However, it Might Be a Christmas Present: Even though Athens artist Jeff Fox self-identifies as a singer-songwriter, I hesitate to describe him as such for fear that hoary term, no matter how technically accurate, will conjure an image of some trite acoustic drivel. Fox composes music that is quite the opposite, and it's neatly showcased on his new album, This is Not a Birthday Present, which is released under the name Jumping Through Fiery Hoops. The 11-track record is a nicely set up collection of intelligent guitar-pop that, for all my fussing, actually does open with a tender, breezy acoustic song. The rest of the record glides easily through Fox's well-informed musical sensibility, which includes, of course, the ability simply to put it all out there and rock. Check it via jefffox.bandcamp.com.
What Would St. Anthony the Abbot Do?: The ninth annual Christmas with the Bitches celebration will happen Saturday, Dec. 13 at Little Kings Shuffle Club. It's hosted by longtime Athens musician Jon Lester and DJ duo Bitch Switch. Costumes are encouraged but not required. As in previous years, the event is a benefit for the Athens Area Humane Society's Food Bowl program, which means admission is contingent upon a donation. You can take a can of cat or dog food, pay cash at the door or make a check out to the AAHS. If you bring pet food, please take the Purina Chow brand, per the Humane Society's request. It all kicks off at 11 p.m.
It's Clobberin' Time: Back when I thought SST Records could do no wrong, and before it sunk in that the label only ever had a mere handful of bands worth listening to, I'd pick up its compilations with high hopes. In between the well-known names were masses of bluesy California bands and weirdo metal, each of which would have died on the vine were it not for SST's largesse. All of which is to say, when I close my eyes and listen to the new album by local band Liberator, I feel like I'm back there with those dusty cassette tapes desperately letting each track roll through, hoping for anything that grabs me. That said, the opening track on the group's debut album, Warpath, is a totally stellar early-Rollins-solo-era-meets-Bad Brains jam. The rest of the record is exactly how the band describes it: "punk, rock, blues, progressive, psychedelic." If you ever dug Tom Troccoli's Dog, this is the record for you. Warpath came out last week but will probably live on the Internet forever, so when you get a chance, head to liberatorusa.bandcamp.com.
Winter Wonderland: The debut album by dream-pop band Grand Vapids comes out Jan. 20, and pre-orders for a limited-edition CD version are being taken as we speak. The band has been together for only about a year but has quietly honed its music while knowledge of just how damn good it is has happened through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth—the way God intended it. While we've always given Grand Vapids the hat tip here at Flagpole—including a substantial post on Homedrone a couple of weeks ago—a decent amount of national press is starting to pile up, too, and personally, I couldn't be happier for them. Several months ago, I described them as “gorgeously defined and thoughtfully executed guitar slow-pop,” and that still holds up well. Pre-orders for the album, titled Guarantees, can happen at grandvapids.bandcamp.com, and a handful of preview songs are available at soundcloud.com/grand-vapids. For all other info, see grandvapids.com and facebook.com/grandvapids.
Never Enough: Record vendor Alan Ross launched his store The Record Booth about three years ago on Athens' Eastside (790 Gaines School Rd.) and set his focus on deeply discounted used LPs and 7-inch records. After gaining some success in this area, he's announced a second location of the store. The new spot is up the road a bit in Monroe, inside Ian Henderson's Antique Mall (600 S. Broad St.). While the Athens store prices LPs between three and five bucks, the new shop features slightly harder-to-find vinyl that ranges from $5–8 for a standard single LP. Through the holiday season, the Booth will be open 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday–Saturday and noon–8 p.m. on Sunday. Keep up with Ross' goings on in Athens via facebook.com/therecordbooth and in Monroe via facebook.com/TheRecordBoothMonroe.