It’s safe to leave the house!
Any city with a music scene goes through cycles — six months of great stuff, too many bands to see in a night, then six months of utter dreck, times that force you to stay in and watch all those reruns you missed the first time around. Thankfully, Atlanta is on the upswing right now, in large part to four bands — the Blacklight Posterboys, Shock Lobo, Marvelous 3, and Amanda Jones.
The Blacklight Posterboys have recently released their first full-length CD, a self-titled effort on Destiny Records (2610 Stokesley Way, Snellville GA 30078) that is a success from start to finish. Haven’t seen Robin Zander of Cheap Trick in awhile? It’s because songwriter/lead singer Curtis Clark has swallowed him whole. Clark’s hard-edged pop tunes echo the best of the ’80s pop-producers, Cheap Trick, et al, while giving more than a nod to other beat hallmarks such as Big Star and Badfinger. Of course, this is the 90s, so the subject matter is a bit more pointed than “boy meets girl.” Boy still meets girl, as in “Kelly Are You Worth It,” but instead of wondering is she cute enough, Clark ponders is she clean enough. Nice times we live in, ain’t it? In “If the Animals Could Talk,” the tables are turned, and it’s man in the rifle sights — “so if the animals could talk/ they’d be cursing my name/ I’d be getting death threats/ If they could write/ If the animals could shoot/ I’d be hanging off a wall.”
Funny stuff, and most likely true. Live, the band is great. Guitarists Bill Keck and Mark Dannells are riff masters, and bassist Clark and drummer Reg Rogers keep it tight and poppy. These guys have been known to end up a set with McCartney’s “Jet” or Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” and it’s a credit to the band’s depth that these songs don’t stand out in relation to their original material. Catch them while you can.
Marvelous 3 follow in a similar pop vein, anchored by Butch Walker’s nasty guitar-based songwriting. As a front man, you’ll see few better. Seemingly propelled by a combination of thin air and Jolt cola, he makes every show an event. Even when tethered by the restraints of an in-store performance (minimal amps, and the sun was up… ) he gives it 110%, and the interplay between him and the other members is great rock and roll theater. After cleaning up at the ALMAs (Atlanta Local Music Awards), where the band won Best Rock and Roll Bandand Hardest Working Band awards, the group has released a new CD entitled Hey! Album, and have been signed to Elektra Records. Coming to your town soon.
If you’ve spent any time in Atlanta recently, you might wonder if the only reason we have telephone poles is to hang Shock Lobo flyers off them. One of the busiest bands in town, this three piece group, led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jeffrey Butts (winner of the ASCAP Songwriters Award at the ALMAs) have just released a new CD, My Wicked Soul, on Circle Eight Records (http://shocklobo.iuma.com). The record captures the powerful, dynamic thrust of the trio’s live shows on such songs as “Insomniac” and “Attitude,” while showcasing Butts’ soulful vocals and heavy guitar. This is one of the tightest bands you’ll ever see, able to improvise at the nod of the head, noodle a bit, and then drop right back into a song without missing a step. Whether you go out to dance or watch the guitarists fingers, Shock Lobo satisfies.
Finally, taking their name from a combination of a character in a John Hughes movie and a classic Rolling Stones song, is Amanda Jones. Featured in an upcoming PBS special titled American Girls, this foursome’s demo tape has been locked in my tape deck for months. Singer/guitarist/songwriter Teresa Anderson spins songs that remind you of a heavier Bangles/Go Go’s mix, without any of the sickening “give us points for being girls” aura that bands like this usually reek of. These women can rock, unabashedly so. Check them out at http://www.girlmusic.com.
So all in all, four good reasons to skip the repeats and get out of the house.