THE VINYL WARHOL: Catching up on underground releases in the ATL

Just in time for the summer!

#1 Cover Photo Mr Tamborine Manl
Photo credit: Mr. Tambourine Man
TRYING FOR THE KINGDOM: Listen Local for Summer 2023!

Hello! It’s been a while, two months exactly. I was in Europe all of April and recovered all of May. Although that continent has stolen my heart, it is nice be back in the music city of the south.

Since we’re already in the second half of the year, I thought I would compile a few of my favorite musical pieces, both projects and singles, from just a few of Atlanta’s many talented underground acts.

Please, send me releases and info about upcoming shows on Instagram. If I like it, I may include it in an upcoming column.

Summer Boys: Get summer ready with Zaida Zane. Photo Credit: Jamie Hopper (@jmehopper)

Zaida Zane: Boy Eyes (E.P.)  Night Slugs

Many DJs flounder when taking the leap into making music of their own. Making a room of people dance to other people’s songs is one thing, dropping your own and keeping the same excitement is another. I don’t think Zaida Zane will have a problem doing that with the three tracks that make up Boy Eyes. (A sampling while cooking a pork tenderloin in my kitchen resulted in dancing. I don’t see a club being any different.)

Each song is prime for the summer. “Fly By” reminds me of an instrumental PinkPantheress might hop one—hit Zaida’s line, Vicky! The guitar plucks and soul samples have that late-90s, early-00s sweetness that hits me right in the nostalgia glands. Boy Eyes slows in tempo as it goes on, but the party doesn’t stop for a second. By “ZZ Plant,” we’re relaxing in the pool with a fruity beverage.
Zaida Zane on Instagram! / Stream Zaida Zane


Touching Grass Was A Mistake: Kibi James are back with an agoraphobic anthem for the ages. Photo Credit: Kibi James (@kibijames)

Kibi James: “go outside” (song) — Bayonet Records

For Kibi James, it’s going to be a moody summer. This three-piece caught my ear last year when I heard their 2019 EP, Azúcar, ahead of a February show at 529. In the write-up for that show I described the band as “full of color, showcasing a soothing sound that shares DNA with SALES and Banes World.” Listening back, I hear fellow-Atlantan Faye Webster in the mix as well.

On “go outside,” Kibi James attempt to face that is a world full of sorrow that brings them to their knees. There could be know more fitting a subject to tackle in their first song since the peak of COVID. We came out to a see a world far worse off then before. It can all be too much to face. “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

The first half of the song is driven by a sad, beach-y guitar. The tone is unhappy, but in a light hangover kind of way. Then, around the 1:15 mark, we descend into full-on nightmare territory. The vocals are drenched in reverb and the drums stutter. This section is capped with a full-on noise rock feedback slap, leading into a Spanish spoken word outro. Going outside was a mistake. 

So much is stuffed into a song that’s less than two-and-a-half minutes long. It would be hard to think of a better return for Kibi James. I’m waiting for their album with bated breath.
Kibi James on Instagram / Stream Kibi James


'Goodbye, America': Benjamin Dean makes a strong first impression on Veda. Photo Credit: @cchloechloecchloe
‘Goodbye, America’: Benjamin Dean makes a strong first impression on Veda. Photo Credit: @cchloechloecchloe

Benjamin Dean: Veda (album) — self-released

Veda, the debut album from Benjamin Dean, derives its title from the Turkish word for farewell. Ben spent a large portion fo his life in the European country. Its shadow looms over the album, as he reflects on his adolescence in Turkey, comparing it to his adulthood in the US. Ben, himself, says the album is his way of “compartmentalize the past.” Subjects involve religion, cultural identity, family, and building ones own identity as they fully become their own person.

The sounds of Veda are as incredibly diverse. “Sink Our Teeth (Into The Fruit Again)” has silky beach-psych sounds reminiscent of MGMT or Tame Impala. There are intimate, Alex G-like bedroom vibes sprinkled throughout the project. Folk rock is driving force behind “Goodbye, America.” The biggest surprise is The Cramps influenced “Southern Flame,” where Ben really leans into the haunting tones already present in his voice. Every style works surprisingly well and nothing feels like a forced imitation.
Benjamin Dean on Instagram / Stream Benjamin Dean


“Goddess Gang, Fuck The Rest:” Killian cranks out a ‘femme feel good anthem.’ Photo Credit: Patricia Villafañe (@pvillaphoto)

Killian: “GODDESS (Bless USPS)” (song) — Linen Haus Records

“Ass up. Titties out. Get my name right out your mouth. G-O-D-D-E-S-S. Goddess gang, fuck the rest.”

Killian is having so much fun on this song. She asserts the above on her first ever solo single after declaring, “I want all my motherfucking femmes to the floor.” “GODDESS (Bless USPS)” is the femme feel good  anthem for all those who know the best way through heartbreak is self healing. This message is wrapped up in warm house package, courtesy of producer Micah Freeman.

The song’s several hooks will have you humming by the second listen. In addition to the aforementioned bridge, there’s the titular  “Goddess, Bless, USPS,” that shows up throughout, “She got a hot body, she’s got a fat ass,” that serves as the pre-chorus, and the instantly catchy “Female, Female, Female, Bitch, Bitch, Bitch,” in the chorus.

I’ve had the chance to hear Killian’s other music at what I think was her first solo live performance, and it differs wildly. She plays in many styles, but always has the spirit we’re introduced to on “GODDESS (Bless USPS).” Hopefully, we will hear more very soon.
Killian on Instagram / Killian on Spotify


Tears In The Club: Caughy has us crying at the party, again! Photo Credit: Matthew Kleinman (@matt_kleinman)

Caughy: “Between” (song) — self-released

I love Aiden Caughy. I interviewed them last year about their then recently released album, Luna, a cohesive, 27-minute melancholic synth party that takes you through the highs and lows of a drunk night out and the following hangover that leaves you questioning your decisions. During that interview I described the album as “one person in a room, by themselves, with a strobe light going.”

“Between,” Caughy’s first new track since Luna, would be very much at home on that album. Caughy’s soft voice floats like fog in a crowded club, haunting the danceable drum loops. Uncertainty is the song’s main theme. They question, “don’t you wonder where to go? Trapped down under, so far below.” There’s a sort of ketamine-like disassociation as they watch themselves form across the room.
Caughy on Instagram / Stream Caughy


‘So Far,’ So LOUD: Dive Head First Into No Head’s Wall Of Sound! Photo Credit: No Head (@nohead_music)

No Head: So Far & After (E.P.) — Factor’s

My roommate put me on to No Head after seeing the foursome at a Valentine’s Day show at The Underground. But, given that So Far & After is their first release, I had no way to tap in myself, until the release show for the project. What I got was atmospheric performance bringing together bits from 90s alternative, grunge, and shoegaze. Further most, it was a LOUD set.

All of No Head’s melancholic furry is captured in So Far & After, a project that varies in speed, mood, and style, but remains solidly one cohesive piece. My favorite element of the band is their three vocalists, who give dynamic and emotional performances, both working together and when they’re given their own moment.
No Head on Instagram / No Head on Spotify