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The Tallest Man on Earth: There's No Leaving Now

Dead Oceans

The Bob Dylan comparison has dogged Kristian Matsson since he dropped his debut, Shallow Grave, in 2008. His finger-picking skills are indeed otherworldly, and his distinct, plaintive singing bears more than a passing resemblance to the scratchy-voiced legend. With There's No Leaving Now, the Swedish songwriter enters his proverbial electric phase - opener "To Just Grow Away" is an expansive version of the stripped-down stuff Matsson is known for - but he balances it with some truly gorgeous acoustic folk. Songs like "Leading Me Now" and "Bright Lanterns" are among the mellowest yet most affecting music he has produced. The piano-driven title track is a continuation of something Matsson hinted at on his last full-length (The Wild Hunt); it's a subtle departure, an assertion that he won't be creatively contained. (4 out of 5 stars)



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Tuesday November 7, 2017 05:18 pm EST
Jim and William Reid return supporting the group's latest album, 'Damage and Joy' | more...
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Though E-MO-TION was poorly promoted and failed to make much noise on the charts — it sold only 16,000 copies its first week, half the total of Kiss — it found an unexpected champion in the tastemaking music-critic set, which dubbed it among the year's best. Spin, Pitchfork, and Stereogum all praised E-MO-TION, which landed at a startling No. 3 on the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop critics' poll, behind only Kendrick Lamar and Courtney Barnett and ahead of shoe-in albums from Grimes, Sufjan Stevens, and Sleater-Kinney.

On the surface, E-MO-TION provides the classic pop aesthete with much to cherish. The record trades geometric sharpness for a rounder, synth-soaked patina that owes equally to Cyndi Lauper, Robyn, and Genesis; its brand of contemporary dance music is less Euro-club worship than hazy Los Angeles after-party. Tunes like the minimalist "Warm Blood" and sultry slow jam "All That" find Jepsen settling into an '80s-revival mode that nicely suits her pliable voice and unfussy writing style.

There are other signs of evolution. Jepsen hinted that the new record is a response to the specific angst of one-hit-wonderdom, and it exhibits a sense of rebellion. On "I Really Like You," Jepsen trades innocent flirtation for unrequited lust. Elsewhere, there are casual references to shooting tequila and running red lights. During the writing process, she said, the lyric "warm love" became "Warm Blood." So it's not exactly transgressive stuff, though it seems practically X-rated compared to the squeaky-clean Kiss and its predecessor, the somehow squeakier-clean Tug of War.

Yet ultimately, it's unabashed lovesickness that Jepsen does best. From "Gimmie Love" to "Run Away With Me," E-MO-TION is awash in a starry-eyed brand of romanticism seemingly not far removed from that of Kiss. But Jepsen inhabits the role with new and convincing energy, bringing a stealthy maturity to her teenage dream.

Most significantly, it's not all roses. "I don't want to work it out," she proudly insists on "When I Needed You." No longer is Jepsen waiting around for something to happen — a phone call, maybe? Now, she is the one making moves.             13086333 16923823        http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/02/023cac_music_carly2_1_42.png                  Carly Rae Jepsen's 'E-MO-TION' "
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  string(3000) "Less is more, as the saying goes. Though much of modern music is at odds with the adage, the rock underground has long been a reliable source for stripped-down sounds. The output of recent buzz bands such as Parquet Courts and Protomartyr echo the no-frills approach of iconoclastic predecessors such as Minutemen and Fugazi, not to mention the godparents of rock minimalism, the Velvet Underground.

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"I had fallen out of being super into music," says Atoms, who formerly played in the Atlanta punk band Crater, which utilized a similarly minimalist approach. "Drummer Ben Salie would make mixtapes, and we would listen together," he adds. "There were all these songs that we bonded over." In the process, Atoms found himself captivated by certain moments. "Just a single sound is enough," he says, "It doesn't have to be this complex composition. I'm in love with just, like, the sound of a guitar."

Singer and guitarist Bo Orr explains that leanness was the band's main focus. "We wanted simplicity and a basic rock 'n' roll theme. We've had songs where there was too much happening. We were like, 'How do we simplify this?' Not for ease of playing, but because simple and repetitious is something we all agree on."

