Why write a book about Atlanta record stores? The truth is that you get a singularly unique perspective on a city’s history, its culture, and its personality when viewed through the lens of a record store’s front window. I have often said that if you want to understand a society or a culture, just take a look at its pop culture, and music has always remained right there on the frontlines.
Atlanta is world-renowned as a hip-hop mecca, but a rich underground rock scene has been thriving here for decades. The hub of that world is the city’s record stores. Featuring decades-old institutions to shops that existed just long enough to leave an impact, Atlanta Record Stores is a rock-centric take on a hip-hop town, unfurling the secret history of music underdogs—outliers living among outliers—telling their stories in their native tongue. From Jarboe of SWANS to William DuVall of Alice in Chains and Neon Christ to Kelly Hogan, Gentleman Jesse Smith, Atlanta Braves organist Matthew Kaminski, and those surly characters behind the counter at Wuxtry, Wax ‘n’ Facts, Criminal, Ella Guru, Fantasyland, and more, all were drawn by the irresistible lure of vinyl records—all found their communities and their own identities, leaving an indelible mark on the culture of Atlanta.
Click below to pre-order your copy of Atlanta Record Stores: An Oral History. $23.99 (postage paid).
Ask Dan Melchior about the underlying narratives that play out in his records and he’ll say he doesn’t pay much attention to them. They reveal themselves in ways that are personal to the listener. He simply goes where they lead him.
A lot has come to pass in Melchior’s life over the last few years. He made a cross-country move from his longtime home in Carrboro, NC to the greener pastures of Austin, Texas. He has embarked on a brand new relationship, and … oh … there was a global pandemic that shut down the whole world for a couple of years. It’s difficult not to try connecting the dots when listening to his latest album, Welcome To Redacted City, Melchior’s third release with the Atlanta-based label Midnight Cruiser Records.
Songs such as “Going Outside,” “The Right Influencer,” “Incel Country,” and “Voyager” find the U.K. born, U.S. transplant singing and playing guitar through 21 honest-to-goodness songs backed by a full band. The lineup featured throughout the album includes bass player Chris Girard, keyboard player Anthony Allman, and drummer Clark Blomquist yielding a cohesive live band feel that’s aligned with Melchior’s earlier recordings with his Broke Revue band, and much of his older releases for In The Red Records. Garage punk, loads of distortion, and exquisite melodies careen with a poetic and renewed vigor here, each element underscoring an album that is decidedly of the times.
Each song navigates a maze of modern dilemmas, viewed through the T.V. and computer screens as the world goes to hell. But Melchior channels his anxieties into these uplifting numbers that sit right alongside personal disasters and triumphs—the kinds of things that one obsesses over while living in isolation. The driving bass in “Voyager” and the ominous voice in “No Culture” spouting, “It’s a no culture zone but you can never go home, ’cause they’ve got you hooked on the sex and sunshine,” expand upon any and all expectation. Melchior’s words carry just as much weight as the low distorted rumble of the music.
Jumping from captivating melodies into bluesy punk-inflected chargers, the dots start to connect themselves in Redacted City, giving rise to an album steeped in menace and delight, paranoia and confidence.
In the meantime, a video for the EP’s title track teases out the group’s feral garage-punk charge, as co-founders vocalist Valeria Sanchez and guitar player José Rivera are joined by bass player Paul Hernandez, and drummer Sam Adams.
Check out the scene for a backyard blowout at local punk, hardcore, and headbanger hangout, The Catacombs.
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Ideal Conditions is an indie rock album that’s rife with layers of sonic textures, all distilled to a point of perfection, or at least Andrew Wiggins’ vision of what perfection should be for Thousandaire’s sound. “I think it all comes back to consistency,” he says over the phone while traveling from Baltimore to Philadelphia to play a show just a few days before releasing Ideal Conditions, the group’s second full-length recording.
It’s the definitive statement so far of Thousandaire’s musical DNA and the vocational drive that Wiggins has spent a lifetime honing, while maintaining control over every aspect of the music.
