Monthly Archives: December 2009

January show calendar

Monday,  Jan. 4,  2010

Can Can, Reno Bo, Feeding Fingers @ Club 529

Friday, Jan. 8

Dead Confederate, Twin Tigers, Carnivores @ the Earl

Reggae Tribute to Jimi Hendrix @ the Five Spot

Monday, Jan. 11

Zappa Plays ZAPPA @ the Variety Playhouse

Wednesday, Jan. 13

40 Hells, the Coke Dares, Jason Waller @ the Earl

Tuesday, Jan. 19

Laertes, Merkava, Scaffolds @ the WonderRoot

Futurebirds @ Tasty World

Saturday, Jan. 23

Selmanaires, Social Studies @ 529

Tuesday, Jan. 26

The Entrance Band, Lights @ the Earl

Thursday, Jan. 28

Monotonix @ the 40 Watt

Nick Oliveri (former QOTSA/Kyuss), Royal Thunder @ Lennys

Saturday, Jan. 30

McCoy Tyner Trio @ the Variety Playhouse

Hawks, Bukkake Boys, White Problems @ 529

Jungol and Stokeswood @ the Unicorn 12/19/09

Here’s some footy for you suckas. My friend Bret filmed this over the weekend:

Jungol

Stokeswood


Get Involved – Ticket Disaster

Despite having a degree in a political field, I rarely utilize this blog to post my political tirades and opinions. I feel that the beliefs and stipulations surrounding many issues are so complex and multi-faceted that it’s impossible to paint everything in black and white hues. Being misinformed and utilizing one sided arguments makes one’s strategy weaker and defeats the very purpose of tackling the issue in the first place. However, I have to dust off my soapbox for this one.

For months there has been talk of a Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger in the works. Many of us are sitting on the sidelines and watching this monopoly grow and evolve and we are doing nothing about it. However, there are a select few that have taken action. Ticket Disaster is one of those organizations that is taking action and I fully support them. They have listed some very articulate points as to why the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger is harmful towards the live entertainment industry. I encourage anyone who reads this post to visit their website, sign up for their updates, sign any petitions and get involved. The hard working individuals who make the music business go round have already taken significant hits and losses due to rampant illegal downloading. Artists, live sound engineers, promotional and booking agents, bartenders, waitresses and almost anyone you see in a bar, club, or music venue suffers when live entertainment suffers. And last, but not least, the fans suffer the most. We are charged with exorbitant ticket and container fees and none of it is relevant to the live entertainment that we seek. It dampens and destroys the live experience.

If you visit Ticket Disaster’s website at www.ticketdisaster.org, you can read even more about this pressing issue.

Best Albums of 2009

Readers, I apologize for the lack of a super cool Best of 2009 logo. The entire graphic design department has taken an early vacation and left me completely bewildered in my WordPress cubicle.

Here are my favorite albums that 2009 produced. It was tough making this list, but ultimately I had to look at it this way – would I be willing to purchase this album over buying my own lunch for a day? And the answer is yes, I would be willing to buy all of the following albums and sacrifice my daily soup and sandwich in order to get them. The albums on the honorable mention list are great, but a well constructed veggie sub and soup at Quiznos beats them any day of the week.

1.  Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

This was clearly album of the year (at least on any indie music blog or magazine’s list). Animal Collective really pushed the boundaries with Strawberry Jam and proved they could wrap their complex and multi-dimensional vocal harmonies and experimental weirdness into pop song structure and format. However, Merriweather pushes things even further and proves the band can appeal to a wider audience. I feel they brought in a new demographic and generation of Animal Collective freaks with this album and I greatly applaud them for it.

2.  Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Kingdom of Rust is the sleeper record of the year made by most underrated band of the decade. When I first heard this record, I couldn’t put it down. Check out the song “Compulsion” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

3.  Mastodon – Crack the Skye

Mastodon is the new Metallica and this is their Black Album. They make kick ass epic progressive metal records and they rep my city. I don’t need any more reasons to place them on the list.

4.  St. Vincent – Actor

I had never heard of St. Vincent before listening to this album. It’s a really great record full of big electronic sounds, lush orchestration and string arrangements, catchy vocal harmonies and great melodies. St. Vincent proved to me that she was a strong force to be reckoned with on this one.

5.  Q-Tip – Kamaal the Abstract

I’m a huge hip-hop and rap fan, but I noticed my list was gravitating more towards the rock spectrum. I like to keep things balanced so I searched hard for a rap album that could definitely be on my top 10 list. This is it and technically it’s not even a rap album. Kamaal the Abstract is more soul than rap and on songs like “Barely in Love,” Q-Tip even evokes a Beatles-esque feel. Nonetheless, this is a great album and it easily made the cut.

6. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

I was completely averse to the concept of this supergroup when I first heard about it. That aversion lasted all of about ten minutes  – Josh Homme is just too good of a songwriter and musician for me to hate any of his projects and John Paul Jones contributing bass on anyone’s tracks is worth looking into. I could care less about Dave Grohl, but he played his part and was a good drummer in the back of the group.

This album was necessary for 2009. We needed something that would bring back the essence of rock n roll and extend the vitality of the genre.

7. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Surprise, Grizzly Bear is on another best of 2009 list!

8. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

I heard about Bibio a few months after Ambivalence Avenue was released and I’m really digging this guy. I have a deep love and reverence for electronic music and Bibio is almost like the missing link between Boards of Canada, Prefuse 73 and Daedelus. If you enjoy any kind of electronic music, you must own this album.

9. Sonic Youth – The Eternal

Sonic Youth has definitely evolved over the past decade. They rely less on experimentalism and noise as crutches these days and they’re writing well structured and great songs. The noise and feedback are simply tools for various kinds of brush strokes and colors. The Eternal is proof that Sonic Youth has truly grown up and have reached a point where their maturity and life experiences as people are intriguing to outsiders and pulls them into the music and experience that is Sonic Youth.

10.  Japandroids – Post Nothing

Japandroids are on the list because No Age’s record came out last year and not this year.

All harsh jokes aside, I like the guitar textures on this album and it has a certain spatial quality that other records lack.

Honorable mention list:

Sunn o – Monoliths and Dimensions

Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx pt. II

Beirut – March of the Zapotec

Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N Cheek

The Dead Weather – Horehound

Fabolous – Losos’s Way

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Currency – This Ain’t No Mixtape

Clipse – Til the Casket Drops

*Readers, please leave comments and list your favorite albums of the year

Read All About Him – Gavin Frederick

Once upon a time in the hazy and ill-defined corridors of the Atlanta DIY/indie scene, there was a progressive punk band called Blame Game. Blame Game started out as a hardcore punk band, but as they matured, their music slowly evolved into more of an improvisational jazz-punk mix evocative of groups like Polvo, June of 44, or Captain Beefheart. Blame Game was my personal introduction to Stickfigure records. I really enjoyed the material that particular group produced and delved deeper into the Stickfigure catalog. This is when I stumbled upon other groups like Big Penguin, Tenth to the Moon, Snowden and Sorry No Ferrari (technically a good friend introduced me to this band).

Stickfigure has been a strong and relevant facet within the Atlanta underground music scene for 11 years  and while their 10th anniversary was last year, we are now approaching the end of a decade of music and transitioning into a new era. I wanted to speak with Gavin Frederick, the owner of Stickfigure, about how the landscape of the Atlanta music scene has changed over the past decade.

How long have you been involved in the Atlanta scene?

I moved to Atlanta in the fall of 1992 to attend Georgia Tech from SE Pennsylvania.  Started working @ WREK 91.1 fm my second day there and haven’t looked back since.

How has the Atlanta scene evolved over the past decade? What are some trends that you’ve observed?

The Atlanta scene, in my opinion, is one of the most diverse and strong music scenes in the nation, if not the world.  Atlanta has local grown established artists and bands representing in just about all genres whether it be hip hop, r&b, pop, indie rock, metal, punk, noise, math rock or any of the other hundreds of sub genres, there’s something here for everyone.  If you don’t know about it you’re not trying hard enough to find it.

You might feel that I am avoiding the question with that answer, but I could write a couple of books attempting to answer that question and still not answer it sufficiently for everyone, so a vague general response I feel is the best answer considering this is just an interview (laughs)!

Atlanta has produced a few notable rock acts, namely Mastodon, the Black Lips, and Deerhunter. However, rap still dominates the market here. Do you feel that the indie rock scene will ever surpass what’s going on within the urban/hip-hop market?

It could happen.  Sugarland are from Atlanta as well and they might be arguably bigger than such hip hop artists as Outkast, Usher and Ludacris.

Do you have any personal expectations for the indie rock or electronic scenes in Atlanta? For instance, do you want these scenes to break out into the mainstream and become more competitive with other scenes in Brooklyn, Austin, or San Francisco?