Sings for You Now is trimmed of all fat. On the opener, "Tears from Your Skin," the band spends minutes exploring a single chord. On "Cosmosis," drummer Ben Salie and bassist Ryan Evers lead the charge with a massive groove, while Orr and Atoms' subtle melodic shifts play off the rhythm section's Krautrock throb. Throughout the album, Orr's raspy, insistent vocals provide a volatile counterpoint to the music's steady, hypnotic rumble.

"It's a magical decision," Orr says. "You've played a part a few times, and most bands would be like, 'OK, what's the next part?' But if you as a band can come to the conclusion that that's the only part, that this is how this song is gonna go forever, until it feels right to stop — that's really cool. There's no pressure, and it eases your mind into being there."

Pinecones' Zen-like approach doesn't stop with their sound. The group's members aren't interested in self-promotion in the traditional sense; nor is there any grand design in place for the future. For the moment, they are happy simply sharing in their friendships and creating art as a highly functioning unit.

"I kind of feel like we've reached our goal," Atoms says. "Us playing music together is just sort of going to be what we do. When we're playing, there's this voice in my mind that's like, 'I get to be here, and that's cool, and why not enjoy it?'""
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On the home front, few recent albums have proven the power of simplicity better than ''[https://pinecones.bandcamp.com/album/sings-for-you-now|Sings for You Now]'', the debut LP from Atlanta/Athens-based sludge-rock band Pinecones. A brainy and pummeling effort, the 11-song record hinges on melodic and rhythmic austerity. Guitarist Brain Atoms says Pinecones emerged from a quest to get to the root of what its members loved most about music: simplicity.

"I had fallen out of being super into music," says Atoms, who formerly played in the Atlanta punk band Crater, which utilized a similarly minimalist approach. "[[Drummer] Ben [[Salie] would make mixtapes, and we would listen together," he adds. "There were all these songs that we bonded over." In the process, Atoms found himself captivated by certain moments. "Just a single sound is enough," he says, "It doesn't have to be this complex composition. I'm in love with just, like, the sound of a guitar."

Singer and guitarist Bo Orr explains that leanness was the band's main focus. "We wanted simplicity and a basic rock 'n' roll theme. We've had songs where there was too much happening. We were like, 'How do we simplify this?' Not for ease of playing, but because simple and repetitious is something we all agree on."

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  string(3324) "    With debut album Athens/Atlanta bandmates simply enjoy themselves   2015-06-10T08:00:00+00:00 Pinecones' 'Sings for You Now' hits hard ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Gabe Vodicka 1306439 2015-06-10T08:00:00+00:00  Less is more, as the saying goes. Though much of modern music is at odds with the adage, the rock underground has long been a reliable source for stripped-down sounds. The output of recent buzz bands such as Parquet Courts and Protomartyr echo the no-frills approach of iconoclastic predecessors such as Minutemen and Fugazi, not to mention the godparents of rock minimalism, the Velvet Underground.

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Singer and guitarist Bo Orr explains that leanness was the band's main focus. "We wanted simplicity and a basic rock 'n' roll theme. We've had songs where there was too much happening. We were like, 'How do we simplify this?' Not for ease of playing, but because simple and repetitious is something we all agree on."

Sings for You Now is trimmed of all fat. On the opener, "Tears from Your Skin," the band spends minutes exploring a single chord. On "Cosmosis," drummer Ben Salie and bassist Ryan Evers lead the charge with a massive groove, while Orr and Atoms' subtle melodic shifts play off the rhythm section's Krautrock throb. Throughout the album, Orr's raspy, insistent vocals provide a volatile counterpoint to the music's steady, hypnotic rumble.

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  string(8880) ""Music is done," Bob Place tells me. "It's over."

