If you look only at the title of the most recent album by Brooklyn outfit Bellows, you might expect to hear some of frontperson Oliver Kalb’s more stripped down, primitive tracks. On the contrary, The Rose Gardener is Kalb’s most dynamic work thus far, and it’s the fullest the five-piece has ever sounded.
Sitting in EAV bar and venue, 529, amongst residual cigarette smoke and the sounds of opening band Another Michael, I talked to Oliver about his new album, his path to Bellows’ more complex sound, and the process of coming to terms with bouts of misanthropy and the changing New York DIY scene.
Sad Girl Co.: Looking back at your first LP, does it feel like the same band to you? How do you feel like you’ve evolved?
Oliver Kalb: I was thinking about that album recently — I made it when I was 18 and had never self-recorded before. It was something I learned how to do over the last few years or so. I still respect the challenge that I put myself through for that album, which was to make an album without any electronics or synthesizers and see how full I could make it. It’s definitely not where I’m at sonically anymore or how I’d make it now, but it’s fun to look back at it and see what mistakes I made that led me to where I am now.
SGC: When I listen to that album versus The Rose Gardener it’s two different moods for sure. You mentioned that you never typically record in a studio, was that the same for this album?
OK: None of the Bellows albums have been recorded in a studio. It’s kind of my way of controlling things sonically. Our second record took a really long time because there were certain sonic ideas that I wasn’t entirely sure how to orchestrate. I didn’t necessarily have the means to accomplish these ideas; it felt like there were sort of insurmountable obstacles that I couldn’t get over, so I was constantly troubleshooting. Now, those are things that would be more or less easy for me, so it’s interesting to hear the difference.
SGC: How did you decide that you’d solely self-record your music?
OK: It’s pretty boring, but I got a MacBook that had Garage Band on it, and I started screwing around on it, got a USB microphone, and literally recorded on a USB microphone and it would sound — at least at a time — incredibly crisp. Hearing my own recorded music really led me to want to do more with it.
SGC: The Rose Gardener to me seems to have a more diverse sound than your previous releases. How did you make those sonic choices?
OK: Yeah, I think that when we made Fist & Palm, there were certain ideas that I was trying to accomplish that I was a beginner at. I’m really proud of the songs on that album, but when I listen back to the recordings I think, “I could’ve done this better.” I feel like with The Rose Gardener I kind of wanted to vindicate certain ideas that I couldn’t get across on Fist & Palm. I think of The Rose Gardener as a more developed cousin of Fist & Palm.
SGC: Thematically, the album seems to express both anger and resilience. What were you thinking when you made the album?
OK: I made this album during a paranoid and angry period of my life. I felt bitterly disconnected from the New York music scene that seemed to have been overrun with power grabs and petty people. It felt kind of gross and I felt lonely and misanthropic. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone in my community. I think I worked through that in writing the album, but at the time it felt like an emergency. I felt like I was done with the world that I’d just poured 6 years of my life into. I turned to the album to express the things I didn’t feel like I could say out loud.
SGC: What’s your personal favorite track on The Rose Gardener?
OK: I think my favorite song on the album is “Count ‘Em Down.” I felt like that was one where I compositionally pushed me to a place I’d never gone before. But I think my favorite song to play live is “What Can I Tell You About The World?” I think that’s one of our most un-fussy songs, and that song in particular feels like it can channel a mood that’s a bit higher than some of the other songs on the album that fall into an angsty genre.
SGC: As far as your album art goes, do you create it yourself?
OK: I create all of our album art. This one is definitely the one I’m most proud of. I initially wanted to draw a full folding rose bush with plants curving around little scenes from the album, but I’m not an illustrator and my album covers are usually done in the most naive way. I found I wasn’t great at drawing plants.
I think I was on Tumblr or Pinterest or something, and found a weird medieval screed that was a prophecy of the antichrist, and it was extremely creepy and had roman numerals in these little boxes. There was something about it that was so obsessive and demonic. I wanted to synthesize the prophetic, demonic quality of it into something more pertinent to the album. I envisioned it as a grid with different pieces of the album throughout. I used a lot of sort of disparate imagery that together formed a feeling of unease or chaos that I think underlies the album.
One of 2019’s most sonically diverse releases, The Rose Gardener swings from bedroom pop to folk to synth-pop, and shows Kalb’s developing mastery of DIY production.
Just as it was for Kalb himself, the album is a powerful tool for resolving one’s own anger and resentment, and acknowledging that it’s OK to feel those emotions. The modern world often lends itself to misanthropy and, like Kalb, we can all fall into pits of bitterness from time to time. This LP is the what you should press play on when you’re ready to face those feelings head-on.
The Rose Gardener is out everywhere to stream and purchase, and Bellows is currently on tour with Chicago-based band Another Michael.
Despite originally hailing from Bowling Green, Ky., it hasn’t taken Jordan Reynolds long to settle into the Atlanta music scene. Reynolds’ 2017 EP, Always A Good Reason, served as an intimate introduction to Rose Hotel, with minimal instrumentation supporting Reynolds’ soft vibrato. Since then, Rose Hotel has slowly unfurled — transitioning from a solo project to a full-fledged band, opening for locally and nationally recognized bands and working on a comprehensive album.
Rose Hotel’s debut full-length, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes, due May 31, is the band’s most ambitious project to date. The album features contributions from 11 different Atlanta musicians — members of Neighbor Lady, Material Girls, Karaoke, Shepherds and Palm Sunday — with flutes, trumpets, vibraphone and backing vocals reinforcing Rose Hotel’s introspective soundscapes.
“It’s a record about running from nostalgia, but also leaning into it,” Reynolds says in a press release. “It’s about transitioning through life, learning from the different phases we endure.”
