Posts Tagged ‘Athens’

Pylon band photo

Athens, Georgia art rock group Pylon have announced a new 4xLP box set. “Pylon Box” arrives November 6th via New West Records. The set includes remastered versions of both of their studio albums—1980’s “Gyrate” and 1983’s “Chomp”—as well as the group’s first-ever recording, Razz Tape, and more. Listen to “The Human Body” (from Razz Tape) and a live version of “3 x 3”, and scroll down to see a teaser video for the box set. band that married post-punk, new wave, dance and funk, will be celebrated this fall with a new box vinyl box set that collects newly remastered pressings of their first two albums and adds two records of rarities and early recordings.

The songs on Gyrate and Chomp have been remastered from the original tapes and pressed to vinyl for the first time in roughly 35 years. 18 of Pylon Box’s 47 tracks are previously unreleased recordings. A limited number of box sets will be issued with coloured vinyl.

The set also includes an 11-song collection titled Extra, which features a recording from the group before frontwoman Vanessa Briscoe Hay joined the band, as well as a 200-page hardbound, full-colour book with archival images. It features writing by the B-52’s’ Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson, members of Gang of Four, Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, Steve Albini, and more. Each copy of “Pylon Box” will be autographed by Pylon’s surviving members: Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Michael Lachowski, and Curtis Crowe.

Pylon spoke about the new box, their influences early on, and more. Here’s an excerpt of what Vanessa Briscoe Hay said about Razz Tape:

Chris [Razz] wanted to record us. He’d recorded us at Chapter Three or at a party or something. He was just a nut about wanting to record things. And so we said sure. I don’t remember that we ever used this for anything, but it was late summer or early fall because it was so warm. I remember that.

I was set up in the hall outside of where [Michael] and Curtis and Randy were. And he kept the tape machine in the hall, which was outside of Michael in my studio, and it was also the band’s practice space. He set the mic up for me in the hall. There were two mics in the room: one was for the drums and the other mic was shared by both the bass and the guitar. Y’all couldn’t see me; I couldn’t see you.

We had some songs that we were trying out that were very recently written. “Read a Book” has the instrumental version; I hadn’t written the lyrics for it, yet. And we’d just written “Cool.” We just went through it. We just plowed through it. It’s not overdubbed, but that’s just what it is. And I cringe at some of the things, but the overall sound and feeling of it is very spontaneous. It’s a beautiful record just because of that and, of course, we threw out a bunch of those songs and they were never recorded.

Pylon formed in 1979 at the University of Georgia. They were contemporaries of Athens groups like the B-52’s, R.E.M., and others.
Pylon Box’ is coming November 6th, Colour Vinyl Version Limited to 500 Copies Worldwide.
This comprehensive set includes:

The studio albums ‘Gyrate’ and ‘Chomp’ – newly remastered from the original tapes, and available on vinyl for the first time in more than 30 years
‘Extra’ – a collection of singles, B-sides, rarities and live recordings
‘Razz Tape’ – the first-ever Pylon recording, a 13-song unreleased session that predates our 1979 debut single, “Cool”/”Dub”
Plus a 200 page, full-colour, hardbound book featuring a treasure trove of never before seen images and artifacts from the band’s personal archives, and writings by R.E.M., Kate Pierson of The B-52’s, Corin Tucker & Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, Steve Albini, Jon King & Hugo Burnham of Gang of Four, and many more
47 tracks including 18 unreleased recordings
‘Gyrate’ and ‘Chomp’ are also available in exclusive coloured vinyl from New West Records (clear editions), Vinyl Me, Please (marble handpour editions), and from independent record stores (opaque red and teal editions).

”Like the Velvet Underground before them, Pylon could be your favourite band’s favourite band.”
NPR Music

Pylon Box Set

Athens, GA cult legends get their snakey, jangly debut reissued, remixed by R.E.M.’s Bill Berry and Sugar’s David Barbe

It’s a good week for ’80s janglepop and Southern post-punk. Pylon are getting a box set and their essential first two albums reissued in November and, also just announced, their Athens, GA neighbours (and DB Recs labelmates) Love Tractor are getting their debut album reissued via Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records.

Coming up at the same time as R.E.M., Pylon and The B-52’s, Love Tractor share a little of those group’s DNA but were unique in the Athens scene in that they were an instrumental band, making jangly, danceable rock that didn’t need vocals to grab you. The band would start singing eventually, but early records were driven by the inventive guitar interplay between Mark Cline and Mike Richmond. Bassist Armistead Wellford added groove and R.E.M.’s Bill Berry was among the group’s early drummers for the band before Andrew Carter joined full-time.