A freewheeling phone chat with the local indie filmmaker and musician oscillates madly between excitement and indictment, laughter and lamentation. Place's chattiness is indicative not only of external influence ("I just finished smoking a joint right before you called," he apologizes), but of a bleary-eyed obsession with how music continues to function in a post-digital world. His self-produced, two-years-in-the-making documentary tackles the weighty issue of the Internet's effect on the music industry, as he explains it, while exploring the underlying reality of Atlanta's fragmented music establishment. In doing so, it also confronts a sentiment that has long dogged the community — that Atlanta has no love for the underground.

Welcome to Hate City. Long before Place cherry-picked it for the title of his homemade doc, the nickname originated among punk rock circles, an offhand response to Atlanta's incongruous civil rights-era motto: "The City Too Busy to Hate." As a descriptor of the town's artistic community, it stuck. The moniker is rooted in a history of dark joviality, the Southern Gothic precedent that provides us with our well-established sense of irony. But it's often all too apt. As Place discovered, "A lot of artists are frustrated with how Atlanta runs."

Despite a bustling and multitalented musical working class, the capital of the Southeast remains a chronic cultural enigma, a place in constant search of its identity. Atlanta is known for its viable extremes — the trap-happy hip-pop that dots the playlists of Hot 107.9 and V-103; the raucous indie scene that birthed garage-punk record labels Rob's House and Die Slaughterhaus. Yet when it comes to identifying the invisible middle, no cohesive sentiment emerges — save for a frustrating degree of ambivalence and protest.

There is a fervent attitude that characterizes the majority of people who comprise Atlanta's underground. As the lead for rockers Swank Sinatra and also a part-time comedian and animator, Place personifies Atlanta's ADD-afflicted creative culture. His doc has been completed for some time but has yet to see an official release; he plans an online distribution push, as well as screenings at local spots like the Goat Farm. (He couldn't make it available for me to screen online, explaining in an email, "I haven't yet been able to get it up there.") Place bills the film as "the story of rock 'n' roll in the hip-hop capital of the world," though his focus admittedly veers toward the industry's overall decline.

Hate City comes on the heels of another slipshod local rock doc — the previously released We Fun, a 2009 snapshot of the energetic scene that was then the center of Atlanta's indie culture. It was billed as "an important piece of music history," which was true, if you were in one of the featured bands (Black Lips, Deerhunter, etc.). The self-aggrandizement at the heart of the film was an undeniable reflection of the times: In the stark absence of financial support from record labels, artists have to become ultra-self-promoters — or else.

This post-DIY spirit is less communal than entrepreneurial. "It's no longer 'how do I get a record deal,'" Place says. "It's 'how do I start a record label?'"

That rampant attitude has led to a creative boom but has also further divided the local community. "There's just so much going on," music blogger Davy Minor notes. "It's probably impossible ... to represent everything." Minor's blog Ohmpark is the driving force behind the yearly Atlanta Music Roundtable, a gathering of local music writers that puts forth, among other things, a register of the "Most Underrated Local Artists." Last year's list included groups such as Nomen Novum, the Sneaky Hand, Slowriter, Dead Rabbits, and Sleepy Genes — names doubtlessly unrecognizable to most Atlanta residents, to say nothing of folks outside the greater city limits.

"We're not just a hip-hop town," Minor says, regarding Atlanta's one-note perception. "We're not just the place where Deerhunter is from. We're not just some random redneck city in the South. But that's how people outside the city think of us." Minor views the discordance inherent in the local underground as a constructive element, a counterpoint to the town's reputation. The trouble, he says, is getting people to see beyond the exterior. "To me, the problems with our scene aren't internal, they're external," he says. "The problem isn't that our scene is fragmented. The problem is that no one outside our city knows that."

Perhaps the real problem is that no one agrees on the problem.

Theories abound. Writer and musician Taylor Northern, who created the (recently retired) music blog Shot From Guns, laments that the typical nine-to-fiver remains clueless about what's happening around town — namely, the "10,000 acts performing in East Atlanta Village music venues" nightly — and advocates for more highly visible locals-only music festivals. Lifelong resident Brannon Boyle, who runs Speakeasy Productions and books shows at many of those venues, opines that local media is partially at fault. "The electronic scene doesn't get covered much," he says, "even though it's thriving. It doesn't seem like most music writers are into it, so all the articles about it are from a total outsider perspective."

