Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vera Fang's lone 7" shows why they were unique and promising

Artist: Vera Fang
Title: Conscumption
Label: Army of Bad Luck
Release date: 2008

With Vera Fang's first, and likely final, 7", it takes just one listen to know they were a talented young band with a lot of promise and imagination.

Conscumption is four songs of well-crafted indie-art-rock crossed with dark storytelling.

The a-side has two tunes which display the talents of vocalist Zopi Kristjanson and guitarist Jeff Cook, as "Conscumption" and "Herd" sound like a cross between Sonic Youth when they were daring and interesting and a less shouty Mika Miko.

B-sider "Role Dolls" is a slower tune that allows the other two Vera Fang members, bassist Sunni Johnson and drummer Preston Charges, to shine while remaining as energetic and delightfully odd as its a-side counterparts.

The last track, "Neon Neverland," is the strong point of this release. The lyrics sound like something from a 1960's art house, while the music sounds like it came from the 1990's. That's a nice change from the typical local band that sounds like a '60's band but has vulgar lyrics just so you'll know they are from this century.

Vera Fang must have preferred the b-side's tracks, as well, since they included a CD with this release which has all four songs plus bizarre remixes of both "Role Dolls" ("Role Model (Chopper City Mix") and "Neon Neverland" ("Sugnillacsidnalrevennoen", or "Neon Neverland is calling us" backwards).

Monday, December 29, 2008

A debut, rare appearance, and reunion were a late Christmas present for Star Bar patrons

A debut, a rare appearance, and a reunion all occurred the night after Christmas, and like many good shows at The Star Bar, it was free.

The Electric Cycles debuted that night, though the band already has t-shirts, buttons, and eight original songs. The group plays straightforward rock music with helpings of punk, garage, surf, and psychedelic influences.

For a first gig, things went well. Matt from The now-defunct Barberries is in the group, and it was great to see his familiar red guitar back on the Star Bar stage. He also played organ on a couple of tunes, just like he does in Double Dynamite.

Do not let the Barberries and Double Dynamite connections fool you. This band is much more serious and "grown up," though they are still energetic and fun. Seeing how they develop should be interesting, beginning with their next show this Saturday at Criminal Records.

Up next was a rare appearance by The Holland Dutch. The two guys-two girls indie rockers are, as bassist Erin Bradley Dangar put it, "like ABBA before 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' when they all got divorced." They cannot write songs quite like ABBA could (few bands can), but they put on a good live show with their mix of straightforward rock and XTC-style pop.

El Capitan and Thee Scallywags reunited and closed out the night with their usual blend of surf rock and Ennio Morricone inspired spaghetti western tunes. It was the first time in a while that the band has wowed an Atlanta audience with one of their all-instrumental sets, as their drummer moved earlier this year. Surprisingly, they did not lose him to New York. Instead, he's now a citizen of Vancouver, British Columbia.

While a band that has not practiced together in ages is not going to put on one of their better shows, El Capitan still earned an encore.

It was a good night overall, and The Electric Cycles can now be added to a growing list of new bands everyone should keep an eye on in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A single for those who are gleefully waving goodbye to Christmas

Artist: Gentleman Jesse and His Men and Fever B
Title: A Seasonal Seven Inch
Label: Die Slaughterhaus Records
Release date: Not around the holidays

Not everyone loves Christmas or the nauseating songs that accompany it, and Die Slaughterhaus has the perfect record for those who are not religious or materialistic enough to enjoy traditional, force-fed tunes.

On A Seasonal Seven Inch, Gentleman Jesse Smith and his songwriting compatriot Fever B (Brian Hermosillo of The Fevers and Sweet Faces) used Christmas as an excuse to add to their catalogs of pure pop goodness.

For the A-side, the original Gentleman Jesse lineup provided a song that's as good as anything else they have released. "Christmas Hangover" may be the most Costell-esque Gentleman Jesse song to date, as pure pop goodness is the backdrop to biting, sarcastic lyrics about a less than reverent way to "celebrate the day Jesus was born."