Love Tractor’s debut album is catchy and atmospheric, and does it while mostly avoiding surf rock cliches you associate with instrumental rock. “When I hear it, I love it. It sounds like nothing else, like nobody else,” says Cline of the album, and I have to agree. The reissue has been remixed from the original tapes by Sugar’s David Barbe and Bill Berry, and features liner-notes from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, The B-52’s Kate Pierson, and esteemed rock journalist Anthony DeCurtis. and the album’s artwork has been reimagined by the band (Cline, Richmond and Wellford are all visual artists.)

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The reissue is out November 4th (pre-order), but before that, Love Tractor will release a 7″ for the October Record Store Day “Drop” (10/24) featuring two newly recorded, re-imagined songs from their debut: “60 Degrees and Sunny” b/w “FESTI-vals.” They’ve also re-recorded “Seventeen Days” as a digital bonus track and you can listen to that, and stream the original album,

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Believe it or not, it’s tough to make it as a musician these days. You can hear this struggle clearly in “Personalia,” the first single from Athens, GA–based songwriter Locate S,1’s forthcoming album of the same name, as she opens the track with the line, “Almost killed myself so I went home / I just cannot take these local shows.” Yet the simmering new wave instrumentation isn’t the only sign of hope on the single, and the album to follow. “Personalia” takes its name from a Mary Ruefle poem, marking a shift in the poet’s creative life from an old woman’s spirit trapped in a young woman’s body to the inverse—that is to say, Locate S,1 represents a hopeful reinvention for Christina Schneider, who’s cycled through a number of musical projects before touring with Frankie Cosmos and signing to Captured Tracks under the new moniker.

Official video for “Personalia”, from Locate S,1’s new album, Personalia.

Drive-By Truckers’ 12th studio album and first new LP in more than three years – the longest gap between new Drive by Truckers albums – “The Unraveling” was recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, TN by Grammy® Award-winning engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price) and longtime DBT producer David Barbe. Co-founding singer / songwriter / guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood both spent much of the time prior doing battle with deep pools of writer’s block.

The songs that eventually emerged are among Drive-By Truckers’ most direct and pointedly provocative, tackling the myriad horrors of our new normal through sincere emotion and unbridled heart. Indeed, Armageddon’s Back in Town takes a whirlwind joyride through the whiplash of events we collectively deal with each day while the concluding Awaiting Resurrection dives headfirst into the despair and pain roiled up by these troubled times.

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The remarkable songcraft found on The Unraveling receives much of its musical muscle from the sheer strength of the current Drive-By Truckers line-up, with Hood and Cooley joined by bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist / multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez, and drummer Brad Morgan – together, the longest-lasting iteration in the band’s almost 25-year history. The LP also features a number of special guests, including The Shins’ Patti King, violinist/string arranger Kyleen King (Brandi Carlile), and North Mississippi All-Stars’ Cody Dickinson, who contributes electric washboard to the strikingly direct Babies In Cages.

Released January 31st, 2020

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Athens, Ga., has been a hotbed for great rock music (and music of all types) for the better part of the last 50 years, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change in the next 10. Raspy roots-rockers Futurebirds are four albums deep a decade into their career, but the arrival of their fifth is still a cause worth commemorating. Their earnest brand of country-tinged, sultry singsong fits right in alongside all your favorite indie-folk and Americana records. But Futurebirds are doing something different from many of those bands: Their three-part harmonies range from heartbreaking to chill-inducing, yet most of their songs possess a laid-back summery feel.

The songs on album number 5, “Teamwork”, find Futurebirds leaning into the psychedelic side of things, yet they’re as twangy as ever. “Trippin” takes delight in human error, “All Damn Night” is an escapist mountain holler tune and “Dream, Fam!” is a suspicious jam.

This record could take Futurebirds to the next level—bigger venues, heftier touring schedules—but for those of us who’ve been around with this band since the beginning, Teamwork is just another chapter in this century’s great southern rock story.

Futurebirds’ new song, “My Broken Arm”, from the new album Teamwork, out January 15th

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Athens, Ga., has long been a hotbed for great rock music (and music of all types) for the better part of the last 50 years, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change . Raspy roots-rockers Futurebirds are four albums deep a decade into their career, but the arrival of their fifth is still a cause worth commemorating. Their earnest brand of country-tinged, sultry singsong fits right in alongside all your favorite indie-folk and Americana records. But Futurebirds are doing something different from many of those bands: Their three-part harmonies range from heartbreaking to chill-inducing, yet most of their songs possess a laid-back summery feel.

The songs on album number 5, “Teamwork”, find Futurebirds leaning into the psychedelic side of things, yet they’re as twangy as ever. “Trippin” takes delight in human error, “All Damn Night” is an escapist mountain holler tune and “Dream, Fam!” is a suspicious jam. This record could take Futurebirds to the next level—bigger venues, heftier touring schedules—but for those of us who’ve been around with this band since the beginning, Teamwork is just another chapter in this century’s great southern rock story. 