Criminal Records owner and Record Store Day co-founder Eric Levin attributes Atlanta's troubles to the lack of a comprehensive chronicler of the scene. "We don't have a local record label that represents the enormity of what we have," he says. "We have great attempts, historically and currently, but we don't have a center."

If Atlanta's independent rock scene is known for the Black Lips' machismo debauchery and Jessica Juggz's vaginal fire tricks, the perception of our local hip-hop scene is doubtless even more one-sided.

"Sometimes Atlanta is a little starstruck," Yamin Semali says.

The MC is one half of Clan Destined, a 10-year-old local hip-hop duo comprised of two North Carolina natives who met while attending Morehouse. In its devoted eclecticism, Clan Destined is actually a typical Atlanta act — artists immigrate here from near and far, bearing a mix of backgrounds that enrich our musical fabric. Still, the city remains a mystery, even to those who call it home.

Pittsburgh native Will Feagins Jr.'s introduction to Atlanta was an eye-opening experience. His documentary Underexposed won both the Critics' and Viewers' Choice awards in Creative Loafing's Short Cuts film contest earlier this year. "I had kind of the same preconceptions everyone else has," he recalls, concerning the city that exported Gucci, Waka, and Soulja Boy.

Underexposed features dozens among the local hip-hop underground, many of them transplants — nascent and established names like Headkrack, Lyric Jones, Fort Knox, Adrift Da Belle, Shred Tut, Mr. Enok, Journey Brave, and Phene — ruminating on the theme "I am Atlanta Hip-Hop." As rapper and graphic designer Sean Fahie explains in the film, "You've got backpackers here, you've got hipsters here — you've got a bunch of people doing a bunch of different things." Righteously, Feagins wanted "to show everyone else outside of Atlanta that it's not just one type of artist." Moreover, he wanted to induce cohesion within. "I just wanted people to be aware of each other."

Yet locally based artists seem motivated by the disorder. Clan Destined's Semali explains how it "fueled us to find our niche audience. ... We worked on our shows and got the performances to be something you'd pay to see. Now we have B-boys and writers involved in almost everything we do, so no rappers or promoters can really dictate our relevance. We are integrated into the culture."

There will likely always be fierce competition and widespread incoherency between the sects that make up the city's musical fiber. It's what fans the flames of creativity. For the ever-contradictory city of Atlanta, the term "Hate City" is a way of admitting ownership of its faults while it also categorically rejects them. People — like the filmmaker Place — wear the name as a badge while they vehemently deny its truth. Perhaps it ultimately should be taken, like much of what this mystifying metropolis does and says, with a grain of salt.

Still, the search for our creative core yields one takeaway: Atlanta is passionate as hell. "If you're trying to get into art for money, you're fucking stupid," Place says, laughing. "You have to have a passion to be doing it for reasons that are not about being rich and famous." This stubborn adoration of the craft is at the heart of Atlanta's disarray. In the end, Hate City misconstrues, misbehaves, even disagrees for the very same reason it creates.

Because we like it that way."
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A freewheeling phone chat with the local indie filmmaker and musician oscillates madly between excitement and indictment, laughter and lamentation. Place's chattiness is indicative not only of external influence ("I just finished smoking a joint right before you called," he apologizes), but of a bleary-eyed obsession with how music continues to function in a post-digital world. His self-produced, two-years-in-the-making documentary tackles the weighty issue of the Internet's effect on the music industry, as he explains it, while exploring the underlying reality of Atlanta's fragmented music establishment. In doing so, it also confronts a sentiment that has long dogged the community — that Atlanta has no love for the underground.

Welcome to ''Hate City''. Long before Place cherry-picked it for the title of his homemade doc, the nickname originated among punk rock circles, an offhand response to Atlanta's incongruous civil rights-era motto: "The City Too Busy to Hate." As a descriptor of the town's artistic community, it stuck. The moniker is rooted in a history of dark joviality, the Southern Gothic precedent that provides us with our well-established sense of irony. But it's often all too apt. As Place discovered, "A lot of artists are frustrated with how Atlanta runs."