Fever B's flipside is just as potent, as "Down With Christmas" mixes traditional rock and roll with a negative view of the holidays. Even if you are down with Christmas cheer, you'll catch yourself singing along with this infectious chorus by the third or fourth listen.

While 7 Inch Atlanta does not condone being a total wet blanket at Christmas and ruining a good time for friends and family, we do suggest giving this record a spin when you need a break from overly positive tunes like "Frosty The Snowman," that shitty Alabama song they play in most supermarkets and the entirety of Billy Idol's Happy Holidays album.

Plus, this 7" is kind of like that Carbonas/Die Rottz split because it's still available at the local record shop, though it's just as good as some of the singles that go for a pretty penny on Ebay.

Post-Christmas events for Barberries and Mammals fans

There's a free show tonight for those of us who were trapped in Redneck Hell last night when Gentleman Jesse was at the Earl spreading holiday cheer.

El Capitan and Thee Scallywags are headlining The Star Bar's free after-Christmas party. The Electric Cycles, a new band featuring Matt from Double Dynamite and The Barberries, will debut. The Holland Dutch are also scheduled to appear. This should be a excellent free show, and 7 Inch Atlanta! will be there to exploit it.

On Saturday, the remaining members of The Mammals and Barberries will team up to perform at The Highland Inn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three promising bands and a comedic duo raised funds for a good cause

Three new bands and a wacky side project teamed to help a friend in need Saturday at Lenny's at the latest Bobby Ubangi Preservation Society benefit show.

Up first were Double Dynamite, the comedic garage rock duo of Matt from the now-deceased Barberries and Nate from Cars Can Be Blue. The guitar-less duo features Nate on drums and Matt on keys with both men splitting vocal duties. Together, they have a blast as they attempt to start a new craze with "the chicken dance." Was their act absurd at times? Yes, but good natured absurdity is the whole concept behind Double Dynamite.

Nate observed before the show that the band order for the night went from oldest band to newest band, as Double Dynamite have been together a couple of years and the three other bands on the bill all formed in 2008.

The show was then stolen by three bands who debuted in 2008 and look to have a 2009 chock-full of live gigs and studio recordings.

Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction were the first newcomers to grace the stage, and they played a good though shorter than usual set. "$.49 Hot Dog Day" is still the crowd favorite, but "Coke Dick," which they recently recorded with Peter from Gringo Star, is emerging as the band's best song. They also played their simplistic though catchy ode to the Supreme Genius himself, King Khan.

Predator, a straightforward punk three-piece formed from the ashes of Frantic, were next, and they ripped through their growing catalog. This was their first show in a while because Mike and Brannon have been touring Europe with Beat Beat Beat, and the trio picked up where they left off Halloween night. Songs now becoming familiar to Atlanta audiences like "Helicopter" and "Little Prince" highlighted Predator's energetic set.

The Poison Arrows, or Poison Assholes as Tuk put it, closed out the unusually warm December night with yet another shorter than usual yet still rewarding set. Like Predator, The Poison Arrows' songs are becoming familiar with Atlanta audiences. Among those songs are powerpop gems "Shakin' All Over" and "Sticky Situations." Though the band probably came close to smothering under the hot stage lights, they put on their second best gig to date. With a brief tour with The Cute Lepers and Queers on the horizon and multiple 7"s in the works, The Poison Arrows' 2009 may be the most promising of any Atlanta band outside of The Coathangers and Black Lips.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Updated lineup for Saturday's BJ benefit

I just read that Saturday's Bobby Ubangi benefit will feature Double Dynamite (Matt from The now deceased Barberries and Nate from Cars Can Be Blue), Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, The Poison Arrows, and Predator (featuring former members of Beat Beat Beat and Frantic). I had mentioned before that The Coathangers were set to play, but their Myspace does not list any upcoming shows.

Don't be a Douche. Check out one of the Carbonas' best singles.

Artist: The Carbonas
Title: Blackout (Waiting to Happen)
Label: Douchemaster Records
Release date: First came out in 2005

This 7”, made slightly more available a while back by Douchemaster Records, is one of the best to come out of Atlanta this decade and gives listeners a taste of why The Carbonas’ earlier singles are almost impossible to find at a reasonable price.

