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Georgia Music News 02/08/16 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageWeird hearing Pylon’s 1979 single “Cool” in those TV commercials for the 2016 Lexus RX, right? Strangely, the tune works really well as a soundtrack to “modern luxury.” Will the surviving members be able to afford one between them with the dough they’ll make from this? Meanwhile, while they’re adamant that there will be no more Pylon without late guitarist Randy Bewley, singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay has been having some giggles of late fronting the Pylon Reenactment Society, a tribute act of sorts featuring members of Casper and the Cookies and other Athens bands (and Pylon fans). Drummer Curtis Crowe and bassist Michael Lachowski have jumped onstage to join them on a song or two at the group’s Athens shows, but no telling if that’ll happen at their upcoming gig at the EARL with Denver trio Dressy Bessy, Friday, February 19th. Athens, the same lineup’s at the 40 Watt the following night.

Fragments of Rome’s Muletide Perkins extended clan of zygotes, Graham and Vann cobble together fragile, disturbed ditties that might provoke neighbors to warn their children to keep a distance. Busting Ass for Nothing is the duo’s latest acoustic-guitar-and-drum-based outing, full of plucking and piddling and strumming and humming and mumbling anecdotes that rarely rhyme or even make linear sense, but it’s almost as if there’s a mutation of the language going on, with secret codes and illiterate allegory. These are the sorts of things that make small town life colorful… and terrifying.

Twenty-four-year-old Atlanta musician Ben Cramer has released an EP of sparse, forlorn songs under the name Old Sea Brigade. The five songs are acoustic guitar- and piano-based, with gentle percussive and atmospheric accents.

Valdosta-born Country singer Thomas Rhett, recently covered by Nelly of all things, will perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday, Feb. 9th…

The Head will give you some this Tuesday, Feb. 9th, on Live at WREK. The show, featuring a different local act playing live for an hour, airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on 91.1 FM in Atlanta.

Young Decatur sleezeniks Scofflaw will skuzz up Live in the Lobby on Tuesday, Feb. 9th. Cuddly Atlanta quartet Interrobang, will do the same show on Thursday, Feb. 11th. Showcasing live sets from Athens and Atlanta acts, Live in the Lobby airs most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. on WUOG, 90.5 FM in Athens.
Todd Rundgren (Feb.16 issue) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Kopp   

ImageA Long Time, A Long Way To Go:
Todd Rundgren – Past, Present and Tomorrow

Todd Rundgren's professional musical career began in the 1960s when he was guitarist for a Who-influenced Philadelphia group called Nazz. That group never found widespread commercial success, though one of their singles (the original version of Rundgren's “Hello It's Me”) was a hit in some markets. By the dawn of the 1970s, Rundgren had embarked on a solo career of his own that would include a long and endlessly varied string of albums; a parallel career with his band Utopia; and a list of production credits for other acts including Badfinger, the New York Dolls, Grand Funk Railroad, the Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell, and dozens more.

Along the way, Rundgren scored the occasional hit (his 1972 solo remake of “Hello It's Me,” “I Saw the Light,” “Can We Still Be Friends?” “Bang the Drum All Day”) but became revered as a cult hero on the strength and breadth of his musical vision, and for his technological innovations. In addition to writing the code for one of the earliest computer paint programs (long before Windows); he launched one of the first video production studios (in the pre-MTV era); he started PatroNet, one of the first artist-to-fan online networks (years before Myspace or Facebook); and he was involved in many other innovations.

One thing that Rundgren has rarely done, though, is look back. At age 67, he still releases new albums regularly, and unlike many of his contemporaries, has long resisted the lure of greatest-hits tours (though he's often been a part of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band tour lineups). Instead, Rundgren focuses on new music: in 2015 alone, he released two new albums that found him continuing to push boundaries: Global, for example, is a decidedly EDM-flavored release. And while that might seem an odd choice for an artist nearing seventy, one would do well to remember that Rundgren released an interactive hip-hop album (No World Order) way back in 1993. Todd's other 2015 release, Runddans, found him collaborating with a pair of Scandinavian musicians on an album of what one might term “tuneful ambient” music.