Last summer, Reynolds embarked on a three-week emotional pilgrimage, in the form of a solo road trip. She had just finished the then unnamed album, and was coming into her own while healing from heartbreak. The album’s title resulted from a conversation with a fellow musician Reynolds had met while traveling. Sitting on a blanket at Postock — a music festival hosted on a farm in Wisconsin — the two women discussed their lives, and Reynolds’ newfound friend shared a piece of enlightenment.
“She said, ‘And finally, I told myself, I will only come when it's a yes.’ As soon as she said that, I felt this heat radiate all over my skin; it resonated so much with me at the time and what the record was about,” Reynolds tells Sad Girl Collective.
Reynolds has partnered the announcement of I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes with the release of “10 K.” The album’s lead single is an effervescent expansion of Rose Hotel’s lo-fi, bedroom pop roots, with darker, shoegaze leanings. Directed by Reynold’s friend Jayme Powell — another Bowling Green transplant — the song’s accompanying Super 8 visuals pay homage to the band’s old and new hometowns, of Bowling Green and Atlanta, respectively.
“I wanted to capture the bittersweet nostalgia of moving away from home, mixed with the excitement of experiencing a new city and moving forward in life. It sort of feels like a home movie in a lot of ways, and the song feels like that to me too,” Reynolds says.
With one foot in Kentucky, and one in Atlanta, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes not only marks Rose Hotel’s debut as a full band, but also Reynolds’ debut as a full member of the Atlanta DIY scene. — Kristy Guilbault
Spring is here, and the arrival of a new season is an opportunity to take stock of those resolutions you made at the beginning of the year and shed your callous, winter skin. Whether this is done through a change in lifestyle or sonic revelations, March gives us a chance to grow and refresh. We’ve heard this throughout the new releases of 2019, so follow suit and expand your musical horizons this month. Listen to something new, and support those silver and gold artists by checking out some shows this March.
Read more below >>>>
Berlin-based, Swedish artist Molly Nilsson is a believer in — and a master of — the DIY scene. From the start of her musical career, she has handled her own booking and promotion, in addition to producing her own music; in 2009, Nilsson started her own label, Dark Skies Association. Now, Nilsson has eight albums under her belt. The most recent, 2018’s Twenty Twenty, is an acknowledgement of the often unbearable twists and turns of our modern world, and an attempt to maintain some motivation and joy despite it all. Nilsson is proficient in producing dark pop that is both bouncy and reflective; she gives us glimpses into her experiences — the seemingly mundane ones, and the milestones.
Opening for Molly Nilsson is Atlanta’s electro-punk trio Shouldies. The show prefaces Shouldie’s upcoming tour and the release of their first full-length album, :), via Savannah’s Graveface Records. Frontperson Yancey Ballard has contributed numerous projects to the Atlanta music scene, but with Shouldies, Ballard has found their stride. Alongside John Pierce (Post Hunk) and Daniel Eberlein, Ballard has mastered their brand of dusky synth-pop, accompanied by vocals that at time stylistically border on spoken-word. Shouldies’ music is honest in ways that poke and prod at you, forcing you to look inward, while also inviting you to bust your weirdest move. — EP
Creating a world around melodic dream pop, Montreal’s Anemone thrives on emotional catharsis. The quintet’s February release Beat My Distance is a driven, coolheaded step forward from 2018’s Baby Only You & I EP, adding lucious vibrance to the group's psych-pop and melodic rhythms. Frontwoman Chloé Soldevila’s lyrics teem with longing for human interaction, resulting in music built to bear your soul and dance to. — Katie Lipsiner
Making SGC’s 2018 overlooked albums list, The Beths provided us a with refreshing a refreshing hybrid of pop punk and indie rock last year, with Future Me Hates Me. Members Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce and Benjamin Sinclair exhibit their instrumental mastery on the album, ripping through guitar solos on songs like “Happy Unhappy.” Tracks like “Uptown Girl” display both percussive skill and hook-writing talent, as Stokes sings, “I will go out tonight / I’m gonna drink the whole town dry / Put poison in my wine in hope that you’re the one who dies.” She punches every word with clenched fists, in a voice that seamlessly transitions from head to chest. — EP
“If there’s a cool spot in hell / I hope you get it,” Matthew Lee Cothran sings during the hook of “Weird Honey,” and he carries this blithe energy throughout the rest of Elvis Depressedly’s discography. Cothran and Delaney Mills have been creating lo-fi pop under the moniker for just short of a decade. The duo has been laying low for the past couple of years, but Elvis Depressedly vows to make a return in 2019, complete with two headlining tours and new music. This will be Elvis Depressedly’s first release since 2016’s Holo Pleasures / California Dreamin’, and it’s sure to mark a period of growth and reflection. — KL
Since releasing As If to Say I Hate Daylight in 2011, Bellows has moved farther and farther from its original, lo-fi bedroom pop sound to something more refined and fleshed-out. Throughout this evolution, the group has managed to hang onto its DIY roots and the light, airy folk tone that makes a Bellows song identifiable. However, on 2019’s The Rose Gardener, Oliver Kalb brings us sounds that we haven’t heard from Bellows before, like the dancey, electronic bridge on “The Tower.” Kalb and Bellows bring a refreshing sincerity to the live show experience, and create a safe space to let both your pain and your joy breathe. — EP
Atlanta five-piece Yams Club is taking over 529 with their jazz-infused indie rock. The band originally started writing music during high school, drawing on how the fundamentals of familiarity can play a role in the musical process. Yams Club released its debut EP, Behind the Light, in June 2018, and has left listeners longing for more this year. “Like a moth drawn to a flame / Am I going insane,” vocalist Jade Thames bellows on the lead track “Flame,” coupling themes of anxious desire with hazy percussion. Yams Club pieces together different genres to make a sound all its own. This young Atlanta band is one to look out for. — KL