Wiggins is the vocalist, guitar player, and principal songwriter for Thousandaire. He is also the majordomo overseeing all creative and technical facets of the band in pretty much every situation imaginable.
In conversation, he offers a recent revelation that he’s had about leading the group, which includes bass player Chad LeBlanc and drummer Tom Bruno, while traveling up the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic states for this latest round of touring.
“We play the same, we sound the same, and we have the same amount of fun no matter what,” he says. “We’ve played in front of a hundred people and we’ve played in front of five people on this tour. We’ve played with everything mic’d up, and we’ve played with the most minimal set up, from a vocal PA in a tiny dive bar to setting up in a record store with a portable PA, and we’ve played with the same intensity. Despite these variables, it sounds just as good in any situation. That is very intentional for us,” he adds. “I have worked really hard to make that, and I didn’t want the record to be any different.”
Of course, Wiggins is pulling from decades of experience that encapsulate everything from playing and touring with a range of bands, including math rock outfit Blame Game and noisy post-punk groups HAWKS and Wymyns Prysyn. He has also spent time composing noise with his solo project Caesium Mine. Wiggins has also spent years doing live sound and mixing touring bands in venues including the Earl and 529. He also spends most of his days building fuzz pedals and repairing vintage guitars and amps at his self-run Moreland Magnetics business. “All of that experience goes into making this worthwhile for the 30 minutes we’re playing music,” he says.
Press play on Ideal Conditions and the opening number “No Good” channels an intense live band vibe, taking cues from like minded ‘90s rock acts such as Silkworm, Chavez, Dinosaur Jr., and the Meat Puppets. Asymmetrical guitar solos and fugue-like moments in rhythm take shape amid songs such as “Promise” and “Coward,” and in an older number, titled “Sgt. Billy.” Throughout each one of these numbers, extended compositions blend layered walls of sound and lyrics that are often contemplative, self-conscious, and always heartfelt.
Even at their most melodic and briskly paced moments, Thousandaire’s songs feel haunted and disquieted. Much of the inspiration behind the group’s self-titled 2020 debut album was sparked by Wiggins embracing a freshly sober lifestyle after years of consumption. Ideal Conditions reaches beyond the previous album’s blueprint as Wiggins tightens his focus on the art of crafting the music itself.
“Thousandaire was probably the best creative outlet for me to get out a lot of what I was feeling at the time, whether that was intentional or not,” he says. “I don’t need to get really personal in my songs. I have a therapist,” he laughs. “I don’t really need to use music as therapy, and all of my lyrics are hypothetical. But it is a vibe that I can’t really avoid. On the new record, there’s a little bit less of that. Time has put some distance between me and those feelings.”
In more recent years, lyrics have moved closer to the forefront of Wiggins’ mind as he has continued writing songs. The strength of the sound, the songs, the performances that keep him truly and naturally motivated.
“I used to get really frustrated about writing lyrics until one day, I was talking about it with our old drummer Adam Weisberg, after he’d moved to New York,” Wiggins recalls. “Both of us are fans of Cass McCombs, and Adam said, ‘I bet that dude gets out of bed every morning and writes lyrics all day long, whereas you get up and make fuzz pedals all day. So don’t worry about it so much, you’ve got other stuff going,” Wiggins laughs.
The raw and serrated tones and distortion of songs such as “Bar Song,” “Your Gold Teeth III,” and Ideal Conditions’ title track are instantly arresting, drawing strength from each one of their respectively visceral and emotionally stirring melodies.
“I listen to a lot of records, and I think what’s best for what I want is both consistency and intimacy,” he says. “We recorded this record as live as possible, and I want to put the listener in the room with these songs, instead of putting the listener in a balcony seat in a huge 2000-person arena where there’s a symphony that has all kinds of bells and whistles going on. There’s something to be said about those kinds of records, but it’s just not Thousandaires’ vibe.”
Wiggins owns all of the gear the band uses. He’s worked closely with drummer Bruno and bass player LeBlanc to customize each of their instruments’ singularly abrasive snarls.
