This past Monday, Atlanta’s Terminal West venue was flooded with a crossover of old-school punk fans, new punk fans, indie heads and lovers of hardcore music all the same.
The crowd drawn out by Toronto’s PUP and their equally talented opener from Chicago, Ratboys was a fiery and passionate one.
Ratboys’ set quite literally set the stage for PUP in the perfect way. The duo’s dynamic sound ranges from more delicate, sing-songy indie on tracks like “Elvis Is in the Freezer” or “Molly,” to something heavier on songs like "GL” or “You’ve Changed” that pay homage to their punk roots.
As Ratboys continues to make music, it’s clear that at their core they are not tame, but are something wilder. With each new single or EP, their dynamism is more and more evident, and Steiner’s voice proves to us that sweetness can be strong, too.
Since seeing the band open for Soccer Mommy in January, it’s obvious that the duo only improves with every performance, and that they’re right at home with a crowd as raucous as PUP’s.
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
Ahead of our collab show with headliners The Underhill Family Orchestra at The Earl on Feb. 23rd, the band takes us through their debut album, the challenges of working together from different states, and striking balance among music and other career pursuits.
Bringing southern progressive pop to the forefront of their 5-part harmonies, The Underhill Family Orchestra brings fluid southern elements from their family roots of the delta area. With three lead singers — Joelle Rosen, Steven Laney and Ben Cook — and additional vocals from Roy Durand (Drums) and Joe Grove (Bass), Underhill captures that warm family feeling. After putting out its debut album, Tell Me That You Love Me, last May and touring across the country, Underhill has continued to challenge itself by continuing to work together, despite some members living in different states, and striking a balance between the band and other creative pursuits.
Creating a successful place among the booming Atlanta music scene, The Underhill Family Orchestra has been able to put all its heart and soul behind the diverse and inclusive spaces the scene has to offer. As a DIY hub, Atlanta’s creative community has offered support and encouragement, especially to frontwoman Joelle Rosen. “Mixing your career and passion can be really scary but also really rewarding,” Rosen says. “I kind of bounce between the scary and rewarding on a daily basis.”
As a musician and editorial photographer, Rosen is constantly working to merge her place on the stage and behind the camera. Experimentation and gut instincts play a huge role in Rosen’s career and lifestyle, as her creative pursuits weave and entangle themselves in her path. Rosen finds that her “Patsy Cline on Vacation meets ‘70s couch” personal style translates into her “retro dream grunge” editorial aesthetic, which then finds its way onstage with the band. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I think just experimenting and trusting yourself goes along with getting to know yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Rosen says.
Underhill’s debut album, Tell Me That You Love Me, serves as the band’s introduction and propels these themes of growth and balance, through soulful tracks and cry-worthy narratives rooted in New Orleans elements. Rosen’s has familial ties to the delta, which trickle its way into the album with interludes of her grandmother speaking. One excerpt at the end of the album extends the ancestral bonds, as Rosen’s grandmother laments the loss of her husband over homemade gumbo, describing her last days with him.
Underhill’s strong communication and ability to listen to each other's diverse personal tastes has an effect on the group’s songwriting, since each bandmate contributes to the process. Underhill’s music is personal, combining past inspiration with present day feelings. “Chickasaw Fields” is one track especially teeming with memories. “I remember sitting in my old living room years ago when Steven came to me with the idea. I love the Johnny and June back-and-forth verse style and think it’s definitely a quintessential Underhill vibe,” Rosen says.
The Underhill Family Orchestra continues to change, but the familial ties remain. The band is currently working on their sophomore album, on which they plan to experiment with more unorthodox instrumentation while retaining lyrical themes of love and loss. Whether playing together in Alabama, Louisiana or Georgia, The Underhill Family Orchestra will continue to share vulnerability and warmth with their listeners.
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
When we sat to go over all of the year's releases (so far), a few things became obvious. First, that this year has brought both genre rebirth (think: the sad punk of Snail Mail and garage punk of Shame) and unexpected favorites (think: Kacey Musgraves). Second, that many of the artists we name on this list are young. Third, that an overwhelming majority of those artists are women.
Most notably, we chose these albums because of musicality, innovation and importance – not gender. But even still, women rose to the top with 15 of our 20 albums coming from female artists or female-fronted groups. A few of those women are under 21, or newly 21. What we're seeing here is the result of profound and important change – it's not that these young, female/female-identifying artists only now exist, but in our current climate many of them finally have a platform on which distribute their message and their art. They weren't given that platform – they had to make it themselves. Female artists before them who refused to back down despite being nearly swallowed by cis-male rock, all-male festival lineups, or the backhanded "girl band" designation are to thank for laying the foundation that has made it possible for us to hear things like Soccer Mommy's Clean, that might have otherwise been stuck between the walls of Sophie Allison's bedroom.
