Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Live Music: Benjamin Starr; Bird Laww; Vikki Matsis ft. Lee Barbour; Washed Out

Great shows to check out this week

Posted by Ashton Mullinax, Heath Ellison, Laura Cergol and Vincent Harris on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 5:02 PM

click to enlarge JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek

HIP-HOP | Benjamin Starr
w/ Howling Moon Pimps, The Lowhills, Tim Easton
Thurs. Jul. 6
6 p.m.
Free
The Bend

Rapper Benjamin Starr's 2015 album Free Lunch should need no introduction for local hip-hop fans. It was an infectious mix of laid-back jazz beats and heartfelt lyrics that demanded a societal course correction. Needless to say, it was easy to fall for. Starr kept rapping his way through concrete walls in 2016 with his involvement in the Very Hypnotic Soul Band and his single "Flowers," featuring local emcee hero Matt Monday. This year, Starr's returning to the world of solo records with a dedicated sequel to Free Lunch, titled d r. The pronunciation is "water," by the way. "It's what I feel is needed after Free Lunch," says Starr. "[Free Lunch] had a defiant tone. It was like me speaking to anybody looking to devalue my people ... [d r] is like my back is turned on speaking to them, and I'm speaking directly to my community." The new album will feature members of the Very Hypnotic Soul Band. Lyrically, the upcoming release will concentrate on various topics like spirituality, love, and the relationships between black men, women, and youth. "I'm just diving deeper into being more open emotionally." d r is expected to get a release in mid-August. ­ —Heath Ellison THURSDAY

click to enlarge PROVIDED
  • Provided

INDIE-ROCK | Bird Laww
w/ DUMB Doctors and Camel Blues Band
Fri. July 7
9 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

Most of the time, a band's "how-we-got-together" story is pretty predictable. That's not the case for the Atlanta indie-rock quartet Bird Laww. Singer/guitarists Logan Webb and Jeff Konzal formed the nucleus of the band after meeting in a drug rehabilitation program. "We all went to rehab in Lawrenceville, Ga., and Jeff and I started writing songs together and became best friends," Webb says. The band developed a guitar-driven indie-rock sound after adding the rhythm section of Chris Dwight and Matt Kriesher, layering blurry, dreamlike riffs over the top of tightly locked rhythms. And as you might imagine, their lyrics often deal with both addiction and recovery. "There are a lot of songs that are based around those experiences, both being in the midst of addiction and recovering from it," Webb says. As for being on the road together, where temptation rears its head often, Webb says their shared experience helps them stay strong. "We have the support of each other, and everyone kind of knows when someone's not acting right or something's off," he says. "So we can intervene beforehand." —Vincent Harris FRIDAY

click to enlarge HUNTER MCRAE
  • Hunter McRae

FOLK | Vikki Matsis featuring Lee Barbour
w/ Peter Kfoury & Pete Cortese, Ulyana Machneva
World Music Cafe
Fri. July 7
8 p.m.
$12
South of Broadway

As a co-founder of OHM Radio and manager of Spring Street's Notso Hostel, Vikki Matsis, a.k.a. Vima, knows how important community is to success and growth. On her second EP, Good Life, Matsis worked with her husband, producer, and guitarist Lee Barbour, producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, and other local musicians to help her explore the joys and challenges of her life. Matsis describes herself as a folk singer at heart, but after taking songwriting classes through Berklee Online, she wanted to push herself to find an authentic voice through different genres. Matsis collaborated with Barbour to write a collection influenced by electronica, country, and R&B. The result is an eclectic mix of songs unified by Matsis' clear voice and passion for her subject matter. "I love writing songs that have meaning and are really personal," Matsis says. From the title track's serenade for an old oak tree in Matsis' backyard to a lullaby written by Barbour for their new son, Good Life shows listeners emotional, relatable moments of an always-changing life. Matsis says that playing cover songs is easier than writing such personal songs, but the challenge is worth it. "It's so much more fun," she says. "These songs I feel so good about sharing." Good Life, recorded at the Space with Zimmerman and featuring Charlton Singleton, Stuart White, Gerald Gregory, and more, will be released this Friday, with the release party happening the same evening as part of the World Music Café series at Park Circle's South of Broadway Theatre. —Laura Cergol FRIDAY

click to enlarge PROVIDED
  • Provided

NO-FI | Washed Out
w/ Peter Kfoury & Pete Cortese, Ulyana Machneva
World Music Cafe
Fri. July 7
8 p.m.
$12
South of Broadway

Washed Out, otherwise known as Ernest Greene, has a hazy sound with deep vocal undertones, plenty of synths, and a handful of reverb — a combination often classified as no-fi. Think lo-fi, but even more bemused and soft. Following the release of his first EP, Life of Leisure, many noted Greene's genius. "Feel it All Around" became the theme song for comedy series Portlandia. Washed Out has been busy since then, making that woozy sound that fits his name so well. After producing a few small projects, Greene followed up with full-length albums Within and Without and Paracosm. Four years have elapsed since his last album release, and Greene is back with a new project, titled Mister Mellow — though it isn't just about creating music anymore. Mister Mellow is a visual album, making his elusive music somehow tangible through video. Washed Out's new sound is borderline psychedelic, as vocals sink into pop beats following surreal images. The music isn't shy of Washed Out's notorious no-fi blends, but now it brings new visuals per each song along with it. Greene will be hitting the stage this summer for his Mister Lonely tour, which promises to be a matchless experience for audiences. Washed Out has teamed up with Microsoft to produce live-action visuals that are unique to each show, following the movements of the performance. The Mister Mellow CD/DVD is available now via mistermellow.kungfustore.com. —Ashton Mullinax TUESDAY

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