This is the last edition of Threats and Promises for 2020. Without getting too sentimental about it, I want to extend a very hearty portion of gratitude to everyone who put out new music, promoted alternative events and just tried their damnedest to keep things moving along this year. Our music scene has undergone some major and still-stinging changes this year that will alter its landscape for a good portion of the foreseeable future. The actual music being created here, though, is stupendously good, and, in terms of music alone, 2020 has been a high point. Each week I’ve been thrilled by the quantity and quality of y’all’s work, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Here’s to happy holidays for all and a bright future in 2021.
TOP JIMMY: While there are certainly myriad examples of successful public support for the arts and crafts over the past 100 years or so (National Endowment for The Arts, Works Progress Administration, et al) my current favorite lands at the intersection of guitarist Jace Bartet (Double Ferrari) and UGA’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Bartet’s newly released composition for six electric guitars, “Spaceship You,” was supported by the Willson Center as part of its Shelter Projects initiative. Bartet’s piece is great, running just over nine minutes long. Bartet puts his melodic metal knowledge through all its paces but also conjures up some really nice surprises, such as channeling the layered dexterity of, say, Michael Rother (Neu!), as well. You can find this at jace.bandcamp.com and enjoy the rest of the Shelter Projects—uh, projects—at willson.uga.edu/public-partners/shelter-projects-online-exhibition.
PRAYERS FOR RAIN: Back in 2014, when they first released their album Pizza Party, the dudes in Thunderchief were a hardworking crew of rockers carving a slice of the Athens music scene. Six years later, I have no idea what most of ‘em are up to, but the album just landed online for your holiday enjoyment. Working largely via the wide circle pit of pop punk, sing-along metal and some really solid early ‘70s hard rock influences, Pizza Party is here to, well, party. Especially fist pumping are “Lone Shark,” which owes its entire main hook to Budgie’s “Breadfan” (1973), “Bad And Busted” and “Bob 3000.” Just pour the nog and head to thunderchiefrocks.bandcamp.com.
MR. POTTER’S NEIGHBORHOOD: Michael Potter (Null Zone, Electric Nature) began working on the tracks that comprise his newest project, Serrater, back in 2017. The first edition of this music, titled unofficially Serrater 1, just came out on cassette via Atlanta’s Already Dead label. The tracks herein are unabashedly noise constructions but ebb and flow in a fairly standard compositional way. It helps to have some familiarity with both Potter in particular and noise music in general, because I can talk all the live-long day about how this meets some standard benchmarks, but it’ll still come across as the chime of death’s doorbell if you’re not prepared. That said, I found Potter’s most intriguing segments here to be when he cranks the intensity up on “Movement II” and “Movement V.” The whole record is heavily rhythmic, and patterns become quite discernible after only a couple of minutes. This was mastered by well-known noise engineer Grant T. Richardson (Pain Apparatus, Death Jenk) whose resume is as long as your arm. Potter reports that this is the first of at least four planned releases for Serrater, and, in other news, he and some compatriots have undertaken to form a new label/project named Serrated Tapes from which they plan to publish multiple media—including audio, video and print. For more information please see alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com and michaelpotter.bandcamp.com.
SHINE ON: Clay Babies, as a general rule, typically explore the more folksy and homespun style of songwriting. They’ve eschewed that, though, for their latest single, which is the garage-styled rocker “My Revolutionary.” While the song itself was released as part of the group’s July EP The Justice Jar, they’re currently re-promoting it as a stand-alone track, the sales of which will benefit the American Civil Liberties Association. Clay Babies also pressed an exceedingly limited-edition 7-inch record of the entire EP to auction off. There are only five of them, and these proceeds will benefit the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement. You can find the information concerning the vinyl over at claybabies.com/the-justice-jar, and you can stream and/or purchase the single at claybabies.bandcamp.com.
SAD SEASON: David Ferguson (Kompromat) and songwriting partner David Martin have released a handful of songs with their project Astral Summer, but the sweetest just came out last week. It’s titled “Sad Season” and is a tribute to late restaurateur and friend to innumerable people, Marti Schimmel, who passed away earlier this year. It runs a gamut of emotions and Ferguson’s distinctive emotive vocals lift it higher than it might have otherwise gone. Check it out at astralsummer.bandcamp.com.
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