Welcome back, my friends. This is the first column of the new year, and I hope you're as bundled up reading it as I was writing it. No matter what your resolutions for 2013 are, the fact is that the doldrums of winter tend to get in the way of your best laid plans. Don’t let 'em! Put on your big boy pants and go see a show. You'll be glad you did. Now, let's start our year…
Brave New World: Blues-er Chris Ezelle just released a new smartphone app via the free development software available from Conduit. It's a pretty simple affair (mp3s, links, calendar, etc.) but seems like a light-footprint way to keep a band's info in the hands of even its most casual fans. Check mobile.conduit.com for more info. In other news, Ezelle is promoting his upcoming full-length. Monticello comes out in April, when it will be available to stream for free and purchase for $5 (if you purchase through PayPal, you'll receive two bonus tracks). The title track and first single was released this past month—stream it via soundcloud.com/chris-ezelle, and keep an eye out for the music video, which drops Jan. 15. Anything else you need to know? Check reverbnation.com/chrisezelle and carry on.
Older School: When David Lowery moved to town a few years ago, Camper Van Beethoven activity became local music news. The world gets stranger and stranger. But, anyway, the band is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary, and has a new album, La Costa Perdida, due out Jan. 22. You can check the video for the first single, “Northern California Girls,” over at youtube.com/429Records. Camper Van Beethoven plays the 40 Watt on Thursday, Jan. 24, and tickets are on sale now at 40watt.com. In a move that is totally inexplicable for both bands, hardcore dark-rockers Muuy Biien will open that show.
Keep Them Babies Rollin': Rat Babies is headed out on a short tour this month with Virginia band Akris. The pair will hit 16 cities in roughly 18 days, landing in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Florida. See ya later, Southerners! The two bands toured together last year, which Rat Babies celebrated by posting a whole bunch of demos and tracks compiled under the name The Uncomplete Guide to Caring for Your Rat Babies (you can hear them all at ratbabies.bandcamp.com). Check out Akris, the first relatively doom-y band I've ever heard that features a saxophone, via akrisband.bandcamp.com.
Travelocity: Do you remember a band, several years ago, that got signed to the newly revamped Kindercore Records and then, poof, the singer moved to Spain and everything went to pot? Yes, I mean King of Prussia. Most of the members still live in Athens, but the only one who ever says anything about the band is expat Brandon Hanick, who gave me the heads-up that KoP is now recording its third and, wait for it, fourth albums in town as we speak. The group plans to release the two together as a set. Word is, work started on this collection in Bordeaux, France at Le Caverne Studio and various apartments in Barcelona, and will wrap up here in Athens, mixing with Jesse Mangum of Glow Studio. That said, the band's most recent album, Transmissions from the Grand Strand, came out last April and is a fine slice of reclined pop à la a slightly more muscular Belle & Sebastian. Let's keep hope alive that this current Geneva Convention is worth our time, as well. Stay in touch via kingofprussiamusic.com.
Blood, Guts and, uh, Blood: OK, here's the facts. If Grim Pickins & The Bastard Congregation can keep its nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel, it's gonna be one of this year's local breakout bands. Colloquially referred to as “Black Oak Sabbath,” the band is a blur of Southern madness and metal intensity. It's playing a free show at Farm 255 on Thursday, Jan. 10 and then hits the road for a short tour, playing Atlanta, Macon and Sarasota. Fingers are crossed that the band enters the studio this month like they promised—I know I'm itching to hear what they come back with. Get in on the ground floor via facebook.com/GrimPickinsTheBastardCongregation.
Growlers Now Available: Zack Thrower (ex-Nationale) has a new metal combo named Pale Prophet that made its live debut last month. The trio is composed of Thrower on drums, Daniel Fuller on guitar and Nate Malcolm on bass and vocals. There's a smidgen of hardcore in their sound, albeit a late '90s/Lumberjack Records type of hardcore that keeps one foot in the shorthair camp while grave-digging for rare Gorgoroth bootlegs with the other. Pale Prophet released a four-song demo it recorded with engineer Joel Hatstat, which you can find at paleprophet.bandcamp.com. There's some nifty artwork and packaging available for the physical copies, too, if you'd like to order one directly from the band. Head to facebook.com/PaleProphet for more information on that.