Reviews

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Karbomb and Seagulls rekindle '90s punk angst

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 10:49 AM

EDITH BOUCHER
  • Edith Boucher
Richmond, Va. label and skateboard company Say-10's  Tag Team Champions 12-inch captures two Georgia bands' interpretations of melodic punk. Athens punks Karbomb's side is a looser take on the days when Propagandhi populated angst-ridden teenagers’ mixtapes. The band’s re-imagining of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is the entire record's standout track, capturing the magic of the Dickies and the Vandals’ hyperactive retakes of mainstream hits. Atlanta punks Seagulls bring a little more grit to their side of wax. Cuts like “Lethal Weapon 5” owe as much to U.K. legends Leatherface as any Chicago or Gainesville-based game-changers. ★★★☆☆ 



Karbomb and Seagulls play a record release show at the Star Bar on Fri., March 25. With Campaign, Spray Tan, and Breaux. $5. 9:30 p.m. 437 Moreland Ave. N.E. www.starbaratlanta.com.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Marshall Allen and James Harrar converse with the cosmos with 'Cult of Saint Margaret'

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 11:17 AM

click image CINEMA SOLORIENS: Cult of Saint Margaret
  • CINEMA SOLORIENS: Cult of Saint Margaret

As a luminary of ecstatic, outsider jazz, and leader of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Marshall Allen is best known for channelling mystical and powerful forces of Afrofuturism with his saxophone. When sitting alongside experimental film maker James Harrar in Cinema Soloriens, he eschews such thematic expectations. Cult of Saint Margaret’s title track is a palate cleanser: Allen's fluttering Casio, and the slowly simmering guitar, bass, and drums are set to embark on a subdued inward journey. The exchange of sputtering tenor and alto saxophone textures, however, are bold reminders that mysterious forces rule the universe. As expansive as this recording feels on the surface, each song opens pathways into deep sonic realms that rumble to the tune of all the dark matter that binds the universe — taunting the rules of physical reality.

The way this musical journey unfolds, and the pace at which it moves, are the means by which spiritual, intellectual, and psychological substances take shape. These six songs, recorded live during a performance at Saint Margaret Church of England in Manchester in November 2013, find Harrar (tenor sax, Akai EVI, electric bulbul tarang, electronics, and percussion), Allen (alto sax, Crumar EVI, Casiotone, effects), and percussionist Rogier Smal reaching for a deeper place than what musical improvisation often allows. After all, long-standing cohorts Allen and Harrar share more than 23 years of mutual growth and musical evolution. The silent telepathy on display in “Moody Kapellmeister” is sophisticated to a degree that can only be achieved by two minds in the midst of a such an interstellar journey together. With the Arkestra, Allen truly does sculpt music for the 21 century. But with Harrar, the two slip head-long into an even further out time and place. Rare is the recording that captures dueling vintage EVIs (Electronic Voice Instruments) — Allen’s Crumar EVI and Harrar’s Akai EVI — as heard in “Dappled Nebula.”

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nomen Novum breathes life into apocalyptic pop with 'ATLANTVM'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 2:52 PM

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At some point lyrics took a backseat to textures and impressionism in electronic pop music. With Nomen Novum's latest album ATLANTVM, it's not because of poor craftsmanship, but because the vocals are blended in with the pulsating, electronic washes of sound in an all-encompassing experience. Composed over a five-year period, and conceived as a concept album, Atlanta’s own David Norbery seems fully committed on Nomen Novum’s new full-length. Songs radiate with synthetic soundscapes and electro-pop beats, guiding the listener through their own world – “a mythological, apocalyptic, or dreamed Atlanta.” “Angler's Corner” is appropriately hazy and conjures up cascading waves of electric, fuzzed-out colors. Elsewhere, “Noncommittal” finds Norbery at his most vibrant and energetic, and he lets loose not one, but two infectious hooks. With ATLANTVM, Nomen Novum's five-year plan comes to fruition; dreams of desolation rarely sound this lively.
★★★☆☆


Nomen Novum plays a record release show at 529 on Sat., March 26. $5. 9 p.m. With FiatNil, Pamela_ and Her Sons, Anticipation (DJ set). 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769. www.529atlanta.com.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

'Trouble Boys' delves into the Replacements legacy of debauchery

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 11:56 AM

click image Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements - COURTESY DA CAPO
  • Courtesy Da Capo
  • Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements
Rock fans of a certain age remember a time when the Replacements enjoyed cult-like status as the most vital and intoxicating band in the world. I suspect that sentiment was especially keenly felt among those of us who grew up in the Midwest (or at least someplace other than the major coastal cities). Remember, in the mid-1980s, when the Mats were in their prime, the Internet did not yet exist. College radio was a “thing,” but not everyone had access to it, and in huge swaths of the country, buzz-worthy bands earned their reputations largely through word of mouth.

