Monday, August 30, 2010

Spectacular Bands Galore: The Orkids, The Premonitions, the Caste, & VIS!

Four must-see bands in one lineup? Impossible, right? It's a rare occasion when there's a show filled to the brim with bands I love, but lucky for me, that was my Friday night.

As I got in line to enter New Earth (yes, there was a line!), I could already hear the Caste rockin' the stage. What!?! A show that actually started on time? What are the chances? Their fun yet dark pop rock sound already had the crowd pumped by the time I got close enough to see the band. Ah, such fun! About half an hour later, the Caste jammed their way out with style, leaving their fans begging for more.

The Premonitions took over the stage next, ready to show off their new sound. This band's been on my radar for a while, but last I'd heard of them, they had played their final show in Athens. What a surprise it was then to find that they were rocking a new member lineup with some of my favorite bands! I'd been looking forward to experiencing their super unique tunes live for some time, and the band did not disappoint. Giving
us a wild mix of hard and dark southern rock, swing melodies, and hints of electronica, their set was eerily perfect for their name. Lead singer Kara McKenney's strong, deep voice drove the songs forward, and every member of the band was fully absorbed in their tunes.

Just after the Premonitions finished their last song, longtime favorites Venice is Sinking began to play. Watching them this time, I finally realized why I can never get enough of this band. You know that beautifully satisfied feeling you have after you hear a massive classical orchestra play a rock cover in a huge auditorium? That's what Venice is Sinking feels like. Amazing as always!

And then, it was time for the band that's getting all kinds of buzz around town lately, the Orkids! True dance pop/electronica bands are few and far between in Athens, but this band has got it covered. Seriously, their songs are just undeniably awesome in every way. Hearing them play live again was happiness-inducing to the extreme! Their set had the whole crowd going absolutely crazy. They even made singing Happy Birthday to lead guitarist Adam Monica into a memorable moment with their hilarious attempt at an impromptu unique tune. Just thinking about the band has got me smiling again. When they had played their last note, I knew I couldn't live another minute without their Paper Dolls album, so of course, I had to get it. I'm not kidding... they're just purely unbelievable!

Ah, Athens makes adding new rockers to my list of favorites so easy. Shows just don't get better than this!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kristen's Concert Picks: September rocks its way in

Hey guys, it's September, and you know what that means... That's right, it's time for even more rockin' shows! Downtown is waiting for you.

Thurs, Sept 2: Leaving Araby @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
Start off the month with a few of Leaving Araby's soft pop tunes!

Thurs, Sept 2: Yo Soy Bean @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
I've heard good things. Check 'em out!

Fri, Sept 3: Bambara @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
I knew it. You've been waiting all summer to see the kings of noise rock the stage again. Well, here's great news... They're back to blow us away again!

Sat, Sept 4: Athens & Tealvox @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
And the youth will inherit the rock! This is certain to be one show you won't want to miss.

Thurs, Sept 9: The Beat Geeks @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Luke Galloway of the Novanauts finally brings his Atlanta-based dance pop project to Athens! Are you ready to move?

Sat, Sept 11: Of Montreal @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
Guys dressed as pigs throwing spaghetti? Flying feathers and giant screens of color? It's Of Montreal... need I say more?

Mon, Sept 13: Nate Nelson @ 9:30 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
This guy is pure voice. Your ears need his songs, trust me.

Thurs, Sept 16: Half Dozen Brass Band - CD Release @ 9 PM @ Melting Point
Sometimes lyrics are overrated. The Half Dozen Brass Band takes this notion and swings with it. Ooh, and they're releasing an album too. Nice!

Fri, Sept 17: Madeline @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
Soak in the beauty of Madeline's tunes! Ah, how refreshing.

Sat, Sept 18: Reptar & Kuroma @ 9 PM @ 40 Watt
Gotta love Reptar! These crazy fools for pop will have you dancing all night. And Kuroma? This band's been on my list of rockers to check out for a while. Sounds like a party!

Thurs, Sept 23: The Orkids @ 10 PM @ Caledonia Lounge
Yes, the Orkids are back again! These guys and gals are some of my newest favorites. Get ready for some electronic pop that will have you moving your feet in no time!

Without a doubt, September is going to be wild! Of course, if you want to let the world know about a show not listed here, feel free to tell us all about it in the comments. And be sure to check back often to find out about all of the latest shows coming to a venue near you! See you around town, my friends.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Have you seen Of Montreal's latest music video? WHAT!?!

