MusicThreats & Promises

Shoal Creek Stranglers Tackle the Standards

SUNDAY MORNING SIDEWALK: A sweet EP by the Shoal Creek Stranglers snuck out a couple of weeks ago. Its five tracks were recorded during various sessions between 2011 and 2014. Fans of traditional and old-time bluegrass and country will recognize most of the songs and should appreciate the band’s reverent but distinct take on them. This is especially true for their version of the hoary folk tune “Tom Dooley.” Multiple groups have turned this song into absolute mush, but the Stranglers return suspected murderer Mr. Dooley to a place of resigned judgment and sadness. The stomp beat and hot-mic vocals on “I Shall Not Be Moved” might also trick a closed-eye listener into believing this new version was recorded decades ago. The Stranglers are steeped in the folk and Appalachian traditions to the most honest degree; they treat these songs not as artifacts to be preserved under glass, but rather as living species that writhe and squirm and take on the baggage and passion of any performer honest enough to engage them as such. In other words, they nail it. Stream it via For more information on the Gypsy Farm Records family, see

PRESS PLAY: Songwriter Nicholas Mallis is currently working up a new EP, and he released a song from it last week. It’s titled “The Great Northern,” and it’s a fairly marked departure from his previous work. Whereas listeners are used to Mallis operating via guitar/bass/drums—and doing a fine job thereof—this new song features a lot of texture via synthesizers and drum pads. Although it’s too early to tell if this is going to be a completely positive path for his songwriting, the track is a nice sample. Dig it via

THIS IS THE WAY, STEP INSIDE: In coordination with Peter Hook & The Light’s upcoming Georgia Theatre performance Apr. 21, New York’s Cinema Under the Influence will present Anton Corbijn‘s dramatic black-and-white film Control at Ciné Monday, Apr. 13. The idea is to pair this biopic of Joy Division‘s late Ian Curtis with Hook’s performance of his former band’s seminal albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer. Athens rockers Muuy Biien, who themselves owe more than a passing haircut to Joy Division, will play an after party for the film at The World Famous immediately following the screening. The screening will include ticket giveaways for Hook’s show, a raffle featuring prizes from local businesses and screenings of archival Factory Records footage and Corbijn-directed music videos, plus discounted Creature Comforts beer. Doors will open around 7 p.m., with the film starting on or about 8:15. Expect to pay $12 for entry at Ciné. The afterparty is free.

There are some honest-to-gosh gems buried in that pile, as well as some truly bad stuff I won’t name.

RELAX AND FLOAT DOWNSTREAM: Former UGA football player Billy Bennett has been making his mark on Athens music and beyond for over a decade, with his production work for bands like The Whigs, MGMT and more. Most recently, Bennett has started recording his own music, and two songs just dropped online. They’re a pair of densely textured, generally blissful, psychedelic pop tunes, and you can enjoy them at

IT’S ALL OVER: Voting is now over for the People’s Choice addendum to the 2015 AthFest compilation album, and the winner of the comp’s final spot is “Slip By” by Halem Albright. The field of choices was enormously wide, and I’ve got just one question for y’all: Did anyone actually listen to all 62 songs before voting? Stop it. No, you didn’t. The songs are still up over at, and there are some honest-to-gosh gems buried in that pile, as well as some truly bad stuff I won’t name. Take some time and dig around.

NOW HEAR THIS: Supremely creative MC and intermittent Athenian Donny Knottsville (aka Walter Kovax, aka Malcolm Walters, aka Rorshak) has done it again. It’s only been four months since he put out the 15-track Brainiac Frankenstein, but last week he released another full-length album. Clocking in at 12 tracks, it’s titled Hoof Beats, and as hard as it sometimes is to parse things like this, I’m gonna go on record saying that I’m enjoying it more than that October release. It’s definitely more pop-oriented and immediately catchy. But, you know, just like Michael Bolton, I celebrate his entire catalog. Dig it at