Korean-American DJ, producer, rapper and artist Yaeji (Kathy Yaeji Lee) is a force to be reckoned with. She has released a plethora of EPs and singles since 2016 that combine elements of hip-hop, synth-pop and house music. The sound that she has curated is not only entirely her own, it shows her versatility and breaks through the notion that an artist must stay within the bounds of a specific genre. Hopping from English to Korean and back again, her vocals rarely reach a volume higher than a forceful whisper. The juxtaposition of her bold merging of musical styles with her soft-spoken vocal timbre is powerful — she is both tender and strong, and the listener can’t help but pay attention. Although songs like “raingurl” and her cover of Drake’s “passionfruit” lean toward house music, Yaeji’s message is more weighty than superficial. She sings about hurt, change, betrayal and the balance of both her American and Korean influences. That she can create a track like “One More” that is simultaneously haunting and at home in a club reveals Yaeji exactly as she is: a renaissance woman. — EP
Folk trio Mountain Man released its stand-out second album, Magic Ship, in 2018 to critical acclaim. The 35-minute LP is nestled perfectly in the appalachian folk genre, and shows off the sugary, breathy voices of the three members: Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath (Sylvan Esso). Tracks like “Baby Where You Are” and “Slow Wake Up Sunday Morning” have a sound that seems to mimic the way fog settles on blue ridge mountains — they are both light and heavy, with a chill and an unmistakable feeling of being almost home. On “Boat,” the trio brings us something more traditional, a song for campfires and porch gatherings. While the guitar on the album is beautiful and welcoming, we hear some of the most impressive sounds on the a cappella tracks, like “Bright Morning Stars.” The talents of Sarle, Sauser-Monnig and Meath are undeniable, and the three women are will undoubtedly bring us more critically-acclaimed music in the years to come. — EP
Under the moniker Homeshake, Montreal songwriter Peter Sagar has constantly been evolving his lo-fi synth-pop identity. Sagar’s latest release, Helium, swaps out his signature dreamy synth for darker dancehall elements. The album’s singles, “Like Mariah” and “Nothing Could Be Better,” gave listeners a taste of what was to come, following Homeshake’s breakout album Fresh Air (2017). Helium retains Sagar’s relaxed sound, while adding in darker R&B beats to create the ultimate dance tracks. — KL
After releasing its self-titled debut album in early 2018, post-punk trio Moaning are back in Atlanta with more melancholy synth-pop. Cutting its teeth in the L.A DIY scene, Moaning relays experiences of love and distress against a uniquely darkly driven sound. The band’s debut is sharp and enthralling, and hopefully points to more music in the future. — KL
February is coming in hot on “full power mode” with a jam packed month of amazing musicians touring through Atlanta. February, at its very core, is about the celebration of love in all of its weirdest + wildest forms. Whether that be applauding the shifts you encounter, good or what you perceive as to be bad, or simply performing small acts of self care by attending your favorite shows to dance the night away, February has some good energy surrounding the path to giving and receiving more and more love in your life.
With so much music happening this month in Atlanta, we somehow narrowed down a few favorites to spotlight on this month’s concert guide for February.
Read more below >>>>
After releasing Heater in January via Citrus City Records, Atlanta’s True Blossom is ready to officially debut its album at 529. Led by guitarist Chandler Kelley and singer Sophie Cox, the five-piece mixes ‘80s synth with ‘70s disco elements, setting the band apart from the conventional pop scene. Heater’s lead single, “Baby,” teems with disco hi-hats and Sophie Cox’s emotional dream-pop vocals. True Blossom is currently busy planning a spring east coast tour, wrapping up a music video (keep your eyes glued to the group’s social pages) and tracking its next release, but satiate your appetite for funk-tinged pop at 529 in the meantime. — Katie Lipsiner
Slightly ahead of the release of Copeland’s forthcoming album, Blushing — due out Feb. 14 via Tooth & Nail Records — the band’s tour, with support from Many Rooms and From Indian Lakes, will be all the more invigorating. Blushing is Copeland’s first full-length release since 2014’s Ixora Twin. To celebrate the album announcement, the group has released three new tracks. On “Pope,” a voice softly whispers, “Did you dream about anything last night?,” repeating the phrase over entrancing violin. These singles beautifully retain elements of Copeland’s past discography, while also pushing their sonic boundaries. — KL
Atlanta-based group Yukons released its first full-length, South of the Equator, just last year. The trio has dug its heels into the local music scene in the past couple of years, bringing unique and engaging Latinx-influenced punk rock. Yukons will be back at 529 on Feb. 15 with lo-fi four-piece Kibi James, Chicago’s Fran, “space baby rock” quartet Pinkest and DJ Florista. The trio will perform songs from South of the Equator, giving a performance that will undoubtedly be as biting and wild as it is thoughtful, as the group uses music to unapologetically express both its pride in, and struggle with, its members’ identities as Latinx, queer artists in the south. — Erin Patrick
Based in Los Angeles but with roots in Philadelphia, both coasts inform the sound of Mt. Joy. The indie rock five-piece’s first full-length release came last year, following a string of single releases dating back to 2016. The self-titled LP was a long time coming, as a couple members of the band have been playing music together since high school. While Mt. Joy falls within the indie rock realm, its sound can be described as soulful and leaning toward alt-folk. It’s music that feels familiar even upon first listen; it’s comforting and brings on bouts of nostalgia. — EP
