‘I haven’t been this in love in a long time,’ could describe the similarly infatuating way that Kishi Bashi’s tender voice enters your ear, floods your brain with beautiful euphonious melodies, and leaves you with the feeling that you’re floating on air…
Monday evening was a chilly, starry night filled with wild dancing, unexpected cameos and pure magic, when possibly the most extensive Reptar show in Athens history occurred. Beginning at a local house party, Reptar played some new songs off of their upcoming album after a rousing set by their pals Figboots, whipping the crowd into a frenzied haze where they lost all sense of their inhibitions.
Manray are a math rock quintet from Athens, GA. Although only having formed in June, they have already created quite a buzz due to frequent performances and a recent tour with local rockers Lazer/Wulf. Comprised of three brothers Ryan, Jordan, and Derek Oliviera, they are completed by guitarist Gene Woolfolk. All members share vocal duties. Their first recorded offering, a four song EP entitled “I Think I heard Something…”, fuses psychedelia, math rock, and indie rock into an amalgam of twisted rhythms, complexly arranged lead lines, and wide dynamic changes.
While some have cited Manray as a “math rock” group, this EP highlights a much more psychedelic sound. Many songs feature sustained feedback, pulsing hand clap rhythms, and airy chord voicings. The title track opens as such with interplaying guitar lines that create deceivingly simple, yet amusing melodies. The vocals consist of a series of distant “woaaah’s”, essentially making the song an instrumental. A tropical and light atmosphere is created by the guitars, but it becomes overpowered by crashing cymbals as the song moves between load and soft sections. Where drums do take over they tend to overshadow the rest of the sounds. Despite this, it is an interesting contrast between soft guitars and harsh drumming.
After a brief bass driven interlude, the third song, “Blue Lights: On,” takes the band to a harder, more metal-oriented sound. The riffs rely heavily on hammer-ons, pull-offs, and quickly ascending runs. The chaotic drum style of Derek Olivia fits better here than on the first song. True vocals and lyrics are introduced as Gene and Ryan alternate throaty screams and more moving clean vocals. Their vocals help fill out the texture of the sound which is a bit thin due to lack of rhythm guitar or consistent kick drum. Quick rhythm changes and slippery drum fills help to make the track a highlight of the EP.
The last song, “Burning Bridges”, begins with another hard driving riff which alludes to some metal or punk influences. Unfortunately, this time the vocals (shared by Jordan and Gene) seem to fall lackluster, especially in the verses. Their placement in the mix could be culprit, however, I believe they clash too much with the busy riffing. These sections just sound too clustered and the bizarre rhythms detract from having any sort of memorable melody. The clean vocals that follow during the bridge are more successful. They seem to float over the riffs which are less chaotic. More rhythm stops highlighted by harmonized lead guitar lines continue through the song and traditional power chord style rhythms also make an appearance adding to the diverse (at times overwhelming) variety.
The recording quality of the EP is quite primeval. Better compression, overall EQing, and attention to detail and creativity during the mixing stage could’ve brought the songs to life. While a raw, unfiltered sound may work well for a live mix, it doesn’t translate so well to a production quality CD which will be listened to in car stereos, on iPod’s, etc.
[WARNING: Editorial to follow]
As a metal enthusiast I see a need for a certain amount of groove in all music whether it be rock, jazz, or even classical. To me the math rock genre seems to say “Screw the groove. Were gonna play freaky time signatures to show that we’re incredibly competent counters.” While this may not be true of all bands labeled under the genre’s canopy, it does raise a critical question relevant to all genres featuring highly technical musicianship: Where does the line between a lot and too much end? On their first EP, Manray have packed a ton of different ideas into essentially three songs. To me, it is overwhelming and not very well conceived. Their song writing abilities simply have not caught up with their technical proficiency.
Many artists today are turning to strange, call it progressive, musical tones to set their sound apart from the rest. However, in so doing they have established weirdness as a standard. I would like to see Manray set themselves apart from Cinemechanica, Powers, and whoever else they take influence from by being less obviously mathematical. Some subtlety and restraint could help propel this band to their full potential.
1. I Think I Heard Something…
3. Blue Lights: On
4. Burning Bridges
Look what I found! Its a documentary about our beloved station WUOG, done by the WUOG News staff a few years back, for our 35th anniversary. Listen and learn something new about the station that you love, WUOG is 90.5 fm Athens, GA.
Another semester has come and gone. As classes are wrapped up and Jittery Joes prepares for their finals rush we at WUOG made sure to take a night to celebrate another high achieving semester.
