Friday, July 31, 2009

Refuel - 8 More Bands from Athens and Atlanta

Here is the download: Refuel - 8 More Bands from Athens and Atlanta

I would have to say that this is the quintessential compilation of Athens and Atlanta from the 1993 time period. You have the best these towns put forth that year: Fiddlehead, Bob, The Martians, Harvey Milk, Slumberjack, all contributing several songs including what is basically a complete 7" by each band. Of course there were some more obscure bands on the comp (The Hard Ensemble, The Go Figures, Regina Strap), but overall a great compilation. I wish they put one of these out every year, as it would have been an excellent representation of the best bands around at that time, but unfortunately Self-Rising Records was finishing their run soon after this release, and this was it on the Fuel/Refuel compilation series.

Slumberjack was the rhythm section of After Words with a more midwest noise-rock slant. I will be posting their 7" and demo tape soon, so if anyone has any stories and info they want to share on these guys, please send me an email.

It doesn't get much better than Fiddlehead in this place and time. You can see my other posts on Fiddlehead here and here. As I have said before, they were as good as any band of their form, but just happened to come from what was at the time an overlooked part of the country and never got the recognition they deserved.

I don't know much about the Go-Figures, although I see that David Barbe (Mercyland, Buzz Hungry, Sugar) played bass on the recording. Of course he helped out so many of these bands over the years, and is really a key supporter of Athens music more than pretty much anyone out there.

Also don't know very much about The Hard Ensemble, but the guy in the back with the Pere Ubu shirt looks he means business.

Regina Strap is another miscellaneous band on the compilation. Some of the names look familiar to me, but I'm not sure.

Lilburn's finest. I have posted some BOB on this site before, but if anyone wants to send me copies of their albums after Complex Organism Blues, I'll gladly take them and post them here.

The Martians have also been covered extensively on this site here and here. Once again, a great band, and is long-hair Jerry wearing suspenders in this photo?

Harvey Milk have by now received more acclaim than probably any other Athens band from this era, and they absolutely deserve it. There isn't much else I can add here, but I do have one Harvey Milk story from the old days. Car vs. Driver played with them and The Holy Rollers at the Somber Reptile on April 13, 1994. Although I didn't know it at the time, I thought Harvey Milk was the Holy Rollers, and when they finished their set I left the show thinking it was over, and completely missed the Holy Rollers play. Later that night Harvey Milk stayed with some friends in Home Park, and their van was stolen including all their instruments, amps, etc. It was the first time I ever saw benefit shows held to buy a band new gear.

Here are the remaining pages of the insert, including another little story and a picture of someone's IV catheter.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fuel - Seven Bands from Athens, GA

Here is the download: Fuel - Seven Bands from Athens, GA

This is the Athens I remember from my high school years, when I would drive up there at the ripe age of 16 or 17 and wander around the town for awhile, eat some pizza, not get into any shows as I was underage, and instead stand outside the 40 Watt peeking through the open door at some of these bands onstage. The 40 Watt is great for that, as you can see the stage directly from the open door, and I remember the doormen used to be pretty lax about keeping the door wide open for the entire show. I saw an entire set by the Fleshtones once this way.

The bands on this compilation just barely preceeded my enrollment at UGA, and stint as an Athens resident, but they are possibly the reason I decided to move up there in the first place. Unfortunately, by mid-1993 most of these bands had broken up, so what can you do. Luckily, the bands on the Refuel comp were in full swing, so I timed that one perfectly. This comp has the best of the best from Athens during the 1991-1992 time period. You have some early "smelly old cat" era Hayride, before Ballard Lesemann joined the group, you have the best songs Roosevelt ever produced, you have Five-Eight before they became national college rock superstars, you have Bliss which was originally my favorite band of the comp, and you have the mighty Jack-O-Nuts, which is one band here whose legend has grown exponentially with time.