It’s been three years since Little Tybee’s last full-length release, but a handful of recent shows and a 2018 single perhaps point to something on the horizon. Atlanta’s own folk-pop outfit has been a staple of both the DIY and social activism scenes. In addition to contributing violin and viola to Little Tybee’s eclectic and seemingly boundless sound, Nirvana Kelly serves as Georgia Artists for Progress’ executive director. The nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization focuses on encouraging political action through art-affiliated events, such as last October’s “Turn Up the Turn Out” partnership with the Bakery, during which Little Tybee performed. So, if supporting local (and extremely talented) artists doesn’t feel good enough already, Little Tybee’s mission to further Georgia’s progressive politics certainly sweetens the deal. — KG
One of Sad Girl Co.’s goals for 2019 is to further our mission of fostering community and catalyzing discussion, by turning that self-expression safe space into something more tangible. As our first step towards making this happen, we’ve partnered with three ____ acts/bands/artists to host our very first event at the Earl. Punk four-piece Chick Wallace, Charleston’s She Returns From War and southern-pop outfit The Underhill Family Orchestra will perform, and donations will be collected for immigrant and refugee advocates Tapestri. The nonprofit is dedicated to ending violence and oppression in immigrant and refugee communities, using culturally competent education, community organization, direct services and southeastern advocacy to stop destructive norms from continuing into the next generation. — KG
Bringing a sense of urgency to indie pop, The Aces stole the hearts of listeners across the country with their 2018 full-length debut, When My Heart Felt Volcanic. The LP overflows with heartfelt lyrics and groovable beats, making it the perfect soundtrack to mending or breaking hearts. Comprised of sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, and childhood friends McKenna Petty and Katie Henderson, the all-female quartet has a refreshing way of weaving confident pop with familial bonds, solidifying the notion that women are not each other's competition. — KL
Brooklyn duo (once trio) Wet plays at Aisle 5 toward the end of February, following the 2018 release of its second LP, Still Run. Since the group’s first EP in 2014, Wet has been slowly but surely solidifying its sound and making a name for itself as a one-of-a-kind pop/electronic outfit. Comprised of songs written and performed by Kelly Zutrau and Joe Valle, Still Run presents a fuller sound than previous releases, with tracks that have been lived with, molded and remolded by time and experience. Zatrou’s buttery voice can be heard atop hooks and percussion that are often danceable, and you’ll finding yourself tapping your toes even as she sings about the tenderest of emotions. — EP
Dev Hynes is more than just a musician, but an artist able to create a world of “ugly beauty” all his own. Working under the moniker Blood Orange as a producer and multi-instrumentalist, Hynes’ fourth album Negro Swan is a vision of intersectionality, inclusion, Hyne’s personal battles with mental health in the black community and the role that music plays in unfurling those narratives. Capturing the toxicity hurled towards marginalized communities in the current political climate, Negro Swan unveils swirling R&B landscapes of all-consuming bliss and anxiety, while also creating art and love within it. — KL
Who are your top picks to see this February? Let us know!
There’s no avoiding that it has been a socially and politically raucous past couple of months. And frankly, we shouldn’t avoid it. But as usual, music is here to offer some sort of release. More than that, concerts are here to facilitate community and creativity. So let’s gather together.
This month is chock full of current indie scene staples — from Adult Mom to Wild Nothing. Read on + get your tickets.
At the time of Natalie Prass’ 2015 self-titled LP release, the level of emotion with which she addressed broken heartedness and insecurity seemed apt. But now it’s 2018, and things are different. Prass has responded to today’s oppressors and backwards thinkers with The Future and The Past — an uproar that is louder, more poignant and unmistakable.
The most conspicuous of her subversive messages comes on the track “Sisters” — a call for female and femme-identifying citizens to stick together, and a gracefully angry retelling of the injustices faced by women. This release feels like Prass has stepped out from behind a curtain and is showing us that she’s more than just a pretty voice, in the form of bouncing percussion, layered vocals and melodies reminiscent of ‘80s disco. Although it would be easy to address these topics with solemnity and sadness, she brings a danceable buoyancy to her cry for change. — Erin Patrick
Wild Nothing has become a synth-pop institution. Jack Tatum kicked off the shimmering project in 2009, with the surf rock standard single “Summer Holiday.” The band has continued to produce hazy chillwave over the years, but its latest effort Indigo leans more towards the ‘80s side of synth.
Lead single “Letting Go” set Wild Nothing’s modified tone, with glitchy keyboard and lush guitar riffs. Sultry “Partners in Motion” followed suit, bringing a modernized retro feel. However the crown jewel of Indigo arrives at its close. Co-written by Mitski, “Bend” takes Tatum’s textured instrumentation, and layers a distinctive Mitski melodic line overtop, as the vocals wind and modulate. — Kristy Guilbault
Capacity is one of the best albums of 2017. That’s an indisputable fact, for both critics and fans. Devastating, arresting and delicate, Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting taps into the power of raw vulnerability.
Arriving as Big Thief’s sophomore release, Capacity details the pain of familial tensions, domestic abuse, young love and death. Within the album’s first minutes, Lenker unflinchingly recounts a near death experience from her childhood: “Blood gushing from my head / You held me in the backseat with a dishrag, soaking up blood with your eyes /I was just five and you were twenty-seven / Praying, “Don’t let my baby die.” Earlier this month, Lenker quietly released an equally gorgeous solo album. abysskiss is more simplistic instrumentally, but the potency of Lenker’s voice remains. — KG
Aside from being Adult Mom’s singer, Steph Knipe leads the group with their personality, placing the quartet at the forefront of queer rock. Knipe is a fiery and spirited songwriter, although Adult Mom’s music is known for its melodic simplicity. This simplicity leaves room for Knipe’s pointed social commentary to breathe and be fully digested.
