Photo Credit: Alisha Mullenax
SPRING FORWARD: Composer and songwriter Ethan Mullenax just released a new 10-track collection named Sehnsucht. Its title is German for “yearning” or “wistful longing,” and it seems apropos considering he describes the record as being written in the aftermath of family deaths and the accompanying introspection. This music isn’t always particularly somber or melancholy, though. Although he does reach these depths on the lovely “Life & Death,” “Bluebird” and the drowsy but Tin Pan Alley-ish “Even If,” there are elements here I had a hard time reconciling. Opening track “Going Home” has a jauntiness that is off-putting, as does album closer “Childhood.” The meat’s really in the middle with this one, but even then, it’s a listen that demands discernment. Head over to ethanmullenax.bandcamp.com to check it out.
STRUM ALONG: Perfect Attendance Records released the new record by Dimmen last week, and its 11 tracks, compiled under the title O, are well worth exploring. While decidedly experimental, most of that aspect can be accredited to arrangement and instrumentation. Otherwise, O follows a fairly traditional pop framework of top-line melody and nod-worthy rhythm. If it is indeed an experiment, it falls within the tradition of, say, Gastr del Sol or Tortoise, not Merzbow. Hear for yourself at dimmen.bandcamp.com.
EAT SOMETHING ALREADY, WOULD YA?: The Athens Symphony Orchestra will host two nights of its annual pops concert at The Classic Center’s Grand Hall Friday, Apr. 27 and Saturday, Apr. 28. These are the final concerts of the season for the symphony, and the seating is set up picnic-style. So, if you’re going, feel free to bring your own food and hang out, eat, listen to music, etc. Tickets are free, but limited to four per person, and required for entry. Doors open each night at 6:30 p.m., and music begins at 8. For tickets, see classiccenter.com.
TAKE A TASTE: Previously mentioned label Perfect Attendance is also edified this month by the new release from Saline, You Did It to Yourself. On this release, the band reaches outward and stretches its songwriting to new lengths. Gone are the difficult-to-grab experimental jags, and in their place are well-rehearsed and aggressively played songs. It’s a great collection of shoegaze tunes, creative explorations of layered vocals and a few straight-ahead pop numbers. For the old people in the back, yes, there’s a definite 1990s mood and feel that runs through this, but that won’t last if you listen with fresh ears, so do that. Check it out at saline1.bandcamp.com.
HOME AGAIN: Several years ago, songwriter Enoch Bledsoe moved from Athens to Asheville, NC, and as far as this column is concerned, it was a bummer, because that meant I would need to stop covering his music, as he was no longer local. However, he’s moved back to town, which means I have free rein to tell you that his band Ancient Whales has never failed to get under my skin in a very good way. The band is infectiously tuneful and ardently pop-oriented in that classic indie/garage way that feels like a real shot in the arm. They’ll be playing the Caledonia Lounge on Wednesday, May 9, which is a little ways off, but you need time to catch up, right? Spend some time at ancientwhales.bandcamp.com and do just that. Also on the bill are Asheville’s Common Visions and Kansas City band Nature Boys.
OPERATOR, POCKET CALCULATOR, ET AL: I have no idea exactly who or what summermemorycenter is, but I’ve had a fine time listening to the four tracks available on the newly released, all-instrumental nightmaninspace EP. It has a distinctly old-school feel about it, with its vintage-sounding keyboards and synths, yet none of these are exhibited in any sort of purposefully nostalgic way. The brevity of this can make it feel more like a demo than a proper EP, but again, I’ve no idea. I can attest fully, though, that it’s not at all a collection of throwaways or junk. It’s a very tasty bite of what I hope will be more material coming out. Hear for yourself at summermemorycenter.bandcamp.com.