Friday, October 31, 2008

Carbonas, thrash rockers pack the Drunken Uni.

The Drunken Unicorn drew a sizable crowd Thursday with an all-ages show featuring Atlanta's Carbonas and Virginian rockers Municipal Waste and Cloak/Dagger.

Following a set by The Bukkake Boys, which I sadly missed, The Carbonas played their first real Atlanta gig since their 97 Estoria appearance with the Cola Freaks.

An energetic though sadly brief set began with older tracks like "Blackout (Waiting to Happen)" and "Lost Cause" and then kicked into hyper-drive with newer songs like "Butcher" and "Ripped Red Dress" from the Euro Tour EP and "Phonebooth" and "Assvogel," the bookends of the band's self-titled Goner Records LP. Other songs included covers of Kaos' "Iron Dream" and "September Gurls" by Big Star.

While nothing set The Carbonas' set apart and made it spectacular, they still put on a good show and set the stage for the two out-of-town bands. Plus, The Carbonas do not play as often as most local bands, so anytime they perform it is worth being half-asleep the next morning at work.

Up next was Cloak/Dagger, a straightforward hardcore band from Richmond, Virginia. They may have been the pleasant surprise of the night, as their energetic set got the crowd moving.

Municipal Waste closed out the show as they thrashed and head-banged through several tunes. While they did not play my preferred style of music, it was impossible to be disinterested as kids starting circle pits, diving into the crowd and hanging onto the rafters reminded me of a less civil time when I went to all-age shows out of necessity and did not even know about the joy of powerpop.

It was also funny to have Municipal Waste's lead singer introduce songs about fucked up topics. It was like, "This next song is about the time I disemboweled my ex-girlfriend. It's called 'Build My Own Coffin'." Alright, he did not really say that, though it would not have sounded out of place.

Overall, it was a great night. Tonight's Spooks, Coffin Bound, Cola Freaks, Mourdella and Predator show should make it two nights in a row of great music in East Atlanta.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Busy weekend

Tonight at The Drunken Unicorn, The Carbonas are playing with Municipal Waste and a slew of other bands. It will cost $10 to get in, but everyone should get their money's worth.

Tomorrow, The Spooks' LP will finally be released, and to commemorate Hell freezing over the Star Bar is going to throw a Halloween party. Also on the bill are Predator, Mourdella, Coffin Bound, and those zany Cola Freaks from Denmark.

On Saturday, Jay Reatard is coming to Lenny's, and he's bringing other solid acts like The Poison Arrows with him.

Finally, on Sunday, Beat Beat Beat will play a house show at Danger House before heading to Europe and will be selling re-presses of their debut 7" and other merchandise.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poison Arrows debut was a rockin' keg party

Following what seemed like months of hype and waiting, The Poison Arrows hit the stage for the first time Saturday at a house show and keg party next door to the Doo Gallery.

Fans of the band's Myspace tracks were likely pleased with The Poison Arrows debut. While there is room for improvement, things went well for Atlanta's newest powerpop band. Nothing outside of a keyboardist was missing from a set which included about seven original songs, including "Sticky Situations," and an MC5 cover.

Sound-wise, the band is a mix of '70's style powerpop and rock-and-roll. This is a whole different ball-game than the Heart Attacks, as Tuk is tackling lead vocals and song-writing duties.

A poorly advertised show played inside a building with a high ceiling and concrete walls would put any band against the odds. When you pair that with the fact that the band was playing their first gig, things went incredibly well. There was a sizable crowd, and the band sounded good under the circumstances.

The Poison Arrows play twice Saturday as they are booked at both The Star Bar and at Lenny's with Jay Reatard. They will either maintain their first show's level of quality or they will exceed last weekend's keg party and make their first show sound like shit.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poison Arrows debut Saturday

The Poison Arrows are set to play their first gig Saturday night at the Doo Gallery., 205 Holtzclaw Street. It would not be unfair to say that this is the most hyped new Atlanta band in a long time. This hype is partly because the band has posted some sweet powerpop tunes on Myspace that'll likely be on their debut Full Breach Kicks 7". The hype is also because Tuk and Mikey's other band, The Heart Attacks, has gained a reputation through constant touring and a pair of solid albums. Don't expect to hear The Heart Attacks Saturday night, but you should expect a good show from a potentially great new band.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Long-awaited release does not disappoint

Artist: The Babyshakes
Title: The First One
Label: Douchemaster Records
Release date: September 2008
Vinyl color: The first few copies were half pink, half blue.