While it's undeniable that women in music and women generally have a long way to go in our fight for respect and an equal playing field, this list shows progress.
As Natalie Prass sings on The Future and The Past: keep your sisters close. – Erin Patrick
*NOTE: These albums are listed by release date.
Shame / Songs of Praise (Jan. 12)
Songs of Praise, the debut album from UK punk rockers Shame, is a raucous ride packed with anger, darkness, desperation and wit. From the opening track, lead singer Charlie Steen’s desire to be heard is obvious, although he has notably rejected the idea of great fame. Throughout the album, the listener hears him go from a monotonous drone to a throaty squall that is undeniably bursting with anger, pain or both.
On “One Rizla,” Steen addresses his own gruffness and self-declared mediocrity, and lets us know exactly where he stands on his music and his life: “My nails ain't manicured / My voice ain't the best you've heard / And you can choose to hate my words / But do I give a fuck?” The group seems painfully self-aware of their place in the saturated UK rock scene and wants to level with us. What makes Shame and Songs of Praise stand out isn’t the type of music they’re making, but the attitude they put into it. Although strident and punky, every sound is intentional and demonstrative of the artfulness and talent of the group and the fame that may follow, against their will. – EP
Tune-Yards – I can feel you creep into my private life (Jan. 19)
Merrill Garbus is not one to shy away from the complexity of socially conscious confrontation through her ambitious musicality. On her fourth album as Tune-Yards, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, Garbus takes a deeper look into the crippling political landscape of America with complex lyricism. Since 2011’s w h o k i l l ‘s, the follow up to her 2008 debut release BiRd-BrAiNs, Tune-Yards has continued to give that true sense of value through her music for listeners to explore present day issues of social disparity in the indie-rock backdrop. “I turn on my white woman's voice to contextualize acts of my white women friends/ I cry my white woman tears carving grooves in my cheeks to display what I meant,” Garbus sings on “Colonizer,” leaving questions on how we perceive the way we discuss social inequality and topics of race in present day society. – Katie Lipsiner
Porches – The House (Jan. 19)
New York-based songwriter Aaron Maine released his third studio LP as Porches this year. The House follows 2016’s Pool, which marked Porches transition from a unique brand of semi-soft rock to glitzy dance tracks, a transformation catalyzed by Maine’s exploration of homemade beats.
The House is a magnified portrayal of some of Porches’ most heart-wrenching tracks ever released -- tracks that dive into the thoughts of anxiousness that consume most humans trying to figure out their lives. “I think that I’ll stay inside/If you don’t think that they’d mind/I can’t let it find me,” Maine serenades, the disillusioned confession of overbearing anxiety that keeps your body from moving, that entrances you deep in your own thoughts, all through techno beats and a catchy chorus. – KL
Caroline Rose – LONER (Feb. 23)
With a career long rooted in folk, Caroline Rose has a history with creative isolation. So, true to her satirical form, Rose’s latest and most extroverted release is entitled LONER. Rose’s sophomore release is a far cry from the rockabilly blues of 2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid, which was her objective when creating her latest project. The Nashville musician felt as though her music didn’t properly convey her vibrant personality, and set out to record and produce a LP packed with energy and dark humor.
LONER light-heartedly touches on everything from isolation and death, to misogyny and capitalism, with catchy hooks and surf guitar softening the blows. Lead single, “Money,” set the tone for the album with a raucous critique of selling out in the music industry. But LONER’s saitrical crown jewel is “Bikini,” which exposes the rampant misogyny that female artists constantly battle: “We’re gonna give you everything you’ve ever wanted / Hang a banner with your name upon it / Pour three shots in a glass, call it a martini / All you’ve got to do is put on this little bikini / And dance.” – KG
Lucy Dacus – Historian (March 2)
In early 2016, Lucy Dacus quietly rolled onto the neo-folk scene with her debut album, No Burden. The green-eyed, red-faced singer-songwriter quickly garnered the attention of the music community with her guitar prowess and witty lyricism. Dacus’ 2018 release builds on the cut-and-dry storytelling of No Burden, adding layers of strings and horns to the songwriter’s palette. Historian enters as a sucker-punch, with emotional slow-burn “Night Shift,” and exits as a tender forehead kiss, with the exceptionally intimate track “Historian.”
