CD Review: “Steppin’ Out” by Beauregard and the Downright

This summer, Beauregard and the Downright released their album Steppin’ Out, a ten track masterpiece that embodies the obscure balance between grit and grace. If you are not familiar with these guys, Beauregard and the Downright is a refreshing blend of folk and reggae with truly soulful southern undertones. These music craftsmen put their heart and soul into each of their performances and did no less for their first album. Steppin’ Out starts out with it’s cover art, as all albums do, but in this case the art houses its known capacity of a thousand words. The front of the album shows a young, tattered survivor shielding his vision away from a post-apocalyptic scene of exploding missiles wiping away any remains of civilization. But that’s just one perspective, which never yields the full picture. On the back of the album, we can see what has captured the lone survivor’s gaze, a scene of tranquility that escaped the self-destruction of mankind, a scene where peace has prevailed and the wonderment of nature roams free. The artwork foreshadows what is found within the tracks of the album, which is a brief, blissful escape from the crazy, chaotic life we all struggle with at the snail’s pace that is the ticking away of time.

Steppin Out starts off strong with the track “Death & Destruction”, a well composed reggae tango where the lead switches between an extremely catchy horn chorus and mellow vocals that capture the chiaroscuro of humanity with each passing verse. Following this solid start, there is a drastic shift in tone with the second track called “Falling in Love”, As done with their album art, Beauregard and the Downright shows that there is more than one perspective on life. From here, the album goes into some very soulful jams that keep it real with some more sick horn melodies and groovy yet gritty guitar rhythms that pair perfectly with the truth found in each songs’ lyrics. Holding down the middle of the album is the ballad “Atlanta Anthem”, a true look into the depths of Atlanta with the unexpected yet delightful strummings of a ukulele. The band even gives some shoutouts to some of the city’s hotspots such as the Old Fourth Ward and local venues that the band frequents, such as the iconic 529 in East Atlanta Village. However, these shoutouts aren’t just an homage to our wonderful city but help spin the tale that is Atlanta, a city of hustlers and players where sorrows are lost in the bottom of glasses and bliss is found within a night out on the town. More bumping tunes follow in the album, with each song full of new surprises to the ears, really showing the dedication that Beauregard and the Downright put into their first big impression in the music scene. There is even a skit thrown in about the ordinary struggles of ordering some good pizza. To close out Steppin’ Out, the band did a cover of “I Wanna Be Like You”, as best known from the movie The Jungle Book, with all of this track being a live studio session with portions that are stark tributes to the aforementioned movie. These guys can definitely say they went out swinging on this album.

Check out Steppin’ Out for yourself to see what all this hype is about. I really am looking forward to seeing, rather hearing, how Beauregard and the Downright tops their sophomore release.

Live Review: Sublime Tribute Band Wrong Way with The Taj Motel Trio at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Stephanie Heath (Facebook/Instagram) – Gallery Found Below

On August 17th Smith’s Olde Bar was bustling with the usual bar flies and concert goers that were partaking in their decompression from a stressful work week. Small hurdles of people crowded the stoop, getting their nicotine and breath of fresh air between shots and sets. Friends gathered around tables of libations, trading conversations of their weekly plights. Patrons were already queueing up to enter Smith’s iconic Music Room before the doors were even open for the night. And there was just cause for this pile up of music enthusiasts. Slated to play that night were Georgia’s own Wrong Way, a seasoned tribute band to Sublime,  and The Taj Motel Trio, a ska band slated to play at this year’s DragonCon.

After attendees got lubed up on drinks and conversation, the curtains in the Music Room drew back to reveal the first act of the night, The Taj Motel Trio. A band hailing from Habersham County, these guys are comprised of the standard trio of a vocalist and guitarist, bassist, and drummer but with the addition of two trumpets, two trombones, and a baritone sax. These guys boast the largest brass section I have even seen in a ska band. And if you didn’t notice, The Taj Motel Trio is not a trio, as their name comes from an inside joke with roots in the band’s hometown. However, names and jokes aside, these guys are the real deal when it comes to performing. Although they are stacked on the brass side, The Taj Motel Trio played a balanced set between all their musicians, with each member of the band given a chance at the spotlight.  Their songs had strong brass intros with harmonies that were sweet on the ears followed by wicked guitar melodies paired with an aligned drum and bass beat. On top of the technical expertise of the band to create a full sound, they show their nerdy side with what they sing about, including video games and Star Wars, with one of their songs literally called “Vader”. Overall, The Taj Motel Trio has the charisma and energy that embodies the spirit of ska music. I give a heavy stamp of approval and look forward to their debut at this year’s Dragon Con.

