TOTAL KO: Only a little over a year ago, Athens rapper Squalle released his incredible Black Picassoul, and now he’s back with the 13-track album Dope Souls. Significantly, this entire album is a practice in positivity, which it seems he might have struggled with a bit after his last album. Although he reached an artistic peak and the album was praised, not the least in this very column, he didn’t exactly know how to “top” it. Eventually, he let the fear of this go and made an album that celebrates early-’90s hip hop, personal achievement in spite of setbacks and negativity, and relishing one’s own personality. Stylistically, it’s slowly and steadily paced, straddling a line between West Coast G-rap and, say, Philadelphia-style slow jams. Grab it at dakidsqualle.bandcamp.com.
CLEAR THE DECKS: Although Rollin’ Home is self-described as a “Southern rock/Americana” band, you’d never nail this 100 percent from the freshly unearthed album Apalachee. Originally recorded in 2011 by “original members”—whom I don’t know and, consequently, have no idea how the lineup has changed—it was finally released late last month. It’s easy to hear certain influences, like the occasional Skynyrd-ish guitar flourish and Widespread Panic-y keyboard runs, but honestly, this record sounds like a jangle-pop band caught just at the moment of transition. This is especially true on opening track “Sadie.” Honestly, the most direct comparison I can make is that odd period of the very late 1980s when Mr. Crowe’s Garden was transitioning into The Black Crowes. No, Rollin’ Home doesn’t sound like either, but in terms of mood, vibe, etc. it’s very similar to me. In any case, I enjoyed this. Check it out at rollinhome.bandcamp.com, and see what they’re doing now at facebook.com/rollinhomemusic.
PACK A LUNCH: The annual Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker Camp-In happens at the 40 Watt Club this week, Jan. 18–20. Tickets are $20 for Thursday and $25 each for Friday and Saturday. You can buy a three-day pass that includes some extra private performances for $100. Thursday night features Monks of Doom, Cracker Duo and Cicada Rhythm. Friday features Camper Van Beethoven, former Athens resident Robyn Hitchcock (see story on p. X.) and Elf Power. Saturday features Thelma and the Sleaze, Cracker, a rare performance by Chickasaw Mudd Puppies and The Darnell Boys. Doors open at 8 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Music begins half an hour after doors open. For tickets and more information, see 40watt.com.
STACKS O’TRACKS: Mover, shaker and hip-hop/soul impresario Akeeme Martin just released the first compilation for his Onyx Echelon 85 Enterprises. It’s titled The Family Tree: The Compilation Vol. 1. As such, those appearing on it are either within his current stable of artists, part of related projects and/or reach back to his days as host of WUOG’s “Halftime Hip Hop Show.” With only two exceptions, the compilation features musicians only from Athens and Atlanta, and it does a good job of showcasing Martin’s breadth of taste between hip hop and R&B. Featured artists include Lex Callahan, Y.O.D, Cinematic, Hannah Washington, Milyssa Rose, Zale, Profound, Stella Groove and more. All proceeds from sales benefit Nuçi’s Space. Check this out at oe85ent.bandcamp.com.
FIVE FOR FIGHTING: The Athens artist dubbed Chainsaw Art released an EP named EP right at the close of the year (aka the dead zone), but I’m glad I didn’t miss it. The notes say it was written and recorded “during panic attacks, nervous breakdowns and bouts of depression,” which probably describes 8 billion records out there, but at least this one is good, featuring five tracks of well-crafted, downbeat keyboard-pop that could’ve been tossed off very quickly but weren’t. There’s a nice amount of care to these songs, as evidenced by the multiple instrumental tracks, layered vocals, etc. Good job. Check it out at chainsawart.bandcamp.com.