Dacus touches on universal themes of religion, heartbreak and healing, but also takes time to look inward. Such is the case on “The Shell,” as Dacus introspectively sings, “You don't wanna be a creator / Doesn't mean you've got nothing to say / Put down the pen, don't let it force your hand.” The LP’s 10 tracks dissect the various ways people support and neglect each other, reminding listeners that the Richmond, Virginia musician is a master narrator. – KG
Soccer Mommy / Clean (March 2)
Sophie Allison is 21 years of pure, unapologetic emotion. Under the moniker Soccer Mommy, Allison has quickly become a staple of the indie and punk scenes. Clean, Soccer Mommy’s sophomore studio release, starts slowly but nonetheless forcefully with "Still Clean.” In the first verse, Allison powerfully grabs the listener’s attention with morbid imagery: “Then you took me down to the water got your mouth all clean / Left me drowning once you picked me out your bloody teeth.” From here, the album meanders into its earworm track, “Cool,” the story of the girl that all the boys are in love with – or the idea of her, at least.
The album’s peak arrives with the tension-heavy track “Your Dog,” drawing a frighteningly accurate metaphor between a dog and her owner, and a girl and her partner in a suffocating relationship. Allison has a knack for balancing adolescent laments with deep-seated malaise, as demonstrated by the way Clean bounces from the playful “Cool” and angsty “Last Girl,” to “Flaw” – a slow-burning track about intoxication, mistakes and regret. Throughout the course of the record, you’ll find yourself receding into your rawest emotional landscape for, and scream-singing through a necessary catharsis the next. – EP
Haley Heynderickx / I Need to Start a Garden (March 9)
Haley Heynderickx is a rising name in the singer-songwriter scene, one which often implies simplicity or perhaps a mundane sound, but Heynderickx provides us with compelling compositions and sounds that are concurrently forceful and delicate. I Need to Start a Garden provides glimpses into Heynderickx’s search for her place in the world, while navigating multiple cultural identities. Although the album is short and sweet, clocking in around 30 minutes, it’s packed with powerful moments.
The opening track, “No Face,” feels fragile, as if it’s being sung by someone battling profound pain. Singing “Face me / Face me entirely,” Heynderickx demonstrates her need for honesty and shows her resilience in a time of hurt. Sonically, the album consists of guitar so intimate that you can at times hear her fingers sliding on the strings. Heynderickx’s voice, too, is intimate and yearning – she soars to high notes with ease, and handles “oohs” and “aahs” without losing timbre or tonality. This is an album that can be listened to on a loop – it’s digestible and speaks to the most human parts of each of us. – EP
Frankie Cosmos / Vessel (March 30)
Greta Kline – known on the indie scene as Frankie Cosmos – released her third studio album, Vessel, this spring. Kline shares important two-minute musings on relationships and the human condition via this collection of a whopping 18 tracks, although Vessel only spans 33 minutes. On “This Stuff” she ruminates on the predisposition to keep important thoughts and feelings to oneself when they matter most – just one of the album’s mentions of mental health. The most overt reference is on “Being Alive,” an anthemic track that frequently repeats the phrase: “Being alive / Matters quite a bit / Even when you / Feel like shit,”, in Kline’s voice and her bandmates’.
Frankie Cosmos is known for their minimalism, both musically and lyrically. Often minimalism can devolve into something unchallenging or prosaic, but Vessel’s quick transitions and simple but thoughtful statements regarding everything from taxidermied dogs, to crashing phones, to death after sex, keep Kline’s brand of simplistic indie rock fresh and innovative. – EP
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (March 30)
In the interest of full transparency, country and pure, unadulterated pop aren’t typically genres that we find ourselves venturing into. However, Kacey Musgraves has achieved a crossover album that isn’t simply tolerable, but damn addictive.
Golden Hour is Musgraves’ most accessible project to date, running the gamut of pop, country and most notably disco, on standout track “High Horse.” Album opener “Slow Burn” makes an amiable introduction to Musgraves’ new sound, one that starkly differs from her previously cynical tone, by taking the scenic route: “You know the bar down the street don’t close for an hour / We should take a walk and look at all the flowers / ‘Cause I’m alright with a slow burn / Taking my time, let the world turn.” Golden Hour might be the most aptly named album of the year, bathing listeners in a warm wash of lush instrumentation and Musgraves’ glowing vocals. It’s the perfect soundtrack for sitting on the porch with a beer and watching the world go by. – KG
Hop Along / Bark Your Head Off, Dog (April 6)
Led by Frances Quinlan, Hop Along released their third, and arguably most dynamic, studio album this year. Throughout Bark Your Head Off, Dog, Quinlan ruminates on the power dynamic between men and women, and between those in power and those who go unacknowledged. These are topics she approaches with strength and grace, sandwiching poignant observations between masterful uses of imagery and metaphor.