The group’s most recent full-length, Soft Spots, came in 2017, followed by a release of demos from that same album earlier this year. The LP is a collection of brief tracks that are more tender and introspective than any of Adult Mom’s previous work. “Drive Me Home” shows us Knipe’s vulnerable side, as they plead for acceptance and human company: “If I am good / If I am really fucking good / Will you please take me home / Validate me / And create the space I can’t make.” — EP
Alt-punk band Mom Jeans. is taking over The Drunken Unicorn on October 25. The quartet are known for embracing the sad and emo labels. Their 2018 release Puppy Love bursts with worries of understanding how to figure out one’s life. “Wouldn't it be nice / To not have to care about anything or anyone?...I think that I'm just having trouble / Feeling successful in my own life / Maybe we could take some time to think,” is mused on the track “glamourous” — a calming cloud of truth in communicating what you really need to say. — Katie Lipsiner
Our Halloween plans just have been consumed by the need to see Michael Cera Palin’s farewell show. Aside from a great band name, Michael Cera Palin sought to create interesting emo music, and succeeded. The trio released an excellent EP, I Don’t Know How To Explain It, in February, which is comprised of songs written during the three years between their 2015 debut. “Shoutout to every venue that has let us play, every person who watched us in those venues, every band we've played with, and every dog,” the band says in a Bandcamp statement.
Alongside 529 regulars Blis., YOU and King of Summer, the spookiest night of the year is going to be filled with bounties of cheap beer, great punk music that brings the community together and, of course, some gnarly costumes. — KL
WHO: MOLLY BURCH
WHERE: 529 BAR
WHEN: OCT. 9 @ 9PM
Austin native Molly Burch takes over 529 tonight, October 9th with doors at 9 p.m. It's only fitting that such an intimate album will be played in a space that is itself community-oriented and personal.
Molly Burch’s buttery voice often contradicts the forceful subject matter her songs tackle. Burch lays herself bare in a refreshingly casual way, cooing over bouncing guitar and delicate percussion that is telling of her classical jazz background. Her 2018 release, First Flower tells tales of failed attractions, unattainable aspirations, and female afflictions, including a message “To The Boys.” On this track, Burch seems to sum up her own musical style and personality whilst tackling the expectations of the patriarchy: “I don't need to scream to get my point across / I don't need to yell to know that I'm the boss / That is my choice / And this is my voice / You can tell that to the boys.”
Her affectation when addressing something as serious as lost love and a shattered heart is playful and self-aware, as demonstrated by the track "True Love" when Burch sings the words "real love" in a slurred, romantic tone that seems to be an indirect jab at how futile and comical it can often feel to fall hopelessly in love. She goes on to candidly address the matters of blame, and mental and emotional exhaustion at the hands of a relationship on the album's closing track, "Every Little Thing."
Being in the audience of a Molly Burch performance means more than observing -- expect to feel both invested in and soothed by the music.
If this September is noted for anything, it's remarkable live music. We rounded up some must-see gigs for your enjoyment and social life. Check these artists out, listen up and get out there for some amazing Atlanta shows.
Punk music is often viewed as cacophonous snippets of impulsive rage, but Empath is proof that the rowdy genre can spit out a great deal of compassion, too. The Philly-based four-piece has released two ambitious projects this year, Liberating Guilt and Fear and Environments. The former is a raucous exploration of the concept of healing frequencies, while the latter is an ambient, lo-fi portrayal of water and wind.
Liberating Guilt and Fear is equal parts refined and unruly – a nod to the tape’s recording process, which occurred in both a Brooklyn studio and frontwoman Catherine Elicson’s bedroom, where a Rock Band USB microphone was employed. Empath brings comradery, catharsis and queerness to a genre that has long been ruled by pretentiousness and heteronormativity. – KG
Comprised of John Pierce and Alex Teich, Atlanta-based duo Post Hunk released their first LP this year – a raucous post-punk rambler complete with samples from the Simpson’s and Andy Kaufman. Celebrity Pets is a well-constructed mash-up of malaise and satire that pokes fun at life’s struggles via honest and at times humorous lyricism. Pierce brings his deep, brooding voice to the tracks, at once exploding into near-screams that accompany pronounced guitar licks. The outcome is a danceable catharsis and a chance to dig in and access the angsty punk inside you that you’ve forced to lay dormant. The duo ends their tour on September 8 with a show in their hometown at East Atlanta’s 529 with Palm Ghosts, Tears for the Dying, Peeko and Mannequin Lover. – EP
Field Medic’s leading man Kevin Patrick Sullivan has mastered his brand of lo-fi freak folk, bringing us tracks that are as warm as they are fussy with emotion. Late last year, the San Francisco-based artist brought us Songs from the Sunroom, an aptly named 15-track LP that is both declaratory and inquisitive. As Sullivan sings to us about what “powerful love” feels like, he seems unsure of that power still.
Listening to Songs from the Sunroom or his 2018 EP boy from my dream, the feeling is that of satisfied melancholy. You’re bobbing up and down to the twinkling guitar picking and percussive shaker, cracking smiles at the quirky and honest lyrics, all while in the midst of honest emotions that are at times, profound. Opening for Remo Drive and Prince Daddy & The Hyena at The Masquerade, Field Medic is sure to impress the unsuspecting listener. – EP
The Athens and Atlanta music scenes have long been intertwined, exhibiting that great musical experimentation is often times the result of home recordings. Since their first EP release in 2010, Andrew McFarland (Reptar, Neighbor Lady, Giant Giants) and longtime collaborator Ryan Engelberger (Reptar, Giant Giants) have brought the rebirthed sound of Athens DIY to Atlanta with their dynamic project Semicircle.