Damon Moon at Standard Electric Recorders in Avondale Estates also worked closely with Wiggins to summon and recreate the sounds that Wiggins had stuck in his head, and to carve them out into real-world songs.
In this process, it’s the ability to adapt that sets Thousandaire apart.
“It’s the way we set up the equipment, the way everything sounds, the way we interact with whoever is doing sound. To me, it’s all about eliminating variables and stuff that you can’t control. If you get used to not having all the bells and whistles, like if all we did was play Terminal West where we have a huge production and a top line sound system, and then go play some record store, dive bar, or something where everything isn’t necessarily up to spec. If you can’t play your songs the same way that you play them on a big stage, then you fail.”
This extends to capturing the group’s sound on vinyl, or in the case of their latest offering, it’s on cassette. And what you hear is the culmination of Thousandaire playing under ideal conditions.
“Think About It.” It’s a simple, evocative phrase with the potential to mean just about anything that anyone can project onto the words. Is it meant as a cautionary tale? A prompt to let wisdom from experience sink in? Or is it simply the act of being left alone with one’s thoughts, looking back on a life in songs.
The title for Kevn Kinney’s 10th solo album is only the doorway into a collection of songs that move at a dreamlike pace. Sink a needle into the album’s pearly white-vinyl grooves and the atmosphere grows thick with internal dialogue, self-effacing humor, and lonesome ruminations. For this latest offering, Kinney embraced the solitude of life under quarantine conditions to summon a deeply personal album. Melancholy wit and memories collide in layers of rich string and piano arrangements that coalesce in songs with titles such as “Catching Up To Myself,” “Stop, Look, Listen, Think,” and “Half Mast.”
The A side favors primarily acoustic performances with jazz and folk leanings. Laur Joamets’ longing pedal steel in “Catching Up To Myself” and “Wishes” are matched with David Barbe’s production, which wholly ties together the album’s glowing and introspective tone.
In the opening title track, Kinney slows down the pace to in a devilish aside: “Ask yourself, should I? Could I?” His questions paint an image that hangs in the air long after the album has stopped spinning. It could be an internal narrative coming from the perspective of a beloved family dog who’s eyeballing a piece of food on the kitchen counter. Or it could be an existential quandary between two folks sitting next to each other at a bar, about to make a bad decision. Whatever the case may be, all are mile markers on the road to determining one’s place in the world, and the answers never come easily.
Throughout the album, a coterie of Georgia music royalty, including Peter Buck and Bill Berry (R.E.M.), Laur Joamets (Sturgill Simpson, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’), Brad Morgan (Drive-By Truckers), bass player extraordinaire Kevin Scott, and more play with subtlety and nuance. Their presence on the record demonstrates Kinney’s impeccable taste in selecting sidemen. Peter Buck plays his original R.E.M. 12-string Rickenbacker throughout the album’s B side, picking up a jangle-rock pace. But it’s Kinney’s poetic, lyrical portraits of the situations and the people he’s encountered along the way that bring the music to life. Kinney has long lived something of a troubadour lifestyle, both as a solo artist and performer and while singing and playing guitar with Drivin’ N Cryin.’ His experiences crown the 11 songs that make up Think About It. Each number emerges from a seemingly bottomless wellspring of memories of navigating long drives on the road and the kind of barroom conversations that take place between the soundcheck and showtime.
There is a veiled autobiographical tone swaying between the somber frustrations of “Wishes,” “Half Mast” and the album’s closer, a Southern take on an Irish a cappella ballad called “Never The Twain Shall Meet.” The closing number absolutely pulls the air out of the room. But it’s the sly and confident swing of “Shapeshifter Grifter” that is the heart and soul of Think About It. As the song’s spoken word jazz musings unfold it’s clear that this is the catchiest tribute to Sun Ra, Howlin’ Wolf, and Col. Bruce Hampton the world has witnessed yet. “Think of a number between one and a hundred!” All the answers lie within.
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In December of 2022, the passing of baritone saxophonist Bill Nittler left a hole in the heart of Atlanta’s extended musical family.
