The second annual Birmingham Arts and Music Festival (BAAM) will be geared up and rolling Friday August 12th through Sunday August 14th 2011.
Last year my expectations were low. City Stages folded and a huge gap opened up during the Birmingham summers for some kind of festival. BAAM stepped up to the plate and spent more time focusing on the talents within Birmingham rather than big people pleaser names like Doobie Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was blown away by the positive response the festival had and how well it did.
I’m excited to see how it will go this year too, but I am a little worried that it might have less of a draw because a lot of people went to Secret Stages in May and how many local music festivals do people really want to go to in Birmingham? I guess we will find out in mid August. I am happy to announce that artists from Thrill Seek Records will be playing at the upcoming BAAM festival.
The Wilson Thrills Saturday August 12th at the Rogue Tavern stage 6pm
Lauren-Michael Sellers Sunday August 14th at the Bottletree Cafe stage 1:30pm
Fewer Moving Parts are a post-punk screamo band from Birmingham, AL. The band members include Nathan Barrett (Vocals), Garret Smith (Guitar), Keith Eggleston (Bass), and James Tisdale (Drums). All the members are seasoned players; each bringing their own individual abilities to the table. Barrett, who is primarily known for his gut driven vocals in the band Wildcat Revival, finds a new platform to express his ideas with his lyrics and the occasional singing in Fewer Moving Parts. Smith expands on a sound he established with instrumental band Clovenhoof and tweaks it by collaborating with Eggleston on bass and Tisdale on drum set (the first time Tisdale has played drums in a band… no big effin deal or anything). They have been playing shows regionally for a handful of months and recently released an EP they did at Tape Hiss Studios with Emmanuel Ellinas. Ellinas has played in many bands and currently makes custom guitar effects pedals at Highlands Music, which is my favorite music store in the downtown Birmingham area.
1. Our journey begins with an underwater love ballad type song, “I Love You, Han. I Know.” Fewer Moving Parts are a band that will take you out to the movies first before things get serious. The song starts off with the whole band sort of dedicating themselves to a sound which resembles The Promise Ring’s “Red and Blue Jeans.” The guitar grows into a warm distortion before you even realize it and then the band cools back down into the second verse. The second half of the song is a full on frenzy of explosions and punches. We are reminded of the intro and then a final kick ends the song.
2. “Your Be Jeff” is the ‘slow motion’ song where Barrett sings about fantastical experience as Ann Frank in a Neutral Milk Hotel song. The bareness reminds me of a song by iconic emo band I Hate Myself. Then suddenly the whole band comes in with a rolling avalanche of distortion, disparity, and loudness.
3. A slightly distorted guitar intro prepares us for the heavy hitting “Eddie A.” After we’ve gotten our kicks and punches out of us, the song breaks down into a low head-bobbing build up. The same type of feeling I get when I listen to “Limousine” by Brand New.
4. “Borges and I” is the sludgiest song on the EP. It begins with an eerie bass line supported by the guitar making chime-like noises by picking behind the nut. This song is much darker than most of the songs on the EP. Barrett has a knack for setting up surreal scenes with lyrics by making references to classic literature, authors, and time periods.
Check out the EP on Bandcamp http://www.fewermovingpartsal.bandcamp.com
Michael Battito is a musician from Birmingham, AL. During high school Battito played in a garage rock inspired group known as the Markov Chain. He provided tasteful lead lines and the occasional back up vocal. After the Markov Chain disbanded Battito started pursuing his solo career more seriously than before. When you pick up a Michael Battito CD it will be no surprise that he plays EVERY instrument on every song. However, Battito doesn’t keep his talents only time himself. Battito is an active member of the Birmingham music collective known as Grey Haven (a group of musicians who meet every other month to provide musical support to fellow singers and song writers who are looking to expand instrumentation for their songs). Battito spent some time at Belmont and is currently studying music at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find him playing at cool clubs in Tuscaloosa or intimate settings in Birmingham. With his mix of genuine pop and blues rock, Battito evokes the musical senses of the soul.
Mind Powers are not to be confused with Jedi mind tricks. But I could see someone getting the two confused. With all the nerdy references over aggressive intricate riffs, the lines get blurred between cool rock band and nerd pioneers, like my boy Obi Wan.
The trio is based out of Columbus, GA. However, they do not confine themselves to the area because they are constantly playing regional shows, festivals, and short tours. May 15th they played the Easy Street stage at Birmingham’s new music festival Secret Stages and were promoting hard the night before by handing out flyers and getting involved with fellow festival artists.
Shortly after playing Secret Stages they released their newest EP ‘Ampeaters.’ Which is a delightful and diverse listen. Bassist and vocalist, Gadget, uses vocals that remind me of a mixture between a screaming version of Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and vocal rhythms of B-52s’ Fred Schneider. He is supported by fuzzy leads and riff playing done by guitarist Spenser Payne. Drummer Bradley Gilbert has the most influential voice in the band. Without him the songs would all sound the same, but he is able to use a wide variety of different styles to give the songs their own sound. Every instrument in the band is brought to life with distortion and the songs have decent lengths (most hitting below the 3 minute mark).