Semicircle's first full-length record, Blown Breeze, Grown Grass and We are Part of the Earth (2014) is teeming with dark, soulful sounds that remind us why it’s nice to talk a long stroll alone, as fall takes over the city landscape. The hometown heroes are taking over 529 on September 10, alongside Atlanta’s own Rose Hotel and Honyock. – KL
For the past 11 years, frontman Zac Little has led Saintseneca to redefine folk rock and Americana for the modern era. The Columbus, Ohio five-piece melds a comprehensive collection of acoustic instrumentation (balalaika, mandolin, dulcimer, Turkish Baglama, floor percussion) with more conventional sonic elements such as electric guitars and synth.
Saintseneca’s 2018 most recent release Pillar of Na is the eclectic group’s most ambitious album to date. Opener “Circle Hymn” sets the cyclical tone of the album, which is resolved in the outro of the LP’s final track, “Pillar of Na,” with the nearly identical lyrics: “Turn all eternal / Eternity round / A circle in circle / May be unbroken now.” Saintseneca specializes in the weird, wonderful and otherworldly, and their live mysticism is a spellbinding spectacle that should not be missed. – KG
Greta Kline has been recording under the moniker Frankie Cosmos for the past decade, but her latest release, Vessel, shows us that Kline is still diving deeper and reinventing herself. Vessel tackles real world factors such as love, friendship and the deep, dark spaces where anxiety hides: “Being alive / Matters quite a bit / Even when you / Feel like shit / Being alive / I’m collapsing inwardly,” Kline plainly states on “Being Alive.” Frankie Cosmos has long been a forerunner of the ever-changing DIY scene, bringing authenticity and pure joy to everyday occurrences. – KL
Lucius owes their acclaim not only to their tantalizing vocal melodies and seamlessly woven harmonies, but also in part to their strong stage presence and unmistakable style; the bold ensembles they wear on and off stage mimic the strength and identity of their music. The female-fronted foursome released their second LP Good Grief in 2016, followed by this year’s Nudes – a collection of stripped down, acoustic covers and tracks from their past albums. Good Grief is marked by clear, powerful electric guitar and percussion that many times is just as much on the forefront as the melodic line. Above all, their music is marked by their explosive harmonies that remind us that harmonizing isn’t just for choir girls or slow burning acoustic diddies. Often calling back to the synth and dance music of the 80’s, Lucius puts on an exciting live show, complete with frontwomen Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig often playing drums together at the top of the stage, while singing, and never missing a beat. – EP
Will Toledo is a master at taking past projects and making them feel completely brand new. From the reworked single versions of Teens of Denial, to the re-recording of Car Seat Headrest’s breakout album Twin Fantasy (2011), Toledo seems to have an obsessive knack for reinvention and an uncanny understanding of the density of human connection, that continues to grow throughout his music.
The 2018 re-release of Twin Fantasy is an ambitious exploration in mental health, swarming with dense feelings of anxiety and self-reflection: “You never lifted your voice / You never raised your hand / You never showed me your inhuman / You understand,” Toledo says on “Nervous Young Humans.” The “new” album lends a hand to Car Seat Headrest’s legacy of hard-hitting emo anthems for the lost and the emotionally riveted, bringing newfangled relevance to young sad boys and gals, alike. – KL
In its third year, Irrelevant Fest has expanded its lineup to span five days, with shows in East Atlanta's quintessential venue, 529, and West Atlanta's new DIY space, The Bakery.
Irrelevant Records brings us five full evenings of local music, with a combination of emerging new artists and nationally recognized up-and-comers.
We've boiled down a few of those acts that we think you absolutely shouldn't miss. We'll also have some special social media takeovers from a few of the bands throughout the fest. It all kicks off with the Opening Reception tonight at 529. Not too late to get your tickets.
Atlanta pop rockers King of Summer (KOS) are back at Irrelevant Fest, hitting 529’s stage for the opening reception on Wed., July 18. This will also be drummer Tim Sterritt’s – the brother of KOS’s lead singer Ryan Sterritt – final show with the band.
“Our next show after Irrelevant Fest – with Microwave, Can’t Swim and Drug Church – will be our first show with our new drummer, whose name we can’t release yet,” Tim says. “Other than that, we’re sitting on some demos that we’re hoping should see the light of day before the end of the year, and partying.”
Since dropping the music video for “Tunnel of Love” back in February – a track packed with warped guitars and hauntingly melodic visuals – it looks like opening night of the fest could gain some surprises based on King of Summer’s continuous development in their music. – Katie Lipsiner
Chick Wallace is one of Atlanta’s quintessential local bands. After the video premiere for “Ghost” last month, the salty girl surf pop four-piece has been further promoting their debut self-titled EP, “The Chick Wallace EP”, since it’s release in late November.
Although their music falls into the indie-pop genre, their innovative melodic guitar lines and surf-pop rhythms combine with their punk attitudes classify them as anything but the indie cliche.
Lead by vocalist and guitarist Melanie Paulos, the Atlanta locals play almost every local venue in Atlanta over the course of the last couple months of 2018, but their performance during Irrelevant Fest’s Opening Reception is bound to be a special one. – KL
Iconic Atlanta group Material Girls will premiere their debut album, Leather, during day two of Irrelevant Fest 2018. The LP has already received much acclaim, and rightfully so. It’s a pleasantly boisterous 8-track composition that puts a modern spin on late 20th century punk, with some influence from the classic rock ‘n roll, which many in the industry claim is dying.
Material Girls are doing a notable job of bringing life back to the genre, and not just in Atlanta. As they receive national recognition for their innovative and honest art, the group still flies under the radar, adding to their completely authentically punk aesthetic. Their LP release show is sure to be a raucous good time, and one evening of Irrelevant Fest that you should not miss. – Erin Patrick
Fresh off the release of their double single, Rose Hotel will bring their glowing folk-rock to the second night of Irrelevant Fest. The “reimagined” versions of “One Thing” and fan-favorite “Honestly” – tracks from Rose Hotel’s 2017 EP Always A Good Reason – employ new harmonies and expressive French horn. These altered elements are a guide to the future sound of the band, who plans to release new music this year.