Despite a bustling and multitalented musical working class, the capital of the Southeast remains a chronic cultural enigma, a place in constant search of its identity. Atlanta is known for its viable extremes — the trap-happy hip-pop that dots the playlists of Hot 107.9 and V-103; the raucous indie scene that birthed garage-punk record labels Rob's House and Die Slaughterhaus. Yet when it comes to identifying the invisible middle, no cohesive sentiment emerges — save for a frustrating degree of ambivalence and protest.

__There is a fervent attitude__ that characterizes the majority of people who comprise Atlanta's underground. As the lead for rockers Swank Sinatra and also a part-time comedian and animator, Place personifies Atlanta's ADD-afflicted creative culture. His doc has been completed for some time but has yet to see an official release; he plans an online distribution push, as well as screenings at local spots like the Goat Farm. (He couldn't make it available for me to screen online, explaining in an email, "I [[haven't] yet been able to get it up there.") Place bills the film as "the story of rock 'n' roll in the hip-hop capital of the world," though his focus admittedly veers toward the industry's overall decline.

''Hate City'' comes on the heels of another slipshod local rock doc — the previously released ''We Fun'', a 2009 snapshot of the energetic scene that was then the center of Atlanta's indie culture. It was billed as "an important piece of music history," which was true, if you were in one of the featured bands (Black Lips, Deerhunter, etc.). The self-aggrandizement at the heart of the film was an undeniable reflection of the times: In the stark absence of financial support from record labels, artists have to become ultra-self-promoters — or else.

This post-DIY spirit is less communal than entrepreneurial. "It's no longer 'how do I get a record deal,'" Place says. "[[It's] 'how do I start a record label?'"

That rampant attitude has led to a creative boom but has also further divided the local community. "There's just so much going on," music blogger Davy Minor notes. "It's probably impossible ... to represent everything." Minor's blog [http://ohmpark.com|Ohmpark] is the driving force behind the yearly Atlanta Music Roundtable, a gathering of local music writers that puts forth, among other things, a register of the "Most Underrated Local Artists." [http://www.atlantamusicroundtable.com/most-underrated-local-artists.html|Last year's list] included groups such as Nomen Novum, the Sneaky Hand, Slowriter, Dead Rabbits, and Sleepy Genes — names doubtlessly unrecognizable to most Atlanta residents, to say nothing of folks outside the greater city limits.

"We're not just a hip-hop town," Minor says, regarding Atlanta's one-note perception. "We're not just the place where Deerhunter is from. We're not just some random redneck city in the South. But that's [[how] people outside the city think of us." Minor views the discordance inherent in the local underground as a constructive element, a counterpoint to the town's reputation. The trouble, he says, is getting people to see beyond the exterior. "To me, the problems with our scene aren't internal, they're external," he says. "The problem isn't that our scene is fragmented. The problem is that no one outside our city knows that."

Perhaps the real problem is that no one ''agrees'' on the problem.

Theories abound. Writer and musician Taylor Northern, who created the (recently retired) music blog [http://shotfromguns.wordpress.com/|Shot From Guns], laments that the typical nine-to-fiver remains clueless about what's happening around town — namely, the "10,000 acts performing in [[East Atlanta Village] music venues" nightly — and advocates for more highly visible locals-only music festivals. Lifelong resident Brannon Boyle, who runs Speakeasy Productions and books shows at many of those venues, opines that local media is partially at fault. "The electronic scene doesn't get covered much," he says, "even though [[it's] thriving. It doesn't seem like most music writers are into it, so all the articles about it are from a total outsider perspective."

Criminal Records owner and Record Store Day co-founder Eric Levin attributes Atlanta's troubles to the lack of a comprehensive chronicler of the scene. "We don't have a local [[record] label that represents the enormity of what we have," he says. "We have great attempts, historically and currently, but we don't have a center."

__If Atlanta's independent rock scene__ is known for the Black Lips' machismo debauchery and Jessica Juggz's [http://clatl.com/cribnotes/archives/2008/04/03/jessica-juggz-extinguishes-the-flame-forever|vaginal fire tricks], the perception of our local hip-hop scene is doubtless even more one-sided.

