Category Archives: 2015

Timber (Birmingham, AL)

Photo by Beau Gustafson.

Timber — Blame

Timber is a collaboration between Janet Simpson and Will Stewart — two veteran musicians who came together in that most natural of ways: In a pinch.

Stewart, an Alabama native currently based in Nashville along with the rest of the band, Willie and the Giant, was working on his Coosa EP when it was suggested that Simpson — a multi-faceted, Birmingham, Alabama based musician known for her work in Wooden Wand, Delicate Cutters, and Teen Getaway — to lend her talents to the proceedings. Pressed for time, Simpson came to the studio that day, spent an hour adding keys and her sumptuous voice to a few of Stewart’s songs, and left to catch a plane for a European tour with Wooden Wand.

Last summer, out of the blue, Stewart e-mailed Simpson about writing together. Impressed by Stewart’s melodic gifts and easy demeanor, Simpson accepted the offer. Soon they began trading songs via e-mail, giving each other notes along the way. Once a small batch of similarly-themed compositions made itself apparent, the two met at 2734 Central Recording Studio in Birmingham, AL — working, once again, with producer Lester Nuby — to record their self-titled debut.

Though the two had been exchanging songs online, Simpson and Stewart did not know much about each other, much less how to go about recording their new compositions. Over coffee they talked about productions they were currently enamored with, including albums by Teenage Fanclub, Yo La Tengo, D’Angelo, and Neil Young — particularly After The Gold Rush. Caffeinated and invigorated, the two began crafting the album — splitting the instrumental duties, keeping things simple, and embracing spontaneous moments. Per Stewart’s suggestion, they drafted Nashville musician Scott Murray to add pedal steel, utilizing the instrument’s gorgeous washes of sound for atmosphere rather than staid, Americana twang.

As a result, Timber’s self-titled EP is a study in gorgeous economy. Each of these five tracks feels like a frozen moment — its protagonists on the cusp of either liberating revelations or freezing paranoia… Maybe both. The lush instrumentation travels splendidly though each song, luxuriating in the open spaces while providing a counterpoint to the dramatic tension coiled within the lyrics. The listener never learns too much, but it’s enough to want to hear the brief program on repeat — an urge that pays in dividends.

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Seratones (Shreveport, LA)

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Seratones — Choking On Your Spit

“Fat Possum have just snapped up this little-known four-piece, who hail from Shreveport, Louisiana. Debut tracks ‘Don’t Need It’ and –surely the best title of the year so far– ‘Chokin’ on Your Spit (Karma)’ fizz with jaw-dropping vocals from A.J. Haynes that recall Arthur Lee at his most free-flowing.”

— NME, Buzz Band of the Week

On her own, lead singer A.J. Haynes is a force—in another era, she might have sung about strange fruit. But the magic of Seratones is completed with the devastating trio of Conner Davis, Adam Davis and Jesse Gabriel. These dudes have been working together on-and-off for years in different projects and incarnations of projects and one-off projects. Take your pick: Noids, Sweaty Cleopatra, AJ + Monkey Bizness, Don’t Forget Your Dinosaur, Thrashosaurus Wrecks, Spreekiller, Sunday Mass Murder- many more, but between Adam, Connor, and Jesse they have created Rock’n’Roll in almost every conceivable flavor. If they had come together earlier, they might not have gained the chops or the experience or whatever it is (probably some obfuscated and annoying German word) that rips across the Seratone’s first demo, “Don’t Need It”. This is a song that demonstrates just how far they have come as musicians. It is a song that feels NEW. Refreshingly new. One could point out influences and similarities to other bands, but they fail to elucidate the Seratones sound.

Sure, Connor’s guitar work might sound like this or that guitarist’s work, but Connor’s work is only given its full due against the backdrop created by the bass and percussion provided by Adam and Jesse. A.J.’s voice draws obvious comparisons to many a great singer, but none of them were singing over, or even with, the pounding rhythm of her band—they play with an awareness that lets them not just keep the beat, but drive the song forward at an almost frenetic pace, keeping their sound always on edge…as if something is bubbling just under the surface waiting to explode.