In that context, the beguiling and combustible rock ’n’ roll that the Replacements delivered – the joyous, defiant anthems and aching ballads found on records like Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased to Meet Me – were something to bond over, and feel protective about. It helped that the group’s chief songwriter and singer, Paul Westerberg, was obviously every bit as frustrated, disaffected, and recklessly romantic as we often were. They were funny, too. In addition to being the greatest band of their era, to their admirers, the Replacements were also the most relatable.

Consistency was not their strong suit. As Bob Mehr suggests in Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements (Da Capo), which is the first proper biography of the group, some of their unruly behavior may have stemmed from their childhoods. Rooted in working-class in Minneapolis, none of the four original members had particularly rosy upbringings, and one of the book’s ghastly revelations is that Bob Stinson, the bands marvelous first guitarist, suffered sexual abuse from his stepfather. (The Replacements fired Bob in 1986, after which his many addictions only seemed to worsen. In 1995, he died from organ failure.)

It is also true, however, that the Replacements actively cultivated their reputations for bratty insouciance. “Westerberg would say, as a cockeyed boast … that there wasn’t a drivers license or a high school diploma among them,” Mehr writes. Wracked by self-doubt and substance abuse, they often seemed incapable of letting themselves catch a break. The group finally had a chance of earning greater mainstream success in the summer of 1989, when they landed a coveted spot opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but they botched that opportunity as well, performing lackadaisically nearly every night. When the tour reached Nashville, Paul announced from the stage, “Tom Petty says if we fuck up one more time we’re fired. Well, fuck you Tom Petty, and fuck you Nashville.”

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Monday, February 1, 2016

‘Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage’ engaged the Fox Theatre Saturday night

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 5:26 PM

click image PHOTO BY ERIK MEADOWS
  • Photo by Erik Meadows

Following the lead of conductor Justin Freer, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, on Jan. 30, boldly went where no man has gone before. In grandiose form, “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” blended music and images from throughout the entire Star Trek universe, touching on the original series, the Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, Enterprise, and all of the films, including J.J. Abrams’ reboots.

The adventure, philosophies, and the turmoil of deep space exploration took shape amid fugue-like suites drawing parallels between Spock’s inner conflict — torn between emotions and logic, and Data’s endeavors to be more human. Similar themes resonate throughout every installment of the series: love, death, and the need to explore. Bits from each Federation crew’s adventures were beamed onto a massive movie screen and blended into a montage that came to a fine point with Captain James T. Kirk’s rousing speech declaring: “Risk is our business.”

The 40-member orchestra sat amid a stage designed to look like the the bridge of the starship Enterprise. And while the horns and strings followed Freer’s direction for nearly two hours, the familiar threads of sci-fi and nostalgia resonated with all of the defining principles and ethics of Star Trek. Freer guided the performance across multiple eras and captains’ logs, imbuing every orchestral flourish with sense of delving headlong into the vast expanse of the cosmos. Under the Fox Theatre’s Arabian courtyard facade and starry night ceiling, it all made for an engaging Saturday night spent — not unlike catching up with an old friend.

See a gallery of more images from "Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage" at the Fox Theatre.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ulver's 'ATGCLVLSSCAP' channels a haze of kraut, psych, and ambient sounds

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 1:46 PM

PASCHALIS ZERVAS
  • Paschalis Zervas


Chameleonic has long been the buzzword of choice for journalists covering Oslo's Ulver, but there's a consistency running through the Norwegians' catalog: mystery. The band's latest album ATGCLVLSSCAP (House of Mythology) is no different, enveloping the listener in an eclectic haze of kraut, psych, and ambient sounds. "Cromagnosis" unfolds in kaleidoscopic fashion amidst flashbacks of Faust and Amon Düül II, while "D-Day Drone" evokes Godspeed You!'s most somber moments. Elsewhere, "Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)" transforms Pete Seeger’s "Turn, Turn, Turn" into a cathartic expanse of post-rock textures. Here, songs unfurl without regard for convention or immediacy — just atmosphere. Listeners unfamiliar with '70s improvisation may find Ulver’s latest outing a head-scratcher, but those with a keen ear for exploratory psychedelic jams and electronic experimentation will feel right at home.
★★★★☆

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

'The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981' proves that Weather Report owned late '70s fusion

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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The early 1970s emergence of fusion was a polarizing paradigm shift in the jazz world, and Weather Report was at the forefront of the movement. Combining the energy of rock with the improvisation of free Jazz and the melodic sensibility of bebop, fusion was both adored and reviled by fans and performers. In these incredible and never before heard recordings, Weather Report demonstrates an artisan crafting of the music that defined the era. Recorded onto cassette during several tours, the collection captures the band free of overdubs and studio manipulation, just as the audience heard it.