The band will be playing at The Firehouse June 24th with the local group Fewer Moving Parts and Mobile rock monsters FARGO.
The heavy post-punk trio, Move the Island released their first EP in November 2010. The EP is a collection of four songs or can also be seen as thirteen minutes of being punched in the face. Andy Wesson (vocals and guitar) is the spark of the project, Brandon Lett (drums) is the artistic pyrotechnic who covers everything with his lighter fluid of creativeness. And bassist Austin Parker brings the marshmallows and hot dogs in order to have a good time.
The EP starts off strong with hard-hitting songs like “There are no Pacts Made Between Lions and Men” and “Rain Maker.” Both songs feature straightforward head bobbing brutality and Wesson yelling his vocal chords directly out of his throat. After “Rain Maker” the EP cools down. The first two songs seem so epic and apocalyptic and then the EP shifts to talking about a twisted relationship and the consequences that come from it. Halfway through “Consequences” the song breaks down to a Fugazi-like groove with Wesson repeating the phrase “Never said ‘I love you’ / I Never should have loved you” and the rest of the song continues with the groove. It turns into a fit of rage and driving force by the end of it, but overall the song sounds like a fight you would have with yourself within your own mind. The EP ends on the cold notes of “Heaven for the Climate, Hell for the Company,” a song where Wesson displays his singing abilities. But like most of these songs… as soon as you are tired of the slow stuff they jump into fast tempo heaviness.
The EP was recorded by Lett in his basement, but I only mention that because it doesn’t sound like a home recording at all. The EP is free and on their bandcamp website. If you get a chance they are a must see live, especially at a bar or any place with alcohol, then you’ll really get to see them throw down.
IF YOU LIKE: At the Drive-In with a lot more yelling, drop D tuning, blues riffs on top of post-punk rhythms, songs that change a lot, feed back, songs that start off with feed back, drinking, and more drinking
Monitors is a rock and roll band from Birmingham, Alabama. Other than a vague bandcamp website, there is not much internet presence for this new band. What I do know is that the band is made up of members from Wildcat Revival (Eric Wallace – guitar and vocals), P.S. Eliot (Will Granger – either bass or lead guitar), and Eat My Shorts (Jacki Sullivan – drums?). I’m sure I have a lot of that information wrong… Here’s why you should be into Monitors: It sounds like new old music from the future. Imagine going into the future, going to see a band called Monitors play at a local venue and recording it. THEN you go back in time (before the present time you are reading this) and play it on a record, which would inspire many great bands and artists like CCR and Neil Young.
They have a 3 song demo which is free for download on their bandcamp website. “Fugitives” is the first song. It follows a 12-bar blues format and sounds like the opening song for some late 80’s movie about summer and driving around. But if you ever feel like the 12 bar blues is being overdone they bring back the main guitar riff that sounds like Chuck Berry playing a guitar he borrowed from Manchester Orchestra.
All this is followed by “Ghost” which starts off with a count off on the hi hat and a held out minor chord. “Ghost” is a temper tantrum in musical form. Sometimes you are breathing… and then sometimes you are gasping for air and surrounding by minor chords and hard hitting drums. Then toward the middle of the song Eric murmurs “But you just keep driving…” and then a sporadic guitar solo follows before the last haunting chorus.
“Put Me Down” is the last song on the demo. It has a strong Louisiana sound to it. It makes me think of swamps and guitars bending long notes while the sun is going down on a hot afternoon. The guitars in this song are a lot less rock and roll than the others, instead the guitar have a lot of twang to them. The melody is really good during the chorus; I just can’t hear the vocals. I would love to be able to sing along. Monitors is playing some local shows and going on tour this summer. Download their demo below.
I will not be able to attend Secret Stages because I am graduating and moving 5 hours away that weekend. But if I were able to go here is what my schedule would look like… make sure to check these bands out if you are going!
8:00 The Rumble Fish
10:00 Baak Gwai
10:30 Taylor Hollingsworth
11:30 Sanders Bolhke
7:15 Gum Creek Killers
8:45 Model Citizen
10:15 Vulture Whale
11:00 Barton Carroll
12:00 The Great Book of John
UPDATE: I was able to attend and had a blast! expect a review of the bands I saw in the next few weeks.
The Fourth Estate is a 5 piece pop punk band from Birmingham, Alabama. Some songs are your standard pop punk songs, for example “Creeper” which is off their free demo. The Fourth Estate shows a wide variety of influences throughout the whole demo. The demo starts off with “Drifter” which reminds me of a more aggressive version of Against Me’s “Americans Abroad” but still packed with originality. The band is made up of a mish mash between local band Dollarhyde and others from the Birmingham music scene. The Fourth Estate is on tour right now playing some local shows and a handful of Virginia shows. Best of luck to them, I admire bands who work that fast; make a demo, play some shows, and tour. That’s what I’m talking about.
IF YOU LIKE: Gang vocals, melodic lead guitar, drums hitting on the off beat, Thrice-like vocals, songs that stop real quick followed by the singer saying ‘go!’ and resume. Palm muting.