Friday, March 30, 2012

Winning Combination

Writing & Photos by Stephanie Augello
Flyers by Oryx & Crake and The Viking Progress

The Viking Progress is releasing their new album "Whistling While the End is Near."  In support of this, they will be playing with Oryx & Crake this weekend in both Atlanta and Athens.


Patrick Morales of The Viking Progress is yet another player in the friendly, collaborative Georgia music scene with which I'm so enamored.  His band's new album, "Whistling While the End is Near," is a prime, tangible example of what can be achieved when people combine their brains and talents.  Being the result of years of experiences, circumstances and labor, it should not go unnoticed. 

According to information provided by a variety of sources, Patrick was introduced to the members of Oryx & Crake five years ago, after returning to Georgia from "...spending a summer working on two Alaskan fishing boats, the Viking and the Progress, and had a collection of roughly recorded songs which he'd written and recorded on those boats. 
Through the creaks of the boat, the hiss of his cheap tape recorder, and his fingers fumbling to turn it on and off between takes, there were some haunting and infectious melodies that had pretty weighty subject matter. Each of the songs was a vignette of a different person (or persons) experiencing the ending of the world."


When Patrick teamed up with Suny Lyons (Hope For Agoldensummer) to turn his initial recordings into a fully produced album, he sought the additional skills of Oryx & Crake's Matt Jarrard, Marie Davon of Venice is Sinking and powerkompany and Scott Spillane, the last of whom has worked with Neutral Milk Hotel and Elephant 6.  A preview of "Whistling While the End is Near" is included below.

Oryx & Crake and The Viking Progress will be playing tonight, March 30th, at The Earl in Atlanta, and tomorrow, March 31st, at The Caledonia Lounge in Athens.  These are a pair of shows not to be missed.  In addition to getting a live taste of "Whistling While the End is near," the audiences will also have the opportunity to hear preview tracks from Oryx & Crake's new album.  Morales also recently went on tour with Dare Dukes in support of the latter's latest release "Thugs and China Dolls."  Here are some some photos I caught during their performance at Union Pool in Brooklyn.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not So Tarnished

Writing & Photos by Stephanie Augello
Video by Whitney Alexander & Ricky Gonzalez

Beneath a relatively shiny exterior, the city of Boston boasts an impressive roster of gritty, dynamic musical inhabitants.  Here's a glimpse at the contributions of two local acts - The Dirty Dishes and Art Decade.


How Do You Pronounce Worcester?

Back in my younger, wiser days, I spent almost a year living in downtown Boston.  I don't know everything there is to know about the place, but I think I have a decent understanding of it.

There are more than 100 colleges in the greater Boston area.  This lends to it's outward demographic appearing to be largely comprised of junior yuppie frat types, who holler and philander after one too many pints of beer.  The T (that's "subway" to the common New Yorker) stops running just around midnight.  The bars tap out at 2am.  Boylston Street, a main transportation vein in and out of the downtown area, is dotted with shops selling power suits that only Nancy Grace could love.  And I swear, even the tourist-trodden pavement on that particular strip smells oddly like laundry detergent. 

ll of that, however, is just the surface of Boston, and it's a largely misleading surface at that.  Dig a little deeper, and there's a serious amount of subculture to be found in this New England metropolis.  The city's music scene has been steadily redesigning and defining itself as well as the prominent, symphony standardized world of academia, with which Boston has come to be explicitly associated.


Dirty, Dirty

The Dirty Dishes
began playing together in 2008, and have since crafted "...their distinct musical style which has been compared to My Bloody Valentine, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhoof and Smashing Pumpkins."  The "four piece indie/shoegaze band" released their 5-track album "The Most Tarnished Birds" on March 4th.  Boston publication "The Dig"  referred to front woman Jenny Tuite's vocals as being "mesmerizing...comatose poetry with a kung fu grip."

Their live performance is like a musical version of synchronized athletics.  It feels like members Zack Fierman (drums), Alex Molini (synth/guitar), Doug Wartman (bass) and Tuite (guitar/vocals) , make moves within assigned plays, never losing site of the construct of their songs, and how to best transfer their overwhelming energy to the audience. 
It's hard to tell whether that understanding is instinctual, learned or both, but I don't think that pinpointing the root of their talent as a unit really matters.  What does matter, and what is clear as day, is that, on stage, The Dirty Dishes capture and covey both the calculations of science and the consciousness of art.