I originally knew Hayride through the band Finletter, which was a high school band I played in with Kevin Sweeney's brother Brian. These guys were mainstays in the Athens scene for years, and still play out occasionally. Sometime after this comp and their initial Smelly Old Cat album, they were signed by Capricorn Records and released the classic Elfin Magic album, later Ghostmeat released their third album Curses, and there is even a Curses 2 out there. These guys are amazing musicians and make great music, but for some reason never seemed to get the national attention like Five Eight. The guys in the band are music geeks and have always been involved in several musical adventures, and I remember hearing a story about Kevin Sweeney and Kyle Spence touring with J. Mascis and the Fog as guitar/drum techs and playing the best classic rock songs as the opening cover band for the tour, which I'm sure was incredible.

Much has been said about Roosevelt on this blog, so I will move on.

I don't know much about Thorny Hold, except that I remember seeing their name on a lot of flyers from this era, and there seems to be some Youtube footage of them playing their last show at the classic Club Fred in Athens.

Five Eight was at least initially the big breakout band of this era in Athens. I can remember their album "Wierdo" being their big breakout album when I was in school, and touring the country playing to huge crowds everywhere. Chocolate Kiss played with them at the EARL around the time the Good Nurse album came out in 2000, and they were really nice, but then took all the door money for themselves. Funny guys. They are still playing shows, so check your local listings and see some classic Athens greatness for yourself.

Acid Lake was my favorite back when this came out. Later on I met Andy Baker as part of Chase Park Transduction studio, but I never talked to him about how much I was into his old band. I also love their band photo, totally mid-80s Dischord vibe from these guys. Later on Andy played in the bands Servotron and The Glands, and recorded pretty much every great local band out there.

I am definitely not the authority on Jack O Nuts, as like most bands on the comp they were at least one generation before, so I'll keep it rather compact here. I knew of them as a great noise rock band of the early 90's Athens, and that the singer Laura Carter was in the BBQ Killers, my favorite band of the Athens Inside/Out time period. I also remember that she passed away back in 2002, and that she is sorely missed. You can check out more on Jack O Nuts as well as the BBQ Killers here and here.

Update: Stuart Voegtlin from William Carlos Williams wrote a great article on Laura Carter in Stylus magazine here.

And here is a music video from 1994, and a beautiful live performance from 1993 at the Masquerade opening for The Fall:

I also know very little about Magneto, except what appears on this compilation. Larry Tenner played later in The Germans and The Lures, but maybe you can leave some comments and fill in the blanks here.

Here is a strange little comic by Chris Purcell that was included in the packaging.

You also have to love the essay about the C&S bank machine in the liner notes. I will try to get Refuel out next.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chocolate Kiss - The Studio Recordings

Here are the albums for download:

Chocolate Kiss ended on July 4, 2002 when Bob Medina, one of our two rhythm guitarists moved away to San Diego and started a new life. He is now moving to Alexandria (that's Egypt, not Virginia) and decided to pay his Atlanta friends a visit. I thought we might get together and run through some of the old songs for fun, but a show was somehow approved by our gracious friends at the E.A.R.L. to have the Chocokiss play again in a live setting. So now, almost exactly seven years after our last show we have a show, this time with Gold Standard, which is Lee Corum's new band (The Strange Death of Silas Deene, Chapterhall, Some Soviet Station, Copa Vance, Home of the Wildcats, Lay Down Mains, etc.), as well as Small Reactions, who are a like-minded local band to complete the set. Since all of our albums are either in a dollar bin somewhere or in a landfill, I thought it would be good to post all of our recorded music in one place for those that might be interested.

Album One: Onethrutwelve (1998)

I already have written an overview of this album in a previous post, but these were the first twelve songs we wrote as a quartet (guitar/guitar/drums/vocals, shun the bass), and recorded them with Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead, Bright Eyes) at Chase Park Transduction in Athens.