“I think, if anything, it’s really just made me feel more confident as a songwriter, and made me want to push my comfort zone and be a little more rock ‘n roll,” frontwoman Jordan Reynolds says of the Atlanta music scene’s influence on her sound. “Because the first EP was more stripped down, and then, since I’ve moved here, I’ve been able to flesh it out into a whole band. I think just the energy of Atlanta, and the way the music scene is super vibrant and eclectic and different, it made me realize that I don’t just have to sit in one box.”
Atlanta trio Yukons has been on the scene since 2016, composed of guitarist and vocalist José Joaquín Izaguirre, drummer Danielle Dollar, and bassist Hannah Lankey. Although the group didn’t form until 2016, most of the members have been making music since their early teens.
Together, each member contributes a unique point of view to the group and the songwriting. Of Venezuelan descent, Izaguirre brings a Latinx perspective to the Atlanta music scene, often singing in Spanish, like on the track, “Abajo Cadenas” from their most recent LP, South of the Equator.
At this year’s Irrelevant Fest, Yukons will be performing tracks from that March release. Izaguirre, Dollar and Lankey all feel strongly about the complexity of the current political climate, and much of South of the Equator takes on this subject. Seeing Yukons live is never dull, not only because of the disarming voice of Izaguirre or the power behind the Lankey and Dollar’s percussive contributions, but because of the topics they tackle with such ingenuity and grace. – EP
June: the collection of 30 days that bridges the gap from early summer excitement into relentless late summer heat waves (at least in Atlanta).
This month, we've got lots of local and smaller names for you that deserve your attention and best concert goer game-face.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d guess these four Seattle transplants had lived the California lifestyle for decades. After 2015's record, Weirdo Shrine -- produced by Ty Segall -- psychedelic surf-rockers La Luz crafted their third studio album Floating Features against the backdrop of Los Angeles’s iconic and star-studded terrain after departing their home in Seattle. The LP dropped this past May via Hardly Art Records. It successfully captures the group's restless energy, and is thematically centered on the struggle and triumph that comes with La Luz's vibrant Latina background. On track "The Creature," layered vocals and swirling guitar evoke a dream-like state, while displaying the group's talent for producing what some have called "surf goth." - KL
Los Angeles indie pop outfit TV Girl consists of Brad Petering, Jason Wyman and Wyatt Harmon. While the trio finds themselves primarily classified as indie pop, some of their tracks include unmistakable electronic elements that set them apart from many of their indie neighbors. Since 2014, the group has released an LP bi-yearly, with EPs and singles dating back to 2010. 2018’s Death of a Party Girl rises and falls over the span of 10 tracks, with a bouncy, dream-like tone that is reminiscent of surf rock -- if surf rock got dancey. The trio headlines at Atlanta’s Drunken Unicorn on June 20, alongside local Atlanta band Fantasy Guys and North Carolina group Infinity Crush. - EP
The Australian psych-rock collective promised fans five new albums in 2017, and they followed through on each of those five promises. The masterful fifth album Gumboot Soup dropped hours before the New Year hit, and the album demonstrated that that the Aussie psych-rockers of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard worked tirelessly, managing to create an album of some of the group's most tenderly crafted hard-hitters. Following their New Years release, the band continues their North American Tour, and will undoubtedly set Variety Playhouse on fire on during their sold out June 20 show. - KL
My First Rodeo takes hold of East Atlanta’s 529 with a hefty lineup of eight bands and multiple DJs. This is the first year of the country themed party, although local label Irrelevant Music hopes to make the event a quarterly installment. Many in the Atlanta music community have been working toward a “country night” in some fashion for a while and are excited to see it culminate on June 22. The headlining band New Madrid hails from Athens, GA and released their most recent record, magnetkingmagnetqueen in 2016. The LP is one of the group’s strongest efforts to date since their first full length release in 2012. Marked by the swirling sounds of psychedelic rock, magnetkingmagnetqueen shows New Madrid’s willingness to experiment with new sounds.
Other local groups on the line up include Post Hunk, a lo-fi punk rock duo with plans to release their first full-length LP, Celebrity Pets on June 30, and Jordan Reynolds of soft-rock group Rose Hotel, who released a single, “Honestly, One Thing” on June 1. - EP
This month's concert calendar brings a steady lineup of artists, from a big name at The Tabernacle to local and regional up-and-comers at 529. Read on for a glimpse into what not to miss this month.
Groovy dream pop trio Fantasy Guys return to 529 with Berndsen & Hermigervill, Raindeer & and Atlanta’s own True Blossom. Fantasy Guys’ 2017 EP Cruisin’ Around Respectin’ Babes is the perfect tropical follow-up to On Poppy Island (2016). Following their debut EP Surfin’ on A Wave of Juice (2015), Fantasy Guys have continued to create lush chillwave against the grit of the Atlanta cityscape. It’s almost too enthralling to be able to transport listeners to beach daydreams, filled with smooth vibes of sun kissed sensations. – Katie Lipsiner
The female-fronted group Speedy Ortiz released their third full-length, Twerp Verse, on April 27. Prior to unveiling the album, the noise pop outfit released three singles, all of which are marked with the grimy 90’s-esque guitar lines that characterize the group’s sound. On “Villain,” frontwoman Sadie Dupuis sings about the unfortunately commonplace harassment that women experience on a daily basis, describing a scenario many of us can relate to: “We ride the same bus, he knows my name / I wanna know what kind of games you like / He talks like he knows me, so I’m being polite.”