Friday December 3rd heralded the latest installment of the WUOG Winter Banquet at the beautiful historic Ciné. In addition to delightful snacks, candy-themed decor, and an incredible ginger-brownie there was delicious local music! If you put that many music junkies in a room together you’d be hard-pressed to keep them together without it!
After the awards ceremony (many congratulations to all winners!) The Humms took the stage. They played a great set of psychedelic garage pop. This was my first time hearing the Humms, although I’ve been hearing of them for a year or so. They’re music is easy to listen to, full of great hooks and I even heard some good Southern rock twang in unexpected places. Their lyrics were simple and made sense. Overall, they played a tight set, had good chemistry, and did nothing new. I’m looking forward to catching their next show.
Next up was supergroup Supercluster. They have musicians from several well known local bands and the whole ends up sounding remarkably different from the parts. The level of musicianship was superb, but I must admit that I personally didn’t find the mix to match my tastes–live, that is. I was introduced to Supercluster via Waves, their first full length album. The album is great! Unfortunately the sound had trouble getting across with the technology Friday night. I had trouble hearing about half of the musicians above the bass, percussion, lead guitar, and vocals. Regardless, the show was fun! The group clearly enjoys playing with each other. I imagine this band is a fun side project for most of the members. Their sound is very indicative of Athens music.
The highlight of their set, in my humble opinion, was their Christmas song. Fortunately for you, some local music staffers were able to get their hands on a copy of the lyrics. The video is their best attempt at a reproduction of the rhythm rap romp of Christmas cheer that Supercluster ended their set with.
To finish the night off Casper and the Cookies pounded out their catchy inflect-y pop tunes. This is another group that has been doing great things under various guises in Athens for years and the current collaborations of it’s members are well worth your time. The lyrics are tight, the lead singer (Jason NeSmith) has awesome hair, and they’re straight up dance-tastic. In my book, if you can’t help but dance then the band is doing everything correctly. Due to other obligations I sadly missed the end of the set, but the first half had more than enough good things for me to rant about. Everything was tight, and the vocals were spot on and in tune (bless them). Their live show was spiffy, and despite a middle of the road sound system they came across loud and clear as a long time Athenian band that we hope will be around for much longer.
The first WUOG Fest was held on the nights of Nov 11, 12, and 13. Bands from all corners of the local Athens music scene performed at a different venue each night culminating in a huge shin-dig at The Forty Watt.
Night 1 – Fantastic Folly at The Farm 255
The first night took place at Farm 255, an outdoor type venue with an open patio. Sleeping Friends was the first group to perform. On this night they performed as a three piece consisting of bass, drums, and guitar. The members were Jason Coombs, Rob Howerton, and Charlie Key. Their songs were characterized by a chimey clean guitar tone drenched in reverb which played rhythmic chords to keep time. The drummer kept time as well with a constant kick drum pulse and spanks on the low floor drum. Few cymbal crashes and only the occasional accent on a hi-hat kept the songs mellow. Oddly, the drummer kept a sheet over his kit through their entire set. The bass guitarist was the highlight of the performance. His moving rhythms provided a needed melodic direction for their songs. Despite being somewhat boring, the yelpy vocals were entertaining and fit the music well.
Necey Gallons was up next. As a solo guitar and voice act, little set up was required and he quickly got the playing underway. His voice was a high falsetto which soared delicately over his rhythmic guitar chords. He reminded me of a much smoother John Mayer. His guitar playing was mostly in a strummed acoustic style, however, he played an electric guitar on this night. The overall impact of his folly sound would’ve been improved if he’d gone totally acoustic.
Witches were the third band to play. Led by Cara Beth Catalino on guitar, the three piece performed a raucous set of tropical desert rock tunes. The guitar was extremely loud and pushed with just enough dirt so that it was overdriven. The songs were mostly strummed guitar chords with occasional lead fills used as decorations. Her low voice complimented the sound well and added to its laid back intensity. Although not a personal favorite of mine, the band seemed to being enjoying themselves and received a good audience reaction.
Around midnight, the last band to play, Marshmallow Coast (sometimes abbreviated M Coast), began. The set started with Andy Gonzales’ looped guitar noodlings. Drummer Carlton Owens played synth pad fills interspersed with simple, but groovy beats. After a gradual buildup, the bassist joined in. They jammed on a funky groove before the volume receded and Andy softly sung into the mic “They were wrong and we was right.” Those were the only words in the bands entire set, which
effectively spanned a single song jam. He repeated the line over and over, each time with the a Southern accent and hypnotic inflection.The buildups and crescendos, and joking nature of the band made them a joy to behold and best of the first night. According to Andy’s parting words, the band plays a different set each time they perform. (i.e. a different single song jam.) Definitely a fun group worth seeing live.
