Atlanta Music News: William DuVall, unplugged
Plus Sash the Bash prepares to record in Joshua Tree, and Victory Hands return with 'Bishop' 12-inch
To the world at large, William DuVall is best known as the singer-guitarist who has fronted Alice In Chains since 2006 — the post-Layne Staley years — and consummated his role in the group with 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue LP. To Atlanta, DuVall is a favorite son; he’s an artist who cut his teeth amid the city’s early ’80s hardcore scene, playing in bands such as AVOC (Awareness Void of Chaos), No Walls, Final Offering, and the almighty Neon Christ. Later, he redefined his presence with alternative rock groups Madfly and Comes With the Fall.
On October 4, DuVall celebrates the arrival of his debut, One Alone, a self-produced, self-released solo album filled with stripped-down solo acoustic numbers.
“After putting out full-throttle music for more than three decades, I felt it was time to peel everything back to the core of what I do,” DuVall says. “The acoustic guitar has long played a part in my work going back to No Walls in the late ’80s. It’s certainly added an important element to every record I’ve made with Comes With the Fall and Alice in Chains. But I really wanted to feature it exclusively this time.”
One Alone was recorded in Atlanta, mostly at Jeff Bakos’ studio, with a few songs laid down at DuVall’s friend Jeffrey Blount’s place. The first single, “'Til The Light Guides Me Home,” rolled out July 21, with a video that sets introspective themes of growth and atonement to a walking tour of Little Five Points, the BeltLine, the Earl, and other familiar settings. “If I had to pick one overarching theme, I suppose it would be the wisdom that can be gained from owning one's mistakes,” DuVall says.
Over the last few years, DuVall hit a creative stride with songs such as “The One You Know,” “So Far Under,” and the title track from Alice in Chains’ 2018 LP Rainier Fog. It was the group’s first album to fully reconnect with its Seattle roots, giving DuVall an opportunity to inhabit the Emerald City’s grunge and alternative metal ambiance on a much deeper level.
On the heels of Rainier Fog’s victories, DuVall’s aspirations to take on a more concerted singer-songwriter role and look deep within himself on “'Til The Light Guides Me Home,” is a natural and self-affirming next step. The song’s somber and sincere melodies — strummed out on steel strings to lyrics such as, “It’s a wicked sorrow that makes a man do the things I’ve done” — are more intimate but no less affecting than anything he has released over the years, classic punk and otherwise.
In other news, Sash the Bash, the high-energy astro-punk outfit led by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Sasha Vallely (Midnight Larks, Spindrift, the Warlocks) plans to record a four-song EP at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, California, this September. Rancho de la Luna is something of a legendary studio that has hosted artists ranging from Iggy Pop and the Foo Fighters to PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, and Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions.
To cover the cost of traveling to the West Coast, studio time, pressing vinyl, and everything else that comes along with releasing an album, Vallely and Co. have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000.
Sash the Bash’s next Atlanta show takes place August 17 at the Star Bar, as part of the Upbeat Festival, with all proceeds donated to the Tigerbeat Foundation for Musicians. The foundation was established in honor of Vallely’s former drummer Tony “2 Skulls” Dinneweth, who died in August of 2017. Other acts on the bill include the Border Dogs, the Wheel Knockers, Elzig, the Casket Creatures, the Cogburns, Rocket 350, and the Pits.
Sash the Bash is also one of the featured acts performing at the upcoming Muddy Roots Music Festival Sept. 30-Aug. 1 at June Bug Boogie Ranch in Cookeville, Tennessee.
Election season looms large on the horizon. Victory Hands, the math rock outfit featuring Atlanta’s ’90s and early aughts post-punk and indie rock vets — Kip Thomas (drums and vocals) and Shawn Christopher (vocals and guitar) of Haricot Vert along with Jimmy Ether, aka Ryan Williams (bass and vocals) — have a new 12-inch LP due to arrive September 27, titled Bishop. This is the group’s third offering following the Anderson 10-inch and the Bernstein 7-inch. Each release is named after journalists whose names were published on President Nixon’s list of enemies.
The group only plays shows during the presidential election season, and has recently upgraded to a four-piece, adding Dain Johnson on bass, as Ether slides over to a second guitar. Keep your eyes peeled for some 2020 shows to be announced over the coming months.
In other new-releases news, Gringo Star celebrates the arrival of its latest album, Controlled Burn, with a release show on August 2 at 529. Shantih Shantih and Lesibu Grand open.
Country and Americana singer-songwriter Mark Miller celebrates the release party for his self-titled EP with back-to-back performances at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at Eddie’s Attic on Saturday, August 24.
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