SOLO IS AS SOLO DOES: Throughout her entire time as an Athens musician, Erica Strout (Motherfucker, Dream Tent) has been solidly ensconced inside the typical rock band frame of a guitar-bass-drums trio, or something similar. Additionally, she’s best known for making either angular math rock or in-your-face hard rock. Recently, though, she’s begun slowly releasing solo songs, and the debut track, “Not the Only One,” is an utterly killer dark pop song. Musically, the track features a thumpy bass guitar, some poignant but barely-there guitar and multiple hyper-melodic keyboard lines. And, yes, the tune itself would be enough to mention even if it was an instrumental. But Strout’s vocals are the real star here. They’re measured, direct and basically flawless in their delivery of her pointed lyrics. This is really reminiscent of a certain type of late ’70s/early ’80s production that is difficult for me to define, but I can readily point to examples. Imagine a far less flashy version of the production style used for, say, Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” and Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” and you’ll be on the right path. Go check this out immediately via ericastrout.bandcamp.com.
PUNCHES ONE AND TWO: Athens metal duo Dead Vibes Ensemble released their full length album, What Devilry Is This?, last week. The whole album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Kyle Spence (Harvey Milk). It’s draped in nearly completely unintelligible vocals but is completely tuneful and crafted. The pair cranks through a tight eight tracks of mid-tempo sludge glory, the best of which hit a solid groove and bring the doom down. Highlights include “Envy,” opening track “Tyrant Wing,” “Ritual Scars” and the headbanger “Illness and Death.” Grind it out at deadvibesensemble.bandcamp.com, and fly the flag at facebook.com/deadvibesensemble.
SEND ’EM IN: The deadline for nominations for this year’s Vic Chesnutt Songwriter of the Year Award, presented by Classic City Rotary, is fast approaching. The last date to nominate yourself or someone else is Sunday, Mar. 1. The award is now in its fourth year, and past winners are Lydia Brambila, Linqua Franqa and Andrew Huang. The award comes with a $1,000 cash prize, too. Have I got your attention now? The nomination process is easy peasy. Just go to vicchesnuttaward.com and look for the lil’ red box on the right that says “make a nomination.” Click that, fill in the form, and you’re good. This year’s award show happens Apr. 9. For any and all other information, see the above-referenced URL or facebook.com/VicChesnuttAward.
AMERICAN HEAVY METAL WEEKEND: The never-ending creativity of Kris Deason (Outersea, Thrüm) rears its head again with the release of the Weaponized Flesh six-track demo. This is straight-up thrash metal in the most traditional sense, including some vampy, ’80s-style vocal reverb. The band on this is basically a bunch of all-stars in the form of Jason Griffin, John Lukas and Kemp Stroble. The track that really embraces the aggressiveness of the method just has to be “Eaten Alive and Killed By Roaches.” Give this five minutes and don’t look back at weaponizedflesh1.bandcamp.com.
THANK YOU: As many of you now know, longtime Flagpole music editor Gabe Vodicka has left the paper to begin a new job at UGA. I can’t let this week’s column go without mentioning a few things. In my time at Flagpole, I’ve worked under five different music editors, and, for Gabe, the longest of any. While each had their particular pluses—some more than others—it was a real treat to work with Gabe. He was unprecedented in trusting my expertise in certain areas of coverage, as well as genres of music. He always defended my writing in my own particular voice, and he provided me very broad latitude for developing and delivering stories. Those of you familiar with traditional journalism and newsroom process know that this type of light-touch editorial oversight is rare and to be respected. I will always be thankful for his essential guidance over quickly developing stories that were difficult to file and fact-check, as well as his keen eye toward the mundane task of copy editing, which spared me embarrassment more than once. So, thank you, Gabe, for everything. It was a pleasure, an honor, and I wish you absolutely nothing but the best.