MusicThreats & Promises

Kwazymoto Gets Raw, and More Music News

ALL HAIL: The new album by Kwazymoto came out at the end of September. It’s named My American Family, and it marks the full advent of two significant adjustments for the band. First, this album is packed with the most abrasively honest and deeply personal lyrics songwriter Ian Hemerlein has published, and second, it’s the first the band has recorded as a duo. This record was done with Hemerlein on guitar, vocals and piano, with longtime member Kody Blackmon on drums and percussion. Occasional harp comes courtesy of Lauren Hemerlein. I’ve praised Kwazymoto’s advances, musically and lyrically, for about the past two or so years, but now those accolades feel weak and premature in light of this record. All of which is to say, I never saw this coming and, in retrospect, should have saved some gusto for this one. Hemerlein’s songs here are compositional in the same way Pete Townsend’s were for Tommy and Quadrophenia. The brute heaviness of the guitar and drums on previous releases have yielded their surface tasks of being raw fists in order to take on the role of being a true vehicle for Hemerlein’s outstanding lyricism. Don’t read that wrong. A person could still go to a show or throw this record on and rock out just fine—the rolling boil of “Iris” guarantees this—but it’s more difficult, as every shredded emotion both announces and aggressively defends itself. To wit: “Like father, my own brother vanished/ Checking out, it has its advantage” and “I barely know myself/ But you’re good at making me think that I love you/ And you love me.” Click through now at

STUCK INSIDE OF ATHENS WITH THE FOUNDRY BLUES AGAIN: The Foundry has put together a really killer lineup for its third annual BBQ, Bourbon & Blues Festival, which takes place Saturday, Oct. 20. The full lineup stars Georgia blues legend Tinsley Ellis, Beverly “Guitar“ Watkins, the Rick Fowler Band, The Georgia Healers, Will White and the Howlin’ South, The Lucky Jones, Frankie’s Blues Mission, The Original ScrewTops, Marion Montgomery with Glyn Denham and Box of Rawks. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and the music is happening on both an indoor and an outdoor stage. People, these tickets are only $10. Do you hear me? Can you even conceive of what a great deal this is? Sure you can. I trust you. Also, true to the event’s title, The Foundry is running barbecue and bourbon specials all day and night. For tickets and more information, see

BUZZ-N-FUZZ: Acid-ish-rock/psych-garage band The Formula released its album A Dizzy Spell right at the tail end of August. Due to its all-instrumental nature, the running length of 14 tracks—with more than a couple of them seeming tossed in just because the band had them on hand—can seem a little long and wearisome. That said, this is leaps and bounds ahead of my previous encounters with these guys. Specifically, the heaviest of tracks, like “End of Complacency” and “Lost and Downtrodden,” are where these guys shine. The glimmer is much less so on tracks where a single string seems to take center stage (“Blackberry Vines”) and when they slow down for anything. Even so, the late-era Black Flag-ism of “Purple Scheme” was enough to keep me listening through the whole thing. There’s easily an EP’s worth of solid, tight material here, but it’s obscured by what really feels like an overloaded release. Your mileage may vary, so test drive at

PARTY WITH SOME PEOPLE: The 40 Watt Club is hosting a Turn Up the Vote event Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 5–10 p.m. State and local officeholders and candidates will be on hand to answer questions about current issues and all that kind of stuff. The live music bill is pretty stacked and will feature Calico Vision, Kxng Blanco, Cortez Garza, Michael Guthrie, Life the Griot, Celeste Ngeve, Los Cantares, Klezmer Local 42, Squalle, Ishues, Jay Gonzalez, Randall Bramblett, David Lowery and more. Montu Miller and Caroline Aiken will host the event. Please know that by attending this event you’re consenting to being photographed and videotaped, and that these images may be posted, published and streamed via a variety of media. This is a totally standard thing for political events of this sort, but it doesn’t hurt to remind y’all. For more information, see

STRUMMIN’ FOR SERENITY: The Georgia Conflict Center hosts its annual Pickin’ for Peace benefit concert Sunday, Oct. 21 at The Foundry. The local nonprofit, which is in its ninth year, “works to promote peacemaking by teaching nonviolent communication, conflict resolution and restorative justice.” Sunday’s event features music from Ralph Roddenbery & Frenzy and John Dunn & the Jazzman Band. There will also be a silent auction to benefit the GCC. The show starts at 6 p.m., and tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. See for tickets and more info. [Gabe Vodicka]