Apparently, this is what happens when I leave Athens... UNBELIEVABLE THINGS! Seriously.

You may have already caught a glimpse of this on the web scene, but if not, this is definitely a MUST-SEE. Here, watch the cannibalistic bloodbath that is Of Montreal's latest music video, Coquet Coquette.

Now some of those people look kind of familiar, don't they? Indeed! Intermixed among Kevin Barnes and the other Of Montreal barbarians were some of our favorite zombified wild men and women from Athens' own music scene. The large majority of the recognizable faces, for me, were friends of friends, WUOG-ers, and people I've seen rocking out in the clubs of downtown Athens, but one face really jumped out at me. Whoa, there was William Kennedy of Reptar right there! Pure insanity. Since I appear to be most tragically out of the loop in this case, someone please let me know... How did this magical occurrence, this mixing of established Athens musicians and up-and-coming artists come to be? THIS IS JUST TOO MUCH AWESOMENESS TO HANDLE!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Echoreview: Rye's self-titled debut release

This past March, I had the lucky chance to check out Rye, a band of three guys who certainly stand out among the bands of Athens. These brothers and cousins have brought back the three-part harmony in a big way. With their laid back sound, Rye's music hearkens back to the days of soft tunes and classic rock. And guess what... They're releasing their self-titled debut album today on iTunes! So what's it like?

The first track, Caroline, starts off the record with what these guys do best. Heavy on the harmonies, this song reminds me of some of the early Beatles songs. It's no surprise, then, that Rye lists the band as one of its biggest influences. Cocaine Dreamer continues the old school vibe with a hint of funk rock. I've gotta say, I really liked this one although this tune has seriously got to be the smoothest song ever written with cocaine in the title.

Then Amicalola Falls slows things down a bit with a taste of pop and a reference to one of Georgia's favorite water falls. Really Gone follows this song with a harmonious melody that features a nod to the aformentioned Beatles. And I Fall comes next, adding yet another softer track to join the two before it. This one has a sweet folk feel to it that truly brings a sense of calm to listener.

Fish in the Sea then kicks it up a notch as the most dance-inducing track of the album. Full of upbeat southern rock, this song speaks of freedom and newfound hope. Ah, how refreshing! Heavy strumming marks the beginning of the next tune, Kathryn. Sweet songs about girls certainly pepper this album, lending even more of a classic style to the band's sound. The following song One of These Days was, for me, a sort of lull in the album. However, the final melody, Today, brings the sound back around as the most feeling-intensive track on the record. Fueled by hope, the song's strong rock background drives the listener to the CD's satisfying end. Truly, the band saved the best for last with this one!

All in all, I can definitely say that the members of Rye have made themselves a very nice first album. You can give their tunes a spin for yourself on their website here, and don't miss their next Athens show at Rye Bar (how apropos!) on September 4th. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nothing can beat the Athens music scene!

Almost a year and a half ago, I started Echoreyn of Athens, not knowing that how the blog would grow, not knowing that I would continue to see more and more amazing bands, not knowing that blogging would give me some of the coolest experiences of my life. Way back then, I had already started falling in love with the Athens music scene, but I had no clue what awaited me. Before I set foot in this wonderful little town, I had never been to a real concert. Now I've seen hundreds of bands perform live and rock stages throughout the state. Before I came here, I didn't know what it was like to get a CD signed by all of the band members or visit my musician friends backstage or dance to my favorite band in my friend's living room. It just wasn't something shy little me would ever have imagined myself doing. Me, really? Talking to rockstars and dancing in front of crowds? It's amazing how the magic of the music scene can change a person!

And the best part is, this music scene is truly like no other! Only in Athens can you see a lineup of incredibly talented bands for just $5... or sometimes even free! And even national acts cater to the poor college student in all of us by giving us amazing rock experiences for less than $30. It's unheard of anywhere else. Beyond the shockingly affordable prices, Athens' music scene continues to be uniquely unbelievable. Very few other places provide such good opportunities for fans and bands to talk and connect with one another. Here in Athens, we walk among rockstar royalty daily! The scene itself is so diverse that people in love with all kinds of music can find their place here too. On any given night, there will be at least one show worth attending, and many nights, it'll be a struggle to decide which amazing band to catch out of the hundreds!

Honestly, I just felt an outpouring of love for this town today, and I had to share it with you. I'm so glad to be back, and I can't wait for all of the exciting experiences Athens has in store for all of us, longtime fans and brand new listeners alike. This place is nothing short of spectacular, and I'm relishing every moment of its wonder!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Athens Preview: Misfortune 500 at Popfest tonight!

