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Cover Story: Room escape games have arrived in Atlanta

Why people are paying to get locked inside small rooms - for fun!

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A billionaire playboy hustler has stolen a precious jewel from the British royal family and it's up to me, my boyfriend, and six strangers to retrieve it from his study and get out of there before he returns from the golf course. The clock is ticking. We have 60 minutes to search for clues, solve puzzles, find the jewel, and make our exit. We set to work tearing the room apart.

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The study looks like it was plucked from the board game Clue. I can imagine the dastardly gent propping his feet up on the large wooden desk, watching the flames roar inside the fireplace and admiring the sporting trophies lining the mantle. A painting of a mustachioed man hangs next to a faux elephant head and other souvenirs from foreign exploits. My teammates include another young couple and a family with two pre-teen kids. Within moments of meeting, we're shouting at each other as we frantically rifle through the bookshelf, crawl under the desk, and scan a world map mural searching for leads. As we discover hidden messages and puzzle pieces, we form small groups and attack the problems. The challenges are hard. They require verbal, mathematical, and kinetic skill. We unravel mysteries that lead to more mysteries, revealing a secret doorway to a hidden room where further riddles await. A voice sounds through the intercom, providing a valuable hint from our game master, who's watching us on closed-circuit cameras placed throughout the room.

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With just seven minutes left on the clock, my team has recovered the stolen jewel, and we believe we've cracked the code needed to open the door's electronic lock. We hold our breath as we punch in the four digits and wait for the green light. Beep beep beep — we're out.

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We've solved the Study, the flagship game at Mission: Escape in Midtown. All over Atlanta, people are paying about $30 apiece to be locked in rooms with strangers for an hour. They're called room escape games, and they're popping up at a remarkable rate around the metro area. Eight such companies are currently operating in Atlanta. Seven of them opened within the past year. Collectively, these establishments offer more than 20 games, and new rooms are on the way. Mission: Escape plans to open as many as 10 locations by 2018.

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? Players work against the clock to try to escape the Study at Mission: Escape.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The owners of Mission: Escape, Joel Rubis (clockwise from top), Morty Hodge, Kyle Rubis, and Jenny Hodge? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The map in Mission: Escape’s lobby shows players have come from across the country and beyond to play.? ? ??
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The Study launched in March and turned a profit within one month. It's drawn visitors from all over the world — including cast members of "The Walking Dead" — as well as landing a national TV spot in the VH1 show "T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle."

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Brothers Kyle and Joel Rubis founded Mission: Escape with their sister, Jenny Hodge, and her husband, Morty. The family became hooked on room escape after playing a game during a trip to Nashville.

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"We pretty much decided immediately that we wanted to do it," Kyle says. "We just could not stop talking about it all night. So the next day, we were driving home from Nashville, and we were already brainstorming names for the business."

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Less than four months after the Nashville trip, Kyle and Joel had both quit their jobs to focus on Mission: Escape full-time. Jenny and Morty held out on making needed renovations to their home and instead invested their funds and energy into a room reserved for strangers. Less than six months after the idea first sparked, the Study opened to the public.

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PLUS:

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Room escape pro tips

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Room escape FAQ

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Room escape began as an online phenomenon that emerged in the real world as live-action games in Japan in 2007. Since then, the trend has spread across the globe, taking over Europe and landing here in the United States in 2012. Large cities such as Los Angeles and New York were among the first to catch on. Both have 30 escape rooms now.

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The concept is new to Atlanta — the first version, Trapped in a Room with a Zombie, opened in April 2014 — but it caught on quickly. During an average week, Mission: Escape receives up to 300 visitors. On its best day, it welcomed 136 customers in one afternoon. Since players generally don't repeat rooms, game creators are scrambling to build new ones. The imagined scenarios range from the playful — being locked in a CNN-looking newsroom or a magician's hideaway — to the macabre — getting trapped at the CDC during an outbreak or inside a room with corpses and zombies. Friends, families, and couples flock to the rooms for entertainment, and businesses have started to bring employees for team building. Some human resources managers even bring in potential hires to see how they'll perform or cooperate with co-workers. What makes these games so fun? Why do people want to get terrified together? What does this say about our personalities?

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I'm not sure if getting locked in a room for team building is a great idea, but I ask my co-workers if they want to try it. Three of them join me. A new company called Paranoia Quest opened in July in South Downtown, just a few blocks from CL's office. We sign up for the Inception room, and we get the backstory: We've been having horrible recurring nightmares for so long that we decided to see a specialist. The doctor has a machine that he claims will send us back into our old dreams so that we can see they're not so scary after all. The problem is he sends us to someone else's dream instead. Now we've got an hour to figure out whose dream we're in, find his or her contact information, and ask for the way out. If we don't make it, we'll be caught inside the nightmare forever.

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Why would anybody self-select, much less pay, to live through a literal nightmare? According to Kevin Swartout, a social psychologist and professor at Georgia State University, room escape games appeal most to people with sensation-seeking personalities. "It's the same reason people do other experiential activities, like laser tag and even bungee jumping on the farther end of the spectrum," he says.

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The mental stimulation can be addictive. "Some people have what we call a high need for cognition. They want to think, they want to be cognitively challenged," Swartout says. "They seek out information, they don't take things at face value, and they like to figure things out for themselves. They're not the type of people who take the easy way out. They would much rather work for an answer. That's fulfilling for them."

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There's also a strong social element at play. The puzzles aren't designed to be completed alone. Everyone in the room must contribute for the mission to be successful. There is, as they say, strength in numbers.

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Normally, individuals or small groups who sign up to play in the same time slot are combined into a team of 10-12 players. But on the night I take my co-workers, it's just the four of us. Our size puts us at a disadvantage, since we'll have to solve all of the problems with less brainpower, but we remain confident. We agree on a strategy: We'll scour the room for clues, calling them out to each other as we find them, and then we'll work alone or in pairs to decode the pieces.

