Athfest 2014 – Athens, GA

Earlier this year, in June, I went to Athfest, and experienced the music scene of Athens, Georgia. I picked up some cool vinyl and a free bag to accompany. I did enjoy myself, but the Club Crawl starts at ten, which for some reason has become super late for me, who likes to already be in my pajamas and with a cup of tea on the couch nowadays.

One of my favorite experiences was probably at Creature Comforts Brewery. I found the setting for the concert unique, and I liked the atmosphere. 
Another stop was at 40 Watt on the Club Crawl. I liked the light setup here so much I had to take  some photos of it. 

One place I went to that I hadn’t had the chance to visit before was the Georgia Theatre. If  band was coming along one day that I would enjoy seeing I wouldn’t mind going to see them here. The entertainment for this night though wasn’t to my particularly liking, nor my husband’s, but we took the new experience anyways.

Here is photo of the outside stage before they closed it to open the club crawl. If I do go again next year it will be to experience more so the main stage than going to the different venues.

Had to squeeze a photo in of me being silly and posing next a sign. 

One last notable fact about the trip is that this was the first time I had stayed in a hotel room. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I was 25 and had yet to do that.

445 of 1001 Albums: The Style Council’s Cafe Bleu

I do really love 80’s music, and for some reason I was expecting The Style Council to sound a lot different than they turned out sounding. Instead of just new wave or rock, you get a bit of jazz fused in as well. It sounds good, and catchy, but it’s not some of my favorite from the 80’s so far, but there is something still unique about the sounds.

History: This album was at first a huge hit in the U.K. It would reach number two on the charts there before finding itself a hit in other countries. Oddly, after it became a hit in the U.S. they even changed the name of the album so it was more appealing to Americans. The album though would prove a success for the band that was trying out new sounds that included more jazz and soul than the straight up pop they dealt with.

Vocals: Paul Weller has the British, 80’s vocals, that seem like they were quite popular then. Honestly, they might be the best bit of the album. Weller’s voicing matches the way they have toned the album with jazz styles as well. The thing is I also had trouble getting into this album, and I felt the vocals didn’t help maintain my emotional interest in the album as it was very well played to match a whole vibe instead of running with some deeper themes of the album.

Instrumentals: You can’t have an 80’s album without a keyboard. The keyboard adds a lot to any interest I did garner. You also have the guitar and bass as well as drums though. What does stand out as impressive is also the added saxophone in the tune and the inclusion of the jazz themed instrumentals. There is also instruments that are enjoyable to listen to like a trumpet.

Recording: If you’re a fan of music that sounds like 80’s, but doesn’t sound too heavily dated to the 80’s then you’ll probably enjoy how this album sounds. It’s not one that got crazy with the sounds of then and decided to include any electronic song into the album. This also makes the album have a more timeless sound that is sure to stick around a bit longer than other 80’s sounds.

I hadn’t heard of The Style Council before this album. I thought it was a good listen, but it might take another listen, before I could decide how it really sat with me after listening to the tune. It has some fun of the 80’s on it, but there is also a whole lot more of a serious sound that I didn’t expect, but perhaps should have with an album title name like “Cafe Bleu”.

Rating 6 of 10.

444 of 1001 Albums: Mariah Carey’s Butterfly

In 1997 this music was huge and I’m sure at 10 I loved the tunes, though I don’t remember listening to Mariah Carey as much. I found some tunes that might have appealed to me on it then. Nowadays though the album sounds incredibly 90’s. As I enjoy the sounds of the 80’s, I am sure the 90’s pop sound is enjoyable to others. There is one thing that can’t be denied though, and that is that Mariah Carey has an amazing voice.

History: This was the 6th album for Mariah Carey, and it showed her music growing in a positive way. The album was a direction for her that continued her growing into the hip hop and R&B genres, which also complimented her voice very well. Critics gave the album mostly positive reviews as well. The album also debuted as well with it being a chart topper.

Vocals: There is no denying that Mariah Carey has a set of pipes that impress. Whether you like the style of music or not there is a lot of talent going on vocally. I feel like almost every other aspect of the music is geared to show off her vocals as well. For this album she has a lot more of a serious tone and it matches the lyrics and vibe of the album as well. I do think it’s incredible the range of the pitch that hits mid-tones, and then very high.