Main members keyboardist Joe Zawinul (Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis), Wayne Shorter on sax (Miles Davis, Art Blakey), bass player Jaco Pastorius (Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, etc.) and drummer Peter Erskine (Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson) each brought a wealth of experience and talent to the combo. With secondary percussionist Robert Thomas Jr., the concerts were showcases of both solo and combined virtuosity. Each performer has a few moments in the spotlight, and Pastorius’ bass pieces particularly stand out. Whether tearing into a frantic improve on “Gibraltar” or exploring the gentle enticing melody of Zawinul’s synthesizer opus “A Remark You Made”, Weather Report consistently proves that the group owned fusion in that era. With four discs and over four hours of complex, beautiful, and sometimes challenging music, The Legendary Live Tapes is a bit much to digest in one continuous listen, but like a fine whisky, it is best savored over time.

★★★★☆

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Necks' 'Vertigo' thrives beyond the jazz narrative

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 10:00 AM


The Necks are a trio of musicians who have been quietly exploring the outback of improvised jazz for nearly 30 years. Some of their relative obscurity in jazz circles can be attributed to the fact that they are from Australia. But much of it is due to the assertion that they don’t really seem to play jazz. While the group’s instrumentation – piano, bass, drums – certainly lends to the jazz narrative, their music remains unclassifiable. Flowering layers of vibrant drone structures transform into a fully realized sky of sound before deconstructing and reforming.

The group’s most recent release Vertigo (Northern Spy Records) continues a pattern of building upon a central tone that anchors an entire recording. On this occasion, Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton, and Tony Buck conjure up a spacecraft surveying an expansive, foreign landscape of shimmering cymbal work, haunting electric piano, strummed piano, and bowed bass. The players are always active without sounding like they are stepping on each other’s toes. The result is beautiful and trippy; utterly captivating and totally immersive. Vertigo may be the most goosebump-inducing 44 minutes you’ll spend listening to a piece of music this year.

★★★★☆

The Necks perform at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn. April 2, 2016.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Car Seat Headrest: 'Teens Of Style'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 10:43 AM

click image MATADOR RECORDS
  • Matador Records

While Teens Of Style marks Car Seat Headrest's Matador Records debut, the band is hardly a new outfit. Featuring front man Will Toledo and a rotating cast of players, Car Seat Headrest has been making and recording lo-fi garage nuggets for the past five years. Teens Of Style functions as a point of entry into Toledo's vast catalog. The album’s fuzzy, DIY quality are reminiscent of label-mates Guided By Voices, but feel more controlled than those of the group's forefathers. On songs such as “The Drum,” Toledo’s voice conjures images of a drunken George Harrison with a mouthful of peanut butter, and a somber, psychedelic guitar riff to match. Though at times snarky and cynical, Toledo's songs are ultimately jangly self-examinations, expertly pairing singer-songwriter sweetness with guitar rock bombast.

★★★★☆

With Ne-Hi and Omni. $10-$12. 8:30 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 10. The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Acid King returns with its latest stoner odyssey

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Acid King - RAYMOND AHNER
  • Raymond Ahner
  • Acid King
After a 10-year recording hiatus, stoner metal trio Acid King returned this year with the group’s fourth full-length in over 20 years, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. The record’s title nods to the hazy, navel-gazing “visions” promised by any sort of hallucinogenic drug trip — and the music just as well lives up to them. The first minute-and-a-half of the “Intro” has each member of Acid King slowly entering the stage, until all three members are locked into a trance-inducing groove. Despite the gradual buildup, when the riff does finally kick in it feels like a massive cloud of smoke has enveloped every last human on Earth. Lori S.’s vocals first come in around the three-minute mark on “Silent Pictures." Her presence is that of a benevolent messiah, appearing over a dusted landscape with sand as far the eyes can see, as she preaches words that are downright prophetic. Initially, it’s all a bit unclear: Is this heavenly figure rising over the landscape and proclaiming her tautology a simple mirage? A dream? Whatever the nature of her being is, it’s irrelevant. Her words are no less germane to the human experience. On the last proper track, “Center of Everywhere,” she advises: “Cleanse the Earth from your eyes/Raise the world from your sight,” as the rhythm section pounds out a spacey progression. All in all, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is a delightfully spiritual experience that would appeal to any fan of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Blue Cheer.



Acid King plays the Drunken Unicorn on Fri., Oct. 23, with Order of the Owl and Halmos. $12-$15. 9 p.m. 736 Ponce De Leon Ave. www.thedrunkenunicorn.net.

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