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The door opens and we scatter throughout the room. It's a pub scene crafted so skillfully it feels like a stage set. A vintage cash register sits atop the bar. Behind it, shelves display antique beer cans, glass bottles of all shapes and sizes, retro advertising signs, and a cloudy mirror. Concert fliers are pasted on a wall behind a pool table.

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Information could be taped to the bottom of a beer can, nestled inside the pool table pockets, or scrawled on a scrap of paper tucked in a stack of coasters. The only way to find clues is to search the room high and low. Though most try to be mindful not to wreck the place, some groups get so caught up in the thrill that they ravage everything in sight. One team ripped open and unstuffed the couch cushions. Another tore flyers off the walls. A different gang unplugged everything in the room, temporarily shutting down the entire game until power could be reset. One group used a makeshift tool to unscrew and remove all the light switch covers.

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The Inception room at Paranoia Quest is so carefully crafted it feels like a stage set.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? Dmitry Mikhaylov owns Paranoia Quest and plans to expand with locations throughout Atlanta and other cities.? ? ??
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"We had one client who was a bodybuilder — it looked like he had muscles and nothing else," says Paranoia Quest owner Dmitry Mikhaylov. "It was funny, he actually broke through all our doors upstairs in the Zombie Apocalypse room. They are all magnetic, so he got upset that he couldn't solve the puzzles, and instead, he just pushed the doors through and physically opened all three, just like that."

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None of my colleagues is a bodybuilder. We'll have to use our mental strength to get through the door. We begin finding clues and decide to keep them together in a specific spot so we can all reference them. Our minds are racing to make connections between what appear to be random and meaningless debris. Does the color of that girl's hair in the picture have anything to do with this riddle? What about the number of stirring straws in each dispenser on the bar — does that mean something?

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Teams who learn to share ideas freely are less likely to suffer process loss, whether in the game or at the office, according to Swartout. "A lot of times, there are great ideas among a group," he says. "But they're not shared because people are afraid that they'll look bad or that if they disagree with someone who's higher than them on the pecking order, they'll get in trouble."

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Swartout uses the JFK administration to illustrate group decision-making strategies. He says things can go one of two ways: like the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Bay of Pigs invasion was one of the worst blunders in U.S. history, partly because an authority figure with delusions of grandeur had a terrible idea and nobody recognized its flaws or asked questions until it was too late. After that disaster, the administration developed techniques to avoid groupthink in the future. JFK wouldn't be present for all meetings, lest his power cloud the war room's judgment. The team would also appoint a devil's advocate, whose role was to challenge every new idea and think of alternatives. They applied this approach to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and "that's been put down in the history books as one of the best foreign policy moves the U.S. has dealt with," he says.

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As the clock in the Inception room ticks down — 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 10 minutes — our determination increases. We find a blacklight and use it to uncover a key element of the puzzle. We open a padlock to a drawer with another critical piece inside. It feels like we're almost there, on the verge of a breakthrough, when the buzzer goes off. We were so close. It's infuriating and exhilarating.

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Defeat is the feeling most people experience after playing a room escape game. A success rate of about 25-40 percent is the industry standard for a high-quality, challenging room. In other words, the game creators hope the majority of players will fail — but just barely. "We want most of the groups to get there. Even the groups that don't get out, we want them to make it almost to the end," says Joel Rubis of Mission: Escape. The sensation of nearly succeeding, but losing by a narrow margin, may be even more powerful than the ego boost and bragging rights of winning.

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"Some people, when they experience failure, they get a spike in cortisol and a spike in adrenaline," Swartout says. Cortisol is a steroid hormone related to our fight-or-flight instincts. Basically, it's the fight. When cortisol is released, we feel more aggressive, competitive, and alert. It's the chemical that makes us want to slam our fists on the table or punch a hole in the wall. A rush of cortisol is common after sports events and even championship chess games.

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"This is an evolutionary response activated by failure," Swartout says. "Those who get a spike in cortisol are the people who are going to want to probably sign up again, because that's just their fight response: 'I'm coming back tomorrow. This is happening.'"

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I make a reservation for another room escape game three days later.

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? Participants search for clues at Trapped in a Room with a Zombie in Tucker.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The sign on the game room door warns visitors at Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The lobby at Trapped in a Room with a Zombie is covered with hundreds of name tags with the pseudonyms of players past.? ? ??
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I'm alone and I'm heading to a modest office complex in Tucker to play Trapped in a Room with a Zombie. Unlike the previous rooms, this one was not originally developed in Atlanta. It's a licensed reproduction of a game that first started in Columbus, Ohio, and has been duplicated in 25 cities around the U.S. and beyond, including London and Madrid.

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This room has a zombie inside. Every five minutes, the chain holding the zombie gets a little longer. If the zombie touches a player, she's out of the game. The eliminated player has to stand in the "dead zone" in the back of the room, where she can continue to talk to teammates but may not actively participate in the game.

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The backstory makes little sense: The room used to be the laboratory of Dr. Oxy, who accidentally infected herself with a virus that turns people into undead monsters. In order to prevent the disease from spreading, Dr. Oxy spent her final hours creating puzzles and booby traps to keep her zombified body entombed in the lab forever. For some unexplained reason, our team has managed not only to get inside the room, but also lock ourselves in there with the zombie. We must solve her riddles to escape.

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It's an illogical narrative, but like the thousands of people who have played this game before me, I'm willing to go with it. As are Spiderman, Lara Croft, Anita Man, and all the other fake-named folks whose game I'm crashing. Everyone has to assume pseudonyms. (Again, this is not explained.) We introduce ourselves and exchange a few words about how nervous we all are before the game begins. Paris Cyrus, an attendant in a lab coat, joins us. She'll be inside the room, not speaking to us, but making sure we don't hurt each other or the zombie, who, people tend to forget, is a living human actor.

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Cyrus opens the door, and I tiptoe behind Spiderman into the darkened laboratory. The production value is noticeably lower than the rooms I've played before. Even with the lights off, I can see it's a plain room with a jumble of duct-taped furniture and a couple bloodstains on the walls. The newest room at Mission: Escape, the Hotel, is a Wes Anderson-inspired luxury resort with four chambers. At Paranoia Quest, Mikhaylov and his engineers are building a realistic morgue, complete with a coroner's table and autopsy drawers. Atlanta-based businesses are rejecting the franchise-style, cookie-cutter approach that spawned the escape game industry and creating more expensive, more elaborate setups with each new room. They're using integrated original audio and video recordings, stylish decor, and even touch-screen tablets with proprietary apps to make the games more immersive.

