Music Reviews

AthFest ‘98

Various Artists


The CD that complements the Athfest ‘98 music festival is that rare gem that captures a scene with all its genius and its imperfections pretty much intact. Most peculiarly, the Athfest ‘98 compilation also manages to dredge up the ghost of Athens’ past even as it parades many of today’s Athens, GA standouts.

The CD contains nineteen songs including big names such as Man Or Astroman? and lo-fi notables Jack Logan and Vic Chestnut. There is a wide variety among the other acts, such as the pleasant pop rock of Alex Marquez, Loveapple, and Jackpot City, the amusing folksong “Talks American” by the Fountains, and as always, the Vigilantes Of Love find a way to tug on a few heart strings. Not to be outdone, Jucifer and Hayride kick ass in a noisier way. Five-Eight contributes a rather trite version of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” an example of the hubris that sometimes infects good bands and waters down their body of work.

What makes this compilation worthwhile is not simply the individual tracks, though truly most of them are more than listenable and a couple (like Jack Logan’s) are pure magic. No, this CD is remarkable because it captures the essence of the Athens scene. Yes, there are good bands missing, but it is as if someone distilled down the last decade and hundreds of bands onto one CD. More remarkable still is that the music is fresh, but it resonates with the echo of the countless artists who have come before. Athens expatriates will love this as a trip down memory lane (even if they don’t recognize many of the bands), while others will find this an excellent introduction to the breadth of Athens’ current music scene.

AthFest ‘98 will be held July 16-19. Yes, it will be held in Athens. Check for details. Ghostmeat Records, P.O. Box 54693, Atlanta, GA 30308

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