Instrumentals: There are a variety of instrumentals used on this album, but mostly keyboards. It gets the pop sound the heaviest with the inclusion of the synthesizers as well. There are guitars and basses, and drums included as well. While the musician are talented about the goal and idea they are achieving with the sound we can be honest and say that if you’re listening to this album for instrumentals then you’re listening to the wrong album. It’s much more highlighting pop and vocals instead.

Recording: The recording is crisp and dancing, but also very 90’s. There is nothing wrong with the 90’s, but I know that 90’s pop is for a certain audience. I think though that the album is still a good listen if you’re a fan though. No matter what decade we’re living in you can’t change what is talent, and that is there on the album.

It’s nice to finally hear some music that does bring back some nostalgia. I think Mariah Carey has some funner songs than what was featured on this album, but it shows some of her more serious work that obviously will get more attention. I will say though that if I find a boy band album to listen to, or Britney Spears that will bring back more memories though.

Rating 5.5 of 10.

438 of 1001 Albums: Elvis Costello’s Brutal Youth

I know there are a lot of Elvis Costello fans out there, and I can see the appeal, but honestly the more I listen to Costello the more I don’t enjoy hearing it. With Brutal Youth Costello is veering out of the sounds from the 70’s and 80’s, and taking his talent into the 90’s, and while it may not be my thing the guy is good about finding a style that he sticks with and carrying it over decades.

History: The last album I listened to was Blood and Chocolate, and well since that last time I listened to it, it was also the last album that Costello recorded with the band The Attractions until this one, in 1994. The albums reviews though would be very mixed though. Some would give it a positive review, while others would give it a mix one. The album would do well with the public, but it would’t quite achieve the billboard success others had.

Vocals: I’m not really getting into his voicing. Mostly because I never felt it matched the tone of music, and I felt his voicing duck like? It made songs that were more serious sound not so serious like “Favorite Hour”. It’s not that he doesn’t have vocal talent I just felt it wasn’t placed right, and the emotions of the song were a bit diminished. Sometimes the pitch went a bit nasally. It was a lot more prominent than I had heard in other albums I had listened to. I’m sorry to say, but Costello’s vocals were the weak part.

Instrumentals: I think it’s great that The Attractions are back, because they are a group of talented people. I felt they leveled out the talent pretty well, and they are worth listening to. I just find it odd that unlike Blood and Chocolate they weren’t credited on the cover art. A couple of the instrumentalist were also multi-talented and on several instruments as well through the duration of the album. I think the touch that is lost for me though is the 50’s style rock that was way more prominent on Costello’s first album.

Recording: The album does sound timeless, and I will give it that. While listening I couldn’t place the year it was made, but I think the recording lacks some sort of depth. The vocals of Costello just need some sort of touch with it to make it sound cleaner. Raw can be a good thing, but for this album I just wasn’t sure what to think. At times the songs worked and others no.

You might have to be a Costello fan to enjoy this one, but if you’re looking to listen to him then I recommend liking some of his earlier work. There are some unique traits about the album, and trust me if you’re listening you’ll recognize that it is him. I just felt the instrumentals and the vocals were on two different playing patterns that just didn’t come together.

437 of 1001 Albums: D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar

I haven’t heard an album that sounds this sexy since Marvin Gaye. The sounds are very 1995, and I have to say they are quite catchy. It’s some of the most relaxing music I’ve heard. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the mood is good for winding down to if you’ve had a long day, or you’re looking for something to be a backdrop to your romantic dinner.

History: The debut album from D’Angelo would land in 1995. The sound of the album does remind you of older hip hop and the mix of what was modern in 1995, and this can be attributed to the fact that D’Angelo mixed the vintage recording with the modern electronic ones. D’Angelo was multi-talented enough to handle most the aspects of recording this album. He could perform several instruments, and had the vocal talent that was inspired by his gospel music upbringing. Most critics really loved the album, and the album would become a chart hit upon it’s release as well.

Vocals: D’Angelo has some intriguing and talented vocals. He’s been compared to some pretty huge names like Sam Cooke and Prince. The falsetto voicing seems to be rarer with guys, but it’s showcases a lot of talent, and with the instrumentals the songs just flow very well as you can hear how the voicing is moving with the music. You can also hear a lot of D’Angelo’s own influences though. For people who like the gospel sound there is heavy inspiration from that, but also it’s meshed with the popular hip hop tones of the time.