The long-awaited Babyshakes LP has been out a few weeks now, which means it is old enough to be in the rotation of local DJs and be stuck in the head of powerpop fans across the nation.

From the first track, "Hello Hello," to the end, this album was worth the wait.

All the best elements of this band (female lead and backup vocals, pop and western guitar slinging, and solid drumming) are wrapped up in one powerpop package with "Hello Hello".

"What Can You Do?" follows the slightly mellow "Far Away" and will hook you in the first time you hear it on this record, especially if you are already familiar with this tune thanks to the second Whirlyball 7". While all 10 tracks will surely spark discussion about female vocals and pop lyrics, it is the western-inspired guitar in songs like "What Can You Do?" that make this group unique.

"Now I Know" has a 1960's feel to it due to girl group inspired vocals, while the upbeat rockabilly sound of "On My Way" wraps up a solid side of vinyl.

The flipside begins with the sugary sweet melodies of "Ooh La Love" and a decent cover of "Love Machine." They are followed by three tracks were recorded with Murat Akturk of The Electric Shadows on drums. The first seven cuts featured the drumming of Dave "Carbona" Rahn, who also recorded and mixed the entire LP.

"Come On Babe" may be the most danceable tune of the 10, while album closers "Tell Me Now" and the lightning quick "Just Another" are solid pop tunes that fail to stand out when compared to their a-side counterparts.

There seems to be an unofficial Atlanta-New York talent swap, and these girls have called both cities home. Hopefully, the swap will lead to more records like this one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On par with their live show, and that's saying something

Artist: The Stolen Minks
Title: The Stolen Minks EP
Label: New Romance For Kids Records
Release date: Originally came out on CD Aug. 2005, re-released in 2007 on 7" vinyl

Did you hear about the Canadian girls who opened for The Black Lips a week ago and busted out a Carbonas cover? That band, The Stolen Minks, are no strangers to energetic cover songs and cleverly written originals, as evidenced by their 2005 debut EP.

The opener, "Minks Riot," bundles the bands influences (rockabilly and old rock and country-western tunes) musically and pairs them with lyrics that come across as autobiographical.

Those influences are more evident on the rest of the a-side, since it features covers of Link Wray's "Black Widow" and "Chug a Lug" by the late comedic genius Roger Miller. The latter is transformed into a sped-up, punk-inspired garage tune.

B-side opener "Boys On The Floor" may be the best song in the entire Stolen Minks catalog. It has the same rough-around-the-edges appeal as the Roger Miller cover, and has original lyrics that could be interpreted as being either empowering ("Girls on the stage, boys on the floor") or intentionally silly ("If I had a revolution, would you come?"). Either way, this is a perfect leap-about-your-bedroom singalong song.

The EP ends with a cover of Joey Dee's "Peppermint Twist," which is evidence of the before-mentioned old-timey rock and roll influences. This of course is yet another solid Stolen Minks song. How could a cover of a rock classic accented by girl group style background vocals and recorded to sound like it came out of a Memphis garage fail?

Sometimes, I will discover a new band at a show, pick up a 7" or album, listen to it at home, and wonder what went wrong when that energetic band I saw live hit the recording studio. The Stolen Minks are the exception, and if you caught them live in Atlanta last week and enjoyed their raucous set, you will not be disappointed by their debut EP.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Half punk and half pop. One hundred percent rockin'.

Artist: The Powerchords
Title: ...Think I'm Gonna
Label: Single Screen Records
Release date: 2008

The West Coast could arguably rival vibrant scenes like the one in Atlanta due to their brand of powerpop and bands like The Powerchords, who recently struck gold with ...Think I'm Gonna.

While they are as powerpop as The Cute Lepers, Boss Martians, Avenue Rose, and other quality bands from their neck of the woods, The Powerchords also borrow a bit from the sped-up pop-punk sounds of 90's bands like The Queers and Green Day or, better yet, original poppunkers like The Buzzcocks and The Boys.

The title track is the type of fast romp anchored by a catchy hook you would expect from a Seattle area band. After that, the album proves to be surprisingly ecclectic.

Not afraid to break from their own mold, The Powerchords switch gears by the third song, as "Throwing Up" is a guitar-heavy anthem that has a big stadium rock feel reminiscent of Cheap Trick. It'll remind you of your dad's old albums in a good way (unless your dad is like mine and listened to Kenny Rogers).