They recently wrapped up a series of shows at SXSW, and tonight will be performing with Cloud Nothings at Brighton Music Hall, as a part of "MTV Hive Live in Boston."  Entry is $10, and the show will be live streamed to a global audience.  Below are photos I shot of The Dirty Dishes' January show at Brooklyn's Shea Stadium.



Define: Art

The core members of Boston's Art Decade include Ben Talmi (guitar/vocals) and Binod Singh (bass/vocals).  With a name derived from David Bowie's album "Low," the band utilizes a drummer, second guitarist and occasional string ensemble for live performances.  In an interview with The Peverett Phile, Art Decade's musical influences were associated with ELO and Muse.  Talmi cited respect for the arrangements of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, and stated, "I would be so happy if I ever got the opportunity to score a film, definitely a dream of mine...".
The title of Art Decade's debut album, "Western Sunrise," extends the astute, educated, classical thread running through the core of this band.  It is based on the title of a poem, and was interpreted by Talmi as being a description of achieving the impossible.  Though the album has yet to be released to the public in full, a preview of the title track is available. 

The track is also accompanied by a beautiful visual explosion, reminiscent of the stylings of 19th C. Impressionist painters.  Produced by Ricky Gonzalez and directed by Whitney Alexander, the "Western Sunrise" video has been featured in Motionographer, as well as Stash 90.

The gritty, dynamic musical inhabitants of Boston definitely reflect and expand upon the city's history and classically influenced culture.  They do, however, take it to another level, by weaving that intellect with a fervent desire to create and publicize their independent endeavors.  So, here's to you, Boston.  If any of you ever travel there, don't hesitate to further explore the city's music scene.  And if you stumble out of a bar after the T has shut it's gates for the night, just call a cab.  It's not that hard.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Preview Pick: NovaKord//"Out There"

Writing by Stephanie Augello
Photos by NovaKord

Atlanta, GA band NovaKord will be releasing their new album "Out There" on Friday, April 7th during their show at local venue The Basement. 


On Friday, April 7th, Atlanta-based experimental/progressive trio Novakord will be releasing their latest album "Out There."  This debut will coincide with the band's performance at The Basement, where they will be joined by acts Dark Room, We Roll Like Madmen and Wowser Bowser.

NovaKord describes themselves as
combining "...the progressive scope of electronica infused bands like Radiohead with the mainstream appeal similar to Muse."  The title track from their complete soon-to-be-released work was named "Best Song of 2011" by the Atlanta Writer's Roundtable, and Indie Music Reviewer has noted that "NovaKord brings the phrase ‘vocal hotness’ to a new level...A SOLID group with great sounds...your ears are left yearning for more.”  It's definitely a sound that envelopes the listener.  NovaKord's ample style pulls you into a zone, where you can fully absorb the band's carefully constructed beats and compositions. 

Wes Daniel (vocals/guitars/keyboards), Billy Snyder (bass/keyboards/vocals) and Johnny Cunningham (drums/percussion/vocals) have been playing together under the band's name for just over a year.  They have quickly accumulated a solid following in their home city, and will be touring throughout the Southeast this spring to endorse "Out There."  To purchase advance tickets for their April 7th Atlanta show, follow this link.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Soul Interchange

Writing & Photos by Stephanie Augello
Videos by William Haun

Charleston, SC band Megan Jean & the KFB will be playing at the Rodeo Bar and Grill in NYC on Monday, March 19th.  These modern day gypsies are brilliant, fierce and full of soul.

What is soul?  If I were writing a high school research paper on the subject, the next paragraph would consist of some academic, dictionary definitions of the word itself.  If I were writing a college research paper, I would go into vast philosophical rhetoric on the general subject, dissecting it until it no longer resembled its high school self.  Believe me, I'm tempted to do all of that, but I won't.
So anyway, what is soul? 
It feels weird, and almost inappropriate, to try to define it in words, but this is writing, so I'll persist.  Soul is certainly an abstract thing.  It's a broad, innate sense of feeling, very often associated with artists.  I am of the opinion that soul cannot be taught in school.  No matter how skilled one becomes in his or her craft, if they don't naturally tune into that something called soul, then - frankly - they just don't have it. 


