ATLANTA'S BURNING - WITH ROCK AND ROLL
by Alison Ross
As I wrote a couple of issues ago, Atlanta has been known more for its R&B, pop, and hip hop musicians than it has for its rock bands. However, in the last few years, Atlanta’s rock scene has steadily evolved, and international critics and audiences are beginning to take note.
What’s interesting about Atlanta’s rock milieu is that there is not really one sonic signature emanating from the region. Instead, Atlanta rock bands have melded influences from many different musical genres and eras. Sure, there are similarities among the bands, but each of the bands is daringly distinctive.
Take Snowden, for example. Snowden’s sound is as its name suggests: glacial. The music of Snowden blends the icy sting of early 80s post-punk with the hypnotic drone of 90s shoegazer. And yet, Snowden sounds anything but dully derivative, and its lyrics are excitingly evocative of surrealist poetry.
Or how about the captivatingly bizarre Deerhunter, who are three-quarters celestial ambient, and one-quarter cacophonous garage punk? With this band’s music, singer Bradford Cox’s falsetto flourishes are counterpointed by noisy, gleaming guitars and bold, stark bass lines. At other times, the music simply floats vaporously through the ether. Lyrically, Deerhunter blends irony with impenetrable, cryptic content.
And then there are the Selmanaires. Among the four bands discussed in this review, The Selmanaires are perhaps the most inscrutable in terms of style and yet also the most accessible in terms of sound. The Selmanaire’s music sparkles with a vigorous disco beat, fierce guitar riffs, and lively high-tenor vocals, although naturally the band occasionally strays from that style to mix in other musical fashions as well.
And, finally, we have the Black Lips, a band on the threshold of breaking big. The Black Lips ingeniously stir 50s and 60s musical and lyrical styles like doo wop, motown, surf-rock, blues, rockabilly, and psychedelic into one big chunky stew, and pepper it with punk rock spices. And the Black Lip’s live show is infamous for its frenetic pace and raunchy antics.
There are other celebrated Atlanta rock acts, such as the metal outfit, Mastodon, country-tinged Manchester Orchestra, and The Orphins, whose surf-disco tunes are as whimsical as they are infectious.
Atlanta is on fire again. Only this time, General Sherman is nowhere to be found.
Deerhunter, Snowden, The Selmanaires, and the Black Lips will play at Stomp and Stammer's "Atlanta Burning" show at the Variety Playhouse on November 30th.
Snowden MySpace Page
The Selmanaires MySpace Page
Deerhunter MySpace Page
The Black Lips MySpace Page