Night 2 – Giggidy, Giggidy Awesome at Go Bar
The second night of WUOG Fest was held at the Go Bar. The bar was dimly lit with blue lights and had silver streamers hung all around. Being late at night, and cold out, the place reminded me of a secluded igloo, but with a bar and stage. If only Santa and his elves had come to play “Jingle Bell Rock.” Alas..
The first group to perform that night was Arturo In Letto. Formerly a solo act of local WUOG staffer AJ Weiss, the band has recently been reformed into a four piece with Max Wang on drums, Lee Markey on bass, and Lindsay Clark on keys. AJ continues to play guitar and handle most vocals. Lindsay was absent for this performance, so Lee took over some of the keyboard parts. Their performance at the Go Bar was very sincere and fit the atmosphere of the venue perfectly. Max Wang’s shimmering Hi-Hat style trademarked most songs and kept the set consistent. Most notably, AJ’s strumming skills were a lesson in Indie Rock-style guitar playing. His shifty bar chords formed the basis for his cool vocal melodies. Of all the “Indie-Pop” style guitar players I’ve seen, AJ is the most skilled and adept at creating chords which not only compliment his voice, but create a unique basis for interesting songs. Their set concluded with a higher energy bit which featured mild overdrive and some phasing effects on the guitar.
After a thirty minute wait, Yo Soybean appeared on stage. They performed a stripped down set as a duo with only acoustic guitar accompaniment and fiddle to their harmonized voices. They got off to a great start with pretty ballad-esque folk songs which wooed the Go Bar audience into a trance like state. Their personal songs worked perfectly in the intimate environment. Unfortunately, instrument trouble plagued the guitar player whose amp began cutting out about halfway through their set. After struggling through a couple songs, he decided to just unplug and play fully acoustically. This was a step in the right direction for the duo. The raw, unplugged sound and clean voices played better with the natural acoustics of the room and made the experience that much more intimate. They were the most memorable performance of the second night.
Tumbleweed Stampede, another WUOG band, took the stage next. Comprised of Benjamin Papillon, Colin Frawley, Tuna Fortuna, Stephen Pfannkuche, Greg Callas, Jake Wells, Alan Hamm, and Andrew Zimdars, the group plays raucous rock ‘n’ roll with punk influences. Having three guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist; the tiny stage was packed with instruments and people. Their songs were high energy, and often played at brisk tempos. Although clean and chordal, the songs were technical. Wide dynamic changes, bluesy solos, and Flamenco sounding bits energized the crowd, eventually leading to a jump party in the middle of the room. I found their music to be interesting, but not appropriate for such a small venue which absorbed a lot of the sound they produced and caused them to be muffled. Their bassist’s high energy moves and flailing was entertaining to watch, and the unison guitar swinging during their last song also helped to keep them not only aurally pleasing, but visually as well. Too many bands just simply stand on the stage and don’t react to the sound of their music. However, Tumbleweed Stampede did not.
The last group to perform that night was Abandon The Earth Mission. On this night they performed as a duo of Josh Mckay on keyboards and dulcimer, and Winston Parker as bassist and DJ. They took plenty of time to carefully assemble the stage with their intricate array of electronic gear and wires. Watching them set up a stage is almost as interesting as watching them actually produce the music. The attention to detail during the set up and in their performance created sounds which were nearly identical to their recorded music. Despite being a metal head at heart, ATEM’s dark atmospherics and slow but gripping melodies have made me a lover of their music. Unfortunately, I’d have to say that the group’s wall of sound did not work so well in The Go Bar. Similar to Tumbleweed Stampede, a lot of their atonal and delicate tones were not very audible.
Night 3 – Final Frontier Voyage at The 40 Watt
The last night of WUOG Fest took place at The 40 Watt in downtown. I arrived a little late on this night and missed Green Gerry’s set entirely as well as part of Bigfoot’s set. Apologies to both.
Bigfoot are a three piece guitar bass and drums power trio featuring Wyatt Pless, Alan Lee, and Marshall Sanchez whose unpredictable sound is reminiscent of 1960’s psychedelic rock acts. Lead singer and guitarist Wyatt’s performance was extremely energetic and inspired on this night. Most of the songs seemed like bass and drum funk grooves with Wyatt’s guitar playing drifting over intermittently. His vocals were percussively stuttered and gradually built to a manic yelp at the end of phrases. It was very organic sounding and the group’s chemistry came across beautifully. During their last couple songs Wyatt drew a piece of folded paper out of his pocket and began reading from it ferociously. I had no idea what he was saying, what was on the paper, or what it meant, but that wasn’t important. The angst and tension he projected over the audience was commanding of attention, and undeniable. His raging passion continued as he read for the entirety of two songs. Through out their set a Tv set up on a table in the middle of the stage showed what I think was an old non-cartoon Disney movie. It just added another perplexing element to the bands spasmatic set. They finished their set with a two beat country romp sung by bassist Alan Lee. After Bigfoot, the bar was set high for the rest of the evening to match, and for me, it was not.