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"In a few years, I know in Atlanta we're going to have 20 places like Paranoia Quest, easily," says Mikhaylov, who has already dropped $120,000 to build three rooms. "If you research Europe and Asia, they have so many room escape games right now that a lot of them are struggling with keeping clients. There are so many choices. Everybody is going to choose the best of the best. That is what we're preparing for here."

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Though Trapped in a Room with a Zombie follows a strict template, most of the room escape designers in Atlanta are making up the rules as they go. Video games, TV programs, books, and actual dreams serve as inspiration. It's not uncommon to find the entire crew of Mission: Escape in the break room engaging in a competition they just devised. Many of their best puzzles are conceived and workshopped during playtime.

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? A dead body awaits players inside the Zombie Apocalypse room at Paranoia Quest.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? Paranoia Quest player Sarah Swanson fends off the zombie, played by Kimberly Graves.? ? ?

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? Perry Frost, who goes by the stage name Harley, poses in the Hotel at Mission: Escape.? ? ??
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At Paranoia Quest, Mikhaylov takes an overall theme — a secret government facility, for instance — and hires creative writers to flesh out the story. Once the narrative is complete, he brainstorms puzzles that fit into it and employs a team of builders to bring it all to life. He also works with film and music production crews to add newsreels, soundtracks, and sound effects to the rooms. The result is mesmerizing; more like being inside an action movie than a tourist trap.

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But what Trapped in a Room with a Zombie lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in action. The value of this game is not in the props or the puzzles but in the spectacle. When we enter, the zombie is nowhere in sight. We try not to panic as we search the room, convinced she could pop out from anywhere at any time. Some seconds pass, and we hear chains clinking from behind a closed closet door. We're safe — for now. We decide to retrieve the clues closest to her hiding spot before she appears. We're still scrambling to open a lockbox beside the closet door five minutes later when an alarm goes off and she emerges.

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She crawls on all fours with a blank but knowing expression behind her darkened eyes. She lets out a low, raspy growl as she approaches, shifting her gaze from player to player, sizing us up. Her skin is blue and bruised; her medical scrubs are spattered with blood. Though she doesn't talk, she listens. Her behaviors mimic the scientist she once was, observing our personalities and experimenting with different ways to taunt us.

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About halfway through our quest, when the zombie's chain is so long she can reach almost every part of the room, we discover that we can distract her with singing and dancing. Our team turns into an impromptu glee club, belting out everything from "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to "Single Ladies." (We soon learn the zombie really likes Beyoncé.) The zombie creeps over to a corner where some women are huddled together. Their voices grow louder and more hysterical as the monster nears. One player can't take it. She breaks down and begins to sob. The zombie finds someone else to pick on.

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? If the zombie touches a player, he or she must stand in the “dead zone” in the back of the room.? ? ?

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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The zombie’s chain gets longer over the course of the game, and some participants get stuck before breaking out in song to distract her.? ? ?
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? ? Eric Cash? ? ? The room attendant, Paris Cyrus, stands by to observe the participants at Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.? ? ??
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Zombie rooms are popular everywhere, but Atlanta may have a unique opportunity to capitalize on them as "The Walking Dead's" fan base expands and more tourists come here to see where it's filmed.

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"A lot of Paranoia Quest's clients actually come from 'The Walking Dead' tour," says game master Steven Dunigan. Mikhaylov says he's working on a partnership with the tour company to become the official affiliate. Time will tell if older, non-local facilities like Trapped in a Room with a Zombie will be able to keep up.

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Cyrus stays mum but begins bouncing up and down, grinning with hope and anticipation when she realizes we've cracked the final code to get out of the room. Even the zombie takes pause. Thirty seconds are on the clock. We elect a guy to start punching the code in the electronic lock and call out a complex series of steps to him. It's like playing Dance Dance Revolution or entering the infamous Konami Code: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. He makes a wrong move. We have to start over again. Five seconds remain. Four, three, two, one. The timer sounds and a collective "NOOOO!" rings through the room.

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We finish the code anyway and sulk back to the lobby. Cyrus asks us all to gather round as she calls up each team member, one by one, to receive applause. She'd been taking notes on our performance the whole time. Spiderman is our MVP, solving the most puzzles. John Coffee is recognized for being the best communicator, always yelling to let us know when the zombie was right behind someone. Dianna Bana wins the Indiana Jones award for zipping by and dodging the zombie to gather clues in hard-to-reach areas. We congratulate each other and snap a few group photos with signs reading "I taste good" and "Zombie food."

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This is what is known in the industry as froth. Transitioning out of the escape scenario and back into the real world, processing emotions, and debriefing with the game master and other teammates is a key part of the experience. For many people, including the business owners, it's the best part.

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"You're going to get people that are kind of scared at first, since they have no idea what to expect. But once they get in there, you see their mood completely change," Joel Rubis says. "Going over the rules, you'll see some guy come in here, he's got this stern look. And it's cool to see his face go from nothing on it to a big smile, saying he had a great time after he walks out. That's the majority of the people."

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His brother-in-law Morty agrees. "I am blown away because we made something that brings people joy. How often can you be a part of something that makes people happy? That's incredible."



More By This Writer

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  string(51) "Big Brutus muses on mortality with 'The Odd Willow'"
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The first song on Big Brutus’ sophomore LP, The Odd Willow, is simply titled “Death.” It’s a fitting place to start for a record that is openly and thoroughly preoccupied with fatality. This should come as no surprise from singer-songwriter Sean Bryant, who is known to ride around Atlanta with a skeleton. Across 11 tracks shimmering with folksy guitar riffs and ambient softness, Bryant works through his ongoing obsession with mortality, shifting from feelings of wonder and appreciation to isolation and resignation. The closing number, “Tradition,” underlines the album’s thesis, captured in a sample from a 1979 Jimmy Carter speech: “This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth.”



