We’re Not Here to Entertain: Punk rock, Ronald Reagan, and the real culture war of 1980s America

The specter of nuclear annihilation that hung over the Reagan era feels somewhat quaint now, in light of just how much President Trump’s draconian administration, the global pandemic, and the oppressive grind of social media have twisted up the American psyche circa 2020. Still, the 1980s were a fertile time for punk rock’s cultural growth on American soil.

In We’re Not Here to Entertain: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of 1980s America, author and Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University Kevin Mattson delves into the golden era of hardcore, punk and DIY culture blooming in the shadow of the Gipper. Countering the oppressive forces of a conservative White House regime, a community bound by the music of groups such as the Dead Kennedys, the Dils, Minor Threat, the Avengers, Hüsker Dü, Bad Brains, Black Flag, and more was compelled to enact empowering social change that still resonates around the planet.

On Tuesday, September 29, Mattson will join GSU history professor and author John McMillian (Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, Beatles vs. Stones) and yours truly, music writer and editor Chad Radford, to discuss the book, the music, and more.

Tues., Sept. 29. 7 p.m. It’s free to sign in for our Zoom conversation. Head over to www.acappellabooks.com for details.

Video premiere: Hip To Death’s ‘Burning Heart’

HIP TO DEATH: Photo by Daniel Vasquez


To herald the arrival of the autumn equinox, Hip To Death has unleashed a new video for “Burning Heart,” the first single and video from the group’s second proper album, TMI America. “Burning Heart” is a fiery and noirish affair, steeped in texture. The triple threat guitar assault from John, Kasey, and James Breedlove is thick with time-stretching distortion, billowing around a searing lyrical mantra: “This burning heart’s for you. Our love will always be this true. Cut my leather skin. Waste my weathered skin.”

Drummer Mike Pazdzinski and bass player Todd Caras drive the song forward with tight, constrictive rhythms.

The album was recorded on a 4-Track in husband and wife John and Kasey’s home in Roswell, GA. Later, the tracks were mixed and mastered by the Athens-based Leeds U.K. transplant Tom Ashton of gothic post-punk luminaries the March Violets. Ashton runs SubVon Studio in Athens, GA, and his touch rings loud and clear with “Burning Heart.” Each grinding moment unfolds with a stylishly murky traipse that evokes the sounds and vision of mid-’80s U.K. goth, while embracing the dark and aggressive immediacy of the here and now.

“We were definitely going for a different kind of sound on this record,” John says. “It all seemed to come naturally, though. I’d been a fan of the March Violets for a while, and I really loved the work he did with them. His guitar work on “Snake Dance” is rad, along with everything else they did. I learned from our good friend Trey Ehart from the band Entertainment that Tom was in Athens. I talked to Tom over the phone for an hour or so, and I instantly took a liking to his attitude. We vibed right from the get go—he’s a super positive dude. I hired him just to master the album, but he dug the songs so damn much that he ended up putting his touch on it and mixing and mastering the whole album. We all love what he did. He really listened to what we were going for, and he killed it!”

The video was directed by Kasey Breedlove, and features a cameo from Atlanta-based photographer, art teacher, and model Rose Riot. Press play and zone out.

TMI America is available now on Die Indy Records.

Kevn Kinney’s ‘Free Parking’ live on Facebook Friday, September 18

On Friday, September 18, Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin is playing a short, five-song set for his monthly “Free Parking” live-streaming sets on Facebook. Kevn will play some Drivin N Cryin classics and deep cuts along with some newer numbers he’s written. He’ll tell stories, tell jokes, and he might even offer up a few cover tunes. It’s a pay-what-you’d-like affair. Tune in from 8-11 p.m. … Before Zuckerberg takes away live-streaming performances.

In the meantime, press play below to hear Chad Radford’s April 2019 podcast interview in which Kinney talks about reconnecting with Drivin N Cryin’s first LP, the group’s most recent album, Live the Love Beautiful, and looking within himself to find true happiness.

Faye Webster: ‘Better Distractions’

Faye Webster is back with a new single, titled “Better Distractions.” The song was recorded at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, and produced by long-time cohort and engineer Drew Vandenberg. It’s also Webster’s first offering since her 2019 album, Atlanta Millionaires Club (Secretly Canadian), and the single, titled “In A Good Way.”

The “Better Distractions” video is courtesy of Matt Swinsky and Eat Humans.

Drifting through lyrics such as: “Got two friends that I could see, but they got two jobs and a baby. I just want to see you,” the song builds on Webster’s signature lush and melancholy indie rock delivery.

“I wrote this song kinda without knowing I was writing it,” Webster said in a press release. “It’s a kind of free association, just thoughts running straight from my head onto paper untouched. I also think it’s [the] best my band has ever sounded on record.”

On Tuesday, October 6, Webster and her band , featuring pedal steel player Matt ‘Pistol’ Stoessel, drummer Harold Brown, bass player Bryan Howard, and keyboard player Nick Rosen are playing together for the first time in 2020 at Chase Park Transduction. The show is streaming live via Noonchorus, and will be rebroadcast for the following 48 hours.. $12 (+fees). 9 p.m.  Buy tickets.

The Pinx: ‘Electric!’ EP


Press play on “Victimless Crime,” the opening number from the Pinx’s Electric! EP, and guitarists Adam McIntyre and Chance McColl invoke the light, sweet atmosphere of Big Star’s #1 Record—a jangling alternative to the Southern rock clichés that typically lord over riffs of such magnitude.

