Threats & Promises

Derek Almstead’s Boxes, And More Music News and Gossip

THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMIN’: There’s a new Modern Lamps release out now named Lucid Cartography that features the project as a duo of experimental composers Grant and Rachel Evans. The cassette version of this release is limited to 25 copies. Because I don’t want to get it wrong, I’ll quote them directly when they mention that this has “gong, singing bowl, bells, e-sitar, cloud flute, percussion, piano, bass, erhu, zither, lap harp, Rhodes, guitar, tape loops and electronic piano” on it. Featuring two tracks, the A-side (“South Mars Onsen”) begins, and maintains for nearly five minutes, some solid hand percussion that underscores the Evans’ trademarked drones until it’s overtaken by the Easter-egg-ish nod to Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Overall, it’s the more aggressive of the two tunes here. The B-side (“Meltwater Sutra”) is piano based but doesn’t always sound like it. Layers and layers of not unpleasant noise bury it for the most part, with a few exceptions. Find this and more over at

Y’ALL COME OVER: The Hibbs Family Band and Tyler Key released a four-song tribute to the late Townes Van Zandt last week. It’s called Classic Townes and is the first bunch in a planned batch of Van Zandt tunes covered by local artists and musicians. Once all the batching is complete, the idea is to release it all as a full length. The Zandt songs performed on this initial release are “Pancho And Lefty,” “If I Needed You,” “No Deal” and “Silver Ships Of Andilar.” Of these, it should be expected that I’m going to judge the unimpeachable “Pancho And Lefty” most harshly. And I’m happy to report that Hibbs and Key have produced a very lovely version with a nice extended intro and a full-band arrangement. Word from the band is you can find this at but, as of this writing, it’s not there yet, so go ahead and check again. 

HELLO, IT’S HIM: Longtime live engineer and recording artist Derek Almstead (Faster Circuits, Olivia Tremor Control) just released his first record under his own name. The five-song release is titled Boxes and, musically speaking, there’s a subtle theme of linear movement throughout. While loosely inhabiting the related camps of psychedelia and indie rock, Almstead never really forcefully flies the flag of either. Rather, his songs here move steadily with nice—sometimes momentary—slices of top shelf melody. For instance, the one-word refrain of “Saboteur” is easily as catchy as anything his other bands have ever done. On “No Role Model,” he takes a guitar cue from Hall and Oates which he uses to introduce, then subside under, a deeply sleepy vocal and heavier melodicism. Boxes is a unique entry into the canon of “dude-who-was-in-bands-uses-own-name”-type records in that there is no sense of novelty and it has something to say. What that is exactly, you’ll need to figure out on your own. So start searching at

STEPPING OUT: Composer Andrew Steck has a new EP out this week that he’s named The Mouth Remains Closed During Strenuous Activity, which locals will recognize as the slogan on the sign that adorns the Flicker Theatre & Bar. The sign itself is a 1991 creation by Athens artist Cal Clements. Steck advised me that these tunes were a departure from his orchestral work, and they are to a certain extent that, to my ears, is mainly a difference in instrumentation and not compositional style. There’s plenty of subtle drama in the almost trip-hop “Reflections.” Similarly, the trance-oriented “The Ocean In A Drop” and keys-heavy “The Undulating Parade” impart similar moods. Find this at Steck’s own and

LOOK UP: It’s only been about a hundred years or so since anyone gathered up on the Georgia Theatre rooftop to jam out to some live music. Well, punters, the big bosses over at GATH have felt your pain and are introducing some remedies. Newly announced upcoming rooftop gigs include McKinley James (Saturday, Mar. 19); Palace Doctor, Outersea and System Exclusive (Tuesday, Apr. 5); and Jive Talk (Saturday, Apr. 23). Now I know y’all have been saving your Theatre bucks for Jackyl (main room, Saturday, Apr. 2), but it wouldn’t hurt you at all to take a toddle up the stairs, either. For more information, please see

BOILING POINT: Athens hardcore band ConSec released a two-song EP last month named Brain Solvent Sampler. As you might imagine, the whole thing is a really quick discussion. It’s loud, boisterous and more than a little traditional. Indeed, the creatively structured “Wheel of Pain/The Kids Will Have Their Say/Interlude I” drops an old SS Decontrol song right in the middle. The second track, “Quick to Forget/Interlude II,” is almost like a youth crew anthem if Greg Ginn (Black Flag) had gotten ahold of it. Not a bad way to spend about eight and a half minutes at all. Find this at