The Odd Willow is an intertextual work, with lyrics often quoting and referencing each other, creating a circling motion like water down a drain. Catchy breakup anthem “Louise” tells the story of a doomed love affair with a manic pixie dream girl, complete with a vignette of the pair climbing a cemetery wall. Later on, one of the lines, “The scenery moves so slow,” repeats itself in the atmospheric track “(Prelude).” Callbacks like this add intriguing layers and keep the subject matter from becoming tired.





Though the album is strong thematically, it is uneven musically. Big Brutus is at its best during reflective, sweeping songs like the title track and melancholy, ethereal tunes like “Scenery” and “Hotbox.” The more aggressive moments, including the possessed chanting on “Bury Bones” and the boisterous jazzy horns on “New Voodoo,” feel forced and out of place. Standout “Games for Nameless Things” does a nice job of balancing Bryant’s light and heavy moods for a satisfying indie pop sound.



Big Brutus releases the album on March 5 with a show at the EARL before leaving for a bike tour across the U.S. Bryant will pedal from Boca Raton, FL, to Eau Clair, WI, with his acoustic guitar playing pop-up shows along the way. In addition to performing the new songs for unfamiliar listeners, Bryant also hopes to raise awareness for the International Rescue Committee, an organization that responds to humanitarian crises around the world. ★★★☆☆

With Shepherds and Neighbor Lady. $8. 8 p.m. Sun., March 5. The EARL. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.badearl.com. "
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The first song on Big Brutus’ sophomore LP, ''The Odd Willow'', is simply titled “Death.” It’s a fitting place to start for a record that is openly and thoroughly preoccupied with fatality. This should come as no surprise from singer-songwriter Sean Bryant, who is known to ride around Atlanta with a skeleton. Across 11 tracks shimmering with folksy guitar riffs and ambient softness, Bryant works through his ongoing obsession with mortality, shifting from feelings of wonder and appreciation to isolation and resignation. The closing number, “Tradition,” underlines the album’s thesis, captured in a sample from a 1979 Jimmy Carter speech: “This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth.”

____

''The Odd Willow'' is an intertextual work, with lyrics often quoting and referencing each other, creating a circling motion like water down a drain. Catchy breakup anthem [https://soundcloud.com/bigbrutusband/the-odd-willow/s-hAFvP?in=bigbrutusband/sets/the-odd-willow/s-1tsK2|“Louise”] tells the story of a doomed love affair with a manic pixie dream girl, complete with a vignette of the pair climbing a cemetery wall. Later on, one of the lines, “The scenery moves so slow,” repeats itself in the atmospheric track “(Prelude).” Callbacks like this add intriguing layers and keep the subject matter from becoming tired.

____



Though the album is strong thematically, it is uneven musically. Big Brutus is at its best during reflective, sweeping songs like the title track and melancholy, ethereal tunes like “Scenery” and “Hotbox.” The more aggressive moments, including the possessed chanting on “Bury Bones” and the boisterous jazzy horns on “New Voodoo,” feel forced and out of place. Standout “Games for Nameless Things” does a nice job of balancing Bryant’s light and heavy moods for a satisfying indie pop sound.

____

Big Brutus releases the album on March 5 with a show at the EARL before leaving for a bike tour across the U.S. Bryant will pedal from Boca Raton, FL, to Eau Clair, WI, with his acoustic guitar playing pop-up shows along the way. In addition to performing the new songs for unfamiliar listeners, Bryant also hopes to raise awareness for the [https://www.rescue.org/|International Rescue Committee], an organization that responds to humanitarian crises around the world. ★★★☆☆

''[http://local.clatl.com/event/the-earl/big-brutus-shepherds-and-neighbor-lady|With Shepherds and Neighbor Lady. $8. 8 p.m. Sun., March 5. The EARL. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.badearl.com.] ''"
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  string(2920) "    Sophomore album from singer-songwriter Sean Bryant sticks to a theme   2017-03-01T21:00:00+00:00 Big Brutus muses on mortality with 'The Odd Willow'   Meagan Mastriani  2017-03-01T21:00:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258ae106c35ab46e4760e5173%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%

The first song on Big Brutus’ sophomore LP, The Odd Willow, is simply titled “Death.” It’s a fitting place to start for a record that is openly and thoroughly preoccupied with fatality. This should come as no surprise from singer-songwriter Sean Bryant, who is known to ride around Atlanta with a skeleton. Across 11 tracks shimmering with folksy guitar riffs and ambient softness, Bryant works through his ongoing obsession with mortality, shifting from feelings of wonder and appreciation to isolation and resignation. The closing number, “Tradition,” underlines the album’s thesis, captured in a sample from a 1979 Jimmy Carter speech: “This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth.”



The Odd Willow is an intertextual work, with lyrics often quoting and referencing each other, creating a circling motion like water down a drain. Catchy breakup anthem “Louise” tells the story of a doomed love affair with a manic pixie dream girl, complete with a vignette of the pair climbing a cemetery wall. Later on, one of the lines, “The scenery moves so slow,” repeats itself in the atmospheric track “(Prelude).” Callbacks like this add intriguing layers and keep the subject matter from becoming tired.





Though the album is strong thematically, it is uneven musically. Big Brutus is at its best during reflective, sweeping songs like the title track and melancholy, ethereal tunes like “Scenery” and “Hotbox.” The more aggressive moments, including the possessed chanting on “Bury Bones” and the boisterous jazzy horns on “New Voodoo,” feel forced and out of place. Standout “Games for Nameless Things” does a nice job of balancing Bryant’s light and heavy moods for a satisfying indie pop sound.