The title track, “Blackout (Waiting to Happen),” features the best Carbonas lineup (Jesse on bass and Josh on guitar) at its best. Anyone who has seen The Carbonas live since 2004 likely remembers the hardcore-inspired song where the band stops on a dime only to launch right back into the song without missing a beat. The composing of this tune was a key moment in Carbona history, and it sounds every bit as energetic on this 7”.

Both b-side tracks are good though lesser-known tunes. “(Your Love is) Inside Out” is a guitar-driven tune with a catchy, repetitive hook. Maybe it was the sneak-preview of Gentleman Jesse? Seriously, this sped-up powerpop tune is worthy of being sandwiched in between two very good songs.

The final track, “Nostalgia Buff,” is a hidden gem. It’s almost like a rougher-around-the-edges version of the band’s earlier sound (think “Frothing at the Mouth”).

Douchemaster Records still has copies of this one available online. Buy it, or at the very least download the title track off Douchemaster’s website.

Stolen Minks' latest album shows band's growth as songwriters

Artist: The Stolen Minks
Title: High Kicks
Label: New Romance For Kids
Release date: Sept. 16, 2008

On High Kicks, Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Stolen Minks prove that they have come into their own as songwriters, as clever covers have given way to eight well-crafted originals.

The album opens with “Bring It,” which is a fast-paced, autobiographical party-starter that is guaranteed to get your feet moving. Like other songs on the album, this one shows the versatility the band is allowed through their use of three vocalists.

Next is “Northend Strangler,” which, despite its sinister title and opening sample, is packed full of upbeat, keyboard-driven goodness.

“Reflexes” is a standout track because it is totally different than anything on The Stolen Minks’ debut CD or EP. This guitar-driven track and its slightly distorted vocals makes the Minks sound more like a really good Kill Rocks Stars band than a group that does well-played Link Wray covers.

“Get Wet” is another standout which shows off the band’s musical development and the band’s penchant for using all of their vocal talents on the same tune. The song also has a memorable chorus that’s anchored by torrential drumming and a catchy hook.

Up next is the repetitive, mid-tempo tune “Consecutives,” which is the weakest track on the album. When your album's worst track is actually very good when it's not getting compared to single-worthy cuts like "Reflexes," you're doing something right.

Your Broken Heart” and “I Hate You” are good old fashioned punk tunes. The latter is not a Carbonas cover, though the girls are known to play a banging live version of “Lost Cause.” Instead, it’s an energetic, rough-around-the-edges tune which could easily be covered by the Carbonas.

The album wraps up with “Viola Desmond,” which is another out-of-left-field tune that shows the band can still rock out while indulging in a little folksy storytelling.

Before this album came out, The Stolen Minks were already a top-notch band. With these songs added to their growing canon, the all-girl trio is now on par with fellow Canadian girls Vancougar.

The Stolen Minks’ newest release may not have an instant classic about sex with Batman like their first album, but it does have eight kick-ass originals by one of Canada’s finest exports.

For a fun bonus, scope out The Stolen Minks' tour blog, which includes plenty of pictures of cats, dogs, and Chevy Chase worship and an entry about the show they played at The Earl with The Renegades/Black Lips and The Goodnight Loving. In that entry, the band reveals they will be back this spring to play an Atlanta show with New York's Vivian Girls. That will be a can't miss show.

Another star-studded BJ benefit

Saturday at Lenny's, The Coathangers, Poison Arrows, Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, and Double Dynamite are set to play a benefit for Bobby Ubangi. It costs $10, but the proceeds go to a good cause.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas present

There will be a rare Spooks gig Thursday at Eyedrum, and it will be for a good cause. Abby Go Go and two other bands are scheduled to play.

We barely knew ye

This is copy-and-pasted from The Barberries' MySpace page:

The shitty Barberries are officially defunct, but the remaining members (the cool ones) will be debuting with their new band on January 2nd in the living room of the former Barberries headquarters. The band will be called Knoel and the S.S. and will feature Josh Johnson of Pinche Gringo and Nate Mitchell of Cars Can Be Blue. Expect this shit to rock!

