WIPE THE WINDOWS, CHECK THE OIL: Seemingly arriving out of nowhere but very much grounded in our current reality, Drive-By Truckers released a surprise new album last week. This new record, The New OK, is the second for the band this year, and it once again finds the Truckers hitting that spot, both sweet and sad, between timelessness and timeliness. The band’s last record, January’s The Unraveling, was positively on fire but now seems both prescient in its gospel and quaint in its resolve. The New OK, while featuring some tracks recorded during those same sessions, grants few assurances of moral certainty even when holding fast to its own convictions. It’s an emotionally heavy album that will undoubtedly become a key addition to the Truckers’ catalog but is difficult to merely spin in the background. The New OK is available digitally as we speak, and the physical release is scheduled by label ATO Records to come out Dec. 18. For all other info, please see drivebytruckers.com.
CAN YOU DRAW TIPPY?: The latest Athens band to straddle the highway miles between the Classic City and Atlanta is Art Contest. To be honest, I actually have no idea how long they’ve held this status because, you know, 2020 and all. At any rate, the popular and creative foursome has deemed y’all important enough to hear a sneak peak of its upcoming new album. The new full-length is titled Fit Pitcher, and it’ll be released Nov. 6. The preview single is named “A Large, White Vase,” and its elements are top-notch (semi-gothy post-punk vocals, great keyboard riffs, nice emotional subtext, etc.), but it’s got this jerky rhythm and pacing that is quite jarring at times. It’s not at all unlike being on a rollercoaster that speeds up and slows down. It threw my equilibrium off pretty suddenly while listening with earbuds, so maybe don’t do that. Just blast it in the yard or something. You can check it out at artcontest.bandcamp.com and report your findings directly to the dudes themselves over at facebook.com/artcontestsc.
THE SCREEN, THE BLINDING LIGHT: Videographer Gregory Frederick has been dedicatedly documenting the Athens music live scene for several years and is best known for his friendly demeanor and his “Athens, GA Live Music” YouTube channel, which hosts thousands of videos. He’s now launched an additional channel named “Inside Athens Bands,” which is largely centered on interviews and in-depth perspective on local artists. There are already several hours worth of material on there, as Frederick began this project a few years ago and steadily worked towards its launch. An interesting characteristic of Frederick’s work is that he’s dedicated tons of time and attention to groups and artists of all stripes, not just who happens to be in the news or on people’s lips at any certain time. Take some time, head to YouTube and search for “Inside Athens Bands,” and, if you haven’t already, look up “Athens, Ga Live Music,” too.
WRITE IN: The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has been promoting its Save Our Stages campaign across the internet and social media, and you might have seen it already. The campaign is seeking live-music fans, employees of venues, artists and all others concerned about the desperate state of the live-music industry. Specifically, the call is for folks to contact their elected congressional representatives and urge them to agree upon and pass the updated HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, which would include support for independently owned live-music venues. It is no hyperbole to say that COVID-19 has already delivered a devastating blow to the live-music landscape across the United States, not to mention in our beloved Athens, and irreparably changed countless lives. Please consider contacting your representatives. You can do so easily via this form, nivassoc.org/take-action, and find all additional information at nivassoc.org.
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