Opening for Speedy Ortiz is 20-year-old Sophie Allison, who began playing and self-publishing music under the name Soccer Mommy in 2015. The young musician signed a record deal with Fat Possum after her first show under the moniker at Silent Barn in Brooklyn. She released her second full-length LP, but first studio release, Clean this year to much acclaim. The album includes tense tracks like “Your Dog,” which draws a frighteningly accurate metaphor between a dog and her owner, and a girl and her partner in a suffocating relationship. Allison sings, “I’m not a prop for you to use, when you’re lonely or confused / I want a love that lets be breathe, I’ve been choking on your leash.” Although “Your Dog” is undoubtedly aggressive, on the track “Cool” Allison shows us her versatility with a pop-style vocal hook that effortlessly turns into earworm you’ll find yourself singing all day long.
Together, Speedy Ortiz and Soccer Mommy are geared up to put on a show led by women, charged with angst, and bound to make you bob (if not bang) your head. – Erin Patrick
Listening to Hop Along, lead singer Francis Quinlan’s voice is the first thing to stand out. It isn’t gentle – it grabs you and holds on tight as she wails on notes and lets her voice crackle. But make no mistake, that crackle is by no means a sign of weakness. Quinlan’s vocals are strong, as are the words she sings alongside the other 6 members of the Philadelphia-based rock band. The band released their follow up to 2015’s Painted Shut last month. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is 40 minutes of start-to-finish raw emotion, with guitar and strings that prove that rock music is alive and well. On this record though, Quinlan and co. also dabble in new sounds like the autotune used during “Somewhere a Judge” the LP’s driving second track.
Hailing from Ohio, folk rockers Saintseneca will open for Hop Along. Signed to ANTI- Records, the group is led by songwriter Zac Little, whose distinctive voice and captivating melodies have earned the band recognition in the indie rock scene. Saintseneca finished recording their forthcoming album this spring, and their most recent single, “The Wandering Star,” features misty vocals above twinkling guitar that builds as the song progresses and percussion is added. The track takes on an ominous feeling, as Little sings “I guess you never know what you never know,” and “You will never know firsthand what day you're born on.” – EP
If there’s one thing Cicada Rhythm exponentially excels at, it’s their ability to effortlessly mix blues, jazz and folk. As Georgia natives, the sound of Andrea DeMarcus and Dave Kirslis points to the modernized folk that hone in on soulful harmonies. The duo released their sophomore full-length, Everywhere I Go, on April 27 via Athens’ New West Records. Songs like album opener “America’s Open Roads” evoke the feeling of a breeze floating in from an open car window in the dead of summer, with DeMarcus’ arid, soulful vocals. – KL
Over the past year, Neighbor Lady has slowly taken over the Atlanta DIY scene with an arresting blend of indie-rock and country western, fronted by Emily Braden’s warbling vocals. Too nervous to play solo, Braden looked to fellow Athens, Ga. musician Jack Blauvelt for support. Neighbor Lady has grown massively since – popping up on dozens of local show bills and opening for the likes of Lomelda – all the while lacking a substantial online presence or any recorded music.
In January, the eclectic quartet announced their forthcoming debut LP, Maybe Later, due out May 11. The seven “country kissed alt-rock” tracks embody the spellbinding energy of Neighbor Lady’s live performances, with fiery guitar riffs and heartbreaking melodic lines. “Wring Me Out” brings Maybe Later to a volatile end, as Braden nearly yells over apprehensive instrumentation, before resolving into a minute of ambient synth. Neighbor Lady brings their twang-tinged vigor to 529, to celebrate the highly-anticipated release of Maybe Later. – KG
Dr. Dog returns to Atlanta with their 10th studio album Critical Equation – due out April 27 via Thrifty Tigers – proving to the world time and time again that they are the kings of sweet and soulful rock n’ roll. The Philadelphia-based psych rockers are back on tour after two years away from the road, in support of the new 2018 record.
The follow-up to last year’s Abandoned Mansion retains the band’s signature Americana influences, such as on Critical Equation’s debut single, “Listening In.” The track begins with a bobbing bassline, before co-frontman Scott McMicken’s twangy vocals stealthily appear. Whether you’re a die hard Dr. Dog follower, or just looking for a transformative psych-rock musical experience, the band’s show at the Tabernacle this month can’t be missed. – KL
With steady opening slots for groups like Twin Peaks, Whitney, Melkbelly, et., Deeper has been heavily rooted in the Chicago indie scene for the past four years. But, with the forthcoming release of their debut self-titled album – due out May 25 via Fire Talk Records – the agit-pop four-piece is widening their gaze beyond their local circles.
Deeper’s first single “Pink Showers” is bursting with angular guitar riffs, reminiscent of fellow art-punk groups Omni and Palm, overlaid by Nic Gohl’s speak-singing vocals. The track’s pointed nature is softly contrasted by the dreamy synth and heavily reverbed guitar of follow-up single “Pavement.” Deeper will hit 529’s newly renovated stage, ahead of post-punk Atlanta natives Small Reactions, Trashcan and Omni. – KG
With lush surf rock riffs and catchy melodic hooks, it’s hard to believe that the members of Lunar Vacation aren’t yet old enough to drink, and that frontwoman Grace Repasky is still burdened by 18+ show age restrictions. Atlanta’s own “pool rock” five-piece formed during high school, and quickly went on to self-release Swell, a sharp EP that’s wise beyond their years. With hopes to soon record a follow-up project, Lunar Vacation are hard at work touring and writing new tunes. The band will perform a graduation show at Westside’s new DIY venue the Bakery, in honor of Maggie Geeslin (guitar) and Repasky (vocals, guitar) finishing high school. – KG