It seems like most rock music these days stays fresh by pushing envelopes or exploring edgier concepts. It stays relevant by going louder, faster, dancier, or mixing their sound with new genres. But the Seratones- the Seratones are the real deal, no sub-genre necessary, they are a ROCK AND ROLL band. It’s not something you’ve never heard before. (Is that a bad thing? F**k no, because the world can never have too much Rock’n’Roll!) It’s something you’ve heard before in a way you’ve never heard it.

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White Reaper (Louisville, KY)

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Photo by Michael Powel.

White Reaper — Make Me Wanna Die

“Some bands are just fun, and White Reaper are just that.”

— Pitchfork

From the increasingly fertile DIY scene of Louisville, KY, emerges White Reaper – an incandescent power foursome who is ready and willing to blow out eardrums far and wide.

The band – formed by Tony Esposito (vocals/guitar), Ryan Hater (Keys), and twin brothers Nick (drums) and Sam Wilkerson (bass) — combines sparkling hooks and fluid, fluttering rhythms to create psychedelia-tinged garage punk that make heads bob without sacrificing an ounce of sonic bite.

Having cut their teeth playing a number of raucous local and regional shows that left everyone’s ears ringing and no pores devoid of sweat, the group is ready to unleash their eponymous debut EP — a six-song blitzkrieg that traces the band’s present and future. While dingy and jangly single “Conspirator” scratches the itch left behind by Jay Reatard, infectious stand outs “Cool” and “Funn” will undoubtedly make the ears of the Ty Segall/Oh Sees sect perk up.

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…and the lawyers (Montgomery, AL)

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...and the lawyers — Briefcase

“I can’t really think of any other bands with the same sound, this album is actually exactly what I would expect from a band called ‘…and the lawyers.’ It’s quirky, unique, fun, with both moments to chuckle or raise an eyebrow and ask ‘what the hell was that?’ this really is a musical experience.”

— Amber O’Shea, Birmingham Free Press

and the lawyers started as two piece dance prog art-funk from montgomery alabama. the original concept was DJ-feeling music played by human beings, and has spread to be a unique visceral live experience. looper-core electro-art-faggotry is dabbled in, drums are beaten with tight aplomb and enthusiasm: noodly guitar noises are rejoiced and been made glad for there-in. jason fifi is a comic and artist from montgomery alabama that studied classical guitar in school but didn’t want to play wakes and weddings for the rest of his life, so he did something fun instead. this is that something fun. no matter who plays drums, the performers in “…and the lawyers” always remember to ask themselves, the question, “what would black michael jackson do?”

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Dead Balloons (Birmingham, AL)

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Dead Balloons — Another Reaction

From Birmingham, Alabama. Dead Balloons bring an original taste of Rock n roll that has been missing for years. Rollie Kraus playing bass,with roots going back to Augustus Pablo,Robert Johnson, and Pete Rock. Sam Sanders playing the drums like a bolt of lighting charged through his body traces his roots to the likes of Buddy Rich,Gene Krupa, and Jerry Noland. Chris Seifert playing guitar and singing channels a young Bob Dylan, and or Joy Divisions Ian Curtis.

Links

Bandcamp

Early Walker (Fayetteville, AR)

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Early Walker — Honest Mind

As founding member and lead singer/songwriter of the indie-alt-country group Damn Arkansan, Drew Walls returns with a new project that goes under the moniker Early Walker. The group features Walls manning lead vocals, guitar, and harmonica surrounded by a seasoned cast of Arkansas’ finest home-grown talent. Matt Pierce, formerly of Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition, weighs in to provide lead guitar and vocals in the group that also features veteran bassist Mike Cobb who has served as rhythmic backbone to acts ranging from Black Oak Arkansas to Cracker since 1962. After cutting his teeth touring throughout the US and Europe with the band Starroy, drummer Jacob Brumley rounds out the rhythm section. Lee Zodrow, lead singer/songwriter for the group Basement Brew, lends support on keys and organs.

The group plans to release their debut EP in the Fall of 2015.

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The Pass (Louisville, KY)

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The Pass — Take You Out

“With every new release the group seem to find new ways to amaze, proving to both us and themselves, that there is no need to be limited to one idea or sound.”

