Photo Credit: Kaden Shallat
FIVE ALIVE: A new live album by Kishi Bashi came out this past month. It features Kishi Bashi performing with a string quartet and is titled String Quartet Live!. The nine-track record pulls largely from his 2012 album 151a and 2014’s Lighght. This creative reworking of his material is quite lovely. The relatively sparse yet forceful arrangements do a grand job of showcasing Kishi’s vocal skill; he is adept at wrenching every possible drop of emotion out of the material. The only low point on the record is the ill-advised cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).” It’s certainly not the case that the song itself is bad, nor does Kishi do the material wrong. It’s just been so overplayed and covered during the past decade it’s become a de facto “Hallelujah”—or even “Wagon Wheel”—for the artsy set and, as such, suffers ignobly as a predictable, go-to safe space. String Quartet Live! is available on vinyl, as a digital download and as sheet music, all individually or in special, well-priced bundles. See kishibashi.bandcamp.com to sample and order.
TRANSLATE SLOWLY: New Athens-area label Plus 100 Records (often stylized as +100) has two new releases under its belt already and is making some headway into electronic and ambient genres that are often web-based and terribly inscrutable for the average listener. Although vaporwave was declared nearly abandoned as many as two years ago, and Plus 100 tags none of its releases as such, as an acquiescent move for readers I’m gonna insert it here as a convenient—if not altogether needle-point accurate—descriptor. In October, the label released a collaborative album by Telepath and Vaperror under the name Televape, with the record titled Beyond Love. (Please note that every title mentioned here is published in Japanese, and my translations may not be entirely accurate.) It’s particularly dream-inducing yet beat-focused. The strongest track is the eight-minute “Inseparable.” Late last month, the label released an anticipated album from noted vaporwave artist Remember titled Walking to Heartache, which is billed as a prequel to Remember’s well-received Route Back Home, which came out on UK label Dream Catalogue. (That label, incidentally, is co-operated by Telepath and features releases from Vaperror as well as Athens’ own Astroshaman.) At any rate, the new Remember album is accurately described as an “ambient behemoth.” The first two tracks alone last almost 45 minutes, and I had to listen to it in pieces because the whole record is a lot to take in. But I found it just as enjoyable in subsequent doses. See soundcloud.com/Plus100 and plus100.bandcamp.com to check all this stuff out.
MOTHERS OF REINVENTION: Just before everyone took a turkey nap, Athens band Mothers announced that its debut album will come out in February via a split release between New York’s Grand Jury Records and London’s Wichita Recordings. It’s titled When You Walk a Long Distance You are Tired, and its lead single is available as we speak via all major digital markets. The track, “Too Small For Eyes,” is a welcome return to the sound of early Mothers, albeit an updated version with a fairly full arrangement. I’ve no idea when this was actually recorded, but it could have been two years ago or yesterday. The beauty in Mothers’ now-occasional sparseness should never be taken necessarily as gentleness, and certainly not weakness. Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to hearing what the group will do will a full-album canvas and honestly couldn’t be more excited for them. See facebook.com/nestingbehavior for ongoing concerns.
YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: The Georgia Theatre and Avid Bookshop will host a celebration for the current issue of noted culture and literary magazine Oxford American via two events Wednesday, Dec. 9. Specifically, it's the publication's Georgia Music Issue that'll be honored. Oxford American publishes a Southern music issue each year, and this year, the focus is on our state. Avid will host a reading with authors featured in the issue, as well as some Oxford American editors, from 6:30–7:30 p.m. Later that evening, fans can head to the Theatre and enjoy seeing Elf Power, Danny Hutchens and the Old Hoss Radbourn Experience, Shade, Ruby the Rabitfoot and The Historical Mercyland Abstract. That last band is David Barbe and some pals playing songs by Barbe's old band, Mercyland. It should be mentioned, too, that Barbe—through his role as director of the UGA Music Business Program—was key in getting several Athens-area authors published in the issue. The reading at Avid is free, and the show at the Theatre is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For tickets, see georgiatheatre.com, and for more information, see oxfordamerican.org and avidbookshop.com.