Three bands play a fun, and free, show

Knife and the Fourth Ward Daggers' first gig in nearly four months went down Tuesday at Lenny's, as the punk trio shared the bill with messthetic rockers Facehugger and Thee always charismatic Crucials.

Facehugger was up first, and they feature a manic lead singer who often looks like he is having a seizure and a drum machine. It's a shame they do not have a live drummer to replace the latter, but otherwise this band has the right pieces in place. David, the keyboardist from Derek Lyn Plastic, plays the same role in this group, though he got out of his seat a few times to play drums or guitar. Facehugger does not play weird indie-rock. Instead, their sound is closer to weird punk rock like Suicide. That is a good thing, of course.

Knife was next, and his band had a bit of stage-rust to work off at first. Fortunately, the band got better as the show went on, and the last two songs sounded superb. While Knife may have seemed unhappy with the band's performance, the Fourth Ward Daggers' sound had the sparse crowd dancing as if the band was as sharp as they sounded at Tromapalooza.

The last band up was Thee Crucials, who are known for their live energy and charisma. While their music is nothing new, seeing a couple of guys in dress shirts and ties who are willing to run out into the audience while playing so they can solicit high-fives is a bit different than seeing the usual, static throwback band. The band's liveliness grew as the set went on. Their frontman was actually more lively during the last two songs, which included a cover of "A Little Bit 'O Soul," than he was before he had even broke a sweat.

Overall, it was a fun and free concert. Since there was nothing else affordable going on last night, it's a shame there was not a larger crowd.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Knife and company are back!

Knife and the Fourth Ward Daggers will play their first show in months Tuesday at Lenny's along with Thee Crucials and Facehugger. The best part is, it's free. The worst part is The Poison Arrows cancelled, but they'll be playing Lenny's Saturday night along with 7 Inch Atlanta favorites Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction and The Coathangers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Detroit rockers make a strange brew of styles work

Artist: The Terrible Twos
Title: Grey Ghost Street
Label: Italy Records
Release Date: December 2008

On their latest 7”, Grey Ghost Street, Detroit’s Terrible Twos prove to be a strange amalgam of styles.

The title track mixes hardcore and electro-punk with a trace amount of metal, as distorted vocals collide with scorching guitars. It’s as if these guys grew up hearing some of the more famous bands from their town, and they are not afraid to bring all of their musical influences to the table.

If that’s not strange enough, the band has a keyboardist, and he plays a big part in their sound both live and on the record. His contributions, instead of adding a happy dance-worthy element to the band’s sound, actually makes tunes like “Grey Ghost Street” sound sinister, and not in a cheesy horror movie soundtrack kind of way. Think Derek Lyn Plastic or even some of TSOL’s output instead of more upbeat groups like The Coathangers or B-52s.

The flipside opens with a brief, rough-around-the-edges instrumental called “Hang On, I Gotta Do This,” and ends with “Creep Cloud.” The last tune is an angry, straightforward rocker where more than just the vocals sound a little distorted.

There’s too many bands out there trying to re-record old sounds and not enough bands like The Terrible Twos who are willing to take elements from their favorite types of bands and mix them to create a new yet familiar sound.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lots of good news for record collectors

First and foremost, The Black Lips have announced Feb. 24, 2009, as the release date for their next Vice Records album, 200 Million Thousand.

Also, Full Breach Kicks announced today that three new singles are available for pre-order.

Atlanta's Poison Arrows first 7", "Sticky Situations," is coming soon and the first 100 copies are on gold vinyl. This one will feature gold-worthy tracks "Sticky Situations," "Shakin' All Over," and "Wild Hearts Beat Free." This is the first of several upcoming releases by one of Atlanta's best new acts.

Josh Martin from The Carbonas and Beat Beat Beat is in a new band called Ex-Humans, and their debut 7", "Chicane," is also available for pre-order from Full Breach Kicks. This band also has ties to the fantastic Star Spangles. The b-side is a tune called "Detector." The first 100 copies are on Coke bottle-colored vinyl.