Band Members
CARTEZZ, TOJO, WOMZ, B MAH, JOHNNY COLORADO

Futurebirds’ new song from the new album Teamwork, out January 15th.

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Prolific Athens-based experimentalists Je Suis France are releasing their most ambitious record to date today, following the band’s sharing its first fizzling, thrashy-trashy cut, “House Style,” . Unlike the band’s latter records, Back to the Basics of Love wasn’t written in a constant flux or hashed out between slow internet connections. The record was the product of all of the members of the band coming together from their half-dozen separate cities and communities, and letting their creativity sync up in unison for the first time since 2003’s Fantastic Area.

Je Suis France doesn’t have an off switch. Back to the Basics of Love, which comes out this November from the Ernest Jenning Record Co., will be their seventh official full-length album, but they’ve also released dozens of digital releases and CD-Rs stretching back to the early ‘00s. The band, which first came together in Athens, Georgia, in the ‘90s, has prepared a new release for almost every show they’ve played since 2004. Despite that long history of experimentation, Back to the Basics of Love has all the energy and urgency of a debut from a band that’s 20 years younger. It’s a record that sounds like it could’ve come out in the 1990s, the 2000s, or the 2010s, but that couldn’t have existed at any point other than now.

Je Suis France – House Style – from the album Back To The Basics Of Love

Iconic alternative rock band R.E.M. has shared a previously unreleased song, “Fascinating,” an unreleased song from R.E.M. out  with all proceeds going benefit global organization Mercy Corps’ Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Band members Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe recorded “Fascinating” in 2004 at Nassau’s Compass Point Studios

“Fascinating” was originally recorded for the 2001 album “Reveal”, but “it made the record too long… and something had to go,” Mike Mills says. This 2004 version — an ornate ballad with twinkly electronics, an oboe and flute arrangement and a psychedelic climax — was made at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas.

In fact, was singer Michael Stipe’s favorite song from the Reveal sessions (according to guitarist Peter Buck’s recollection, as chronicled in David Buckley’s R.E.M. biography, Fiction). The song was produced by Pat McCarthy and engineered by Jamie Candiloro. “It’s really beautiful,” bassist/keyboardist Mike Mills told Buckley. “It has a flute, oboe arrangement, but it made the record too long… and something had to go.” R.E.M. rerecorded the track in Nassau for 2004’s Around the Sun, but the lush ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album. Now this poignant outtake finally finds its fitting moment, as a means to aid the country where R.E.M. enjoyed over two months of creative retreat.

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“We first became aware of Mercy Corps around the time of Hurricane Katrina, and we supported their efforts to help in that situation,” says Mills . “I spend a lot of time every year in the Abaco Islands, which was literally ground zero for this disaster. I know a lot of people who lost everything — their homes, their businesses, literally everything they own is gone.”

“I have been fortunate to spend many weeks working and playing in the Bahamas, making friends and lots of music there,” Mills continues. “It breaks my heart to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian. Please help us and Mercy Corps do what we can to alleviate the suffering caused by this catastrophe.”

The B-52s - The B-52's

The B-52’s Released Their Eponymous Amazeballs Debut LP 40 Years Ago, on 6th July 1979 a totally weird looking combo out of Athens, Georgia called THE B-52’s released their amazing self-titled debut long player. A wacky mix of retro dance-pop and surfy funk twisted upside down and wrapped up brilliantly as the new chic back then and still sounding damn hip today! A solid gold masterpiece, a bona fide classic.

Rolling Stone wrote: “The debut by the B-52’s sounds like a bunch of high school friends cramming all their running jokes, goofy sounds and private nicknames into a New Wave record. It turned out nobody could resist the band’s campy, arty funk, or the eccentric squeals and bouffant hairdos of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson

Even in the weird, quirky world of new wave and post-punk in the late ’70s, the B-52’s’ eponymous debut stood out as an original. Unabashed kitsch mavens at a time when their peers were either vulgar or stylish, the Athens quintet celebrated all the silliest aspects of pre-Beatles pop culture — bad hairdos, sci-fi nightmares, dance crazes, pastels, and anything else that sprung into their minds — to a skewed fusion of pop, surf, avant-garde, amateurish punk, and white funk. On paper, it sounds like a cerebral exercise, but it played like a party.

The jerky, angular funk was irresistibly danceable, winning over listeners dubious of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s high-pitched, shrill close harmonies and Fred Schneider’s campy, flamboyant vocalizing, pitched halfway between singing and speaking. It’s all great fun, but it wouldn’t have resonated throughout the years if the group hadn’t written such incredibly infectious, memorable tunes as “Planet Claire,” “Dance This Mess Around,” and, of course, their signature tune, “Rock Lobster.” These songs illustrated that the B-52’s’ adoration of camp culture wasn’t simply affectation — it was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture. It’s difficult to imagine the endless kitschy retro fads of the ’80s and ’90s without the B-52’s pointing the way, but The B-52’s isn’t simply an historic artifact — it’s a hell of a good time.