As a tribute, his former Edgewood Saxophone Trio bandmates Jeff Crompton (alto) and Ben Davis (tenor) have launched a Gofundme campaign to release the group’s second full-length album, Heard.
Over the years, Nittler served as the Education Director for the Atlanta Young Singers youth choir. He also played a vital role performing with various jazz-based ensembles including Kingsized, Greasepaint, Nuzion Big Band, Lie And Swell, the 4th Ward Afro Klezmer Orchestra, Shaking Ray Levis, and more. He performed with Southern Culture on the Skids, and was known for crafting a bustling ska arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight” and an avant-garde take on the Butthole Surfers’ already twisted number “Cherub.”
Heard is the follow up to the Edgewood Sax Trio’s 2014 debut, Snake Nation, and marks the group’s final offering, which is expected to arrive this summer.
“I spent hours editing the existing studio material for side one of the LP,” says alto saxophonist and EST co-founder Jeff Crompton. “Some high-quality recordings from a live broadcast on Atlanta radio station WREK provided three of the tracks on side two. The final track is a special one—a live recording from our favorite gig ever: a 2015 concert at Atlanta’s Trinity House. The recordings have been expertly mastered by Chris Griffin of Griffin Mastering.”
What at first feels like irony quickly fades as Upchuck’s vocalist and frontwoman KT and guitar player Mikey, laugh while explaining how spending time on the road with Melbourne’s garage punk provocateurs Amyl & the Sniffers instilled in them a sense of discipline.
“It’s true,” Mikey says. “We learned a lot from them in terms of professionalism and staying on point just by watching how they put on shows from the business end of things. We learned what it’s like playing bigger venues, how production goes, and how important it is that we show up on time.”
KT agrees, adding, “It really is a whole different game. You have to make some serious decisions if you’re going to keep stepping it up. How far do you want to take this? I learned there’s a balance between how lit do you want to get each night before you go on stage and how much do you want to deliver. I learned that there can be a natural, kinetic energy between peeps when you are on tour together, and that we can learn from each other.”
Both Mikey and KT’s voices collide, clipping each other out during a Zoom interview. Shaky connections stutter, freeze, and leap back to life—Mikey is in his car, holding his phone in his lap while driving home after a day spent working on the set of a new Exorcist film. KT keeps her phone in her hand while wandering in and out of darkened rooms in her home. For brief, fleeting moments the image of her face emerges from the glowing contrasts of the computer screen only to disappear again back into the inky darkness for the duration of our conversation. But she never misses a beat while talking, cracking herself up, laughing at her own answers, despite her sincerity. Then, a chime and another voice joins the Zoom, second guitar player Hoff announces his presence, by explaining that he’s dialing into our Zoom chat from work. “I’m listening, and I’ll might have some input here and there, but I’m running up and down stairs,” he says.
Chaos rules Upchuck—at least when viewed from the outside—following the example of their outrageous Aussie compatriots Amyl and the Sniffers, who’s early single “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)” barked the song’s title as a primordial battle cry. Later, the same group closed out their second and most recent album, 2021’s Comfort To Me, with a song titled “Snakes,” in which singer Amy Taylor declares in her banshee howl, “Worked at the IGA, now I’mma famous cunt.”
For now, though, Upchuck’s members still punch a clock. All of this comes into perspective when parsing out the group’s hard, fast rise amid Atlanta’s disjointed, pre-pandemic local music scene.
The group came out of the gate strong in 2018, packing out DIY venues such as the Bakery’s original Warner Street location near the Adair Park and Oakland City neighborhoods, and the Drunken Unicorn on Ponce de Leon Avenue, with wall-to-wall mosh pits that sent bodies flying through the air like missiles.
The album was two years in the making, and arrived bearing a vibrant image of KT, screaming into a microphone with blood oozing down the sides of her face and hands. It is an instantly arresting image, captured by photographer Nathan Davenport, and shot only seconds apart from Marlon Garcia’s image on the cover of the group’s “Upchuck” b/w “In Your Mind” 7-inch single. It’s a pic that has become synonymous with the group’s fun and feral energy. The whirlwind of fury kicked up during their live shows as the group tore through early songs bearing titles such as “Shakin,’” “Wage of War,” and Upchuck’s fiery self-titled anthem captured the attention of everyone from the local hardcore scene to dispassionate indie rockers and beer-swilling college kids from all walks of life.
