Photo Credit: Mike White
GATHER ’ROUND: The longtime Athens-music folks behind the old High Hat Club are hosting a benefit in support of country star Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation, which is dedicated to providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Irma and Maria throughout the Virgin Islands. The two-night event, billed as High Hat at the Watt, runs Thursday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 8 at the 40 Watt Club, and each night is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The lineup for the first night will include Five Eight, Kompromat, MrTonksMrCarter and Timi Conley & Friends’ Fuzzy Sprouts Electro-Fied Jamboree Revival. Night Two will feature Hayride, members of Interstellar Boys (Todd Nance, Danny Hutchens, John Neff and John Mills), Dashboard Saviors and Dodd Ferrelle & the Wintervillains. Each night will also feature a documentary film presentation by Drew Alston on the devastation caused by these hurricanes, and an online auction is live at biddingowl.com featuring items donated by Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic, Chesney and others. For tickets, see 40watt.com.
SEAN-O-MATIC FOR THE PEOPLE: Sean McDonald, the man behind the MMM Sound label, has a new EP out named Pet Sounds Semetary. It’s six tracks long, but the entire thing runs fewer than 15 minutes. McDonald performs everything himself: drums, keyboards, synthesizers, different toy instruments and vocals. Ever the faithful experimenter, McDonald’s output has waxed and waned in both quantity and quality over the years, but since he moved here a few years ago, he’s been a rad addition to the local scene. This new release is a great example of his best work. It’s eminently tuneful yet oddly despairing. It’s mostly mid-tempo but can feel much slower. The brevity of the tracks is evidence of clarity of vision, and also removes any room for the accusations of self-indulgence to which, Lord knows, anything tagged as “experimental” is prone. Although I mostly enjoyed listening to this all as one piece—conveniently provided as track seven—I kept coming back to “Rise and Shine.” Its markedly grand choral vocal melody, which contains no actual lyrics, sounds positively ancient, or at least historically ecclesiastical. Check this out at purpleghost.bandcamp.com.
EASY DOES IT: A weird and cool set of tunes from slightly out in left field finally landed in my ears this week. The self-titled full-length album by Wet Meadows came out in late October, but it’s taken me this long to get around to praising it. Its central conceit is what the band is calling “bot rock” (botanical rock), and the reasoning is a little obtuse and utterly unnecessary to enjoy this little gem. What you get here is a nice collection of semi-psych-pop tunes that are tautly composed, unassumingly yet confidently played and—in a nice twist for this type of thing—utterly unpretentious. Fans of early Elephant 6-style indie-pop and, to a lesser degree, older recordings by Mountain Goats and Sebadoh side project Sentridoh should dig this the most. Check it out at wetmeadows.bandcamp.com.
DON’T SPEAK: Rapper and producer Donny Knottsville, working under his production pseudonym of Studebaker Hawk, has set up a new repository for his instrumental backing tracks (aka “beats,” if you wanna use the vernacular) from his now-unavailable albums Brainiac Frankenstein and Rock Is Dead. The massive, 41-track The Studebaker Hawk Tapes from 2015 is available to hear, too. Spread across the three records are collaborations with other artists such as Cubenza, The Nice Machine, Ian Morris and Triz, but the overwhelming amount of work was handled by Knottsville. Longtime fans will enjoy these, and hell, newcomers, just look at all this stuff that’s ripe for remixing! Get on that at studebakerhawk1.bandcamp.com. In other news, Knottsville continues to ride high on the buoyancy of his summer release, Celestial Seasons, which was marked as his “official” debut album, even though there’s been lot of mixtapes and such previously. Indeed, he promises a new release in January to be titled Midnight Urban Drugstore Cowboy. Consider yourself heartily encouraged to surf over to donnyknottsville.bandcamp.com and listen in.