The album’s opening track, “How Simple,” demonstrates Quinlan’s seemingly innate ability to create, and then adeptly navigate, a warm and addictive melody. That warmth echoes throughout the course of the LP, as do themes of patriarchy and the subsequent strength needed to overcome it. This motif is most overtly exhibited on “Somewhere a Judge” as Quinlan sings, “Somewhere a judge stretches himself out on fine tropical sand,” once again calling out the men who make the decisions without consequence. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is perhaps so successful because each track tells a story. The stories are not the same, but the morals follow the same plot line, and thus an album of distinctive and contrasting tracks becomes undeniably cohesive. – EP
Half Waif / Lavender (April 27)
Nandi Rose Plunkett released her third album as Half Waif this March, showing us the astounding progressions she’s made both musically and personally. Throughout the course of Lavender, the listener experiences simultaneously shows of loneliness and desire. Plunkett displays the emotional intelligence of a true empath who has experienced the gamut of both love and loss. Half Waif is still Half Waif on this record, but the synth breakdowns and glitchiness are more present and pronounced than anything on Kotekan or Probable Depths.
Plunkett’s voice, too, seems stronger than ever. She sings to us not only in the softer coo that we’re used to, but also begs and pleads in a timbre more intense than before. On “Torches,” the vocals start soft and muffled atop clear oscillating beeps, and then come through clear with the confrontational phrase, “I do what I want / And you won’t see me anymore…Don’t make yourself comfortable, love.” All of the feelings expressed thus far in the record seem to come to a head as she sings, “Listen for me now / You’ve got to listen for me now,” on stand-out track “Back in Brooklyn.” What follows is a soul-crushing denouement about abandonment and finding home. – EP
Dr. Dog - Critical Equation (April 27th)
Dr. Dog have been sonically derailing parts of listeners minds for more than a decade, but every great rock n’ roll band needs revitalization in their sound along the way. Dr. Dog’s 2018 release, Critical Equation, does just that, bringing the psych-rockers out of their skin with tight hooks and fuzzy guitar riffs.
Singles like “Listening In” and “Buzzing in the Light” gave listeners a tease of Dr. Dog’s long-awaited evolution. Sincere lyricism, alongside those signature oddball melodies, shows that there are some doors worth opening. “Seems to me I'm watching someone else's dream / Only in the light, buzzing in the light, of this world,” singer and bass guitarist Toby Leaman cooes, invoking the reality of something new to grow into, and then maybe even destroy again. – KL
Beach House / 7 (May 11)
If you’d never listened to Beach House and read through the track listing of their seventh studio album, 7, you’d think you were about to hear something that could be the soundtrack to your next party, or maybe something like French house music. “Drunk in LA”, “Woo” and “Girl Of The Year” are track names in keeping with duo’s band name, which, without musical context, also sounds playful. What you do hear on 7, though, is not party music, but sounds that are somehow both dark and warm.
The duo, comprised of Victoria LeGrand and Alex Scally, always produces music that is haunting and easy to get tangled up in, and while 7 is no exception, there’s something undeniably distinctive about it. There’s a heaviness that permeates from the first track to the last, with brief interludes of something a little lighter, like in the breakdown midway through “Dive.” LeGrand and Scally are masters of creating music that mimics everyday sensations; they then put those sensations on a sonic loop, at first bringing the listener face to face with an emotion, and then freeing them of it. 7 does this in a more dynamic and successful way than ever before. It’s 47 minutes of sound that glitters and then dulls, like a dimly lit, oscillating disco ball. – EP
Neighbor Lady / Maybe Later (May 11)
Over the past year, Neighbor Lady has dominated the Atlanta DIY scene with with an arresting blend of indie-rock and country western, all the while lacking a substantial online presence or any recorded music. In May, the eclectic quartet dropped their debut LP, Maybe Later, a spellbinding, studio embodiment of Neighbor Lady’s live performances.