Sense Yourself is an album that’s teeming with the sounds of swaggering danger and youthful abandon, all embodying a deeply ingrained sense of innocence. It’s a celebration of intensity that reaches a fever pitch while traversing a shared, collective experience for listeners, a seemingly insurmountable task in the modern era.
Other songs such as “Boss Up,” “In Your Mind,” “Our Skin,” and “Facecard” coalesce around a forward-leaning momentum that has kept the group forging confidently ahead this year, all the while bolstering the spirit of Atlanta’s young, underground rock music scene onto the national and international radar. If ever there was a candidate for Atlanta’s 2022 album of the year, Sense Yourself is it, its thunderous rhythms reaching larger crowds from coast to coast nearly every day since it arrived. The album’s searing energy is matched only by its bounding urgency fueled by equal parts contempt for a broken society and camaraderie within the band’s ranks.
“These boys are my family, and Mikey is literally like my big bro,” KT laughs. “We all love each other unconditionally, and my POV is that this will never change. Someone would literally have to do something crazy to bring that to an end, but that will never happen because we’re all cool beings and we value each other so much.”
Aesthetically speaking, there is no realm that Upchuck does not touch. KT (Kaila Thompson), Mikey (“Spuzz Dangus”), Hoff, bass player Armando Arrieta, and drummer Chris Salado’ songs are driven by a defiantly creative blend of post-punk, hip-hop, and indie rock energy that’s channeled through a haze of distortion.
They prefer to identify themselves only by their first names, and to the ire of promoters around the country, the group’s social media presence is kept to a bare minimum. Upchuck has no Facebook page. No Twitter, and no Tik Tok. Just an Instagram account that allows them to project just enough about themselves to remain compelling to those who are genuinely interested in the music, and their numbers are growing.
“The songs are always changing when we play them live,” Mikey says. “Maybe it’s that the rhythm is different, or we’ll cut it short in a certain way. Change up the lyrics. Even the old songs we change up to keep things fresh—keep things from getting boring.”
KT continues his thought, adding that the changes are always unspoken. “Communication with us all has literally come down to just a look. We’ll all look at each other, and it’s like, ‘Aight, I know exactly what you’re saying.’ We all know what to do.”
“Hoff adds that he and Mikey have been jamming together since pre-Upchuck days, and developed the group’s shared musical instincts together. “We practiced the songs that we had for six months before we even played a show with them, so we kind of already know what to anticipate when we go into a song.”
This kind of interaction between band members during practice is one thing, but expounding upon that in front of a crowd of hundreds of people or more is something different. But it’s an instinct that the group’s members have continuously honed. “I feel like if that kind of energy and communication doesn’t happen during practice, it definitely won’t happen on stage.”
That energy translates across the board. “Perdido,” is sung entirely in Spanish by drummer Chris, and builds energy around the phrase: “Hago lo que quiero”—”I do what I want.”
The album’s title track also carries the explosive energy to a new level. The quick intro catches audiences off guard, as the rooms they play visibly come alive based on the riff alone. “That’s definitely by design,” Hoff says.
One of the album’s more introspective numbers, “Facecard,” finds KT taking on the superficiality of modern America: “The trifling yuppie fuck, comes out beyond the cut to try and low ball, low ball,” KT sings.
“It’s always on the setlist and it’s definitely a breather for me,” she adds. “It’s also one of those tracks where people hear the riff and start reacting immediately.”
The connection with Amyl and the Sniffers was born in July of 2019. The group was coming to the States and had booked a show at The Earl. Upchuck’s manager Randy Castello of the Tight Bros. Network seized the opportunity to lobby for them to open the show. He sent over a link to Upchuck’s demo tape on Bandcamp. “Amy Taylor responded almost immediately,” Castello says. “She was like, ‘Yes, definitely add them to the show!’”