It's something of a surprise, then – even when considering that Rundgren can always be counted upon to surprise – that in late 2015 he launched a concert series called “An Evening with Todd Rundgren.” This tour is one in which he – gasp! – focuses on the hits and fan favorites from his vast catalog. Backed by longtime musical associates Jesse Gress (guitar), Kasim Sulton (bass), John Ferenzik (keyboards), and drummer Prairie Prince, Rundgren serves up both deep catalog gems and his biggest hits, the kind of set list longtime hardcore fans have only dreamed of. Rundgren and band bring that tour to Atlanta's Center Stage Theater on Friday, February 12. I recently spoke with Todd Rundgren about the tour, his past, and his future.

While you've enlisted different players for different projects, the band for this current tour brings back a lineup you've worked with since, if I recall correctly, the With a Twist era shows circa 1997...

We're about twenty years with this particular lineup.

Aside from the fact that they're all excellent musicians, what draws you to this particular group of players?

You're trying to find someone who understands what you're going for, even while you're having difficulty conveying that to them. It's the same kind of thing as with the audience: you have to be used to having to re-adapt often. Learn new stuff, or take a different approach to things.

That was pretty much what With a Twist was about in the first place: taking all those conventional arrangements, and completely recasting them in a different era. It keeps it interesting for all of us. And I think the band would be no more happy than I would be if we had to play the same songs every night, in the same order, year after year after year.

With modern technological developments, artists such as yourself are able to make albums using a computer rather than a traditional studio. For many years, you produced other people's albums. These days, you're doing less of that. Are those two things connected? 

No, I don't begrudge other people learning how to make their own records! I realize that producing used to be my principal source of income. But that had to go, along with the traditional record company model. I have always tried to gather as much of the process to myself as I could over the years; that's why I built a studio for myself fairly early on. And most all of my recordings have been done in some facility of my own creation, even if it's only, ya know, a barn that I rent for the course of a recording.

It would be really hypocritical of me to say, ‘Oh, nobody else should do that; they should let me continue to control things!’ And I think that a lot of amazing music comes out of [self-producing]. People have the freedom to spend as much time as they want, noodling around with their own ideas, refining their approach. In the end, music is supposed to be what matters, not the entire economic system that revolves around it. But the experience of hearing something, of making something that excites you in some way, speaks to you in some way.

Feb.16 Cover - Savages PDF Print E-mail
Written by Glen Sarvady   

ImageThis Is Not A Love Song (well, actually it is….):
Savages Find Something to be Said About Slowing Down the World

The night of Savages’ only Atlanta performance to date remains seared into my memory. Which is unfortunate, because I wasn’t at the show. Arriving on a delayed flight back into Atlanta I immediately texted Stomp and Stammer publisher Jeff Clark to ask if I still had time to speed over to Vinyl, only to learn their set had just ended. A few minutes later, I received a second text. “I’m sorry, but it was one of the best things I’ve seen in years.”

Online videos amply confirm Savages’ live prowess – my personal favorite is their 2013 American TV debut on Jimmy Fallon. When I caught up with guitarist Gemma Thompson the band was in Los Angeles, preparing for a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as the initial burst of UK touring to follow the release of its sophomore LP Adore Life. For a band that’s not afraid to sweat the details, Thompson’s not interested in analyzing why they come across so well on TV. “It’s very interesting to summon up that energy for one or two songs – it’s very different from playing a show. I don’t know how – whatever we do, I don’t want to question it.”

Though inextricably linked to British post-punk, Savages have frequently turned to the States quite a bit for inspiration.  Turns out vocalist Jehnny Beth and her partner Johnny Hostile had been visiting LA since Christmas, and it was just as easy for the rest of the quartet to head west to rehearse. “And it’s warmer here,” Thompson adds matter-of-factly.   