Simple though political lyrics power the quick blast that is "Bad Guys," while sugary sweet pop lyrics are the backbone of "Dream Girl."

"Blue Bus," an ode to the band's personified tour bus, is both amusing and catchy as fuck. In fact, after a few listens you'll likely decide that this is one of the band's best tracks.

Another standout is "New Pheromones," as hooks, chords and poppy background vocals collide in a mix of everything that's exciting about this band.

"Tia Carrere" should amuse anyone who grew up in the 90's, and a reference to The Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" becomes the most clever lead-in to the 1-2-3-4 count off in punk rock history.

Overall, there is not a weak link among the 14 tracks on ...Think I'm Gonna, but there certainly are some standout gems. This one is highly recommended for anyone who does not mind mixing powerpop with dab of sped-up pop-punk.

For the benefit of Mr. Ubangi

The local scene was out in full force Saturday at the brand-new Doo Gallery for a benefit concert and art auction for the incomparable Bobby “BJ” Ubangi. Sadly, the former Lid, Soft Spot, and Gaye Blade has cancer. In tough times you find out who your friends are, and both the crowd at Saturday’s show and the willingness of local businesses and artists to donate auction and raffle items showed that the whole Atlanta scene is behind Bobby all the way.

Predator, a relatively new band featuring Mike and Brannon of Beat Beat Beat and Frantic, opened the festivities. Though the band has yet to release a single, catchy tunes like “Dancing Queen Bitch” have been heard enough times by concert goers that it is as easy to get into their set. If you have not caught this band yet, you can get a taste of their sound at their new Myspace page,

Gentleman Jesse and His Men performed their typical (in a good way) set with their typical (in a good way) playlist. This playlist usually consists of two brilliant tracks from the band’s debut 7” and cuts from their LP. “Put Your Hands Together,” the singalong closer from the their LP, was one of the standouts Saturday though Jesse introduced the song by saying it is not fun to play live.

Afterwards, a silent art auction was held, with proceeds from art sales going to Bobby for his cancer treatments and living expenses.

The night also featured an open bar, DJs spinning both old records and the new ones like the Babyshakes LP, and Tuk from the Poison Arrows and Heart Attacks as master of ceremonies.

Not even two morons who returned to the gallery more than once after being asked to leave were able to ruin this night. Everyone should be proud that not a single punch was thrown before those losers were escorted away by the cops. If there was a good time to fight, it would be when your friend’s benefit show is being interrupted. However, some people are not worth an aggravated assault charge.

Gentleman Jesse play again this Tuesday at the Earl along with Coffin Bound and the Pierced Arrows.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Renegades, Black Lips headlined foreign invasion

Both The Black Lips and look-alikes The Renegades played Thursday at The Earl after three solid bands from out of the state(s) set the table.

Up first was Halifax, Nova Scotia's own The Stolen Minks. The all-girl trio played an energetic set of songs from both of their albums and their brilliant 7" EP.

They also did something that, for lack of better words, took balls when they decided to commemorate their first U.S. tour and first trip to Georgia by covering "Lost Cause" by The Carbonas. Both Chris and Clay from The Carbonas were in the audience and seemed pleased with The Stolen Minks' take on an Atlanta punk classic.

After the show, Stolen Minks bassist/vocalist Tiina Johns said that the band has played "Lost Cause" to Canadian audiences and have discovered that there are other Carbona fanatics in their home country.

Next, Milwaukee's Goodnight Loving played cuts from their new Dusty Medical Records LP . They also played a helping of older tunes which won over local concert goers over a year ago when the band played The Drunken Unicorn with Vancougar and Gentleman Jesse and His Men.

Batting third was Jack of Heart, a French band featuring members of Demon's Claws, The Creteens, and The Mighty Go-Go Players. Their psychedelic garage sound is comparable to Demon's Claws and even Thursday's headliners. Their lead singer's antics paired with the rest of the group's primal energy made for a visually and aurally pleasing set.

Finally, The Renegades hit the stage. This version of the band was all of the Black Lips plus the bass player from Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction. They played a good, but brief, set highlighted by Cole's romp through the already-unintelligible classic "Louie, Louie."

Things seemed to end abruptly, but that was an okay thing because the band quickly announced that they would return to the stage in five minutes as The Black Lips.

A mix of old and new tunes had the crowd and the band in a frenzy and showed why The Black Lips are regarded by some as one of the best live acts in the world. The singer from Jack of Heart was in such a trance that he all but pole-danced during one of the songs.