"Sometimes Atlanta is a little starstruck," Yamin Semali says.

The MC is one half of Clan Destined, a 10-year-old local hip-hop duo comprised of two North Carolina natives who met while attending Morehouse. In its devoted eclecticism, Clan Destined is actually a typical Atlanta act — artists immigrate here from near and far, bearing a mix of backgrounds that enrich our musical fabric. Still, the city remains a mystery, even to those who call it home.

Pittsburgh native Will Feagins Jr.'s introduction to Atlanta was an eye-opening experience. His documentary ''Underexposed'' won both the Critics' and Viewers' Choice awards in ''Creative Loafing'''s Short Cuts film contest earlier this year. "I had kind of the same preconceptions everyone else has," he recalls, concerning the city that exported Gucci, Waka, and Soulja Boy.

''[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy6wE4n9BQA|Underexposed]'' features dozens among the local hip-hop underground, many of them transplants — nascent and established names like Headkrack, Lyric Jones, Fort Knox, Adrift Da Belle, Shred Tut, Mr. Enok, Journey Brave, and Phene — ruminating on the theme "I am Atlanta Hip-Hop." As rapper and graphic designer Sean Fahie explains in the film, "You've got backpackers here, you've got hipsters here — you've got a bunch of people doing a bunch of different things." Righteously, Feagins wanted "to show everyone else outside of Atlanta that it's not just one type of artist." Moreover, he wanted to induce cohesion within. "I just wanted people to be aware of each other."

Yet locally based artists seem motivated by the disorder. Clan Destined's Semali explains how it "fueled us to find our niche audience. ... We worked on our shows and got the performances to be something you'd pay to see. Now we have B-boys and writers involved in almost everything we do, so no rappers [[or] promoters can really dictate our relevance. We are integrated into the culture."

There will likely always be fierce competition and widespread incoherency between the sects that make up the city's musical fiber. It's what fans the flames of creativity. For the ever-contradictory city of Atlanta, the term "Hate City" is a way of admitting ownership of its faults while it also categorically rejects them. People — like the filmmaker Place — wear the name as a badge while they vehemently deny its truth. Perhaps it ultimately should be taken, like much of what this mystifying metropolis does and says, with a grain of salt.

Still, the search for our creative core yields one takeaway: Atlanta is passionate as hell. "If you're trying to get into art for money, you're fucking stupid," Place says, laughing. "You have to have a passion to be doing it for reasons that are not about being rich and famous." This stubborn adoration of the craft is at the heart of Atlanta's disarray. In the end, Hate City misconstrues, misbehaves, even disagrees for the very same reason it creates.

Because we like it that way."
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  string(9146) "    In search of Atlanta's enigmatic underground   2012-06-21T08:00:00+00:00 The heart of Hate City ben.eason@creativeloafing.com Ben Eason Gabe Vodicka 1306439 2012-06-21T08:00:00+00:00  "Music is done," Bob Place tells me. "It's over."

A freewheeling phone chat with the local indie filmmaker and musician oscillates madly between excitement and indictment, laughter and lamentation. Place's chattiness is indicative not only of external influence ("I just finished smoking a joint right before you called," he apologizes), but of a bleary-eyed obsession with how music continues to function in a post-digital world. His self-produced, two-years-in-the-making documentary tackles the weighty issue of the Internet's effect on the music industry, as he explains it, while exploring the underlying reality of Atlanta's fragmented music establishment. In doing so, it also confronts a sentiment that has long dogged the community — that Atlanta has no love for the underground.

Welcome to Hate City. Long before Place cherry-picked it for the title of his homemade doc, the nickname originated among punk rock circles, an offhand response to Atlanta's incongruous civil rights-era motto: "The City Too Busy to Hate." As a descriptor of the town's artistic community, it stuck. The moniker is rooted in a history of dark joviality, the Southern Gothic precedent that provides us with our well-established sense of irony. But it's often all too apt. As Place discovered, "A lot of artists are frustrated with how Atlanta runs."