I doubt that many people walk into a music venue seeking soul like a metal detector clutching hobbyist on a beach.  Most of the time, you show up because you want to show up, and can be pleasantly caught off guard when soul grabs your shoulders, and eloquently, passionately screams in your face.  That's what happened to me when I first saw Charleston, SC husband and wife duo Megan Jean & the KFB back in October 2010.  On their blog, they describe themselves as being "hard-touring, foot stompin', guitar beatin', upright lickin', washboard scratchin', banjo pickin' madness with a voice like the devil herself."  Their 2010 release "Dead Woman Walking" is the kind of album that is so real and raw, you reach out to it when looking for such things as insight and solace. 

Megan Jean & the KFB has spent much of the winter recording at KJP in Birmingham, AL.  The videos below were shot during two separate performances in Macon, GA this past fall.  They were accompanied in The Blue Indian with write-ups by William Haun, who noted that "the eclectic multi-instrumentalists...have made their mark...and it's safe to say that they play as important a role in Macon's music scene as any of our local bands."  The band will be marking up New York City on Monday, March 19th, when they will be playing a 9pm show at the Rodeo Bar and Grill.

Megan Jean & the KFB will also be appearing on the PBS show Music Voyager.  The episode is centered around East Tennesse, and will air in NYC on April 26th.  For more information about the show and this particular listing, follow this link.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Touring Edition

Writing by Stephanie Augello
Photos/Videos by Freshkills & Daymoths

Two bands from two entirely different locations - Freshkills (NYC) and Daymoths (Minnesota) - will be playing in Atlanta next week.  Here's some more information on both.


This Brooklyn-based group initially struck me as being a grittier, more genuine cousin to bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes.  Freshkills have an in-your-face sound attitude (sounditude?) that is too often lacking in today's rock n' roll culture.  Consistently described in the press as being "post-punk," they will be releasing their latest album, "Raise Up the Sheets" on March 13th.  According to their website, "The songs are prettier, darker, more concise and more expansive...The whole band sounds like they've been cornered and will have to fight their way out."  They have previously toured the US and UK w/ the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleigh Bells and TV On the Radio. 
After playing tonight's show at Pianos in Manhattan, Freshkills will be heading further south, stopping in Atlanta for a March 12th show at The Earl


This two-piece ensemble hails from Twin Cities, Minnesota, and consists of Emily Dantuma (piano/organ/keyboards/vocals) and Ollie Dodge (drums/vocals).  Represented by Orchid Promotion, the company's website describes the Daymoths as having reached a "stripped down, spacious sound - easy on the ears, but with hints of the edgy, experimental perspectives these two have become known for...Sentimental but not overly fluffed or cheesed out...".  Their past shows have been reviewed by a number of publications in the Midwest and beyond, and their work has received consistent air time on CMJ supported stations throughout the country.   
Daymoths released their ambient, subtle and pleasant album, "Back in Time," in December of 2011. They are currently touring in support of it, and will be playing at Atlanta's Drunken Unicorn on March 14th.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Randy Garcia: Surge of a Maverick

Writing by Stephanie Augello
Photos by Kat Wilson & Kamil Lee

Atlanta musician Randy Garcia has recently released a solo effort, entitled 'Resurgens," and is also involved with a number of other endeavors in and around his local music community.


When I first became acquainted with Atlanta-based musician Randy Garcia and his new solo album "Resurgens," I was pretty much astounded - not just by the intricate and enjoyable creation he was presenting, but by the sheer depth of his overall ability and involvement with his local music community.  In addition to being a solo artist, Garcia is proprietor of, and producer for, Nophi Recordings, has been hosting Atlanta music festival Nophest for the past six years, and is also the drummer for Swank Sinatra.  It takes a lot of energy and intelligence to hold so many titles, and Randy Garcia does so with true panache.  W
ith all of that being said, let's take a closer look at this man and his projects.



Nophi Recordings' realization, "Resurgens," is Garcia's tenth full-length album, which he released under the monicker R_Garcia.  It is the fruition of over a decade's worth of brainstorming, experiencing, musing and learning.  It "...evokes Atlanta, comebacks and revenants...the tracks comment on the evolution of electronic music from 80s techno-pop to the if you were listening to someone's life-long collection of songs you've somehow never heard before, or perhaps the soundtrack to their dreams."  In response to the album, electronic music magazine Igloomag stated, "Randy Garcia is a master craftsman, involved with and exceeding every level of his work, and brings a winsome attitude to his music that makes it irresistible."  Think of "Resurgens" as a dance escapade, with the unforgettable edge of personal poetry.  It's a prime example of solid music, and a perfect accompaniment to both your day-to-day existence and Saturday night escape.  Feel free to take a listen for yourself:

Garcia's creative ventures also include his involvement with rock outfit Swank Sinatra.  According to the band's Facebook Page, they are known around Atlanta for their "high energy shows and unrelenting sound."  Members Bob Place, Brandon Pittman and Garcia want to "...climb a mountain just to start an avalanche.  They would sail a ship just to watch it sink...In all reality...Swank Sinatra has played a lot of shows, met a lot of cool people, and even learned a little along the way."  Their latest album, "El Terrible," was released by Nophi Recordings this past January, and can be found on the band's site.  All promotional photos of them were taken by Kamil Lee.