Big Brutus releases the album on March 5 with a show at the EARL before leaving for a bike tour across the U.S. Bryant will pedal from Boca Raton, FL, to Eau Clair, WI, with his acoustic guitar playing pop-up shows along the way. In addition to performing the new songs for unfamiliar listeners, Bryant also hopes to raise awareness for the International Rescue Committee, an organization that responds to humanitarian crises around the world. ★★★☆☆

With Shepherds and Neighbor Lady. $8. 8 p.m. Sun., March 5. The EARL. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.badearl.com.              20853033         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/02/16911037_10155786594519622_1494798840_o.58ae15a81654b.png                  Big Brutus muses on mortality with 'The Odd Willow' "
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Wednesday March 1, 2017 04:00 pm EST
Sophomore album from singer-songwriter Sean Bryant sticks to a theme | more...
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Though Joy Division fans will never have a chance to see the late Ian Curtis and his cohorts live in concert, they can still enjoy the legendary post-punk band’s songs when Moving Units comes to town. The Los Angeles-based group is coming through Atlanta on a national tour behind its new cover album, Collision with Joy Division. Rehearsal videos from Moving Unit’s Facebook page tease a setlist including “Transmission,” “Ice Age,” “Disorder,” and more. It’s probably a safe bet that the obligatory “Love Will Tear Us Apart” will be somewhere in there, too. Arrive early to see opening acts Viktor Fiction and Soviet. 

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Though Joy Division fans will never have a chance to see the late Ian Curtis and his cohorts live in concert, they can still enjoy the legendary post-punk band’s songs when [https://movingunits.net/|Moving Units] comes to town. The Los Angeles-based group is coming through Atlanta on a national tour behind its new cover album, ''Collision with Joy Division''. Rehearsal videos from Moving Unit’s Facebook page tease a setlist including “Transmission,” “Ice Age,” “Disorder,” and more. It’s probably a safe bet that the obligatory “Love Will Tear Us Apart” will be somewhere in there, too. Arrive early to see opening acts Viktor Fiction and Soviet. 

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Though Joy Division fans will never have a chance to see the late Ian Curtis and his cohorts live in concert, they can still enjoy the legendary post-punk band’s songs when Moving Units comes to town. The Los Angeles-based group is coming through Atlanta on a national tour behind its new cover album, Collision with Joy Division. Rehearsal videos from Moving Unit’s Facebook page tease a setlist including “Transmission,” “Ice Age,” “Disorder,” and more. It’s probably a safe bet that the obligatory “Love Will Tear Us Apart” will be somewhere in there, too. Arrive early to see opening acts Viktor Fiction and Soviet. 

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Thursday February 23, 2017 10:12 pm EST
'Transmission,' 'Ice Age,' 'Disorder' and more are in store when the L.A. post-punk trio comes to town | more...
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Don’t sleep on Death Stuff. That goes figuratively and literally, since seeing this Atlanta punk trio perform usually means staying up late. At a recent Drunken Unicorn show, the band took the stage around 1 a.m. and introduced itself to a thin but devoted audience — “Hi, we’re Death Stuff, and we’re really tired” — before erupting into a loud and frenzied set that transformed listeners from a handful of bleary-eyed onlookers into a miniature mob of moshers and, astoundingly, crowd surfers.



That frantic energy propels the group’s self-titled full-length debut cassette tape, out Feb. 10 via Monofonus Press. 

Death Stuff clocks in at half an hour, and out of 14 tracks, only one song, "Life Stuff / Death Stuff,"exceeds three minutes in length. The songs rush forward at a rapid fire, one rhythmic bomb exploding into the next in a chain reaction of fury and noise. Amid all the chaos, it seems the band hardly has time for titles, preferring to give songs acronyms such as “BPU,” “ADD” and “SIDS.”



Though frontman and bassist Lloyd Wingard (ex-Lucy Dreams) yells his way through many of the lyrics, he’s often drowned out by guitarist Trevor Vick (ex-Street Violence) and drummer Jacob Armando (ex-Twin Studies / Lucy Dreams). It’s a shout into the void, and you won’t hear what he’s saying unless you take the time to listen closely. Even when Wingard’s voice rises above the din, it’s only a morbid reminder that “you’ll die, too” or a warning to “just get away from me.” The album spans an impressive spectrum of angst, from flat and apathetic despondence on “Cuddlers” to a petulant and adolescent tantrum on “Surf Curse.”

<a href="http://deathstuff.bandcamp.com/track/surprise-ex">Surprise Ex by DEATH STUFF</a>


Death Stuff’s toughest songs are nearly impenetrable, and the catchier tunes like “Surprise Ex” and “Cruising” still have sharp claws. “BPU” opens with a squeal that oddly enough recalls a cartoon duck laughing and launches into an angular and danceable groove. “Automatically Dead” eases in with a straightforward beat and relatively gentle guitar melody before battering the speakers with a burst of dissonance and math rock-like complexity. The record is punk at its core but shows a band developing its own style with elements of hardcore, post-punk and noise rock.



Catch the upcoming release party before Death Stuff hits the road for a tour of the Southeast with stops including New Orleans, Austin, and Memphis. ★★★★☆

Stream the full album at Noisey.

With Mutual Jerk, Muddle, and Caesium Mine. Donations. 9 p.m. Tues., Feb. 7. 529. 529 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.529atlanta.com. "
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Don’t sleep on [https://deathstuff.bandcamp.com/|Death Stuff]. That goes figuratively and literally, since seeing this Atlanta punk trio perform usually means staying up late. At a recent Drunken Unicorn show, the band took the stage around 1 a.m. and introduced itself to a thin but devoted audience — “Hi, we’re Death Stuff, and we’re really tired” — before erupting into a loud and frenzied set that transformed listeners from a handful of bleary-eyed onlookers into a miniature mob of moshers and, astoundingly, crowd surfers.

____

That frantic energy propels the group’s self-titled full-length debut cassette tape, out __Feb. 10__ via [http://monofonuspress.com/|Monofonus Press]. 

''Death Stuff'' clocks in at half an hour, and out of 14 tracks, only one song, "Life Stuff / Death Stuff,"exceeds three minutes in length. The songs rush forward at a rapid fire, one rhythmic bomb exploding into the next in a chain reaction of fury and noise. Amid all the chaos, it seems the band hardly has time for titles, preferring to give songs acronyms such as “BPU,” “ADD” and “SIDS.”