In early 2015, Savages looked to New York to ignite the creative process behind the material that became Adore Life. “We had started writing together in a cramped London space in late 2014,” Thompson explains, “and found ourselves writing really quietly.” Anyone familiar with Savages’ ferocious 2013 debut Silence Yourself knows that “quiet” is not an adjective commonly associated with the band. “So we said ‘this isn’t going to work, we’ve got to get out of here.’ We sat around a table and devised a plan to come to New York with the sketches we had and work them out in front of an audience.”

Why New York? “We were a bit sick of London at that point, plus it’s really interesting when you take creative energy and put it in a different location. They have a similar energy too – if you can live in London you can live in New York.”

So Savages headed to New York City, booked a rehearsal space, and scheduled nine shows over a 19-day stretch – rotating across the same three clubs on a weekly basis. By day they’d hunker down for a “really intense writing session in the rehearsal space,” assessing tapes of the performances and making adjustments to the in-process songs. “Some of them were more together than others. It wasn’t until you played them live with volume that you got a sense of how it really was going to work.” After the residency, Savages returned home and headed straight into the studio.

Georgia Film News 02/01/16 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageAlthough it’s set in the east coast Florida town of Fort Pierce, The Unknowns: Talent is Color Blind will film in Savannah. Sam Rockwell and Whoopi Goldberg are rumored to be starring in the historical tale of a group of black painters called The Highwaymen, with cameras expected to start rolling on the $8 million movie sometime in February.

The Reason, an independent, family-oriented, medical-themed drama film, will be shooting in Augusta at some point in the not too distant future.

Model Kelly Rohrbach will wiggle into Pamela Anderson’s red swimsuit as C.J. Parker in the big screen adaptation of Baywatch, which will shoot in Atlanta after its Savannah work finishes... Tyler Perry doesn’t waste time. A Madea Halloween has already wrapped production… Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life wrapped production in Atlanta in mid February… Season two of Powers has wrapped its Atlanta production.

After getting a standing ovation and rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight has made a deal to distribute Nate Parker’s Savannah-filmed slave rebellion drama The Birth of a Nation for $17.5 million, which is the most ever paid for a Sundance film.

HBO has pulled the plug on Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin’s comedy series Brothers in Atlanta before it ever legitimately got rolling, despite ordering the series last April. Lorne Michaels was producer of the proposed show, which was to follow the exploits of a pair of struggling entertainers (the original concept had them as reporters) in our “black mecca” of a city. Tim Story directed the pilot, which never aired. No reason was given by HBO for the abrupt cancellation, except that “after assessing our programming needs we… decided moving forward didn’t make sense for us at the time.”

The heist flick Triple 9, starring Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Norman Reeedus, Aaron Paul and Chiwetel Ejiofor, opens in theaters on Feb. 26th… Term Life, the Atlanta-filmed comedy-thriller starring Vince Vaughn and Hailee Stanfield, will be released as a video-on-demand feature on March 1st. A limited theatrical release is scheduled for April 8th; no telling if Atlanta will be included.

Boris, Merzbow Collaborate (Or Not) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageBoris and Merzbow Collaborate (Or Not) on Forthcoming LP Set

Japanese sound sculptors Boris and Merzbow are collaborating on an upcoming project that sounds like something Wayne Coyne might’ve concocted prior to his Miley fixation. The acts are teaming up on a two-CD/four-LP opus with half devoted to Boris playing new versions of tracks from their back catalog, sans percussion, while the other half is devoted to brand new Merzbow compositions. The two halves are intended to be played at the same time at varying volumes, so the experience is different every time. “Of course,” the artists are quick to point out, “you can enjoy both albums separately, as a separate work.” What a relief!

Named after the Japanese word for “phenomenon,” Gensho will be released by Relapse Records on March 18th.
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