Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Heather Green -- Clementine

Heather Green's songs might be dominated by distorted guitars and layered harmonies, but it's Green's carefully observant lyrics that distinguish her. "The Wild Ones," a song that exudes confidence -- not because of the subject matter, but because of Green and her band's certainty in the song itself -- is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at shows. The careful listener will be rewarded by Green's delicate comparison between cigarette smoke and the entanglements relationships cause.

Green nonchalantly mines several decades of pop to deliver her torch songs. "Say Watcha Says" brings to mind some of the more adventurous pop/R&B of recent  years like Grimes and The Weeknd, while "Time" takes us back to doo-wop. Certainly, the '50s would have been a better time if Green had been around to croon queer love songs. Overall, the songs are united by Green's self-assured performances and thoughtful explorations into the nature of platonic and romantic relationships.

Heather Green -- Official, Spotify, Purchase, iTunes

Monday, January 25, 2016

Feral Conservatives -- Here's to Almost

Here's to finally updating this blog! I think I'll finally have enough breathing room for this again.

The Feral Conservatives blew me away last spring with their EP, The Feeling Noise Becomes. The EP was a cherry bomb of barely suppressed energy and thinly veiled anxiety. Now that the band has more room to spread its wings on its first full-length, Here's to Almost, we get to see their sweeter side.

Songs like "Logan's Song" exemplify the trio's knack for giving the listener a meaty hook to latch onto. For the most part, the Feral Conservatives give us irresistible dance songs that are rooted in vaguely melancholy lyrics of depression, nostalgia, and alienation. In other words, it's the perfect '90s dance party. When they slow down for "Acrylics," we're treated to the full emotional weight of their writing. If you're a fan of revivalists like Cayetana, Diet Cig, and Reina del Cid, the Feral Conservatives will be the perfect addition to your spunky pop-punk pog collection.

Feral Conservatives -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, January 11, 2016

FREE MUSIC: Chris Hickey -- "Langston Hughes"

This song came to me a while ago. Chris Hickey's "Langston Hughes" is a mesmerizing, semi-spoken word piece about how we are all united by art and the universality of the human experience. Plus, Hickey gets extra points for being a teacher.

You can pay what you want for the song on Bandcamp, but you should pay an integer (which, as you may remember from math class, is a non-zero number.)

Chris Hickey -- Official, Bandcamp

Friday, January 8, 2016

R. Ring -- Loud Underneath

Just a brief public service announcement as I push through PMS-related insomnia and migraines (menoause is gonna be great!) If you missed it this summer, R. Ring -- the garage rock lovechild of Kelley Deal (of Breeder fame) and Mike Montgomery (Ampline).

R. Ring released two 7"s this past summer -- one on Adobe & Teardrops favorite Sofaburn record with Kentucky-based band Quailbones. You can purchase that here.

"Loud Underneath," the anxious but effortlessly cool track featured below, can be found here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rachel Cholst -- Rough Draft EP

Is it gauche to plug your own music on your own music blog? If it's wrong then I won't mention this again except for the "About Me" page.

While I don't think any of these songs particularly sound like my favorites, rest assured that a lot of American Aquarium, John Moreland, and Two Cow Garage was listened to as these songs were written, and the clarity of lyrics was something I was aiming for, even if I'm not quite as angry and alienated in these songs as the three artists aforementioned are. And I certainly don't pretend that these songs are anywhere near as good as the pros'.

Hope you like it. Hope I get to make more.

Rachel Cholst -- Bandcamp

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Becky Shaw -- shut down, jump in

If you've been paying attention to this blog for a while, you've already heard Becky Shaw's work with alterna-grass band Roxie Watson, and in Sonia Tetlow's work over the years. Though Shaw has been an Atlanta indie rock staple for 25 years, shut down, jump in is her first solo album. As they say, it takes a lifetime to write your first album. In this case, it was worth the wait.

Before I get into the music itself, the album is a veritable who's-who of Atlanta-based musicians. What makes me happiest, though, is that Lee Kennedy, my favorite bassist in the whole wide world (and I've listened to over 600 albums just for this blog) is on almost every track and is, as usual, transcendent. Kennedy makes the bass speak in tongues that most of us only dream of. And he makes it seem so easy. Additionally, Roxie Watson (the band) swings by to play on "Little Boy Beauty Queen." The clear sense of love, trust, and community in the ensemble makes the songs especially potent.

All of these songs are love songs but, strikingly, they don't focus on romantic love. (Perhaps the difference between a 20-something singer-songwriter and someone who's actually lived for a little while.) "Wishin' Anyway," the album opener, hit me especially hard during the holidays -- a song to reminisce about lost relatives and childhood memories. "The Veil" and "Outside Under" call to mind Shaw's art rock days in her 90s band, Reversing Hour. While the album generally has a roots feel, though, Shaw's interest in experimentation and pushing boundaries is present throughout. Even though I wasn't enamored with some songs at first listen, I appreciated Shaw's craftsmanship. It goes without saying, though, that after repeat listens (and checking out the lyric booklet, which I recommend), I have gained a deep appreciation for Shaw's labor of love. Here's hoping we get that sophomore album sooner rather than later. Listen to "Wishin' Anyway" below.


Purchase shut down, jump in via CD Baby or iTunes

Monday, January 4, 2016

Joplin Rice -- Hurricane Alaska

I wrote about Joplin Rice's Low Hum a few months ago, but Rice edged in another 2015 release at almost the last second. Rice has melancholy down to a fine art. Where Low Hum saw Rice alone in his bedroom crooning ballads to an acoustic guitar, Hurricane Alaska finds him alone in his bedroom with the magic of multi-tracking. The full band sound suits Rice: he has a strong power pop sensibility that calls to mind Athens, GA ca. the early '90s. It allows his plaintive voice and lyrics about isolation become lost in a swell of cheerful song, which ultimately drives his point home even more.

For better or worse, the layered music obfuscates Rice's pointed lyrics. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though -- it serves to soften the blow. When you hear

if you ask me out i probably won't go
even though you're beautiful//don't act like you don't know
'cause you don't need to be look-aftering
while the rest of your life should be happening
so give me bourbon in a cup
give me somewhere to throw up
give me pictures in the sky
give me someone i can fight
'cause you should be somewhere disastering
with someone else who doesn't understand what that can mean

float through the distorted guitars, maybe after your third listen, you'll find yourself good and sucker-punched. Hurricane Alaska is a sobering album -- or at least one for sobering up -- but it might be the right kind of bitter medicine to drink when you're in a funk.

Joplin Rice -- Facebook, Bandcamp, info on his alter-ego Ezra Triste