____

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Surprise Ex by DEATH STUFF


Death Stuff’s toughest songs are nearly impenetrable, and the catchier tunes like “Surprise Ex” and “Cruising” still have sharp claws. “BPU” opens with a squeal that oddly enough recalls a cartoon duck laughing and launches into an angular and danceable groove. “Automatically Dead” eases in with a straightforward beat and relatively gentle guitar melody before battering the speakers with a burst of dissonance and math rock-like complexity. The record is punk at its core but shows a band developing its own style with elements of hardcore, post-punk and noise rock.

____

Catch the upcoming release party before Death Stuff hits the road for a tour of the Southeast with stops including New Orleans, Austin, and Memphis. ★★★★☆

[https://noisey.vice.com/en_au/article/atlanta-punks-death-stuff-remind-us-that-everything-is-terrible-and-everyone-dies|Stream the full album at Noisey.]

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Don’t sleep on Death Stuff. That goes figuratively and literally, since seeing this Atlanta punk trio perform usually means staying up late. At a recent Drunken Unicorn show, the band took the stage around 1 a.m. and introduced itself to a thin but devoted audience — “Hi, we’re Death Stuff, and we’re really tired” — before erupting into a loud and frenzied set that transformed listeners from a handful of bleary-eyed onlookers into a miniature mob of moshers and, astoundingly, crowd surfers.



That frantic energy propels the group’s self-titled full-length debut cassette tape, out Feb. 10 via Monofonus Press. 

Death Stuff clocks in at half an hour, and out of 14 tracks, only one song, "Life Stuff / Death Stuff,"exceeds three minutes in length. The songs rush forward at a rapid fire, one rhythmic bomb exploding into the next in a chain reaction of fury and noise. Amid all the chaos, it seems the band hardly has time for titles, preferring to give songs acronyms such as “BPU,” “ADD” and “SIDS.”



Though frontman and bassist Lloyd Wingard (ex-Lucy Dreams) yells his way through many of the lyrics, he’s often drowned out by guitarist Trevor Vick (ex-Street Violence) and drummer Jacob Armando (ex-Twin Studies / Lucy Dreams). It’s a shout into the void, and you won’t hear what he’s saying unless you take the time to listen closely. Even when Wingard’s voice rises above the din, it’s only a morbid reminder that “you’ll die, too” or a warning to “just get away from me.” The album spans an impressive spectrum of angst, from flat and apathetic despondence on “Cuddlers” to a petulant and adolescent tantrum on “Surf Curse.”

<a href="http://deathstuff.bandcamp.com/track/surprise-ex">Surprise Ex by DEATH STUFF</a>


Death Stuff’s toughest songs are nearly impenetrable, and the catchier tunes like “Surprise Ex” and “Cruising” still have sharp claws. “BPU” opens with a squeal that oddly enough recalls a cartoon duck laughing and launches into an angular and danceable groove. “Automatically Dead” eases in with a straightforward beat and relatively gentle guitar melody before battering the speakers with a burst of dissonance and math rock-like complexity. The record is punk at its core but shows a band developing its own style with elements of hardcore, post-punk and noise rock.



Catch the upcoming release party before Death Stuff hits the road for a tour of the Southeast with stops including New Orleans, Austin, and Memphis. ★★★★☆

Stream the full album at Noisey.

With Mutual Jerk, Muddle, and Caesium Mine. Donations. 9 p.m. Tues., Feb. 7. 529. 529 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.529atlanta.com.              20851157         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/02/Music_DeathStuff3_1_42.5894ca6dc057f.png                  Death Stuff erupts with frantic energy on self-titled debut "
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Friday February 3, 2017 06:46 pm EST
Young punk trio riles up listeners and late-night audiences | more...
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Not much information exists about recently-formed Atlanta band Material Girls, and the group likes it that way. The six-piece outfit featuring members of Slang, Concord America and Chief Scout debuted in late 2016 with just 33 copies of a lathe cut 7-inch record, sharing only one song online via a conspicuously sparse Soundcloud channel. The first single, “Drained,” tantalized with spooky sleigh bells, jangly piano, braying horns, and deep, moody vocals reminiscent of Ariel Pink and Leonard Cohen. It was a promising track, and for listeners left wanting more, there was almost nothing to be found.



Today Material Girls tease the internet a bit more, releasing the B-side of the record with CL’s premiere of “Tightrope.”



Though the dark vocals and signature trumpets and saxophones remain, the song reveals a jauntier and more sardonic tone. The energetic bass and spoken-word lyrics (“I ask for advice / I fuck it up twice”) evoke influences ranging from the Talking Heads to Ought. The band members spoke with CL via email about the B-side, social media ennui, the allure of the unknown, and what’s in store for Material Girls’ future.



Who are Material Girls?



Material Girls are comprised of six musicians with multiple responsibilities and roles within the group. We have two snarling guitar players, one of which sings in a nasty deep crooning voice. We have a very tall, bellowing trumpet player who also happens to be a very adept organist and a wild banshee of a saxophone player who accompanies the tunes with light percussion. Our bass player writes some of the most winding and playful bass lines and also happens to be quite a snappy drummer, and our drummer, who also occasionally plays bass and sings a number of his own, plays with ferocity and precision.



When and how did you form the group?



The formation of Material Girls came to pass without really having a specific path in mind but a destination. No maps and no trails so we take machetes and cut the plants down and stomp our fucking heels through the muck and figure it out as we go. We could be miles away. We could be standing right on top of it. That is very exciting to us. Our expectations are low and our ambitions are very high. 



Describe Material Girls in three words.



Material Girls cannot be described in three words. Desperate and arrogant. Lovely and harrowing. A big rolling fucking cacophonous calamity. 



Tell me about the new track.



“Tightrope” is the b-side to our first single “Drained,” which our friend Ethan Rose of Funky Frankenstein Records very lovingly handmade into 33 copies on his own lathe in his house. Lyrically, “Tightrope” concerns being crippled by indecision and uncertainty. Not facing the truth, not facing reality, saying one thing and doing another, rationalizing things within yourself so you can sleep at night, endless procrastination. Things we all have in common.



