Photo Credit: Sara Kirkpatrick
GO AHEAD AND YELL SOME MORE: While you were celebrating the holidays, Athens screamo outfit Under A Sky So Blue sneaked out their new split release with Missouri's Celebration. The five-song EP—featuring two from the home team and three from the visitors—tilts clearly toward Under A Sky So Blue, whose songs are dynamic and thoughtful, whereas Celebration's are just goofy. It's available for streaming and download via underaskysoblue.bandcamp.com, and a 7-inch vinyl version is coming out via the Off Cloud Nine label and Suspended Soul and Tape Records. In other news, UASSB will make the long trek out to Austin, TX this month to perform at the newly minted Austin Blood Alliance Fest. Here's to good weather and safe travels. For more information, see facebook.com/underaskysoblue.
CONDITION CRITICAL: Longtime Athens musician Chris McKay has disbanded his decade-long project The Critical Darlings. He'd already stepped away from the band last year but, you know, it was still his baby. Over the course of two full-length albums and one EP, the band featured a combined membership of 14, but was always clearly under the direction of McKay and his classic rock/power-pop sensibilities. McKay isn't retiring from playing, but has announced this is the end of the line for this project. As a final statement, he's released a 17-song compilation—sequenced as if it were a four-sided double album—that includes at least one previously unreleased song and alternate mixes of some others. It's titled Best Case Scenario: A Studiography and can be found at criticaldarlings.bandcamp.com.
NEVER SAY DIE: Athens pop trio The Goons released a new five-song EP a couple of weeks back named No Art. Now, when it comes to veterans of our town's pop scene, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more crack team than members Joe Rowe, Jim Hix and Andy Gonzales. Engineer Matt Tamisin recorded the bass and drums, and Gonzales handled recording of vocals, keyboard and guitar at Japanski Recording Studio and Marshmallow Coast Studios, respectively. Former Goon Derek Almstead mastered the thing, and former Athenian Billy Bennett mixed it all up in Nashville. This EP is the first release from the band in over two-and-a-half years, and I'm not sure why, but maybe it's because so many hands had to touch it? The good thing is that The Goons’ sound has never been nailed to a specific era, and this record could have easily slipped out in the early '70s, mid-'80s or, as it stands, now. Give it a listen at thegoonsband.bandcamp.com.
BRICK BY BRICK: The fundraising effort by Nuçi's Space dubbed “Reconstruction of the Steeple” ended Jan. 2. Although the project fell a little over $100,000 short of its total goal of $250,000, the amount raised was more than enough to fully fund the stabilization and rehabilitation of the St. Mary's steeple itself. The overflow funds will go into a fund that enables Nuçi's Space to carry on its mission of providing low- and no-cost health care resources to Athens area musicians, as well as its multiple other charitable projects. Although fundraising via this effort has closed, the campaign page is still up, and there are many donor premiums that went unclaimed. Let's hope Nuçi's makes at least some of those available via other avenues, especially the numbered bricks, which were easily the coolest thing available. For ongoing information, see nuci.org.
SLEEPY SOUNDS: In related news, erstwhile Athenian duo Dream Boat, hot on the heels of its critically acclaimed album The Rose Explodes, has thrown a little help toward the aforementioned fundraising campaign. For a mere dollar, you can purchase a digital download of the group's cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “A Hazy Shade of Winter.” The proceeds from each purchase will go straight to Nuçi's Space. Grab one over at dreamboatsound.bandcamp.com.