosts a relevant music festival

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 1:06 PM

Bodyfather play the Irrelevant Music Fest. on Fri., July 22. - NICK KIBERT
  • Nick Kibert
  • Bodyfather play the Irrelevant Music Fest. on Fri., July 22.

The Irrelevant Music Festival kicks off this Thurs. (July 21), and runs through Sat. (July 23), at the Drunken Unicorn on Ponce and 529 in East Atlanta. The three-night, DIY gathering features performances by more than 20 acts from the vanguard of Atlanta’s underground rock scene. Admission for all three nights costs about the same amount of money attendees might expect to drop on a nice brunch. According to Kyle Swick, founder of the Irrelevant Music booking and promotional network, and Irrelevant Music Fest’s curator, affordability is a big part of the idea. “I work at a coffee shop, and I used to work at a brunch spot,” Swick says. “This festival is for all the people who are working at the brunch spots and the coffee shops on the weekends of Shaky Knees and Music Midtown [serving] the people from Tennessee or wherever, who are wearing visors and shit and don’t tip. Irrelevant Music fest is for that crowd.”

Kyle Swick, founder of Irrelevant Music. - CARTER SUTHERLAND
  • Carter Sutherland
  • Kyle Swick, founder of Irrelevant Music.

The festival contributes to the cause of carving out space for local bands in Atlanta’s cultural eye. Events such as Music Midtown and Shaky Knees have established a strong sense of “festival culture” within the city. Now, Irrelevant Music joins the likes of Flaky Neice, JORTSFEST, and more in using the music festival blueprint to curate events that showcase a wide range of talent in the DIY rock scene. Perhaps the name is a misnomer? “There’s an irony in the fact that this is the ‘Irrelevant’ music festival, because I think in so many ways these larger festivals that are bringing exposure to Atlanta ignore local talent and kind of render us irrelevant,” says Jianna Justice, whose lo-fi, bedroom pop outfit takes the stage on Thursday night. “Kyle’s doing this magical thing by highlighting acts that often get forgotten by the larger festivals, and saying ‘these are the acts that I love, that I get to see but that you’re not creating space for.’ He’s making a space for us, which is so exciting.”

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Swans song

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 9:15 AM

GLOWING MEN: Michael Gira (center) says Swans aren’t dead, just changing. - SAMANTHA MARBLE
  • Samantha Marble
  • GLOWING MEN: Michael Gira (center) says Swans aren’t dead, just changing.

Speaking over the phone from somewhere in the New Mexico desert, Michael Gira has a spry pep in his voice. It’s a disarming contrast to the baritone howl the brooding singer and guitarist has honed for nearly 35 years fronting the avant-garde rock titan Swans.

At 62 years old, Gira shows no sign of slowing down, even though the tour supporting Swans’ triple LP opus, The Glowing Man, is the last stand for the group’s lineup of the last seven years — Norman Westberg (guitar), Christoph Hahn (guitar), Phil Puleo (percussion), Chris Pravdica (bass), and Thor Harris (percussion). Harris is replaced by Paul Wallfisch on the current tour.

The motivating factor fueling Gira’s need to forge ahead into unexplored realms of his music: “Death.”

His barrel-chested laugh deflates the intensity of such a frank admission. But he’s being honest. “If you keep the fact of your own death in mind as much as possible, life becomes more urgent and magical,” he says.

The last seven years have been marked by extreme highs and lows for Swans. Since releasing 2009’s My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky, the group reached soaring heights in popularity with 2012’s The Seer, and 2014’s To Be Kind. Swans even headlined Knoxville, Tenn.’s Big Ears creative music festival in 2015. In February 2016, however, singer and guitarist Larkin Grimm wrote a Facebook post claiming that Gira raped her in 2008 while she was signed to his Young God Records. Gira denies the allegation. No charges have been filed.

With The Glowing Man Swans bring a massive and searing cacophony of guitar drones and industrial clatter to a fine point with songs such as “Frankie M,” the 25-minute “The Cloud of Unknowing,” and closing number, “Finally, Peace.” 

But Gira has never been comfortable with, well, getting comfortable. “I don’t want to disparage the past, but I feel like it’s run its course,” he says. “I want to avoid slipping into tropes and habits. I want to find myself dangling form a thread. I’m not saying I won’t work with any of these guys again, but I want to fuck shit up and see what happens.”

Swans play Terminal West on Fri., July 22. With Okkyung Lee. $22-$28. 8 p.m. 887 W. Marietta St. N.W., Studio C. 404-876-5566,

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A few things, but only one Big Thing

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 4:09 PM

click image big_thing.jpg

That Big Thing that you've been hearing about? It's the big bang. The second coming of summer. The second great fire that will form a festival, burning through your old, dry, and airy notions of the Atlanta music scene. 

According to master curator Jay Douglas, the Thing will "Demolish the barriers people have built up, consciously or not, and build something more diverse from the ashes." 

The lineup creates a cut through Atlanta's local acts, featuring recent CL cover stars Coco and Clair Clair, the ambient and groovy Wiley from Atlanta, punk from Antarticats, existentialist noisy jazzers Bienenstock, and more. From Athens: Dead Neighbors, From Chattanooga: Superbody

"Ultimately, I want more shows to be more inclusive of people besides white men with guitars. I want every bit of talent in this city to feel recognized, to feel they can be supported as much as everyone else," Douglas says. 

Don't we all? 

The Peach Coven will be there to support homeless shelters in Atlanta. You will be there to support artists and zinesters who have the opportunity to table during the tunes. Bigfoot will be there. 

Let's review: Which Big Thing have you been hearing about? 

The one that will take place at RowdyDowdy at Fort Pryor on Sat. July 30 from $5. 3:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. 730 Pryor St. S.W.

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