Afterward, Taylor and her bandmates approached Upchuck, asking them if they wanted to play just a few more shows together. “It actually turned out to be a lot more shows together,” Mikey says,” and we both played the biggest show that either of our bands have played to date, at Brooklyn Steel in May.”
The show pushed the 1,800-capacity venue nearly to the breaking point, and opened up a whole new audience for Upchuck.
As 2023 approaches, the group is preparing to record its sophomore album for Famous Class. While the exact details as to where and with whom they’re recording remain a closely guarded secret for the time being, they’re heading to California in February to capture it all on tape.
“We’re definitely gonna keep working with Famous Class, regardless,” Hoff says. “Cyrus [Lubin] at Famous Class has given us so much creative freedom and trust, and aside from a few minor tweaks here and there, doesn’t mess with what we do at all.”
Mikey adds, “The songs that we’re recording are songs that we’ve been playing pretty much just as long as everything that’s on the first record, so the two should fit together really well.”
Teetering on the axis of punk, hip-hop, and indie rock, a sense of discovery, and the power of youthful energy, the new music contained within these songs—either live and in the moment or on record—is intoxicating to the end.
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In Greek mythology, dryads appear as tree-dwelling spirits who lure men to their deaths by seducing them into a shadowy realm of the unknown, sometimes replacing them with a doppelgänger—a sinister look alike. It’s a dark and mysterious tale that’s been repurposed in everything from David Lynch’s surreal T.V. saga “Twin Peaks” to Jordan Peele’s paranoid horror film Us. It’s a puzzling metaphor about there being more to the natural world than meets the eye. It’s also a bewitching entry point into The Book of Flowers’ debut cassette tape, Pastels.
Press play on the opening three numbers, “Foxfire & Clover,” “The Housewitch,” and “The Dryad,” and dreamlike imagery takes shape amid swathes of murky country crooning, mellotrons, and British folk-style songwriting.
“I was thinking a lot about impressionist painting and things that use a lot of pastels,” says songwriter James Andrew Ford. “I wanted the songs to have a pastoral feeling to them, with a kind of a dark feeling as well, like watching the sun set over an empty field.”
Ford is a co-founder of Atlanta’s industrial, EBM, and dark wave label DKA Records. The lingering earthly and ethereal tones that he conjures in the songs on Pastels are a far cry from the digital crunch and urgency of much of the label’s output, including that of his own former project Tifaret. But from the soft dissonance of the cover art’s pink and green colors to the balance of electronic and organic textures over Krautrock rhythms of “The White Dress” and “Watch the Stars,” Ford’s shift in style emerges quite naturally.
“During the latter part of Tifaret, I was banging my head against the wall because I was having a lot of issues trying to do a full-length,” Ford says. “I was trying to figure out how to do something that felt satisfying and cohesive, but wasn’t just eight tracks of Front 242 or whatever. How do you create a sad song using synthesizers that doesn’t just sound like old synth pop? How did somebody like Trent Reznor or Depeche Mode get around the monotony of synthesizers?” he asks. “Well, In Depeche Mode, Martin Gore wrote a lot of songs on an acoustic guitar. Trent Reznor writes everything on a piano, or at least he used to. So I thought maybe I need to start writing on acoustic guitar.”
But Ford had never played acoustic before. He hadn’t played an electric guitar in nearly a decade. So he spent much of the pandemic learning how to play an acoustic guitar. The process was a period of discovery, planting the seeds for the songs on Pastels.
“It basically taught me how to have a song there before you have any music,” he says. “With Tifaret, I always wrote the lyrics last. So I was trying to cram in syllables, melody lines, and whatever else into what was already there. Versus if you start with an acoustic guitar, you’ve got your melody, you’ve got your lines written out. You don’t have to cram everything in.”
Previously, Ford was a religious studies major at Georgia State University. With The Book of Flowers he took a deep dive into British folklore. The first two songs to emerge were “Golden Lily” and “Housewitch,” both illustrate a reciprocal harmony that finds his slow and sweeping baritone voice shape the guitar tones, while the natural resonance of the acoustic guitar guides his rich, warm voice.