Plexi 3, Milwaukee's best pop trio, will follow up two of the best 7"s in recent memory, including this year's "We Know Better," with their Full Breach Kicks debut, "Timebox." The Full Breach Kicks Website describes the new tune as "a catchy pop take on screwed up humanity." The flipside will be another potential pop classic in "What Love is For." The first 100 are on clear vinyl.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Farewell show featured five solid acts

A concert featuring two promising new groups, some eclectic out-of-towners and two of Atlanta's best bands lived up to the hype Monday, as Bukkake Boys, Poison Arrows, Terrible Twos, Gentleman Jesse and Beat Beat Beat put on a show at the Drunken Unicorn which was worth well more than the $5 cost of admission.

The Bukkake Boys were up first, and they ripped through their set like a tropical storm. They only played for about eight minutes, but since they are a hardcore band that means they had time to play five or six songs. The sparse audience enjoyed it, though only two people were animated enough to stand front-and-center and feed off the band's energy.

Up second was Detroit's The Terrible Twos. Though the audience did not seem to latch onto these guys, they put on a good, and very different, show. The group could be labeled hardcore, though their keyboardist plays a prominent role in their sound. There is also an unexpected and refreshing taste of metal influence in their music. Hearing how these influences come across on the band's new 7" should be interesting.

The Poison Arrows then took the night to another level, as they played the best of their four gigs. Anchored by solid tunes like "Shakin All Over," the band did what they needed to do-- they improved shortcomings from their first shows and built on their strong points. Hopefully, The Poison Arrows will be a tight unit by the beginning of 2009, since they have several 7"s and a tour with the Queers and Cute Lepers on the horizon.

So far, The Poison Arrows sound like a mix between The Exploding Hearts and Slade, but do not be surprised if their punk rock influences begin to show.

Gentleman Jesse and His Men were next-to-last, and they played the best set of the night. Singalong classics from their debut 7" and tunes from the album of the year were on the set list, as expected. One surprise, though, was a performance of "Christmas Hangover" from Die Slaughterhaus' Seasonal Seven Inch. Not since Run DMC or Pansy Division has someone cut a better "Christmas song for people who hate Christmas songs," and it came across well live.

Beat Beat Beat closed the night with what may have been their last show. That's been said about the band at least three times now, so it would not be unfair to say they've made more comebacks than James Brown after he put his cape on.

Seriously, the band got off to a slow start due to some technical issues, but once they got their act together they put on the solid show they likely played in shitty European bars throughout November.

The band played most of the songs in their repertoire, including a new tune and classics like "Sick Sad World" and "Eyeballs Jones." Toward the end of the set, they played an energetic and memorable rendition of "Leave Me Out" as Josh Martin reminded his former hometown that he is a brilliant frontman.

If Beat Beat Beat is done permanently, or at least for the time being, they have nothing to be ashamed of when they look back on a legacy that includes a sold-out single, a tremendous album, a European tour and numerous memorable shows in front of their Atlanta friends.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tonight is the night of an anticipated show

I expect Beat Beat Beat to be a tight unit after playing a slew of shows together in Europe.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Punk rock advent calendar with free songs

For those of us who normally hate Christmas songs:


Four bands celebrate Juggz' 30th birthday

Four bands with ties to Die Slaughterhaus Records threw Jessica Juggz an exciting 30th birthday party Thursday at the Clermont Lounge.

First up was Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, featuring Juggz on drums. The band was playing their second birthday celebration in as many shows (Morgan's birthday was celebrated at the infamous Barberrie house show). There was less cake-smearing (that came later in the night) and a better set than the band's previous outing as they played all of their songs, including their ode to King Khan. As the band played, the Clermont's infamous dancers got to do interpretive dances to songs like "$.49 Hot Dog Day." That alone made this a memorable set.

Coffin Bound, one of the most unique and under-appreciated bands in Atlanta, was next. They got off to a shaky start on their first song before quickly adjusting and putting on arguably the best set of the night. As always, Coffin Bound sounded like a mix between garage rock, punk, blues and Southern rock with a little Alice Cooper sprinkled in (if just saying they sound like The Exploding Hearts or early Rolling Stones would suffice, that'd be boring).