Photo by Michael Lachowski

Popfest has taken over Athens, bringing bands upon brilliant bands to rock our days and nights this week! Among them, local alt rockers Misfortune500 have plans to blow us away with tonight's show. Describing their sound as one of gravity and grandeur, the band promises to give the audience "the opportunity to feel real human emotions, find love, find inspiration, find themselves. Be galvanized. " Influenced by "the concept of longing that matures into action" and a strong desire to defy the world's current view of popular music, they appear to have some surprises in store for us when they step onstage tonight. Most intriguing, they've been recruiting models to be used in the show for some mysterious purpose though they're remaining tight-lipped about exactly what that purpose is. Guess we'll just have to see the show to find out. Exciting!

Misfortune500 will be wowing us tonight (doors: 8:30 PM) as part of the Caledonia Lounge's Popfest lineup, playing with the Pass, Antivillians, and other blog favorites Reptar. You won't want to miss this!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Twists and turns - Fare thee well to Tasty World, the Critical Darlings, and many more

Oh, it's just days away... the smell of fresh new pencils, used textbooks, and nervous young musicians. I'm nearly about to explode with anticipation! But before we ring in a brand new school year, we must take the time to say goodbye to some of the beloved bands and places in Athens that will continue to exist only in or memories.

First up, we have to say a proper final farewell to Tasty World (Uptown). The club that helped jumpstart many a band's musical careers closed its doors for the last time during this year's Athfest celebration. As I've mentioned before, Tasty World will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the venue that first introduced me to the Athens music scene and gave me some of my very favorite music moments here. Oh, the memories! Goodbye, dear Tasty World.

Now which bands will no longer be here to rock our year? Well, Athfest also marked the final local performance of pop scene queen Allison Weiss... for a while, at least. Heading up to New York in the hopes of making it big on the national scale, she plans to return one day to bring her tunes back to the fans that have loved her from the beginning.

Bands Leading Edge and Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings are taking something of a different route. The members of both bands have gone their separate ways (Frank of the Critical Darlings is headed all the way out to Europe!), but fans, there is good news. Word is, singer Chris McKay and Leading Edge singer/keyboardist Matt Daniel will continue to share their own rockin' songs with us here in Athens. I've seen Matt perform solo before, and I'm quite happy to hear that he plans to keep bringing his talents to the scene. As far as Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings goes, I cannot express my gratitude enough for the part they played in sparking my interest in Athens music and inspiring me to start this blog. The band will most certainly be missed. If I know Chris, though, he won't leave us without a taste of his creativity for long. I'm eager to see what he'll do next!

And while we're bidding farewell, I must take this opportunity to say a few words in honor of my late laptop. Oh laptop, how many blogs were typed with the aide of your keys! How you shined in your picture for the EoA Red and Black article! Dear laptop, Echoreyn of Athens could never have existed without you. You will always be loved.

Enough with the goodbyes! In happier news, less than two weeks ago workers began pouring concrete for the rebirth of the Georgia Theatre. Last year's tragic fire marked the end of the last incarnation of the theatre, but the citizens of Athens pulled together to bring it back once more. Look out for the Georgia Theatre's triumphant return in spring of 2011!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Most Memorable Covers

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for an original song. I love celebrating a brand new creation! Sometimes, though, a cover song is so spectacular or so perfect for the moment that even just the memory of it blows you away. Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to experience a few of these gems for myself while adventuring through the Athens music scene. These particular remade tunes certainly deserve some love!

Now, the first Athens band to introduce to me the world of rockin' covers was (yep, that's right) Crumbling Arches with their always wildly popular and mind-blowingly ridiculous take on "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. Rock and Mulan in the same sentence? It doesn't seem like it would work, but boy, does it! Every time I've seen them play it, the crowd goes wild, and every one of us eighties and nineties kids bursts into song. Fun times. And hey, while I'm at it, I have to mention their cover of the Ghostbuster's theme that they played at my birthday bonanza last fall. Although nearly every band ever chose to cover that song for Halloween 2009, I think you'll be able to understand from this video why theirs was my favorite.