Fronted by Emily Braden’s warbling vocals, the albums’ seven tracks discuss heartbreak, desperation and loneliness. Maybe Later isn’t all fire and brimstone, though, Southern pleasantries sweeten the LP, such as on “Oh Honey,” when Braden sings with a seeming smirk: “Oh honey, what’s all the fuss about?” The album is brought to a volatile end with “Wring Me Out,” as Braden nearly yells over apprehensive instrumentation, before resolving into a minute of ambient synth. Maybe Later finally brings Neighbor Lady’s twang-tinged vigor from the stage to the studio, and oh honey, it’s certainly something to fuss about. – KG
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel (May 18)
On Courtney Barnett’s 2015 LP, she belts, “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you.” With the release of this year’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, Aussie-born songwriter Courtney Barnett liberates herself of that reality ever ringing true. Barnett makes it clear that she has no time for toxicity, calling out both her professional and personal critics throughout the album’s assortment of brilliantly written melodies.
While we do get a glimpse into her private life, the most powerful aspect of this album is the introspection it provides the listener. Tell Me How You Really Feel is daring and unprecedented, offering more volume and content than its antecedent, and demonstrating Barnett’s impressive musicianship and status as a forerunner of indie-rock. – KL
Parquet Courts / Wide Awake! (May 18)
The most recent album from New York’s post-punk four-piece, Parquet Courts, is packed with social and political commentary that at times listens like a manifesto. Frontman Andrew Savage referred to Wide Awake! as the group’s attempt at making a “punk record you could put on at parties.” Part of achieving that was working with producer Danger Mouse (A$AP Rocky, The Red Hot Chili Peppers), resulting in an album that simultaneously makes the listener want to jump up and down, and then cry or prosthelytize a little bit about where humankind is headed.
“Normalization,” features in-your-face vocals and a clear finger point to human indecency: “Normalization, collective witnessing / Immunization of human sympathy.” As they did on their 2016 release, Human Performance, Parquet Courts’ sound seems to be informed by everything from Velvet Underground-age art rock to disco and 80’s dance on tracks like “Wide Awake” and “Tenderness.” Overall, the group’s sixth studio album is a rambunctious ode to the human condition, maintaining their place as a leader in their genre. – EP
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer (June 1)
When Josh Tillman announced that he had another album on the way, shortly after the release of 2017’s Pure Comedy, it was hard to decipher if he was joking (thankfully, he was serious). Tillman has certainly kept himself busy over the past few years, by crafting multiple critically and commercially acclaimed albums, and, in turn, creating a complicated empire for Father John Misty – a name which seems to constantly oscillate between a moniker and Tillman’s alter ego.
Written during a six-week period of living in a hotel, God’s Favorite Customer somehow manages to take an even darker turn than the sprawling socio-political commentary of Pure Comedy. Father John Misty’s fourth LP opens with “Hangout at the Gallows,” a (literal) stab at Tillman’s suicidal tendencies, punctuated by chilling falsetto and lyrics littered with religious allegories: “Trouble sleeping / My alarm goes off / So you wanna hang out at the gallows? / Those guys get an early start / Whose bright idea was it to sharpen the knives? / Just twenty minutes ‘fore the boat capsize.”
God’s Favorite Customer is Tillman’s most personal and disturbing release to date. Death, addiction and desperation hide around every corner, while lacking Father John Misty’s typical satirical wink – which makes the listener frequently question Tillman’s sanity. And while that musing goes largely unanswered, he at least leaves the album on a relatively optimistic note with the introspective track “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That).” – KG
Natalie Prass – The Future and The Past (June 1)
From Mitski to Kacey Musgraves, 2018 has proved fruitful for the revival of disco, and at its epicenter lays Natalie Prass. The Richmond, Virginia singer-songwriter’s sophomore album is a mix of all things weird and wonderful, tossing a danceable sheen over the emotionally charged Trump era.
Prass was prepared to release the highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Natalie Prass, but then the presidential election struck and the record felt wrong. From its ashes rose The Future and the Past, a critical conversation about our current socio-political climate that won’t leave you with a headache. Opener “Oh My” takes a hard look at climate change, fake news and the overarching question of, “What is freedom for the free?” The Future and the Past is a cathartic soapbox for political discussion, allowing listeners to simultaneously boogie and evaluate the state of our nation. – KG
Snail Mail – Lush (June 8)
It would be easy to write off Lindsay Jordan as just another angsty 19-year-old, but Snail Mail’s remarkable debut album, Lush, addresses the overpowering consciousness of teenage shame, by alleviating that pain completely.
