Book of Flowers’ dark ‘Pastels’

BOOK OF FLOWERS: James Andrew Ford

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.”

Book of Flowers

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.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November issue of Record Plug Magazine.


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Genki Genki Panic: ‘This Is… Dungeon Surf!!!’


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: ‘About Time’


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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Clot dives deeper into the maelstrom with ‘Casual Masochist’

Clot. Photo by @avianarsonist

In April, grindcore outfit Clot unveiled a debut single, titled “Cerebral Calamity,” via Earache Records Distribution.

In 2016, vocalist Christian Perez, who also leads the fractured Americana group Hark, suffered a stroke at the young age of 24 — hence the name Clot. Soon after, his father was involved in a car accident that left him with permanent brain damage. Dealing with these experiences opened up wholly new dimensions of music for Perez and bandmate Yasin Knapp (of math rock outfit Things Amazing, and atmospheric rockers Of The Vine) as a means of finding balance, context, and possibly resolution. Perez writes the lyrics and sings, while Knapp handles the musical arrangements, steeped in a hissing atmosphere of high-speed rhythms, and distortion. Drummer Cameron Austin (Apostle, Of The Vine) unleashes an avalanche of blast beats, pushing the music deeper into the maelstrom.

Bass player Parker Estopinal (of Kid Macho) and guitar player Daniel Weed (Holy Wound and Mannequin Grove) were recruited into Clot after these recordings were made.

Their latest single, “Casual Masochist,” expands upon these themes of real-time confrontation of grief, mortality, and emotional tumult. This time, songwriter and vocalist Perez channels feelings of utter contempt for organized religion and oppression — no matter what form it takes — into lyrics such as “Back up, you bastard. No gods, just masters. Skin stricken with pulsating blisters.”

“Casual Masochist” is a simple, powerful, death-afflicted dirge teeming with shades of grindcore touchstones (Full of Hell, Primitive Man, Old Man Gloom, and so on), but exists in a singularly miasmatic space. Press play below.

A new full-length album is in the works. Keep an ear out for a noiser, and more atmospheric approach with future offerings.

In the meantime, Clot plays Sabbath Brewing on Sun., June 12, with Iron Gag and Fox Wound. Catch them again on Thurs., June 30, When they play Eyedrum with For Your Health, askysoblack, and Royal Scam.

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Dan Melchior’s ‘Loud Version’ due out March 18 via Midnight Cruiser Records

Dan Melchior’s Loud Version cover art courtesy Midnight Cruiser Records

Drop a needle on Dan Melchior’s Loud Version (Midnight Cruiser) and the blown-out, sturm and drang of distortion and noise shrouding “Hungry Ghost” pours gasoline on a collection of his greatest hits and sets them ablaze.

“Hungry Ghost” hits like a hammer, opening up the record and laying out the blueprint for this spontaneous collection of Melchior’s near-masterpieces rendered with fiery and ramshackle glory.

Primeval cover versions of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers’ “I’m Your Witchdoctor” and Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys’ “I’m Just a Poor Boy” roll out of his guitar like snarling stray dogs looking for a leg to bite. Melchior’s baritone growl captures the garage-swamp tension of a late-night bar scene where camaraderie can and will turn into chaos without warning. It’s an element of Melchior’s rock ‘n’ roll songwriting that’s often tamed by production. Here, songs such as “Outskirts,” “Mockingbird,” and “Monkey” howl without restraint.

Melchior is unquestionably a full-album artist. Each of his releases channel a specific mood — ranging from ambient to ecstatic — as each offering is an individual work. As the story goes, Loud Version was recorded as a batch of demos that were meant to presage an Australian tour, and the compilation of songs unfolds like a perfect set list filled with unhinged teeth-gnashing anthems.

Dedicated followers of Melchior’s releases will find this to be a visceral and raw yet secretly vital run through his most compulsory songwriting; rendered ideally here for both curious onlookers and for casual listeners looking to set their heads on fire.

Loud Version is out March 18 via Midnight Cruiser Records.
Click here to pre-order the album.

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Didi Wray celebrates Valentine’s Day with a tale of love and monsters in ‘You Are My Gillman’

Artwork by Leandro Franco

Happy Valentine’s Day! Didi Wray dives deep into the murky waters of the Black Lagoon to find her bad boy lover lurking in a haze of swampy surf rock and reverb in “You Are My Gillman.”

This enchanted tale of supernatural allure is also one of those rare numbers in which Wray uses her guitar and her voice to melt the centuries of passion pent up in the Gillman‘s monster heart!

Press play and sing along to this tale of savagery and seduction.

I live in “Il Pantano”
I’m the leather girl
my skin your skin
like better twins
I’m sure that you’ll be mine

I’m not scared
I’m your Gillgirl
I’m not scared
’cause I’m your Gillgirl

I live in the shadows
of the corner of the street
I live in Black Lagoon
waiting for you

’cause you’re my Gillman
uhhh ’cause you´re my Gillman.