There's not much information about Material Girls online. Why is that?



When you have access to everything, nothing is impressive. There's nothing to be surprised about. Your interest cannot be piqued that way. The whole social media universe is just flooded with horse shit anyways. You end up being washed away amidst a wave of horse shit, and the tide is always high. Soon enough there will be another picture-filtering application so people can share all what they ate for breakfast or the kinds of things they drunkenly shout in a loud nightclub and all kinds of things for you to not give a fuck about while your day is wasting away spent following someone else's boring life. And then when will they have a chance to listen to Material Girls? Probably never. They are too busy.



Is your limited run record available for purchase?



Our record is for sale at our upcoming shows but there are only a few copies left, so I would suggest purchasing one prior to the show so you can not only secure yourself one of the last copies of a limited edition record, but you can leisurely put it in your car so you won't have to stand around holding it all night.



What does the future hold for Material Girls?



Material Girls are going on a small east coast tour in a matter of weeks, stopping in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia before we come home and play at the infamous Southern Comfort Restaurant and Lounge on March 2. We will release more music as the year progresses.

With Muuy Biien, DiCaprio, Shepherds, and Mannequin Lover. $5. 9 p.m. Sat., Jan. 28. The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com."
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Not much information exists about recently-formed Atlanta band Material Girls, and the group likes it that way. The six-piece outfit featuring members of Slang, Concord America and Chief Scout debuted in late 2016 with just 33 copies of a lathe cut 7-inch record, sharing only one song online via a conspicuously sparse Soundcloud channel. The first single, [https://soundcloud.com/materialgirlsusa|“Drained,”] tantalized with spooky sleigh bells, jangly piano, braying horns, and deep, moody vocals reminiscent of Ariel Pink and Leonard Cohen. It was a promising track, and for listeners left wanting more, there was almost nothing to be found.

____

Today Material Girls tease the internet a bit more, releasing the B-side of the record with ''CL''’s premiere of “Tightrope.”

____

Though the dark vocals and signature trumpets and saxophones remain, the song reveals a jauntier and more sardonic tone. The energetic bass and spoken-word lyrics (“I ask for advice / I fuck it up twice”) evoke influences ranging from the Talking Heads to Ought. The band members spoke with CL via email about the B-side, social media ennui, the allure of the unknown, and what’s in store for Material Girls’ future.



__Who are Material Girls?__

____

Material Girls are comprised of six musicians with multiple responsibilities and roles within the group. We have two snarling guitar players, one of which sings in a nasty deep crooning voice. We have a very tall, bellowing trumpet player who also happens to be a very adept organist and a wild banshee of a saxophone player who accompanies the tunes with light percussion. Our bass player writes some of the most winding and playful bass lines and also happens to be quite a snappy drummer, and our drummer, who also occasionally plays bass and sings a number of his own, plays with ferocity and precision.

____

__When and how did you form the group?__

____

The formation of Material Girls came to pass without really having a specific path in mind but a destination. No maps and no trails so we take machetes and cut the plants down and stomp our fucking heels through the muck and figure it out as we go. We could be miles away. We could be standing right on top of it. That is very exciting to us. Our expectations are low and our ambitions are very high. 

____

__Describe Material Girls in three words.__

____

Material Girls cannot be described in three words. Desperate and arrogant. Lovely and harrowing. A big rolling fucking cacophonous calamity. 

____

__Tell me about the new track.__

____

“Tightrope” is the b-side to our first single “Drained,” which our friend Ethan Rose of Funky Frankenstein Records very lovingly handmade into 33 copies on his own lathe in his house. Lyrically, “Tightrope” concerns being crippled by indecision and uncertainty. Not facing the truth, not facing reality, saying one thing and doing another, rationalizing things within yourself so you can sleep at night, endless procrastination. Things we all have in common.

____

__There's not much information about Material Girls online. Why is that?__

____

When you have access to everything, nothing is impressive. There's nothing to be surprised about. Your interest cannot be piqued that way. The whole social media universe is just flooded with horse shit anyways. You end up being washed away amidst a wave of horse shit, and the tide is always high. Soon enough there will be another picture-filtering application so people can share all what they ate for breakfast or the kinds of things they drunkenly shout in a loud nightclub and all kinds of things for you to not give a fuck about while your day is wasting away spent following someone else's boring life. And then when will they have a chance to listen to Material Girls? Probably never. They are too busy.

____

__Is your limited run record available for purchase?__

____

Our record is for sale at our upcoming shows but there are only a few copies left, so I would suggest purchasing one prior to the show so you can not only secure yourself one of the last copies of a limited edition record, but you can leisurely put it in your car so you won't have to stand around holding it all night.

____

__What does the future hold for Material Girls?__

____

Material Girls are going on a small east coast tour in a matter of weeks, stopping in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia before we come home and play at the infamous Southern Comfort Restaurant and Lounge on March 2. We will release more music as the year progresses.

''[http://local.clatl.com/event/the-earl/material-girls-muuy-biien-dicaprio-shepherds-and-mannequin-lover|With Muuy Biien, DiCaprio, Shepherds, and Mannequin Lover. $5. 9 p.m. Sat., Jan. 28. The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.]''"
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Not much information exists about recently-formed Atlanta band Material Girls, and the group likes it that way. The six-piece outfit featuring members of Slang, Concord America and Chief Scout debuted in late 2016 with just 33 copies of a lathe cut 7-inch record, sharing only one song online via a conspicuously sparse Soundcloud channel. The first single, “Drained,” tantalized with spooky sleigh bells, jangly piano, braying horns, and deep, moody vocals reminiscent of Ariel Pink and Leonard Cohen. It was a promising track, and for listeners left wanting more, there was almost nothing to be found.



Today Material Girls tease the internet a bit more, releasing the B-side of the record with CL’s premiere of “Tightrope.”