The common thread in all of Randy Garcia's aforementioned musicality is, of course, Nophi Recordings.  Founded in 1998, it focused primarily on "...instrumental and electronic music, relying heavily on handmade aesthetic and grass-roots promotion. "  Nophi has grown considerably since the early 2000s, and was voted "Best Record Label (Readers Choice) in 2009 by Creative Loafing Atlanta.  Garcia's festival counterpart to Nophi Recordings, known as Nophest, is gearing up for its sixth year.  This self-proclaimed "non-corporate, no bullshit festival," has evolved into Atlanta's "largest independent local music festival."  Planning for this year's edition of Nophest has already begun.  If you are interested in becoming involved, here is their contact information.

After taking in all of this information about Randy Garcia's involvement with the greater music industry, I felt compelled to throw a few questions at him.  He graciously replied, and the full content of his answers can be found below:

Q. Talk about Nophest and it's philosophy.  How long have you been running this? 
A. Nophest has been happening for six years now.  The festival was originally held over Thanksgiving weekend, but after two years of that, it was decided that the late Atlanta summer is much more hospitable to music festivals.  I'd like to think that the philosophy is more like that of an informal party than a structured event.  There is definitely hard work and planning involved -- but ultimately I try to have as much fun and be as relaxed as possible about the entire process.  The music business can be really stressful, and so to alleviate that stress, I try to make everything really informal and easy.  During the booking and planning stages, I try to focus my energy on finding great bands and listening to as much new music as I can.  Nothing makes me happier than booking a criminally overlooked band or giving a new band their first gig at Nophest.  During the event, I run around like crazy and drink lots of cheap beer to keep my head from exploding from worry!

Q. You've been working on a DIY platform for over a decade.  You're obviously really passionate...What keeps you going when you have those moments where you think that everything you're doing is pointless?

A. I've tried to quit music so many times.  I might go months without picking up an instrument or finishing a song.  Sometimes I hear a record or live performance that just blows my mind -- and I feel like throwing all my gear in the trash and hanging up all of my aspirations.  I might go home and feel sorry for myself for a bit, until I remember that I'm not really chasing a dream -- I'm actually living my dream.  I've no desire for fame or material excess, nor any interest in a life without complete control over my privacy and artistic vision.  I've no desire to compete with other musicians, and I have no problem making my own way when the business of music becomes inhibiting or archaic, as it often does.  I'm not tied to any third parties.  I don't have a manager or a lawyer.  What keeps me going is freedom.  It's the most important ingredient in my music and lifestyle.

Q. What do you think is so awesome about the Atlanta/Georgia music community?

A. Atlanta has so much music, art, film and diversity of expression compared to other places I've lived.  I think it's awesome that the best artists in this town aren't concerned with scene politics or what the local rags say about them.  I think it's awesome that the large majority of people I know through the music scene are the people I would be most prone to hang out with on days off.  Most importantly: we really do have an equally vibrant and functional community in Atlanta.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Not Done Melting Faces

Writing & Concert Photos by Stephanie Augello
Additional Photos & Videos by Exemption

After ten years of playing music together, popular Long Island band Exemption will be disbanding this month, with the members shifting focus to other musical endeavors. 


This week, Long Island three-piece band Exemption announced that they will be splitting up.  Now, musical alliances come and go, so news that a group of rockers is disbanding is nothing shocking; however, hearing that news from a group such as Exemption is enough to jar - if only slightly - even the most jaded of those who've gotten to know them.  Guitarist Nick Lee had these words to share with the band's friends:

At the end of the day, we remained the band we were for as long as we did because of the love and support we got from our close friends, families, and fans who genuinely took interest in our music. Without the love we received from you all over the years, I don’t think we would have made it this far. Exemption’s music belongs to you as much as it belongs to us and we could never thank you enough for everyone’s individual help and support. I couldn’t imagine creating a list of people to thank at this point. There are just way too many people and bands that have lent us their ears or their companionship. You know who you are and we know who you are and we love you and thank you from the grimy bottom of our black hearts. 
We will keep everyone updated on the progress of our new music...we are not done melting faces by a long shot.