Despite a bustling and multitalented musical working class, the capital of the Southeast remains a chronic cultural enigma, a place in constant search of its identity. Atlanta is known for its viable extremes — the trap-happy hip-pop that dots the playlists of Hot 107.9 and V-103; the raucous indie scene that birthed garage-punk record labels Rob's House and Die Slaughterhaus. Yet when it comes to identifying the invisible middle, no cohesive sentiment emerges — save for a frustrating degree of ambivalence and protest.

There is a fervent attitude that characterizes the majority of people who comprise Atlanta's underground. As the lead for rockers Swank Sinatra and also a part-time comedian and animator, Place personifies Atlanta's ADD-afflicted creative culture. His doc has been completed for some time but has yet to see an official release; he plans an online distribution push, as well as screenings at local spots like the Goat Farm. (He couldn't make it available for me to screen online, explaining in an email, "I haven't yet been able to get it up there.") Place bills the film as "the story of rock 'n' roll in the hip-hop capital of the world," though his focus admittedly veers toward the industry's overall decline.

Hate City comes on the heels of another slipshod local rock doc — the previously released We Fun, a 2009 snapshot of the energetic scene that was then the center of Atlanta's indie culture. It was billed as "an important piece of music history," which was true, if you were in one of the featured bands (Black Lips, Deerhunter, etc.). The self-aggrandizement at the heart of the film was an undeniable reflection of the times: In the stark absence of financial support from record labels, artists have to become ultra-self-promoters — or else.

This post-DIY spirit is less communal than entrepreneurial. "It's no longer 'how do I get a record deal,'" Place says. "It's 'how do I start a record label?'"

That rampant attitude has led to a creative boom but has also further divided the local community. "There's just so much going on," music blogger Davy Minor notes. "It's probably impossible ... to represent everything." Minor's blog Ohmpark is the driving force behind the yearly Atlanta Music Roundtable, a gathering of local music writers that puts forth, among other things, a register of the "Most Underrated Local Artists." Last year's list included groups such as Nomen Novum, the Sneaky Hand, Slowriter, Dead Rabbits, and Sleepy Genes — names doubtlessly unrecognizable to most Atlanta residents, to say nothing of folks outside the greater city limits.

"We're not just a hip-hop town," Minor says, regarding Atlanta's one-note perception. "We're not just the place where Deerhunter is from. We're not just some random redneck city in the South. But that's how people outside the city think of us." Minor views the discordance inherent in the local underground as a constructive element, a counterpoint to the town's reputation. The trouble, he says, is getting people to see beyond the exterior. "To me, the problems with our scene aren't internal, they're external," he says. "The problem isn't that our scene is fragmented. The problem is that no one outside our city knows that."

Perhaps the real problem is that no one agrees on the problem.

Theories abound. Writer and musician Taylor Northern, who created the (recently retired) music blog Shot From Guns, laments that the typical nine-to-fiver remains clueless about what's happening around town — namely, the "10,000 acts performing in East Atlanta Village music venues" nightly — and advocates for more highly visible locals-only music festivals. Lifelong resident Brannon Boyle, who runs Speakeasy Productions and books shows at many of those venues, opines that local media is partially at fault. "The electronic scene doesn't get covered much," he says, "even though it's thriving. It doesn't seem like most music writers are into it, so all the articles about it are from a total outsider perspective."

Criminal Records owner and Record Store Day co-founder Eric Levin attributes Atlanta's troubles to the lack of a comprehensive chronicler of the scene. "We don't have a local record label that represents the enormity of what we have," he says. "We have great attempts, historically and currently, but we don't have a center."

If Atlanta's independent rock scene is known for the Black Lips' machismo debauchery and Jessica Juggz's vaginal fire tricks, the perception of our local hip-hop scene is doubtless even more one-sided.

"Sometimes Atlanta is a little starstruck," Yamin Semali says.

The MC is one half of Clan Destined, a 10-year-old local hip-hop duo comprised of two North Carolina natives who met while attending Morehouse. In its devoted eclecticism, Clan Destined is actually a typical Atlanta act — artists immigrate here from near and far, bearing a mix of backgrounds that enrich our musical fabric. Still, the city remains a mystery, even to those who call it home.