Though the dark vocals and signature trumpets and saxophones remain, the song reveals a jauntier and more sardonic tone. The energetic bass and spoken-word lyrics (“I ask for advice / I fuck it up twice”) evoke influences ranging from the Talking Heads to Ought. The band members spoke with CL via email about the B-side, social media ennui, the allure of the unknown, and what’s in store for Material Girls’ future.



Who are Material Girls?



Material Girls are comprised of six musicians with multiple responsibilities and roles within the group. We have two snarling guitar players, one of which sings in a nasty deep crooning voice. We have a very tall, bellowing trumpet player who also happens to be a very adept organist and a wild banshee of a saxophone player who accompanies the tunes with light percussion. Our bass player writes some of the most winding and playful bass lines and also happens to be quite a snappy drummer, and our drummer, who also occasionally plays bass and sings a number of his own, plays with ferocity and precision.



When and how did you form the group?



The formation of Material Girls came to pass without really having a specific path in mind but a destination. No maps and no trails so we take machetes and cut the plants down and stomp our fucking heels through the muck and figure it out as we go. We could be miles away. We could be standing right on top of it. That is very exciting to us. Our expectations are low and our ambitions are very high. 



Describe Material Girls in three words.



Material Girls cannot be described in three words. Desperate and arrogant. Lovely and harrowing. A big rolling fucking cacophonous calamity. 



Tell me about the new track.



“Tightrope” is the b-side to our first single “Drained,” which our friend Ethan Rose of Funky Frankenstein Records very lovingly handmade into 33 copies on his own lathe in his house. Lyrically, “Tightrope” concerns being crippled by indecision and uncertainty. Not facing the truth, not facing reality, saying one thing and doing another, rationalizing things within yourself so you can sleep at night, endless procrastination. Things we all have in common.



There's not much information about Material Girls online. Why is that?



When you have access to everything, nothing is impressive. There's nothing to be surprised about. Your interest cannot be piqued that way. The whole social media universe is just flooded with horse shit anyways. You end up being washed away amidst a wave of horse shit, and the tide is always high. Soon enough there will be another picture-filtering application so people can share all what they ate for breakfast or the kinds of things they drunkenly shout in a loud nightclub and all kinds of things for you to not give a fuck about while your day is wasting away spent following someone else's boring life. And then when will they have a chance to listen to Material Girls? Probably never. They are too busy.



Is your limited run record available for purchase?



Our record is for sale at our upcoming shows but there are only a few copies left, so I would suggest purchasing one prior to the show so you can not only secure yourself one of the last copies of a limited edition record, but you can leisurely put it in your car so you won't have to stand around holding it all night.



What does the future hold for Material Girls?



Material Girls are going on a small east coast tour in a matter of weeks, stopping in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia before we come home and play at the infamous Southern Comfort Restaurant and Lounge on March 2. We will release more music as the year progresses.

With Muuy Biien, DiCaprio, Shepherds, and Mannequin Lover. $5. 9 p.m. Sat., Jan. 28. The Earl. 488 Flat Shoals Ave S.E. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.             20850401         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/01/Music_MaterialGirls1_1_41.588bb7f2277c8.png                  Premiere: Material Girls unveil second single 'Tightrope' "
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Friday January 27, 2017 09:25 pm EST
Plus, the band talks more about the power of mystery and honing a 'desperate and arrogant' sound | more...
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Come out to Treehouse Photo Studio for the opening reception of Espiritu, an art exhibition highlighting the work of contemporary Latinx artists who are channeling the spirit of their indigenous cultures. See art including collages by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira (like the one above), pieces by Esteban Patiño (who was also recently featured at the High Museum’s interactive Art Lab), and work by the exhibition’s co-curator Josephine Figueroa. Espiritu is a joint project of the local organizations Fall Line Projects, Somos Sur, and Atlanta Celebrates Photography. Bring some friends and a little pocket money to enjoy the cash bar.

Espiritu opening. Free. 6–9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 23. Treehouse Photo Studio, 751 James P. Brawley Dr. N.W. www.falllineprojects.com/events."
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Come out to Treehouse Photo Studio for the opening reception of ''Espiritu'', an art exhibition highlighting the work of contemporary Latinx artists who are channeling the spirit of their indigenous cultures. See art including collages by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira (like the one above), pieces by Esteban Patiño (who was also recently featured at the High Museum’s interactive Art Lab), and work by the exhibition’s co-curator Josephine Figueroa. ''Espiritu'' is a joint project of the local organizations Fall Line Projects, Somos Sur, and Atlanta Celebrates Photography. Bring some friends and a little pocket money to enjoy the cash bar.

[https://www.facebook.com/events/1079002518842658/|Espiritu ]''[https://www.facebook.com/events/1079002518842658/|opening. Free. 6–9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 23. Treehouse Photo Studio, 751 James P. Brawley Dr. N.W. www.falllineprojects.com/events.]''"
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  string(1298) "    Artists like Karen Miranda Rivadeneira and Esteban Patiño will have works on display   2016-09-20T01:00:00+00:00 Latinx artists channel 'Espiritu'   Meagan Mastriani  2016-09-20T01:00:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2257e04b7836ab46c8479a05b3%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%

Come out to Treehouse Photo Studio for the opening reception of Espiritu, an art exhibition highlighting the work of contemporary Latinx artists who are channeling the spirit of their indigenous cultures. See art including collages by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira (like the one above), pieces by Esteban Patiño (who was also recently featured at the High Museum’s interactive Art Lab), and work by the exhibition’s co-curator Josephine Figueroa. Espiritu is a joint project of the local organizations Fall Line Projects, Somos Sur, and Atlanta Celebrates Photography. Bring some friends and a little pocket money to enjoy the cash bar.

Espiritu opening. Free. 6–9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 23. Treehouse Photo Studio, 751 James P. Brawley Dr. N.W. www.falllineprojects.com/events.             20834177         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/09/seedoarts2_1_22.57e04b7734d49.png                  Latinx artists channel 'Espiritu' "
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Article

Monday September 19, 2016 09:00 pm EDT
Artists like Karen Miranda Rivadeneira and Esteban Patiño will have works on display | more...
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