Instrumentals: The instruments you hear on the album are attributed to D’Angelo for performing. The most notable instruments you hear on the album are the use of the organ and the electric piano. While it bases the songs in some of the traditional sounds you are also getting a modern flare with the instrumentals. You also hear a variety of other instrumental talents though like the guitar, saxophone, and other instrumentals the give it the sexy vibe that the album does contain.

Recording: The recording was uniquely done all by D’Angelo. While he enlisted some help his ability to have talent on multiple instruments and also sing left him with the ability to save money and mostly do it himself. The album though does sound like something dated to 1995. Using instruments and engineering at the time that might have been fun to use and innovative at the time can always heavily date an album to that time when things were just beginning to trend as it does here.

If you like old school hip hop or R&B then this is a highlight of that genre. Plus, there is just a lot of talent, and it’s very easy listening that isn’t overwhelming to take in if you’re looking to feel a bit more relaxed. It’s probably the closest I’ve got to enjoying an album in this genre so far where I felt like I really enjoyed listening to it. Just know you won’t be getting anything deep out of the lyrics though.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

436 of 1001 Albums: Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms

Dire Straits is easy to see why people find appealing musically. They have a lot of instrumental talent that is blended with the sounds of the 80’s that would have heavily appealed to that audience at the time. There is some great guitar playing, and I wish the keyboard sounds had been turned down a bit just so I could hear them better.

History: Something very cool and very notable about this album from Dire Straits is that it was the first channeled to the CD market. Cassettes and vinyls were still heavily around in the 80’s, but the fact they were already channeling stuff in that direction is pretty cool. It also would be one of the albums to outsell it’s vinyl version, and make more CD sales of the album. While audiences were really enjoying the album critics were mixed in their reception of the album. Some would rate it very positively while others were mixed.

Vocals: Mark Knopfler is the lead vocalist of the band, and he does have a great voice. I felt that sometimes though the tone of the music wasn’t really matching the talent he was bringing to the songs though. His voicing is one that could expand past the 80’s in sounding appealing. He has a steady range, and it always conveys the tone of the songs well. There is also Guy Fletcher who is contributing to vocals as well in the tunes, and they bring a good balance.

Instrumentals: There are lots of keyboards used in the tunes, but there is also a whole lot of other instruments as well that contribute to the tunes. Knopfler is also a guitarist, and the sole guitarist at that. It’s his guitar that is featured on the album cover, and one of the staple sounds of the band as well. There is also a bass player and drums, but honestly it’s hard to compete with the sounds of the guitar that are the best part of the tunes. The keyboards though are heavily included and a bit overwhelming to the talent that expands outside the tunes like the horns, trumpets and saxophones used.

Recording: There was a lot of time put into recording this album that would span from 1984 to 1985. It would also involve some of the first digital recordings happening in music, which definitely explains why this album is so significant just outside of it’s Grammy and award accomplishments. There is even some innovative techniques used between the guitar and microphone that would pioneer new sounds in music. Each song was given attention to capturing certain atmospheres and imagery as well.

Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms may not be the most interesting album I’ve ever listened to, but it has a remarkable place in what it did to progress music forward though. It was a huge digital impact of shifting music in the direction it went, and even with the guitar there are sounds that the band innovated that listeners would enjoy.

Rating 7 of 10.

Pitchfork List: Radiohead’s Amnesiac

The thing to like about Radiohead is how they can vary their sound yet you know it’s Radiohead when you here their music. Amnesiac is a great album, but actually not one of the bigger know ones like say Kid A. There are some great songs, and the sounds particularly on the last song, “Life In A Glasshouse”, is just amazingly beautiful. I wish more songs with a a jazz fusion had been on the album.

History: Radiohead would release their 5th album only a year after they released Kid A. Most the songs on Amnesiac actually were recorded in the same sessions as Kid A as well, which isn’t surprising considering the close release dates. The album would still be very comparative in good quality to the previous album. Admitting, critics did’t believe it to be as good as Kid A, but definitely one that was a stand alone great album.

