Threats & Promises

Michael Carnes’ Hiatus, And More Music News and Gossip

Michael Carnes

LET THE SUN SHINE IN: If you thought you were going to get through the whole spring without a new song from Cowboy Kerouac, well, you were wrong, buddy. A single-song release named “Somehow I Survived” just came out, and it’s funny (“What’s an email?/ Why the f*#@ do I have to send emails?”), poignant and uplifting in all under two minutes. Musically speaking it’s pretty straight-up folk-punk, with a lot less country about it than previous Cowboy releases. Not much else to say except check it out at

POSITIVE MENTAL OUTLOOK: Emo-punk rocker Phantom Dan has a new single out named “Bad Habits” and, just like one of those, it took me a few tries for this to really grab me. It’s a huge sounding, Warped Tour-level crowd-pleaser just packed with multiple third-wave emo musical touchstones (a heavy organ on the chorus, rapped verses/sung choruses, a breakdown, etc.). Lyrically, this is like a self-directed Tony Robbins seminar, and once you listen to it or watch its accompanying video, you’ll know what I mean. All in all, not bad at all, and most definitely a fun diversion. Find this on Spotify and follow along at 

PRESSING PAUSE: Songwriter Michael Carnes is a whole mood. He already has a few full-length albums under his belt, and his newest, Hiatus, is out now. Working primarily under a tent held up by a big framework built from the bones of folk and pop, his vocals are rarely urgent, but mostly reserved and often seemingly resigned. While this album is pretty long at 15 songs—a number very few artists should ever consider putting on a single album—there are several moments of grandeur here that might have been missed otherwise. For example, “Replacement” is a hit waiting to happen with its relatable lyrics and catchy riffing. Another highlight is the title track itself. It’s nearly hymn-like at times, and the lightly played chimes really round the whole thing out. Find this and the rest of his catalog on Spotify, and for more information, please see and

LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE: Athens musician Parker Lusk released his debut EP late last year, but it’s only just now crossed our desks here at the ol’ cultural arbitration board, so that’s what’s taken so long. It’s titled Something Scary, and it runs six tracks long, although the last two songs (“Make It Free” and “Concentration”) were each released as singles in 2022. At first ear-glance, this all feels and sounds highly derivative of any number of 1990s-ish alt-rock high flyers, but subsequent listens reveal a lot of subtlety and texture. Opening track “Darkest” is a great example of this with its multiple layers, thoughtful playing and really imaginative instrumentation. “Aliens” is similar in its success, but also rocks just a bit harder. Honestly, this whole record was surprisingly creative and worth most of every second spent listening to it. Find this on Spotify.

FREE PALESTINE: Brooklyn, NY label Hate To Quit (stylized as HATETOQUIT) just released an obnoxiously gigantic international compilation. It’s titled Merciless Accelerating Rhythms: Artists United for a Free Palestine, and it includes a few Athens artists. These are, namely, Telemarket, SCHMUK and Honeypuppy. And, in addition to them, there are 52 other artists for a total track listing of 55. According to the label statement, “All proceeds from sales of this compilation will be donated directly to Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) and Palestine Legal.” Now, I listened to this all the way through, and I can report it’s easily among the most listenable compilations of this size I’ve ever encountered. Most of the time stuff like this is just full of garbage throwaway tracks, but not this one. That said, the chances of you ever playing all 55 tracks of this are probably nil. Even so, if you wanna check it out head to

ALLOCATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!: AthFest Educates, the nonprofit educational organization behind all AthFest events and activities, has opened its grant application season for its 2024–2025 school year grants. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 24. There is a total pool of funds of $65,000 to be awarded, and applicants may request up to $5,000. These grants are open to teachers, community educators and youth development professionals. AthFest Educates released information that says these grants are to provide “1) music and arts based non-consumable equipment, such as musical instruments and audio/visual equipment; 2) programs and experiences for students that are music and arts focused; and 3) music and arts-based professional development for educators and/or youth development specialists.” For more information and to apply, please see

NEW MOTHER NATURE: You already know that AthFest is huge, right? Well, the 2024 AthFest Music & Arts Festival is even more huge. Plus, you’re incredibly likely to stumble across many, many groups and artists that you’ve never seen nor heard before. Nor even heard of. Sure, there’s still plenty of reliable, old school Athens bands playing to serve as aural comfort food but this year is really shaping up to be a discovery festival and I couldn’t be more pleased. Look online at to see the full lineup, and for all information concerning club crawl ticketing, etc. please see