Long Island's music scene has, as of late, developed a large scale reputation as being a sort of "has been."  Since 2003, Nick Lee, Raymond Marte and Thomas Moran have been pumping out energetic, skilled music that puts the validity of such a negative designation into question.  On stage, they unleash a hard rocking, manic excitement, while still managing to exude the warmth of their off stage personalities.  Their efforts as a team have lead them to numerous grassroots achievements.  They've developed a devoted local following, gone on a number of tours, released three albums, were recently featured as Deli NYC's "Band of the Month" and will be making an appearance in a live film currently being compiled by Centerville Studios.  Might I add that, at the end of this ten year span of togetherness, the three members are all still in their early twenties. 

Below are a pair of videos shot of the band around the time they were recording their last album, "Public Cemetery Party."  The live photographs of them seen here are from Vision Through Sound's Tenth Anniversary show this past June.  If you would like to see these guys live one last time, they will be playing with Daikaiju at Brooklyn's The Charleston on March 10th.  Exemption, you guys are awesome.  You will obviously be missed.


Thursday, March 1, 2012


Writing by Stephanie Augello
Photos by Neal Williams & Hannah Michalski

Atlanta rock outfit New Terminus is currently spearheading a campaign to press their new album into a variety of formats.  Back in performance world, local band I Want Whisky has re-emerged with a new lineup.


It's definitely ambitious of me to state that Atlanta's music community sleeps less than the whole city of New York.  There is, however, no doubt in my mind that their scene is full of gifted, hardworking ensembles and individuals, who are constantly collaborating, designing, and subsequently sharing, their creative output.  Every single artist I've come into contact with there never ceases to amaze me.  It's not just the multitude of talent that fills me with a sense of almost literary wonderment - it's the friendliness; the willingness to communicate both inside and outside of their immediate circles; the humble desire to simply create for the sake of creation.  And hey, if glory follows, then glory follows; yet it seems that, for most of them, a middle class income, and the ability to keep producing music with said income, will do.


The majority (Dare I say - all...) of these artists operate on a DIY platform, which is commonly understood as being a pretty tough, and personally expensive, thing to do.  Four-piece rock band New Terminus is one example of that such effort.  They have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help produce their first full length album, and make it available to the public in vinyl, LP, CD and digital formats, with the majority of funds collected to be utilized for the pressing of the vinyl.  According to New Terminus' project page:

Your donation will help realize the dream of releasing our album on vinyl.  Some of you remember the feeling of listening to warm vinyl crackle.  It's fun.  It's physical.  It's real and something you can hold in your hand.  There's no denying the convenience of digital music, but we want to produce something tangible and personal as well.  With your help, we will be able to recoup the cost of pressing the new album on vinyl and use any profits from the sales to help fund touring and future recording.


In conjunction with their fundraising endeavors, New Terminus will be playing a show at The Drunken Unicorn on Saturday, March 3rd.  Presented by Rock Science, the night will also feature Jack of Hearts and Ex Norwegian.  The cost is $6, and the fun begins at 9pm.  For more information about New Terminus, take a look at their website.  The photos of them, as well as the flyer for Saturday's show, featured here are credited to Neal Williams.


Next Round of Whisky

Since 2006, Atlanta's I Want Whisky has been "Bringin' the Struggle to the Stage" with their "old-time, bluegrass, blues and punk" stylings.  Fronted by city native Cullen "Georgia Slim" Brown, the outfit has rotated members in and out, and recently landed on it's brand new "six-member thrashing ensemble."  Current members include Slim (lead vocals/harmonica/accordion/piano), Danny Red (guitar/vocals), Dags (banjo/fiddle/vocals), Jeremy Ray (bass), Mean Dean (drums) and Jason C. Waller (mandolin/electric guitar).  With the support of homegrown label Containment Theory Records, I Want Whisky has the ability to offer to the public the "American Spirit that until recently seemed lost and forgotten: one of life, love, good times, hard work and rebellion."

On February 18th, I Want Whisky played with Caroline & the Ramblers, Pocket the Moon and T.R. Duffy at Atlanta's Star Bar.  Hannah Michalski's photos from that night are posted below.