By the end of the night, the crowd had been exposed to new bands in The Stolen Minks and Jack of Heart, were reminded of an old favorite in The Goodnight Loving, and got a double shot of one of Atlanta's finest bands.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New gallery, good bands, and a great cause

If you just go to one show this weekend, make it this benefit for Bobby Ubangi of Lids and Gaye Blades fame. There'll be great bands, beer, DJs, and an art auction, all for a good cause.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Pets, Carbonas team up for great summer pop

Artist: The Pets
Title: Let's Go b/w I Want Fun
Label: Douche Master Records

Release date: 2007

The Pets, likely the coolest people in Oakland now that Rich Harden is a Cub, crossed paths with a pair of Carbonas when it came time to release their fourth single, "Let's Go" b/w "I Want Fun."

On the a-side, a drum and guitar assault is the backdrop for a pop-sensible tune which evokes images of chilling on the beach in The Pets' home state. Though it is a tad bit longer than the typical fun-in-the-sun powerpop tune, "Let's Go" is as infectious as any other recent pop single this side of the Pacific Ocean.

"I Want Fun" is more of a guitar-driven surf tune with a repetitive yet effective keyboard part which complements the catchy chorus. This track is one of those rare b-sides that is on par with its flipside. Lyrically, it goes beyond painting a beach scene, as listeners are transported to a beach party hosted by Johnathan Richman.

As far as Atlanta ties go, Dave Rahn and his Midas Touch mastered both tracks, while Gentleman Jesse Smith designed silver-dotted artwork for this release reminiscent of The Carbonas' classic "Blackout (Waiting to Happen)" 7".

Track this one down as well as anything else you can find by The Pets since their summertime music is pleasant on the ears both in and javascript:void(0)out of season.

Precursor of this year's best non-Atlanta release

Artist: The Cute Lepers
Title: Terminal Boredom/ Prove It
Label: 1-2-3-4- Go! Records
Release date: 2007

On this, the forerunner of The Cute Lepers' outstanding full-length LP, Steve E. Nix and the gang established themselves as a sum of their influences and the kings of Seattle's powerpop scene.

The a-side, "Terminal Boredom," is a great powerpop tune that borrows from pretty much everything, from 1960's girl groups to garage rock to glam to punk and everything else in between. There's nothing wrong with borrowing when it comes to pop music. In fact, The Bible was likely referring to powerpop when it said, "There's nothing new under the sun."

The flipside, "Prove It," Steve and Zache's guitars are woven into aural fabric created by Kicks' bass playing and and Josh's drumming. Lyrically, it's hooks and harmonies, as one might expect.

Like most outstanding powerpop releases from the West Coast, both songs were produced by Steve and fellow pop craftsman Johnny Sangster. As far as I can tell, both songs are the same versions featured on the Can't Stand Modern Music LP.

This 7" is worth picking up for your collection, especially if you enjoy the work of Steve and The Cute Lepers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

One-man-band steals the show

Atlanta's best female-fronted garage-pop band in Tiger, Tiger played this week's free Thursday night show at the Star Bar and were preceded by three of the area's most unique acts.

The show opened with Matt Kurz One, a dynamic and surprisingly talented one-man-band from Athens. Kurz managed to play the guitar while drumming and playing keyboard with sticks tied to the guitar's head stock. Seriously. He also played bass with his shoeless left foot.

Unlike most opening acts, Kurz did not have to suggest that the audience come in closer, because pretty much everyone in the venue was front and center to watch his unique stage presence. Rarely does the opening act on a four-band bill garner so much attention, but it is safe to say that almost everyone who came out early was impressed by Kurz's creativity and talent.

The gimmick of a one-man-band would have worn off after the first couple of songs if Kurz was not talented as a songwriter and able to blend rudimentary bass, guitar, and drum into a well-crafted garage rock song.

At times, Kurz's facial expressions and zany lyrical content made him seem like a garage rock version of Tenacious D. Other moments in Kurz's set, like his surprising cover of "Purple Rain," made him sound like a true rock-and-roll virtuoso.

After Kurz's set, he was practically mobbed on stage by Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction drummer Jessica Juggz, who loudly proclaimed that the virtuoso put on a brilliant show. Meanwhile, audience members were still discussing the pleasant surprise that was Kurz's set and comparing camera phone pictures of their new favorite Athens-based muso.

Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction were up next to perform their growing repertoire of brilliantly simplistic pop songs. Though their first attempt at playing a brand-new tune was not exactly flawless, Baby D. vs. Ex. put on a good show highlighted by their well-crafted theme song, "$.49 Hot Dog Day."

On third was The Barberries, who were making their first Star Bar appearance since the Fringe Binge. Matt, their guitarist, booked Thursday's show, and his band certainly added to a good night by playing songs like "Americana Junkie" and its wacky guitar bits and the brilliant "69/70." Actually, they led into "69/70" with the first on-stage mention of 7inchatlanta to date. The band also referenced the guys at, who have an awesome multimedia site dedicated to local music.

The closers were Atlanta's own Tiger, Tiger, a female-fronted, pop-influenced garage act. This was my first time seeing them live, surprisingly, and I was not disappointed. Their Myspace page has more than its fair share of videos, so if you missed them Thursday you can still get a taste of what this act is like live.

Overall, it was a good night thanks to three Atlanta bands, but a visitor from Athens' set will likely be the most memorable part of the night for those of us who came out early.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not quite a plastic surgery disaster

Artist: Derek Lyn Plastic
Title: Plastic Surgery
Label: Florida's Dying
Release Date: 2005

Full-time punk songsmith and part-time acoustic virtuoso Derek Lyn Plastic already has five solid 7" releases under his belt, including 2005's Plastic Surgery.

"M.N.W.M." opens this release with a fast-paced, speed-powered punk tune which would not sound out of place on DLP's self-released Invisible Skin 7".

"Plastic Surgery" was probably the strongest DLP song, musically speaking, prior to the recent release of the solid She's Got a U.T.I. 7". Throughout the song, Derek's guitar playing is interwoven with a heavy bass line as keys take a back seat to stings.

On "Psycho (I Don't Wanna Be Around)," Ramones-esque lyrics paired with Coathangers-esque keyboards make for a brief yet memorable tune.

The keyboard part in "Vampires in Heat" has that upbeat post-apocalyptic ballpark organ feel to it. It also reminds me a bit of The Expoxies. Well, a more masculine version of the Epoxies, though DLP does include female backing vocals on this track. This catchy tune will likely be played quite a few times next month when DLP plays a residency at the Star Bar every Wednesday night.

"You Can't Tell Me No" starts out slow like a methodical machine. It has both a mechanical and experimental feel, kind of like Kraftwerk meets Glaxo Babies . Once Derek's vocals kick in, the song picks up. The sensual, repetitive lyrics paired with Derek's vocal stylings is reminiscent of none other than Iggy Pop (that's almost as good as being compared to Buddy Holly).

Though his newest is his best, Plastic Surgery may very well be DLP's second-best 7".

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Live show pick of the week

A pair of 7" Atlanta favorites in The Barberries and Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction will play a free show Thursday at the Star Bar with Tiger, Tiger.

Potential second best album of 2008 hits the streets Tuesday

I just ordered my copy from .

Friday, October 3, 2008

Not even sound issues can halt the 'Bonas

The Carbonas, arguably the best band in Atlanta, shared the stage Thursday with Denmark's Cola Freaks for a brief and free concert at Cabbagetown's 97 Estoria.

Though most of the raucous crowd was likely there to see the headlining act, The Cola Freaks managed to captivate the audience due to their lead singer's ability to mimic justifiable insanity. While many in the audience were likely unfamiliar with the Jerks' songs, it was not hard to get into a guy whose nervous dancing and piercing eyes were reminiscent of Ian Curtis (I didn't say he had Curtis' voice, so this is not full-blown blasphemy). Their set must have made an impression, as the band sold several 7"s and t-shirts.

As for the main event, it began and ended like last Thursday's Coathangers show at The Graveyard. That is to say,sound problems early on left the band down one microphone, but the Carbonas adjusted and managed to put on a good show. A little less-homoerotic-than-The-Libertines microphone sharing never hurt a punk band, after all.

Old favorites ("Blackout (Waiting to Happen)" and "Lost Cause"), cuts from last year's brilliant Goner Records LP ("Phonebooth" and "Hate You") and three songs from this year's best EP ("Butcher," "Ripped Red Dress," and Kaos' "Iron Dream") made for a solid set that easily drowned out the Vice-Presidential debates.

Edit: I totally fucked up and called the opening band the Soda Jerks. If that's your band's name, contact me if you need a singer.