Pittsburgh native Will Feagins Jr.'s introduction to Atlanta was an eye-opening experience. His documentary Underexposed won both the Critics' and Viewers' Choice awards in Creative Loafing's Short Cuts film contest earlier this year. "I had kind of the same preconceptions everyone else has," he recalls, concerning the city that exported Gucci, Waka, and Soulja Boy.

Underexposed features dozens among the local hip-hop underground, many of them transplants — nascent and established names like Headkrack, Lyric Jones, Fort Knox, Adrift Da Belle, Shred Tut, Mr. Enok, Journey Brave, and Phene — ruminating on the theme "I am Atlanta Hip-Hop." As rapper and graphic designer Sean Fahie explains in the film, "You've got backpackers here, you've got hipsters here — you've got a bunch of people doing a bunch of different things." Righteously, Feagins wanted "to show everyone else outside of Atlanta that it's not just one type of artist." Moreover, he wanted to induce cohesion within. "I just wanted people to be aware of each other."

Yet locally based artists seem motivated by the disorder. Clan Destined's Semali explains how it "fueled us to find our niche audience. ... We worked on our shows and got the performances to be something you'd pay to see. Now we have B-boys and writers involved in almost everything we do, so no rappers or promoters can really dictate our relevance. We are integrated into the culture."

There will likely always be fierce competition and widespread incoherency between the sects that make up the city's musical fiber. It's what fans the flames of creativity. For the ever-contradictory city of Atlanta, the term "Hate City" is a way of admitting ownership of its faults while it also categorically rejects them. People — like the filmmaker Place — wear the name as a badge while they vehemently deny its truth. Perhaps it ultimately should be taken, like much of what this mystifying metropolis does and says, with a grain of salt.

Still, the search for our creative core yields one takeaway: Atlanta is passionate as hell. "If you're trying to get into art for money, you're fucking stupid," Place says, laughing. "You have to have a passion to be doing it for reasons that are not about being rich and famous." This stubborn adoration of the craft is at the heart of Atlanta's disarray. In the end, Hate City misconstrues, misbehaves, even disagrees for the very same reason it creates.

Because we like it that way.             13068652 5628633                          The heart of Hate City "
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Article

Thursday June 21, 2012 04:00 am EDT
In search of Atlanta's enigmatic underground | more...
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  string(767) "Juaquin Malphurs recently explained that Triple F Life was inspired by a desire to focus on the aspects of his music that really appealed to fans. Indeed, it's Waka Flocka's brash energy that anchors the album. As he explained in a Spin interview, "I didn't want to lose my path by trying to be lyrical." Triple F Life is a potent distillation of what Waka does best. Each track on the record is a semi-stoned, mid-tempo banger. In sequence, it feels beautifully hypnotic. In fact, Triple F Life suffers only when it veers off course. "Get Low" is a Boi-1da production that features Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida and sounds like every other dull radio joint out there. The anomalous song is a reminder that Waka's typical steez is refreshingly atypical. (4 out of 5 stars)"
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  string(1031) "    Warner Bros.   2012-06-11T08:00:00+00:00 Waka Flocka Flame: Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family   Gabe Vodicka 1306439 2012-06-11T08:00:00+00:00  Juaquin Malphurs recently explained that Triple F Life was inspired by a desire to focus on the aspects of his music that really appealed to fans. Indeed, it's Waka Flocka's brash energy that anchors the album. As he explained in a Spin interview, "I didn't want to lose my path by trying to be lyrical." Triple F Life is a potent distillation of what Waka does best. Each track on the record is a semi-stoned, mid-tempo banger. In sequence, it feels beautifully hypnotic. In fact, Triple F Life suffers only when it veers off course. "Get Low" is a Boi-1da production that features Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida and sounds like every other dull radio joint out there. The anomalous song is a reminder that Waka's typical steez is refreshingly atypical. (4 out of 5 stars)             13068478 5554761                          Waka Flocka Flame: Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family "
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Article

Monday June 11, 2012 04:00 am EDT
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