The lyrics call an epic range of images to mind, from rustic to quite horrific, in one musical motion.
In “The Dryad” he sings: “There in the bed she laid me to rest and slit my throat with a willow rod. She threw me to the raven. She threw me to the hound. She cleaned my skull for her god.”
“With that song, I always thought that I was basically writing an old fashioned murder ballad, but with the positions reversed.”
It’s a scene of pagan carnage that could have been pulled straight from films such as Robin Hardy’s “The Wickerman” or Ari Aster’s “Midsommar”—channeled through a palette of dark and apocalyptic musical inflections ranging from influences such as Current 93 and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It’s quiet, it’s intense, and it’s not for the faint of heart, despite the music’s idyllic presence.
Anyone who’s paying attention knows that Genki Genki Panic cranks out new music at an alarming pace. It can be overwhelming to newcomers, but the group’s latest proper full-length, This Is...Dungeon Surf!!!, distills the spirit of a full-throttle genre-bending haunted-house and surf-punk saga into 17 spooktacular cuts. What sets apart these Georgia-by-way-of-Tennessee misfits from run-of-the-mill Tommy Bahama shorts-wearing surf parrots is an increasingly twisted descent into the outsider fringes of the grotesque. These howlies prefer the eerie light of the full moon to the warm California sun, making their wide-eyed instrumentals all the more engaging. Songs such as “Ghouls On Film,” “Radon Chong,” and “Smells Like Teen Sewage” show off a reverence for the classic reverb and kerrang of the Ventures, Dick Dale, and the Trashmen as much as the creepy underworld soundscapes of Vic Mizzy and Danny Elfman. There’s also an undeniable sense of humor being telegraphed in those over-the-top songs’ titles. “Massive Severed Laphog In A Paper Bag” leads the firebrand charge with delay effects layered over tons of reverb, so much so that it actually sounds like the song is splashing out of the speakers. Other tunes, such as “Terror Vision” and “How Do You Like Your Hyperspace Maggots, Michael?” are utterly gritty and nasty—in the most appealing way those adjectives can be used. “Drac’d Raw Dot Com” and “Smells Like Teenage Sewage” carry the distortion of 8-bit dungeon synth sounds to horrific depths; a nod to which comes through in the album’s title, Dungeon Surf. One, possibly two songs willfully violate the rules with vocals, depending on how you’re listening to the album. The Bandcamp tracklist is different from what’s on Spotify, and the CD features seven songs that aren’t on the LP. “I Was A Teenage Were-chud” tells a wicked tale of heavy breathing and depravity in the graveyard under the pale moonlight, embracing the monster-movie nightmares that the group invokes from the cover art to the ghastly tongue-in-cheek song titles. Hainters gonna haint, but this is the essential GGP release so far.
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Uneven Lanes‘ debut LP, About Time, gathers up three years of songs that have amassed in the margins after Lloyd Benjamin’s time spent playing guitar and singing with various punk and indie rock outfits, including All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Affection, and more. He’s also currently playing with Scratch Offs and Air Rights.
Each of the album’s lo-fi, salt-of-the-earth numbers are rich in melody and distortion, capturing the essence of a new, post-pandemic Americana that recalls the fractured indie rock sensibilities and songwriting of Guided By Voices, Pavement, and R. Stevie Moore.
Benjamin wrote, played, and recorded everything heard throughout on the album.
Live, the lineup is filled out by Greg Stevens on drums and Tony Kerr on bass, performing Sun., Oct. 2 for Elmyr’s 25th Anniversary party, on Sat., Nov. 5 at Sarbez! in Saint Augustine, and on Thurs., Dec. 8 at Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock, the latter of which is Benjamin’s hometown, and the base of operations for the record’s label, Max Recordings.
BONUS! The LP comes packed with a full-color 16-page booklet featuring artwork by Benjamin. Get your ears, your eyes, and your hands on one.
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