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Happy 8th birthday to R.E.M.’s farewell de force ‘Collapse Into Now’, released on this day in the US on 8th March 2011.

Sessions for Collapse Into Now started back in early 2009 with songs worked up with interesting titles such as ‘After Ski At Timberline Lodge’, ‘Rusty In Orchestraland’, ‘Victim Of Psychic Surgery’ & ‘Sounds Of The Big Racers’..., (the guys certainly having fun) eventually changing to more. For Collapse Into Now, R.E.M., which is singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills, re-teamed with Grammy Award-winning producer Jacknife Lee, who produced the band’s acclaimed previous album Accelerate. Lee is also noted for his work on albums by U2, Snow Patrol, The Hives, and indie stalwarts Kasabian, Editors, Aqualung, and Bloc Party. R.E.M. and Lee recorded the album in New Orleans at the Music Shed and in Berlin at the famed Hansa Studios, where several legendary albums, including David Bowie’s Heroes, U2’s Achtung Baby, and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, were made. Additional recording and mixing was done at the venerable Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

The band has also revealed that Collapse Into Now features some very special guests: Patti Smith, guitarist Lenny Kaye, Peaches, Eddie Vedder, and The Hidden Cameras frontman Joel Gibb.

“I guess a three-legged dog is still a dog,” said Michael Stipe when drummer Bill Berry quit R.E.M. in 1997. True, but a three-legged dog never triumphed at Crufts or the racetrack. Even so, the R.E.M. that recorded 1998’s Up (experimental, frequently beautiful), 2001’s Reveal (lush, frequently beautiful) only started listing badly on 2004’s Around the Sun, where a mystifyingly insipid production and sluggish mood got in the way of frequent bouts of beauty. Stung into action, they tore through 2008’s frequently thrilling Accelerate – but can an R.E.M. album ever feel like an event again?

The clock is indeed ticking for the band, this being their 15th album on their 30th anniversary. But Radiohead should be so lucky at this stage. Even if a lyric sheet on a R.E.M. album doesn’t feel right, Stipe’s words are alluring, enigmatic and provocative, free of rhetoric (the Hurricane Katrina aftermath of Oh My Heart notwithstanding). Unlike Accelerate, Collapse into Now is also free of a planned response to a predecessor. It’s as varied and deep as previous R.E.M. classics. It’s not epochal like Automatic for the People, but it can’t be. These are different times.

On that basis, the album kicks off like Accelerate Part Two, with Discoverer and All the Best incorporating that sinewy and keening R.E.M. rock thrust of old. There are also passages that are, yes, frequently beautiful. All five ballads get the tense, urgent delivery they deserve, and at best, Walk It Back show as they get older, R.E.M. are even better at gravitas, Oh My Heart’s accordion/mandolin undertow is an immediate earworm and Every Day Is Yours to Win is the kind of wistful lullaby often reserved for an album finale.

The closing track here is more in line with You from 1994’s Monster: Peter Buck’s guitar is drenched in fuzz, Country Feedback-style; Stipe’s spoken word diatribe and Patti Smith’s solemn incantation equally fire; and a surprise coda returns to Discoverer’s exuberant chorus. Before then, though, we’ve heard the first (non-session) guest men on an R.E.M. album. Every Day… features Eddie Vedder and The Hidden Cameras’ Joel Gibb on valiant backing vocals and Patti’s faithful guitar foil Lenny Kaye transforms Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter into something that’s virtually hard rock (Peaches adds lascivious vocal back-ups). Fun, maybe, but also overblown. Consider it the album’s only misjudgement. Fortunately, That Someone Is You follows in a more dutifully golden, Byrds-ian rush.

One of the great final gasps of R.E.M. is this stunning jam that stresses the idea of carpe diem. It’s about embracing the unknown and the changes that come from within. Musically, the whole thing brims with harmonies, hooks, and the kind of woodsy instrumentation that made the Athens outfit so iconic, but we’ll leave it to Stipe to explain the lyrical nature itself: “I wanted to picture an almost blunt outsider’s perspective – the experience of a guy who is walking through a city that is completely new to him and still very unfamiliar. I have combined these two words to express that. I don’t pretend being a German or a Berliner. Not at all. I just tried to figure out the mind of this outsider….” Well, there you are.

Buck reckons no R.E.M. in 20 years has 12 songs as good as this. 1996’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi may have something to say about that, but Collapse into Now genuinely feels like their first post-Bill Berry album to resemble a four-legged dog. And that, folks, is an event.