HERE COMES THE JUDGE: Hey musicians, it’s that time of year again: the time when you get that one person in your band that does everything to gather up your information and apply to play AthFest. If you’re a solo artist, well, it’s gonna be up to you. Application fees are as follows: If submitting through the mail, it’s free for Georgia artists and $15 for out-of-state artists; if applying online, it’s $5 for locals and $10 out-of-state. Obviously, Georgia and Southeastern artists, and Athens artists in particular, are the main priority, clocking in at 85 percent of the festival lineup, according to athfest.com, with the rest filled by acts from other areas and countries. Generally speaking, the application process is pretty painless and simple, but you should go ahead and get your stuff sorted out before the deadline of Apr. 1 is on top of you. Head to athfest.com/athfest-musician-applications for details and instructions.
PRESS REWIND: Matt Anderegg (Mothers) just released a new eight-track record under his project moniker Group Stretching. It’s titled Penalty Machine, and it shifts on a track-by-track basis between songs packed with noise and echo and much more crystalline presentation. To wit, after the too-short instrumental opener “Bathtubs Are the Increments,” the transition into the half-step bounciness of “As It Appears” is jarring and unsettling. The same is true for the change between the subtle, sleepy “Fixtures” and the thrift store space-age-ness of “A Permanent Crease.” It’s difficult to presume this style of presentation is unintentional, too, as the record seems to flow as if all of a piece. This isn’t easy listening by any stretch, but repeated spins reveal a cohesive texture that isn’t immediately discernible, with the most thoroughly accomplished composition of the whole thing being “Brain Scram.” Check it at groupstretching.bandcamp.com.
SEEMS NICE ENOUGH: Songwriter and musician Doug Hoyer will release his newest album, Stepping Stone, Feb. 7. Hoyer has released records going back to 2008, and without getting too essentialist about it, he really nails the spot at the unassuming crossroads of Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock and The Lucksmiths—a spot I never really thought existed. Honestly, the only thing even partially off-putting is Hoyer’s incredibly crisp and clearly enunciated vocals, but that’s most likely a regional prejudice. Canadians are generally quite a polite people, so I chalk this up to simple manners. Anyway, he’s playing at Flicker Theatre & Bar Friday, Feb. 3 with Athens pop maestro Nicholas Mallis, so head in for a cool double bill. For more information, see facebook.com/DougHoyerMusic, and enjoy some back-catalog time at doughoyer.bandcamp.com.
GET ON UP: The supremely clever and talented Conner Tribble takes his band, Reverend Tribble and the Deacons, to the big stage of the Georgia Theatre Friday, Feb. 3. They’ll be opening for Atlanta’s legendary blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis (Heartfixers, Alligator Records, Capricorn Records). No real news about this other than what I just said, but it’ll be cool for fans to see Tribble and company up on a huge stage with boss sound, and if you’ve never seen Tinsley Ellis before, well, that’s a thing you should do.
COMIN’ HOME: It comes as no surprise that both Friday and Saturday of Drive-By Truckers’ annual three-night stand are sold out. Tickets remain for the Thursday night show of Feb. 16, but you’d better jump on that ASAP if you’re serious about going. They are $31 (plus $4.43 in service fees) at 40watt.com. That night’s opener is the darkly brazen and surprisingly aggressive Thayer Sarrano, whose most recent LP, 2015’s Shaky, is a solid continuation of her defiant repositioning away from the world of mere singer-songwriters. For the uninitiated, there’s a whole host of songs to check out over at thayersarrano.bandcamp.com and information to glean at thayersarrano.com. I fully expect these shows to be even more charged and angry than anything the Truckers have done in the past eight years, so prepare yourself.
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