It’s best not to have high expectations.  The current media environment is very unpredictable and fickle.  Everything is obvious in hindsight, but who knows what will be hot in music next week.  It’s easier to predict the weather. Artists “breaking out” of a local scene has it’s pluses and minuses. The main plus is the local scene is taken more seriously on a national/international level. The big minus is that  the success of a local artist will cause other local audiences to just copy and borrow from the successful artist in order to hopefully attain their own success, thereby limiting the musical diversity of the scene.

A major reason why the Atlanta scene has been awesome for so long is directly related to lack of national exposure which enabled an environment where artists were more willing to take risks and please themselves instead of giving fans what the artists think they want.

Stickfigure alumni Blame Game

You started Stickfigure Distribution and Mailorder in 1992. How did Stickfigure come about?

It actually started in 1998 (*whoops, sorry readers, their website said 1992).  Before then it was just a couple box of records that I took to shows as a mobile record store. The name was given by a friend named Rebecca Merchant.  Susan Rose designed the logo as well.

What did you feel Stickfigure could offer artists at that time that a conventional label or other source of marketing and distribution could not offer?

The artists I worked with in general didn’t have any other labels interested.  It really was a matter of, “well this is better than nothing.”  (laughs)

Can you describe the early Stickfigure music showcases and how they came about?

The Stickfigure showcases did not start until 2005.  It’s just a series of shows that I put together to help promote the local bands on a local level.  The 2010 showcase will be in the summer this year and hopefully all of the shows will be free.  More details to come.

Was your label strongly affiliated with any particular music venue or house party scene in the early years?

I Defy House pre 1998, Under the Couch 1998-2001 and now the Drunken Unicorn.  However, the late nineties more because there were not any other venues and the Drunken Unicorn now because I do all of the booking there.

Which Stickfigure alumni and current artists are you most proud of?

Tough question…for bands and artists that are no longer together, I would have to say One Hand Loves The Other. Active bands, Deerhunter, for defying the odds.  Nobody in 2005 though they would be were they are at now.

Given the current music business climate, how has Stickfigure’s objectives changed as a business? Now how would you describe your target market or demographic?

Stickfigure is becoming more of a pop / electro label.  Just check out La Chansons,  Backseat Dreamer, Warning Light, Lid Emba, Strezo, Nerdkween, Von Iva, the Subliminator, Harken The Hands Askew, Femme Fatality and you’ll get a good idea of what the direction of the label is now.

The main label is also being split into many different labels, each of which will market to a more specific demographic:

A Distant Sound – dark wave – Attention System, Entertainment, The Feeding Fingers

Adair Park – indie rock – The Orphins, This Piano Plays Itself

Earthshaking Rhythms – noise / experimental – Baldeagle, Yatagarasu

Fieldhouse – singer / songwriter – Ben Trickey

Vagina Flambe – Hawks, Mourdella – metal, punk, loud, for those who can’t hear (laughs).

Current Stickfigure/A Distant Sound artist Attention System

Because people are purchasing less records these days, what problems do you feel will arise in the future for smaller, burgeoning labels?

Just the usual problems:  how to pay for recording, mastering, publicity, pressing costs.  Digital sales keep increasing and the market is definitely shifting towards individuals purchasing their music digitally and online.  Die hard fans of artists will want the real thing, be it vinyl, cassette, cd,  eight track, laserdisc or whatever, but most fans will just want the hit single.

In many ways the music environment is much better for smaller labels because with digital the majors do NOT have the stranglehold on mass distribution that they had ten plus years ago.  This enables small labels to spend more on press / publicity and less on distribution since digital distribution does not have the overhead of physical distribution.

Aside from Stickfigure artists, what Atlanta based acts are you really digging right now?

Lions and Scissors, Big Chad Famous, Odist, Vegan Coke, Gold Standard, Sealions, Siberia My Sweet, Sound On Film, What Happened To Your Fire Tiger, Nigredo, Royal Thunder, Scarab, Withered, The Sylvans, Small Reactions, Adron, The Selmanaires, Zoroaster among others.

What can music fans expect to see from Stickfigure Distribution in 2010?

January 2010 will see new full lengths by La Chansons, Lid Emba and Warning Light. Spring 2010 will have new full lengths by Attention System, Backseat Dreamer, Sorry No Ferrari and This Piano Plays Itself. And later in the year, we will be releasing Entertainment, Strezo, The Feeding Fingers and maybe Ringo Deathstarr.

For more information about Stickfigure Records and Distribution, click here and here

Did You Hear About – Stokeswood and the Jungol

To hear the Jungol, click here

To hear Stokeswood, click here