Album Two: Les Boom Boom (1999)

This was recorded in early 1999 by Ed Rawls at the Living Room studio, which was called Red Lab at the time. I remember writing these songs in my parent's basement before I graduated from college and was able to get a "normal" job outside of the movie theater. Bob did all of the artwork for this release, using woodcuts which would become a fixture of his artwork for the next several years and making a different design for each song, as you will see below. The name "Les Boom Boom" has no meaning, we are just attracted to nonsensical phrases and this one clicked. The first album is also called the Orange album, and then this is called the Blue album.
Here is the rest of the artwork:

Kip made some promotional posters for the release, which was our first on Moodswing Records including Kip Thomas as a contributor to the label:

Album Three: Set Yourself On Fire (2001)

Also known as "The Red Album", this was our attempt at making a real studio album, but in the end it suffered from some fundamental flaws and was not so well received out there in the scene. It was recorded with Brooks Meeks from The Close at his new studio in the West End warehouses, and were basically his guinea pigs so he could get the studio set up and work out all the bugs. We had complete freedom to take as long as we wanted getting the recording perfect, and in the process we overanalyzed and took out all of the sharp edges that make recordings exciting and interesting (at least in my opinion). Our takes are as perfect as they could have been given our musical ability at the time, and we spent endless hours mixing, remixing and remixing everything, and the album suffered from this obsessive approach. It was also the most "low-fi" studio we had recorded in, as it was essentially Brooks' home studio, but the recording was free so how can you complain? I still love the album, as I love all our albums, but I think the end result would have been better had we taken an approach like we did for the next album, No Funeral. Once again, the name Set Yourself On Fire has no meaning, but was just a funny phrase we liked when thinking of names. Also, we had so many problems with figuring out how to sequence the songs for this album, so in the end we just put them in the order they were written by the band. So if you listen to the album, you can hear the band make their way through a year's worth of writing songs, including our cover of The Logical Song as an extra treat. Reviewers of the album thought the cover song was essentially meaningless, as we did not change the arrangement or tone of the song, but I have been a fan of the Breakfast in America album for years, and Magnolia had been released the year before, which really sealed the deal for us as a cover song. And we like the song itself as it is, so why make some sort of lame pop punk version or try to change what we like about it?

Here is the artwork for the album, which had a cover done by the amazing Rich Jacobs, who is a friend of Bob and has done album covers for The Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot, etc. Bob did the inside drawings, such as the duck on fire and the fire extinguisher on fire, still makes me laugh:

Kip also made a promotional poster for this album:

Album Four: No Funeral (2002)

This was our last album, the Green album, which sounds most like a "real" band than any of our previous releases. We recruited Matt's old friend Cade Lewis, who played with Matt in Venosity back in high school to be our bassplayer, and he fit right in with the band musically and personally. I wish we had him from the beginning, as by the time Cade joined us, we were already starting to wind down as a band and Bob was beginning his descent into insanity which resulted in his move to San Diego. I got the name "No Funeral" from an episode of the Simpsons where Moe the bartender is about to commit suicide by sticking his head in an oven, and on his back is a piece of paper with the words "No Funeral" written, and I thought it was a good name for a band's final album. We recorded the album at Zero Return Studios with another friend of Bob's named Steve Revitt, who has produced albums by The Liars, Jon Spencer, Black Dice and was an engineer on the Beastie Boys "Hello Nasty" album as well as Tito Puente albums and countless others. We did essentially the opposite of what was done on the Red Album, and just recorded the album in two days and gave him the tapes to manipulate and mix at his own studio in NY. He really produced the album, completely manipulating tracks and even deleting some parts just to make it sound the way he wanted. I might not have agreed with all of his changes, but I think the end result was our best album overall, and would recommend this approach to anyone out there. If you want to make an interesting album, just give someone with good taste the basic tracks and let him run with it.

Bob Medina did the artwork in woodcuts the same as Les Boom Boom, but started to introduce his Day of the Dead style, which he still works in today:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Masterpiece

Gray Kiser, the Raymond Pettibon of our scene, has made another amazing flyer for the upcoming Judi Chicago/Noot d' Noot shows this Friday and Saturday at Smith's Olde Bar. Click on the image to view it in all its glory, and then have it professionally printed and mounted above the fireplace.