I’ve suggested once or twice that someday I’d write a playlist of just bands from my home state of Georgia. Well, we’re headed there in a couple of days, so this is that month.
R.E.M. Deerhunter. The B-52s. Neutral Milk Hotel. All previously featured artists that I’m leaving off this time. I’m choosing instead to highlight other bands that haven’t made previous lists. But, I’m including Outkast, because the South got something to say.
Also, several of my playlists of late have been fairly mellow and kind of subtle. This playlist tells subtlety to run naked backwards through a field of dicks.
1. “Shock Me” – Baroness
This band had a really bad tour bus accident near Bath, England that nearly ended them. Their leader, John Dyer Baizley, broke an arm and a leg and their rhythm section decided to call it quits after each suffering broken vertebrae. Instead, they came back with, I think, their best album, last year.
Baizley does the artwork for all of their albums, and he also does art for a number of other heavy metal bands, too. Seeing his instantly-recognizable style on the cover (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/kvelertak/529083196) is kind of a mark of quality that something heavy will be worth checking out.
2. “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” – Run the Jewels
Atlanta, Georgia / Brooklyn, New York
Yes, I know El-P is from New York, but Killer Mike is Dungeon Family, and when you come to A-T-L boy you best not hide, ’cause the Dungeon Family gon ride.
The Dungeon Family is the extended network of rappers around Outkast. The first time I heard Michael “Killer Mike” Render was the Outkast song “The Whole World.” Relatively late in the life of a musical artist (his late 30s) he found the perfect partner in a white rapper/producer from New York Jaime “El-P” Meline (listen for a shoutout to the seminal Outkast album ATLiens from him in this song).
When this album came out a couple of years ago it became the only thing I could listen to for a few months. Nothing else came close to this exciting.
Also, this song probably says “Fuck” more than all of the other songs on all of my other playlists thus far combined.
3. “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” – of Montreal
Leader Kevin Barnes named his band after an ex-girlfriend. Thus, of Montreal, are, in fact, not of Montreal. They are, however a part of the Elephant 6 Collective from Athens, Georgia (Go Dawgs!) that is associated with Neutral Milk Hotel and a host of like-minded bands such as Apples in Stereo and The Olivia Tremor Control.
They’re incredibly prolific but I only ever fell in love with this one from the Prince-imitation phase. This album came out in 2007, a year that, in no small part because it was my senior year of college, I have extremely fond memories of the music. In Rainbows by Radiohead, Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective and Person Pitch by Panda Bear, Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem… (also, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood? I mean, come on, that’s a great year). But I think that in 2007, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? was probably the album I listened to the most.
4. “B.O.B.” – Outkast
Savannah, Georgia / Atlanta, Georgia
Let’s run down the checklist:
Drum’n’bass rhythms too frantic for hip hop?
The ghost of Jimi Hendrix shredding on guitar?
A church choir?
Shimmering, glistening, absolutely transcendent synth tones that send a chill up my spine?
Andre 3000 and Big Boi absolutely ON FIRE on the mic?
No fewer than 3 endlessly catchy hooks?
This song, quite literally, has everything.
Andre is typically my favorite, being the eccentric, but I’ve got to give it to Big Boi on this one. In “Rosa Parks” from last month Andre has the second verse, but on this one, Big Boi goes second. It feels like a pretty egoless choice to always end strong.
POWER. MUSIC. ELECTRIC REVIVAL.
5. “Steambreather” – Mastodon
I almost went with a track from a different album, their utterly crushing Moby Dick-inspired epic Leviathan. Instead, I decided to go with a proggier offering from their most recent album. I’ve been listening to Emperor of Sand nonstop lately, and a solid half of the tracks were in contention for this list.
Being in the Dirty South, Georgia has a lot of country and hip hop, and this seemingly incongruous combination actually I think works a lot better than most people realize. First of all, they are the two genres with the best wordplay. In that way, they complement. But then they also make up for what the other is lacking, country being more melodically-oriented, and hip hop rhythmically. When you’re tired of one, you can switch to the other. Most people not from the South would probably be surprised to realize how much hip hop is blasting from those giant redneck trucks.
All that being said, and all of the rock bands mentioned above, Georgia isn’t that big of a rock scene (I mean, R.E.M. is obviously the best rock band we ever produced, right?). I remember in high school the absolute garbage rock station I was forced to listen to, though I admit at the time I didn’t know any better. The two songs I remember on the radio from that era that held up were “There, There” by Radiohead and “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age.”
So it’s kind of surprising that Georgia now has a pretty decent heavy metal scene, and Mastodon are clearly the kings.