But they're not the only ones who've given us some super awesome covers and memorable moments. Doctor Squid definitely comes to mind. While they usually focus on their original tunes, longtime fans have come to gleefully await their Squidmas celebrations in December of every year where they play Squidified versions of everybody's favorite carols. Seriously, I've never heard a thing like it before! Even thinking of it right now fills me with unparalleled amounts of joy. However, my absolute favorite Doctor Squid cover moment happened just before this summer's mass exodus from Athens in May. They were rockin' all of their regular tunes when suddenly all of us in the crowd heard something new. So familiar... but what could it be? Ahahaha! Yeah, they were playing Stacy's Mom, originally by Fountains of Wayne. Somehow, the song just fit the band perfectly. Oh, I loved it!

And going along the lines of hilarity, what could be more comical than a band of guys playing Lady Gaga's "Love Game"? That's right, nothing. I've laughed about it before, but hearing Groove Tangent sing about taking a ride on your disco stick still has got to be up there on my list of favorite Athens music moments. Seriously. And it seems that Lady Gaga is the one to cover at the moment. The Novanauts have got their own cover of "Bad Romance" on the scene that takes it to a more musically-electronic level. It's so good!

I'll finish this blog with a short mention of Venice is Sinking's beautiful cover of Galaxie 500's "Tugboat." I wasn't previously familiar with the original song, but I loved their cover of it immediately when I first heard it. From last week's review of their latest album, I'd say I still can't get enough of it!

So these are just a few of my recent favorites. Oh, what brilliant memories I have of hearing these live! How about you? Heard any favorite covers of your own that you want to share?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Echoreview: Venice is Sinking's Sand & Lines

Anyone following Athens band Venice is Sinking's musical endeavors over the past few years knew they were in for a treat the moment the group stepped back into the recording studio. These new songs have been tiptoeing onto the band's setlists for a while, and now we finally have a chance to have them for our very own! And indeed, after last summer's tragic loss of the Georgia Theatre, it was more than just fitting that Venice is Sinking's latest album Sand & Lines, recorded in that beloved theatre, was released one summer later. So how does this much-anticipated album sound?

Well, before any of the music starts, you can hear the band members clearing their throats and warming up which gives this record a live sort of feel that pervades the entire album. Immediately following this moment, the band quietly launches into their first tune, Sidelights. Singer Daniel Lawson's voice comes through clearly as he sings backed by singer Karolyn Troupe and alternatively supplemented by instruments and silence. This track is a lonely but beautiful beginning.

Just after Sidelights fades, one of my longtime favorites, their cover of Galaxie 500's Tugboat, comes to life. I fell in love with Venice is Sinking's live version of this song months ago, and the recorded version completely does it justice. The tune's fulfilling finish was incredibly satisfying, complementing the track perfectly. A theme for the shy or the antisocial, I've always adored the lyrics to this song as well. "I don't wanna go to your party, I don't wanna talk to your friends"... Don't we all feel this way sometimes? Great choice of song!

Jolene is the first song to break away from the softer sound of the others and add a bit of an edge. Harmonies rule this tune as it takes on a roots-style touch. Then the drums drive this melody home in quite a powerful manner. Following this, the Grey Line brings an eerie feeling to the album. The vocals on this one are deliciously haunting and purely breathtaking. Add this one to my list of favorites as well!

Lucky Lady breezes in next, softer and slower than all the rest. This song seems like less of a dynamic tune than the others, but it marks a true return to the live, indie feel of the album. Indeed, the band even ends this track with a murmured conversation as if the members were right there in front of you, recording these songs. This transition leads straight into the marvelously dark Falls City. This organ-like melody partnered with a beat that has me ready to dance every time makes this yet another favorite of mine. I'm telling you, this album is full of them!

Venice is Sinking's next song, Pebble Hill, is a short but sweet tune with a very pop-sounding flair. Starting almost silently, it winds quickly into rolling adventure of lyrics and sound. Soon after, Bound by Violets begins. With the many instruments peppering this song, it could have very well sounded like a mess of noise, but the band succeeds in bringing it to a cohesive and quietly exciting mix instead.

As the album nears its end, the lovely sound of jingle bells ushers in the song Bardstown Road. Vocals reign supreme on this track with the repetition of a line that speaks of waiting and of bars closing. I can attest from their live shows that this is truly a perfect concluding melody for a night of music. Then, as the track approaches its finish, the entire band joins together to sing this this line and surround the listener with its power.

Venice is Sinking completes the album with The Wurlizer Prize, a short song whose line "I don't want to get over you" seems to be the proper send off for the soft but sweet melodies of Sand & Lines. While not quite as upbeat as their last album AZAR, this record's quiet beauty and enchanting tunes leave the listener purely relaxed and content. You can nab yourself a copy of this lovely album right here on the band's site. Happy listening!