The Coathangers, the obvious choice to play a birthday party since they usually bring balloons and party favors, played third and continued to wow Atlanta with their newest songs. The Suicide Squeeze album which will likely include some of these new songs like "Getting Mad and Pumping Iron" and "Cheap, Cheap" should be as anticipated as the next Black Lips album. Old favorites like "Tonya Harding" and "Don't Touch My Shit" were also played during a typical (in a good way), energetic Coathangers set.

Finally, Juggz returned to the stage as frontwoman of her hard rock outfit, Mourdella. They put on a good show which got as much reaction from bar patrons as it did from the usual concert goers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Video from the first-ever Poison Arrows gig

Here's a video of The Poison Arrows' historic first gig Oct. 25 at the Doo Gallery. I'm at work right now, so there's no telling if the sound quality is up to snuff.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One of their newest and best should get you pumped up for Thursday night

Here's a video of The Coathangers playing one of their newer songs. The band's newer songs are some of their best songs, so their upcoming Suicide Squeeze LP/CD should be one of the early musical highlights of 2009. Catch The Coathangers tomorrow night when they play with Mourdella, Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, and Coffin Bound at the Clermont.

If King Khan is a Baby Dinosaur, we should all strive to be one.

Here's the poster for Thursday's birthday party/concert. If there was a video game where you had to book an Atlanta venue without going broke or getting The Black Lips to play under a different name, I'd totally line up these four bands.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A full night of punk rock, alcohol, and rare records

The East Atlanta Icehouse will host a special event, "A Punka Punka Burning Love," Friday which will feature 10 punk bands and a rare records and merchandise booth.

Among the bands scheduled are Atlanta acts Chet Knight and the No Disciples (featuring the longtime member of The Templars and APA and the Icehouse's booking manager), Tendaberry, Unemployed Gurus, The Intoxicated and We Don't Stop.

In addition, touring punk bands Independent Progress (Minneapolis) and Amish Electric Chair (Athens, Ohio) are on the bill.

I'm not sure who The Remingtons are, but Friday will be a good chance to find out since they'll be playing with The Misfits next Tuesday night at the Masquerade (as will Courtesy Murder and We Don't Stop). Tragic Truth is also an unknown, but you never know when a band might go from being a no name to a new favorite.

The show is free if you have a ticket for the Murphy's Law gig Saturday at the Masquerade. Otherwise, the show costs $8 at the door.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Straightforward, catchy tunes by an Atlanta mainstay

Artist: Bobby and the Soft Spots
Title: Can’t Get Her Off
Label: Rob’s House and Die Slaughterhaus
Release date: November 2008

Two of Atlanta’s top labels teamed up to make this, the latest release by Bobby Ubangi, a reality.

Ubangi, a founding member of both The Carbonas and The Lids, provides vocals on two lo-fi tunes and is backed by Trey from Rob’s House on guitar, Mark from Die Slaugtherhaus on bass and Beat Beat Beat’s Stephen on tambourine and Mike on drums.

The title track, “Can’t Get Her Off,” is a catchy tune with straightforward lyrics that is played at breakneck speed. If you are tired of everyone being all nice and powerpop, give this song a few spins.

“I Don’t Need You” is a slower, guitar-driven tune that sounds like it could have been plucked from a session with Bobby’s other band, Blade II.

This 7” is definitely worth picking up if you dig either version of The Gaye Blades (Bobby’s band with Jared from The Black Lips). Proceeds from record sales will benefit Bobby, since he is currently battling cancer.

Birthday bash this Thursday

This Thursday at the Clermont Lounge, four top Atlanta bands will play Jessica Juggz' birthday extravaganza. Both of Jessica's bands, Mourdella and Baby Dinosaurs vs. Extinction, will share the stage with Die Slaughterhaus brethren Coffin Bound and party-starting extraordinaires The Coathangers. If the well-seasoned dancers don't excite you, the music will.