I live in the shadows
of the corner of the street
I live in Black Lagoon
waiting for you
’cause you´re my Gillman
uhhh ´cause you´re my Gillman.

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Field Day revives punk’s base emotions, while asking the hard questions with ‘Why?’ 7-inch

In 2020, Field Day’s Opposite Land EP raised the bar high for Doug Carrion and Peter Cortner’s modern take on a classic hardcore charge. Together, they pulled off the unlikely feat of reinventing the disaffected ethos of their brief but defining tenure with D.C. hardcore outfit Dag Nasty for 1987’s Wig Out At Denko’s and 1988’s Field Day LP.

With their latest offering, the four-song “Why?” 7-inch (Unity Worldwide/Sense of Place Records), the group wields an even sharper edge.


Field Day’s emergence was a postmodern reference to a reference — a triumph that dug deep into the past to find wholly new levels of fertile creative soil in which to grow. The short, sharp blasts they delivered with Opposite Land’s cuts “One Song,” “Stolen Words,” “Speak The Truth,” and “Waiting For A Miracle” laid the blueprint for a new, no-nonsense aesthetic, and proved there was more music and chemistry left to explore within vocalist Cortner and singer and bass player Carrion’s dynamic.

“Why?’s” opening salvo expands upon the speed and velocity of Field Day’s previous efforts, while coalescing around a searing guitar lead and the lyrics: “You’re living in a world built on fiction. What’s the reason? I wonder why you never realized. It’s up to you, but you keep living a lie. Did you ever stop to ask the question: How did you get so disconnected?”

This open-ended indictment underscores the crucial power of PMA to find balance amid an era in which technology has gone awry and social unrest percolates under the shadow of an oppressive virus. It could mean anything, or it could mean something very specific — it’s about what the listener brings to the music.

The increased focus on display between Cortner, Carrion, guitarist Shay Mehrdad, and drummer Kevin Avery simply and powerfully ignites the group’s melodic tension, and amplifies Field Day’s search for answers while placing the human experience under the microscope.

A hidden A-side track and the B-side cuts “Alive” and “Audience Of One” tighten the melodic songwriting made sharp by Mehrdad’s high-octane guitar shredding.

Across the board, the group has stepped up the intensity of every element in the music. And with production by Carrion and mixing courtesy of Cameron Webb (Pennywise, Motörhead, Ignite), these four songs are louder and strike with a greater sense of urgency.

Doug Carrion of Field Day. Photo by Josh Coffman

“Field Day revels in a real-time musical confrontation of emotions — a trait that’s extended since Cortner and Carrion’s days with Dag Nasty, and Carrion’s formative years spent playing with the Descendents. Their veracity hits hard with “Audience Of One.” The song kicks off with a thunderous drum roll, signaling a heart-pounding finale. The fiery guitar tones, sprinting rhythm, and the lyrical query: “You always tell yourself what you want to believe, but when will you accept that you’re an audience of one?” brings the record’s prompt to a fine point: Look deep within yourself to find the power to rise above apathy.

Field Day has already proven their skills by releasing a handful of powerful and direct offerings. The four songs on the “Why?” 7-inch carry the pace to a higher level. Each number is bristling with rejuvenated and undeniably electric energy. It’s one thing to create something new from a decades-old chapter in Dag Nasty’s discography. It’s an entirely different thing to find new relevance, and outshine the past by creating vital new music. With “Why?,” Field Day revives classic punk and hardcore’s base emotions, while asking the hard questions, and always keeping their gaze fixed on what lies ahead.

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Vision Video: ‘Organized Murder’

Vision Video is back with a new video for “Organized Murder,” taken from the group’s debut album, Inked In Red.

This one ain’t for the faint of heart! “Organized Murder” is the fourth video released by Athens’ gothic rock luminaries, following videos for “Inked In Red,” “Comfort in the Grave,” and “Static Drone.” The song also bears the sharpest teeth when it comes to wrapping the group’s stylized mastery of darkness, light, and melodic hooks around a poignant statement. 

The song opens with a chilling bit of dialogue taken from make-up artist Tom Savini’s reimagining of the classic horror film Night of the Living Dead. Ben, a character played by actor Tony Todd, delivers these particularly chilling lines while coming to terms with the zombie apocalypse that’s unfolding around him: “This is something that nobody has ever heard about, and nobody has ever seen before. This is hell on Earth… This is pure hell on Earth.”

Set to director Erica Strout’s visual accompaniment, “Organized Murder” leaps into action as a fitting metaphor for what the group describes as America’s fetishization of “violence, force, and warfare on behalf of ‘the greater good.’”

A statement released with the video goes on to say that: “This is a representation of my experiences watching systematic violence used on behalf of morally bankrupt political ideologies to meet their ends and economic hegemony by military domination across the third world.”

Press play and let it sink in.

Read the Flagpole Magazine feature story, “Inked in Red: Vision Video Processes War, Trauma and Loss Through Goth Rock.”

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Genki Genki Panic: ‘The Munge’ b/w ‘Gas Human Being No. 1 / the Human Vapor,’ and ‘Moth Mandingo Effect’ 7-inch

Put on your 3-D glasses now.