Vocals: Thom Yorke has some of the most interesting vocals in music, and I’ve heard none like them. The guy seems like a huge introvert, perhaps not even polite, and his music channels a lot of how you might perceive him, particularly with Amnesiac. It’s haunting, yet soothing. If you’re sad it’s not necessarily make you not depressed, but there is something comforting in the way Yorke projects his voicing. He also sings in a pitch that isn’t common, yet it flows well with whatever musical arrangement they are using whether that be more alternative rock, or putting jazz into a song.

Instrumentals: Radiohead has a lot of additional instrumentals outside of their primary musicians. This can mostly be attributed to the fact that they use a jazz band for the last song, and which honestly is my favorite of the songs on the album. Colin Greenwood is the bassist for the band, Jonny Greenwood is a guitarist, Ed O’Brien is the other guitarist, and Philip Selway ist he drummer. I believe that the instrumentals are really well done. The recording is just solid to make a lot of rhythm with in the very somber tunes they are performing.

Recording: The album was recorded in 2001, but the way that Radiohead sounds really isn’t something you could place in a box or time. They’ve done a great job at making albums that still sound good, and just like they could have been made today. I believe it also helped this album shine by recording most of it in the same session as Kid A. The sound is more cohesive, and can compete more with an album that a lot of people loved.

Radiohead is a band that is catching on with me. They are one that deserves to be listened to in a certain mood, because otherwise the music isn’t just going to sit as well. The sounds are haunting and well composed, and they make some of the most well thought out music I’ve heard. A lot is taken into account when piecing it together.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

432 of 1001 Albums: Silver Jews’ Bright Flights

Silver Jews doesn’t have a ton of information out there about this album, and I assume many haven’t heard of Silver Jews. They are a nice discovery though, and there are some good gems on this album that made for an enjoyable listen. The country channeled guitar and the mix of indie rock make for a flare that sounds unique. The slack vocals contrast all the care of the instrumentals with little effort though.

History: The album was released in 2001 and would be the fourth album from Silver Jew. The album was first proceeded by an EP with the song Tennessee on the album as well. The album is quite short as well, and released on an indie record company, Drag City. The album is a huge representation of indie rock that is out there. The band was founded by one of the members of Pavement.

Vocals: I was unaware that the band was already broken up. David Berman is the vocalist for the album, and was the only consistent band member apart of the band. His voicing isn’t anything that spectacular, but the way his voicing and the music is arranged it comes out quite fine in recording.  I preferred the female vocalist that can be heard on several songs though. Her voicing is a bit unsteady like Berman’s but the light sounds and the contrast to his deeper voice worked in making it more appealing for me to listen to.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are made up of some primary recognizable instruments like the guitar, drums and a bass. I’m sure there are even some other stuff weaved in there, but that is what I could make out while listening. I did really enjoy the instrumentals though. The guitar though really stood in making the music a more atmospheric listening experience. I loved how it gave the music a lot more life than the vocals were, and it mixes in this different genre sound that keeps it indie and unique as well.

Recording: The album was recorded in 2001, but actually this album almost reminds me a bit of the 90’s, but that is because maybe it’s on the verge of the decade having just been changed, or the sounds of indie are so timeless they’ve always sounded like that no matter the decade. The album is very effortless though yet it sounds good. It matches the appearance of the album cover to be honest. The band knows who there audience is though, and they shoot to please. I did really enjoy aspects of this album though, and it was very interesting to listen to.

Silver Jews is a band that I actually have come across before, and yet there is so little information on this album. From the first song I was pulled into the album, and sometimes more than other times while listening to the songs available. It’s also heavily channeled for the indie music fan, so if you like indie and you like rock then this is the perfect blend.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

Pitchfork List: Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica

Modest Mouse was already releasing albums like The Moon and Antarctica before I discovered them in high school. To be honest though the only song I had heard of from them was “Float On”, which I liked better at 25 than I did when I was 17. The question would be though would I enjoy their older work before Modest Mouse became more known?

History: This third album from Modest Mouse would cause a stir among the fans and critics as they progressed to a major label. Some reviewers would give the album very negative feedback while many would rate it very positively. The band members would encounter their share of problems while recording including an attack on the lead singer that left him without the ability to sing for some time. Knowing their fans the band did take their time to let everyone know that becoming more mainstream with their label wouldn’t change the music they enjoy performing though.