Jordan is the poster child for the new wave of female-dominated indie rock, allowing sorrowful feelings to be transformed for a new generation of hard-hitting rockers to be inspired. Through exposed vocals and sage guitar mastery, Lush is the follow up the genre has been waiting for since 2016’s Habit EP. Lush just goes to show that indie rock is not dead: it’s transcending its reality and becoming something refreshingly new. – KL
Lunar Vacation / Artificial Flavors (July 6)
It’s usually best to avoid directly comparing bands, but seeing that Molly Rankin is frontwoman Grace Repasky’s most prominent inspiration, it feels disrespectful to neglect to note the sonic similarities between Alvvays and Lunar Vacation. Dreamy synth and invigorating percussion abound on Artificial Flavors, the band’s sophomore release.
Last year, the Atlanta “pool rock” five-piece self-released Swell, a psych-rock EP wise beyond their years, but it’s clear that Lunar Vacation has been hard at work ever since. Opener “Daytime” takes a groovy look at unrequited affection, while “The Basement” laments the all too familiar feeling of just wanting to go home early from a party. Artificial Flavors is a sharp follow-up that showcases Repasky’s ever maturing songwriting prowess, leaving listeners parched for more tunes. – KG
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
By Kristy Guilbault
When Atlanta’s own Tim Sweetwood put on the first Shaky Knees festival in 2013, he wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into. Sweetwood wasn’t looking to create a mega-corporate event like Coachella or Bonnaroo, yet, five years later, the regional-focused passion project has flourished into a three-day phenomenon, complete with a national festival badge.
And while we’re all aware of the heavy-hitters like Fleet Foxes, Courtney Barnett and the National, it’s easy to gloss over the bands listed in small fonts at the bottom of lineup posters. Over the next week, we’ll magnify the fine print of Shaky Knees, with interviews and highlights of artists you won’t want to miss at this year’s fest.
»»» Fri., May 4 «««
Sunsets, surfing and stars typically come to mind when conjuring quintessential California images, and while a tambourine and heavily reverberated guitar open L.A. Witch’s debut album, don’t let them fool you: this trio prefers the punked out side of the Golden State.
Sade Sanchez (vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass) and Ellie English (drums) toured non-stop for three years – sporadically releasing songs on limited edition singles – before finally recording a proper debut. With sultry yet ominous vocals, the self-titled LP is a bullish reminder that all that glitters isn’t gold.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever deliver energetic rock with confident hooks and wry wit. The “tough pop” five-piece blindsided the music industry in 2015 with their critically and commercially acclaimed debut single “Clean Slate.” Two successful EPs – Talk Tight (2016) and The French Press (2017) – quickly followed, leading up to Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s forthcoming full-length, Hope Downs.
The inaugural album, due out June 15 via Sub Pop, receives its title from an open cut mine in the middle of the Aussies’ homeland. “The album title...refers to the feeling of standing at the edge of the void of the big unknown, and finding something to hold on to,” the band explains in a press release. “It’s a record that focuses on finding the bright spots at a time when cynicism all too often feels like the natural state.”
Katie Crutchfield’s solo project evokes a glowing sense of home, from her intimate lyrics to the moniker Waxahatchee itself, which is named after a creek near her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Crutchfield's unrefined acoustic arrangements swiftly pull listeners into her poignant chronicles of self-discovery and new beginnings.
Waxahatchee’s critically acclaimed fourth LP, Out in the Storm, opens with a scathing dissection of toxic masculinity and the arrogance that often comes with it: “You walk around like/It's your god-given right/And you love being right/You've never been wrong.” Out in the Storm is a triumphant breakup album that celebrates rising from the ashes of a destructive relationship with sharp wisdom and indelible hooks.
Candler Park Music and Food Festival returns this summer, with a food and artist market and, of course, live music taking place on Fri., June 1 and Sat., June 2.
Southern jam band Gov’t Mule – the funky side project of the Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody – and Boston’s jazz-funk outfit Lettuce will head the nine-act lineup on the Candler Park stage.
Busty and the Bass will serve up some soul, contrasted by folkier sets from alt-country five-piece Susto, Indiana’s Houndmouth, sister duo Larkin Poe and Keller Williams’ Tom Petty-inspired project, Pettygrass. Jam bands like neighborhood favorite Webster, playing their 10th consecutive Candler Park festival, and Vermont’s jam band Twiddle round out the rock-driven lineup.
Previously known as the Midsummer Music & Food Festival, 2018 marks the 10th edition of Candler Park’s fest. Tickets for the two-day event are $25 for general admission (all ages), $60 for VIP (21+).