“Hammer of the Dogs” is the standout cut here. The song’s boogie melodies, backed by bass player Charles Wiles and drummer Cayce Buttrey’s sturdy rhythms, push McIntyre’s voice to psychedelic heights. Amid such strutting blasts of heavy rock ‘n’ roll, “Hammer of the Dogs” brings anthemic hooks to the mix, propelling the energy of the rest of the EP’s songs: “Bad Behavior,” “It’s Electric,” and “See You Later.”

The ghosts of early Van Halen riffs haunt Electric!’s latter half, laying the foundation for the pure elation in lyrics such as “I trace the power line from your spine down to your heel. Lightning to ground is what I feel! All my life I’ve always wondered what’s in store. It is your touch that makes me heal” in “It’s Electric.” It’s a fitting thesis for a hard rock EP in 2020, and a soundtrack for going walkabout in the wilds of rural Georgia, where having a fist-raising good time and attaining spiritual enlightenment are one in the same.

The five songs on Electric! power forward with anthemic pop hooks like thoughtful kin to ‘80s hair metal, but without the raunch, existing out of time and completely in their own context. This translates into earnest depth, as each song could be a stand-alone single. There isn’t a whole lot of variety going on from song to song, but that’s kind of the point. These songs find the Pinx reveling in the blue-eyed instincts of accomplished musicians embracing rock ’n’ roll bravado without a hint of pretension or self-consciousness. The songs are primal, reeling with distortion and spiraling energy, giving each player room to run wild. And run wild they do.

Need more of the Pinx in your life? The group’s entire discography is now available via www.thepinxrock.com/music.

Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf: ‘Big Other’


RadATL has big things in the works with Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf‘s latest LP, Big Other. The album features four pieces that are bursting at the seams with droning beauty, anxiety, texture, and ambiance. Like author James Joyce’s 1939 modern fiction classic Fennigans Wake, every note and every nuance heard throughout the record contains the gravity of the entirety of the work.

Big Other features contributions from Jarboe (SWANS), Atlanta’s James Joyce (Cheifs, Noot ‘d Noot, Car Vs. Driver), Shannon Mulvaney (Maganpop, Anna Kramer, Clobber), Brian Halloran (Smoke, W8ing4UFOs), Billy Fields (Follow For Now, Dionne Farris, W8ing4UFOs), and Xander Cook, with liner notes by author Blake Butler.

Keep an eye out here for more coming soon!

Mastodon: ‘Fallen Torches’

Mastodon‘s latest single, “Fallen Torches,” is a longtime staple of the group’s repertoire, but has remained unreleased until now. The song—one of the first recordings made in the Mastodon-run Ember City Rehearsal Studios in Atlanta’s Capitol View neighborhood—is the opening number on Medium Rarities, a 16-song compilation gathering odds and ends from the past 20 years of the group’s history—7-inch singles, “White Walker” from the Game of Thrones soundtrack, instrumental outtakes, and various live recordings including a scorching rendition of Metallica’s “Orion.”

“Fallen Torches” also features a guest vocal growl courtesy of Scott Kelly of Neurosis. True to Mastodon form, the song could embody the perfect metaphor for American politics, the global climate crisis, human interaction eroding in the face of the internet … Or not. When taken at face value “Fallen Torches” is a white-hot neckbreaker driven by mammoth riffs and rhythms that rival the almighty white whale behind Mastodon’s classic 2004 LP Leviathan. Meaning lies in the ears of the beholder, albeit quite ferocious.

Medium Rarities is out September 11 via Reprise Records. In the meantime, check out another brand new Mastodon scorcher, “Rufus Lives,” which appears on the Bill & Ted Face The Music soundtrack.

Medium Rarities photo courtesy Reprise Records

Bernadette Seacrest and Kris Dale at Waller’s Coffee Shop Friday, September 18

Kris Dale (left) & Bernadette Seacrest. Photo by Chris Beat.

Torch singer Bernadette Seacrest and bass player Kris Dale bring an evening of jazz, Americana, rockabilly, and country-punk numbers to Waller’s Coffee Shop’s “Outer Space Concerts.” $20 (pre-sale only, no walk-ups). Friday, September 18. Music from 7-9 p.m.

As with any public gathering taking place amid the ongoing pandemic there are some basic rules that apply:
 — Contact-free temperature checks upon arrival
— Keep your mask on while moving around (walking to the bar or to the indoor restrooms, et al). Masks can be removed while you’re seated in your area.

Waller’s Coffee Shop, 240 Dekalb Industrial Way, Decatur. Check out the Facebook event page for more up-to-date information regarding the show.

Music in the Woods feat. DfTaLS and George Trotter, Grady Cousins, and Neil Fried Saturday, September 19

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel. Photo by Brandon English.

Scott Burland and Frank Schultz, aka Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel, headline an evening of droning ambiance on the lawn at Railroad Earth near the Emory Village. Guitar player and video artist George Trotter teams up with Grady Cousins and Neil Fried to open the show.

It’s free to attend, but donations for the artists and venue are encouraged. Music starts at 8 p.m. Bring a beverage, bring a lawn chair, and bring a mask! Railroad Earth, 1467 Oxford Rd NE.

In the meantime, check out DfTaLS’ latest release, Halocline.