Vocals: Isaac Brock is on lead vocals, and sometimes his vocals worked and other times the album does slip into some emo sounds. I would say the sounds of 2000 heavily contributed to the style of the album though as it was much of something that relates to back to many tunes I listened to as a teen. It’s still got that raw sound to the vocals, so for the fans who loved the more indie vibe of the band it was still present. There are times the song slips away from the more rock sounds to he acoustic foundations like in songs “Lives” where Brock’s vocals sound a lot better and more natural.

Instrumentals: There are other contributions from other musicians for the album, but the core of the group is only three guys, Isaac Brock, Jeremiah Green, and Eric Judy. Brock plays the guitars well, and captures the vibe of the songs well. Jeremiah Green is on bass, and Eric Judy is on drums. The instrumentals do sound raw, and while I think a more polished sound would have worked better to increase the emotions of the songs, I believe the guys stuck more so to what fans were hoping for, and what they enjoyed performing. They definitely sound like the band I heard later on in 2004, but I would say that fans of this instrumental performance probably felt disconnected from their later work that sounded a lot more mainstream.

Recording: Even though the band was on a major label, which was very different than what they worked for in the past, they still maintained their indie quality. This probably can mostly be attributed to the rough studio they recorded in. Though for fans I’m sure the album is just as enjoyable to listen to now, it does sound like very much the sounds of the early 2000s. It’s not quite like what I listened to at the time, but it does closely resemble it. Some of my favorites songs though turned out to be the slower performances of the band instead of the more raw rock sounds.

Modest Mouse impressed fans with this album to say the least, and at the end of the day that is what matters. Fans would vote this to number seventeen on Pitchfork’s people voted list. It has it’s strengths and songs that spur emotion. The album is very long with seventeen songs to span over the length of it, and some that hit eight minutes long.

Rating 7 of 10.

426 of 1001 Albums: Blur’s Self Titled

The sound of the 90’s is defined by many bands, one of them being Blur. They have songs that still hit the airwaves quite regularly like “Song 2”, and their sound ranges enough to probably almost have any type of song that a person could find enjoyable on their album. Blur though gets the album kicked off quite enjoyable, but ends it on a very different note than it begins.

History: The band would be meeting a lot of challenges with the release of their fifth self titled album. Their last album, The Great Escape, hadn’t went over well because it was shadowed by Oasis’ success, and the genre they were becoming highly identified with, Britpop, wasn’t too successful in America. The band though brought forth some changes on their new album inspired by other bands that would help this one become a worldwide hit. This album would produce hits like “Beetlebum” and “Song 2” that also becomes classics.

Vocals: The vocals aren’t incredibly memorable, or at least not as much as the instrumentals on the album. “Song 2” has this very catchy rhythm though, and the vocals do contribute to the sounds you’re going to be hearing long after the song goes off. You can also hear a lot of the band’s new recording style in the album as well. The band sounds more like a group having a lot of fun with their songs instead of over thinking the process of putting the music together. Damon Albarn has interesting vocals though, and they do go well with the music.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are really great, and provide a huge variety of sounds on the album. One minute the band sounds a bit more hardcore, and then the next the music is a lot slower. “Essex Dogs” is the last song on the album, and eight minutes long, but it stands out on the album because it is so different. It wasn’t my favorite, but very unique. Graham Coxon was on the electric and acoustic guitars though, and I really enjoyed the guitar riffs in most the songs. Alex James was on bass guitar, and David Rowntee is on the drums as well. The band members really come together to make well arranged music.

Recording: The recording does have the fun 90’s sound, particularly the Britpop sound. I don’t know many people in America who are huge fans of Oasis or even Blur, but they did both garner a lot of attention here. Their style has been able to stay trending, and be as cool as ever to hear. Plus, Blur still gets used frequently to advertise, and “Song 2” sounds like it is something that could have been recorded today.

Blur is a band that is easy to like and listen to. I don’t think many of the songs really stood out to me to go back and listen to over again, but it was enjoyable exploring listening to. The songs range from serious to fun, so there are a range of emotions to explore on the album. I’m sure for most fans as well this album is as good to listen to now as it’s ever been.

7.5 of 10.