Genki Genki Panic thrives on the fringes of the ecstatic, honing a musical aesthetic that eviscerates traditional notions of genre, while offering a dizzying array of threads to pull at every turn.

Hailing from the rolling and mystical expanse of terrain that lies between Atlanta, GA and Chattanooga,TN, GGP guitar and keyboard player Chris Moree, bass player Eric Waller, and drummer Chris Campbell’s musical bounds are as limitless as the landscape from whence the group sprouted. Each song draws inspiration from the deepest darkest recesses of pop culture.

It’s all on display in the three songs pressed onto the group’s first vinyl 7-inch — “The Munge” b/w “Gas Human Being No.1 The Human Vapor” and “Moth Mandingo Effect.”

Just a cursory scroll through GGP’s Bandcamp page reveals a deluge of musical excursions in which the group plays more notes in one measure than most technically skilled metal bands on the scene. Elsewhere, GGP mines the sonic palette of video game soundtracks and reassembles them to bear their own deranged adventures.

Layers upon layers of references come together around each new offering: A cover of the Deadly Ones’ “It’s Monster Surfing Time” blends album cover art from the Descendents’ Milo Goes To College with imagery from “Planet of the Apes.”

Ghoulie High Harmony *Director’s Cut is perhaps the greatest Boyz II Men reference that no one has ever caught. Still elsewhere, GGP’s sound and vision is a tangle of not-so-veiled nods to Bad Brains, OutKast, Big Black, Beetlejuice and classic horror film scenes, all tied together with an affinity for spooky vibes and haunted surf and sci-fi sounds.

“The Munge” (dubbed “The Munge Parasito” on the Bandcamp page) saunters in before the nearly three-minute tsunami jam takes over the song. “Gas Human Being No.1 / The Human Vapor” and “Moth Mandingo Effect” push the eerie irreverence beyond the record’s grooves, giving rise to a particularly twisted ambiance. It’s seemingly impossible to avoid being swept up in the group’s high-energy dirges, despite (or maybe because of) their defiantly wide-eyed ways.

Genki Genki Panic plays Hammerhead Fest 9.5 Sat., Nov. 27, at Boggs Social and Supply (outdoor stage) with Paladin, Order of the Owl, the Vaginas, Canopy, Black Candle, and Naw. $15. 4 p.m. (doors). 

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The Hot Place featuring David J: ‘Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight’



Returning with their first new offering since 2019, the Hot Place’s latest single, “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” is a supernatural blues number steeped in the dark and folkloric imagery of a metaphorical wild hunt.

The song features David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets playing harmonica, illustrating an abstract tale that’s a bit spookier than any of the Hot Place’s previous releases. “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” was, however, unveiled on Halloween night, just in time for Samhain to kick off November’s enchanted witching season.

Singer and bass player Lisa King wrote the lyrics for the song in the midst of a sudden and tumultuous thunderstorm that swept over the city on a night before David J was playing a show at Little Tree Art Studios in June of 2017. King recalls the evening: “I was at Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, and the trees were hitting the window in a really spooky way, like skeletons. The moon was out, clouds were moving by fast in the sky. I started writing lyrics to this blues song we had, and I imagined being in the woods.”

David J at Electron Gardens Studio. Photo by Lisa King.

Guitarists Mike Lynn and Jeff Calder flesh out the spectral sound that expands upon the Hot Place’s shadowy psychedelia and spare, alternative rock stylings with the mystical essence of mythology and metaphor. King’s lyrical mysticism drives the eerie folk ballad like a storm swell over Calder’s atmospheric mandolin and Robert Schmid’s drums.

As the story goes, David heard the song at Lisa’s house the night before playing the gig at Little Tree Arts Studios, and immediately envisioned the song’s harmonica part. 

“I love this track, dripping in swampy mojo vibes, full of the night, storms, and yearning ghosts,” David says.

The following afternoon, his harmonica was recorded in a single take at Electron Gardens Studio.

“There’s a call and response between the vocal and David’s harmonica,” King says. “In a way, they become the two characters in the song’s narrative.”

“Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” is set to appear on an upcoming 10-song LP that’s being partially mixed by Ed Stasium, who has worked with everyone from the Ramones, the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Mick Jagger to Atlanta’s new wave luminaries the Swimming Pool Q’s. 

Stasium mixed three of the album’s songs. The other seven, including “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” were mixed by Steven Morrison of Madlife Stage and Studio.

The album was trapped in limbo for more than a year-and-a-half, as no one could get into a studio to finish Schmid’s drum parts during the COVID-19 lockdown. Ultimately, the group wrapped up the single at West End Sound with Tom Tapley (Mastodon, West End Motel, Blackberry Smoke).

The title of the new album remains to be determined, but it’ set to arrive in 2022 via King’s self-run label No Big Wheel Records.

The Hot Place: Mike Lynn (from left), Lisa King, and Jeff Calder. Photo by Frank French.

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