— We All Want Someone To Shout For

The Pass are an electro pop four-piece based in Louisville, Kentucky. Weaving together psychedelic rock, mainstream pop, and ’80s dance with haunting melodies and dance floor ready beats, The Pass have created a sound entirely of their own.

With a raucous live show defined by high energy, lasers, fog, and an LED-synched backdrop, The Pass turn any venue into a foot sliding, head bobbing, hands in the air dance party. Since the release of their debut album BURST in 2011, they have been on a steady touring diet, playing at over 30 national festivals, thousand seat arenas, and venues from east to west coast sharing the stage with everyone from Cage the Elephant to Chiddy Bang to Capital Cities.

Over the past few years, The Pass have seen their music grow nationally and internationally through featured spots on HBO, FOX, ABC, The CW, MTV, and over 40 other TV and movie placements. Their collection of music videos have reached over 500,000 plays and over 200,000 Soundcloud/Bandcamp plays over the course of an EP, two full length LPs, 7″ vinyl series, and their newest offering, the “High Road EP”.

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Holy Youth (Birmingham, AL)

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Holy Youth — Empty Mind

“A power pop masterpiece.”

— Weld for Birmingham

Holy Youth is a four-piece dream punk band from Birmingham, AL. They started playing live in April 2012 in Montevallo, and they released a self-titled EP on Happenin Records in early 2013. They have played opening sets for The Fresh and Onlys, Cheap Time, Grass Widow, and Natural Child. Holy Youth released their first full-length album on October 14, 2014.

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Real T@lk (Atlanta, GA)

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Real T@lk — Black Dynamite!

In February 2012, “Real T@lk” was invited to perform for Andre3000 at his Atlanta home. Andre called Real a “lyrical scientist.” Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, poet/emcee Real T@lk is changing the world one rhyme at a time! He’s most recently come off of Big Boi’s “Shoes For Running World Tour” this past Fall. In the December 2009 issue he was named “Unsigned Hype” by The Source Magazine. He’s also performed at over 50 college campuses across the nation including Howard University, Morehouse College, and Fisk University (to name a few). He’s currently working on his 6th audio project featuring Organized Noize Productions, DJ Toomp, DJ Cutmaster Swiff and a few other ATL natives. Williams holds a Bachelors in Journalism-Advertising from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is truly a mother-loving genius, cunning linguist. His lyrics will make your brain smile.

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Culture Vulture (Savannah, GA)

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Culture Vulture — Pedaling Into The Wind

“Started in 2012, the band has settled into an incredibly tight groove. They utilize the characteristics of progressive rock (time changes, modal movement, intricate arrangements), yet their unique instrumentation gives them a tinge of the unexplainable. Drummer Mathew Pelton rolls relentlessly through the sprawling compositions, playing with feel and precision. Guitarist James Webber has impressive control of his syrupy Les Paul tone, and his chord voicings and arpeggios indicate his heavy jazz influence. Nick Gilbert fills out the band on trombone (an atypical instrument in rock), and what he does with it is ingenious. With a small microphone on the bell, he runs the instrument through a series of effects generally used for guitar, and the result is a rich horn section sound, with octaves and various intervals weaving through the music. Any group that can cover Chick Corea and get the audience to crowd surf at the same time is worth paying attention to.”

— Garrett Deming, Hissing Lawns

Culture Vulture is a progressive, instrumental outfit that shreds the old prog trope of complexity over enjoyment. Underestimating the audience’s ability to dance in 7/8 feels wrong though, so Culture Vulture avoids that too. Blending such disparate influences as jazz, math rock, and straight-up pop music combined with eclectic instrumentation sets Culture Vulture apart. Guitar, drums, and trombone, all with processing and effect power make a full sound that spans from wistful dreaminess to metal creaminess. Dancey for the brave, complexity for the analyst, sexy for the depraved. Culture Vulture has existed, in a few different iterations, since 2012. Each member cut their teeth in very different scenes across the country but converged on Savannah to bring it all together in a colloidal mixture of densely packed sound.

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