Oryx & Crake are a 9-piece Atlanta-based electro-folk group fronted by Ryan Peoples and Rebekah Goode-Peoples. hey have recently released their first self-titled album. They took about thirty minutes to set up the stage with their plethora of keyboards, drums, computers, a stripped down drumset, and strings. The ensemble began their first song with Mac driven beats, rolling tom-tom accents, acoustic guitar, banjo, electric guitar, violin, cello, and synth. Unfortunately, from the start, their sound seemed bloated. Although the banjo constantly played, it was almost never audible, and few other instruments were immediately discernable without purposefully searching for their specific attack color within the dense mix. The voices were always on top (a good thing), and the electronic drum beat was also, but most of the chord or accompaniment instruments were sadly lost. A major highlight was tenor lead vocalist Ryan whose voice carried so much power he had to step a foot back from the mic to prevent from overloading it. The DJ’s mysterious wheel-like theremin was also intriguing.
Venice Is Sinking, a local Folk-pop band led by Daniel Lawson and Karolyn Troupe, played next. At first, they seemed very reminiscent of Oryx & Crake with their laid back, slowed down, acoustic vibe. Keys, violin, trumpet, and an electric hollowbody guitar blended more seamlessly, though, creating a tighter sound. Their set culminated in them inviting the members of the night’s bands on stage for a sing along to their song “Bardstown Road.” Tons of people filled the stage and swayed as they and the audience sang in unison. In the truest spirit of togetherness and the power of music to uplift people, this was WUOG Fest’s most touching moment.
Reptar was the final band of the night. They are comprised of Graham Ulicny on guitar, William Kennedy on keyboards, Ryan Engelberger on bass, and Andrew McFarland on drums. They share members with local favorites Geisterkatzen and CoCo Rico. William Kennedey, keyboardist and festival organizer, entered the stage first wearing a black graduation gown, perhaps alluding to his upcoming graduation from UGA. Starting with immediate energy, the band went into their first song. The music was intensely loud, up beat, and evoked much dancing in the audience. William became the party leader on this night as he jumped and fired up the crowd with wild stage play. During one song he beat on a floor tom with a big red bat like some character from Donkey Kong, and through most he would jump three feet in the air with each beat. After a couple songs he thanked everyone for coming out to the first WUOG Fest and wished that it would become an annual event. Next, a horde of costumed people came on stage. The group danced and held up street signs behind the band. One guy in particular was very animated in his stage acting. He shredded a news paper into strips, balled them up and kissed them before delicately tossing each wad into the crowd. He also drew intensely on one newspaper for the duration of an entire song. At its conclusion he held the paper up for everyone to see. Nothing was discernable on the newspaper, whatever ink he drew with blended in too well, but the expression on his face was unforgetable. It was of amazement. Their set was fun, entertaining, and a befitting closer to the third night of WUOG Fest.
The first WUOG Fest was a great occasion which brought together many different genres of music and people. For three nights in November of 2010 the party raged deep into the night with soulful tunes, romping guitar, grooving bass, and soaring vocals.
Thanks to the awesome Bianca Wilson-Price for accompanying me on the first two nights and snapping pictures. Additional thanks to Mike White and Kristen Danch-Powell for the use of their photos of Abandon The Earth Mission and the third night, respectively.
Lingo will be performing tonight, November 27th, at Last Call. The show tonight is sure to be a hit and a good end to the night after the game. Lingo hails from Marietta, Georgia, and consists of Justin Tramble on the acoustic guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex Tramble on the bass, Dylan Burke on the lead guitar, and the two newest members, Tony Giordano on the keyboard and vocals, and Chad Jackson on drums and vocals. Alex, Justin, and Dylan all went to Kell High School together, and this is where the band began. Although they started off with amateur recordings and not a huge fan base, they now have a distinct following and play all over the southeast. Their music tends to get compared to Derek Trucks and Dave Matthews Band. They are a funky rock group who are really starting to get established.
Back in October, I had the opportunity to interview Justin Tramble. Justin’s influences include Ben Harper, Trey Anastasio, and Dave Matthews. Being in his early twenties, a college student, having a job at an elementary school, and being in a band that is getting bigger with every performance are not very easy things to juggle, but Justin does just that, and he gave me some very good insights into the band as a whole.
