HEADPHONE TIME: The second EP from lo-fi indie-pop artist Penny Lame (aka songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Jianna Justice) came out last Friday, and since you’re already preparing for winter, go ahead and load this into your player. The self-titled recording clocks in at six tracks, with a bonus track available to those who download the EP. Recorded quickly over two days with engineer Marshall Moore (Hairy Confucius), the record also features cover art from Sarah Kennedy, who previously handled the cover of Penny Lame’s debut, Party Songs. Thematically, the songs roughly follow the first EP’s path of life navigation, but there’s something of a harder edge here. It’s not bitterness, exactly, but neither is it resignation. If anything, it’s an amplification of Justice’s lyrical tendency to practically bend over backward to place her own shortcomings on an equal plane as those she sings about. This is excruciatingly detailed in “Night Swimming,” which may well be the underside of the nostalgia-laced R.E.M. song of the same name. Justice’s composition takes place in the present day and is a stark story of interpersonal confusion so muddled I can’t tell if it’s hurtful or helpful. Its placement immediately next to the incredibly hopeful and sweet “Slushy in a Target Parking Lot” shows the dual facets of Penny Lame and life itself. Penny Lame next plays live at Go Bar on Tuesday, Nov. 17 with Brooklyn, NY’s Florist. Dig the EP at pennylame.bandcamp.com.
FADE IN: The still pretty new Sleeping Red Giants have finished their album and are now deep in mixing mode with Athens’ John Keane. Self-described as “twangy chamber-pop,” I’d be hard-pressed to disagree with them. Everything I’ve heard so far is gentle and pleasant, and I’m looking forward to hearing it all once it’s totally done. The plan right now is to complete mixing by the end of the year, release a 7-inch single soon afterward and follow up with the full-length release. The veritable supergroup includes contributions from Nick Robbins, Patrick Burke, Keiko Ishibashi, John Neff, Cameron Steuart, Benji Barton, Kris Barratt, Sanni Baumgartner and Sarah Robbins. The whole thing is headed up by Brandon Hanick (King of Prussia.) You can follow the progress at facebook.com/sleepingredgiants.
THE RACE IS ON: It’s application time for the winter 2016 AthFest Educates grants. Anyone involved with state or local government agencies, nonprofit organizations and public schools may apply if they’re actively in the business of serving kindergarten to eighth-grade youth. Priority is given to those applicants seeking to purchase non-consumable equipment (for music, arts, photography, etc.), as well as funds for activities and/or professional development. Please note that you do not have to be an arts specialist or an instructor in the arts to apply. If you have a creative plan to incorporate music and arts into your work, they’d love to hear from you. The current application cycle is open until Dec. 11, and awards are announced Jan. 11. For more information, see athfesteducates.org/apply, and send any questions to email@example.com.
CRY UNCLE: Robert Smith, drummer for local band Wieuca, has been quietly recording a collection of his own compositions, and he just released some of them. Going under the name Mercy Rules, he handles all guitars, bass, drums and piano himself, and this new five-song batch is titled #1. It’s lo-fi by default rather than design, as he recorded it all at home. It’s an entirely enjoyable set of material that’s totally indie rock at heart but, perhaps owing to the naturally lonely nature of this kind of work, impressively expressive and free from creative compromise. Of particular interest are “Leftovers,” with its slide guitar interacting with the piano; “Eye Patch,” with it’s Who-like arrangement of urgent riffs and what sounds like a flute; and “Gauze,” which is pretty plaintive and just plain pretty. Give it a virtual spin via mercyrules.bandcamp.com.
EARLY EVENING ADVOCACY: Sexual assault and children’s advocacy center The Cottage is hosting a benefit show at Little Kings Shuffle Club from 6–9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Billed as “Unplugged for the Cottage,” it’ll feature local artists playing acoustically, food from Athens eateries and a silent auction of themed baskets. Featured artists are Dangfly! (billed as diet-dangfly!), Beauty and the Beard, the Tiny Jazz Arkestra and Josh Perkins. This year’s event will also shine a light toward the 1BlueString campaign, which draws awareness towards and channels support to male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Guitarists play with one blue string to show support, and those can be had for free at participating events and from 1in6.org. Tickets for the benefit show are $15 at the door or in advance from northgeorgiacottage.org.