Lingo’s music tends to get compared to Derek Trucks and Dave Matthews Band. The whole band writes their own songs, with Justin primarily writing all the lyrics. He talked about how cool it is to go from him writing lyrics that start off sounding like they will be in the singer-songwriter genre, and then when he puts the lyrics with what the band has written, it turns into a funky jam. When they practice their songs, Lingo always tries to record the practices so they can go back and listen to the recordings, and make improvements. I asked him if it is difficult to write songs, and he said when you focus too much on writing, it gets way too hard. It is much easier when inspiration just come to you, and you write a song from that. With this in mind, it is evident that the guys in Lingo are naturals and have a talent that does not need to be forced.
This past year, Lingo’s resume has evolved by playing some very relevant performances including Floyd Fest and even Bear Creek. Their demo was recorded right here in Athens at John Keane’s studio. This was major for Lingo seeing as Keane has worked with some of Athens biggest bands including Widespread Panic and R.E.M. Justin was also excited to tell me about the time the band bumped into Derek Trucks backstage when they were working with Hittin’ the Note magazine, and he heard their C.D. Interestingly, in January, they will be playing the Aura festival, which primarily consists of electronic acts. When I asked Justin about this, he said it is ironic because their music is not electronic at all, but for some reason they draw those types of fans. They even did a run with EP3. Justin, however, has no problem with this at all. The more fans the better.
So, is it hard to juggle school and being in a band? As of right now, Lingo’s management is very good at working their schedule around their class times. In about a year, Justin will have to decide if he wants to pursue law school, or continue with his dream of making Lingo be his main job. In the long run, Justin wants to be able to say, “This (playing music) is what I do.” As far as his goals for the band as a whole, currently they are working hard to try and expand their fan base. Their main obstacle is the fact that it is hard to get out of the southeast. They are well-established here, and this is where their concerts draw the most fans and the most money. Although they eventually want to tour nationwide, right now, they are really concentrating on the places that they do well. One of those places used to be the Georgia Theatre, which was one of the band’s favorite venues to play, and hopefully they will be able to do that again soon.
If you have not had the chance to experience Lingo yet, I strongly encourage attending one of their shows. Also, if you haven’t seen them since Tony Giordano who has sat in with both Perpetual Groove and Derek Trucks, and Chad Jackson joined the band, you should check them out tonight at Last Call.
Promoting their new upcoming record Gramahawk, Athens natives Modern Skirts graced the stage of the 40 Watt Club on Friday November 12th. The show featured the Athens two-piece set Grape Soda, along with DC originated, Brooklyn based band Deleted Scenes as the opening acts. The show featured a balanced meshing of new tracks off of the Gramahawk record, as well as those from prior albums. Commencing the show with the track Bridges and Overpasses off of the new album, the band was able to effectively establish the presence that they have earned since the days of their formation some 6 years ago, as well as generate an enthusiastic audience following. Other notable tracks performed included Soft Pedals off of the All of Us In Our Night album, DUI and Like Lunatics.
The new album is set to be released in January of 2011, and from the looks of it, is sure to leave fans content.
All if this said, perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the evening-besides the opening number with Jay Gulley coming out in a rather retro, fuzzy pink jacket-were the opening acts themselves. Deleted Scenes surely gained new fans with their unique sound that incorporates the vibraphone to the already post-rock sound they exhibit. Meanwhile, Grape Soda left many in a pensive state regarding the “need for multiple instruments” in a rock band; this duo proved this assumptive notion to be false.
All in all, all 3 bands delivered extremely well, as they each proved why they were bands to look out for.
- F.S. Julien
On November 6th, Athens-based band Tent City played a show at Buffalo’s Café in Statesboro, GA. This was the first time I had seen the band in over a year, and some changes had taken place. There was a new fast-fingered piano player, Jimmy Landry, and they added a saxophone player to the mix, which I must say, really added a great deal to the sound of the band as a whole. Majority of the songs they played were originals, many of which came from Jimmy Landry’s collection, one of my favorites being “Sexy Waitress.” The main cover that stood out was their jazzy jam rendition of the famous pop tune “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker. The lead guitarist, Greg Kearney, pretty much kept my attention the whole time. Kearney also plays with Betsy Franck, another Athens band, and he doesn’t use a guitar pick, but rather only his long trimmed fingernails. The band was on fire, and the audience was right there with them. They certainly know how to get a crowd going. Their bluesy-jams were funky and on-point. If you are a lover of jam bands, blues, or psychedelic rock, you should definitely check out Tent City. It is guaranteed to be a fun show with some great music.