To continue the night, Atlanta’s own Wrong Way took to the stage with a cool vibe that holds true to their inspiration for their music, Sublime. A classic three piece act, with their lead guitarist on vocals, the band instantly stole the spotlight from the moment the curtains were drawn back, revealing a packed house. This being Wrong Way’s first show in Atlanta in a good while, as the band is constantly touring the southeast, the crowd in attendance really was a testament to the talent behind the band. Each musician had distinct melodies you could pick out in each of their songs that came together in a dovetail of pure delight to the ears. Their drummer has a timeshare in the pocket that he checked into from the first song of the night. He both held the set down and played around with complex melodies to give his drumming more character, something only seen with true masters of the kit. Wrong Way’s bassist kept it real with his impeccable taste in rhythmic beats that rock the soul. His groove could not be derailed by anything other than the occasional sip of a beer to keep his playing loose. The band’s front man guitarist, the last piece of this puzzle that forms a picture of true talent, killed it with his showmanship not to mention his talent on vocals or on guitar. He truly does Sublime’s original front man Brad Nowell justice allowing him to rest easy knowing Wrong Way does his music right. The band played through a full set that consisted of fan favorites of Sublime such as “Santeria” and “Smoke Two Joints” that got the entire venue up in a sing-a-long and even an acoustic break in the middle where their front man got intimate with the audience. Each song had the crowd up in a dance party even with some flow art involved. It was a truly uplifting vibe all around, which is a mark of true connection between a band and it’s audience. Finishing out the night with “Caress Me Down” there was only a room of smiles remaining with the occasional cheering from a patron for more. Wrong Way is definitely a band not to miss if you are looking to get your fix on some good music.

Smith’s Music Room once again hosted some of the best musicians and music fans of today’s scene. As this was my first time visiting this magical venue, I look forward to the next show I catch here, and the next 20 or more after that.

Photo Gallery – Taj Motel Trio

 

Photo Gallery – Wrong Way

Live Review: Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Tori Radcliffe (Gallery at the Bottom)

The evening of August 15th hosted a slew of events in Atlanta that pulled people out of their weekly routines to venture out into the city. Dave Chappelle was in town causing a ruckus of laughter as is his style. Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling were also gracing Atlanta with their talents in a joint tour. However, the right place to be was at Smith’s Olde Bar for their showcase of some of Georgia’s own rock and roll acts. The lineup, consisting of Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango, brought down the house as each band put years of practice into action to entertain their fans. Even some of the usual barflies drifted over to Smith’s venue to witness the talent that took the stage that night.  

First up was Hush Money, a band hailing from Ellijay. These guys played some solid hard southern rock and really showcased their talents in their performance. Hush Money is your classic four-piece band with two guitarists, a bassist with a five string bass, something that adds extra depth to their music, and a drummer. However, they don’t just have one lead singer, as that would be too dull for these good old boys. During their set, the band switched between their two guitarists and drummer taking the vocals on different songs. Yes, Hush Money has three lead singers, each with a different register. These guys are definitely a band to check out as they bring their unique multitude of talents to the Georgia music scene.

Next up for the night was Magnolia Moon, another four-piece band that graced us with their presence all the way from Macon. On first look, these guys have a very southern appearance with the expectation of possibly some country or light southern rock, but Magnolia Moon is anything but light. These guys hold true to their tagline of “grit, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll” with their wicked sound of true southern rock. Imagine if Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby and you might get close to the mind-blowing music of this band. Their entire performance I had a breakout of goosebumps all over, unable to turn my attention anywhere but at Magnolia Moon. Their frontman and lead guitarist Zack Horton really owns the stage when he plays. With his band behind him, these guys are going places.  As it was their first time playing at Smith’s Olde Bar, I am really looking forward to them coming back to Atlanta. At the very least I want a taste of their cover of “War Pigs” as it would give Ozzy a run for his money.

Closing out the night was Canton’s own Whiskey Tango, yet another four-piece band that is hard to nail down just what they are. To take a stab at it, they are a glam-punk-southern rock band that puts the show in showmanship. Their lead vocalist/guitarist came out on stage to an intro by his bandmates dressed in an open-front purple leotard with a stylish coat. But instead of the standard glam 80s rock sound to match this glorious introduction, Whiskey Tango went right into their set that was brimming with savage guitar riffs, stage dives, behind-the-head guitar playing, and even a backflip. The energy they put off well exceeded the needed quota for the night as the crowd kept their attention on the stage for the next antics the band would get into. And overall, Whiskey Tango looked like they were having a blast up on stage, like the band equivalent of when your favorite song comes on the car radio and you break out in a small musical number. They even threw in a cover of “Under Pressure” that got the entire venue involved in a sing-a-long. Whiskey Tango is truly an experience, not just a band, that you have to witness in person.

Photo Gallery – Magnolia Moon & Whiskey Tango

Melanie Martinez sells out Atlanta’s Buckhead Theatre on April 5

Written & Photographed by Danielle Boise

Melanie Martinez 'Cry Baby' Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Melanie Martinez ‘Cry Baby’ Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Melanie Martinez splashed onto the music scene in 2012 as a contestant in the third season of the NBC hit reality show, The Voice, which landed her a record deal with Atlantic Records. Martinez has been able to craft an incredibly eye-opening way of showing us all what lurks behind the pretenses of perfection and shatters that illusion with cleaver hooks and a dreamlike voice. She dropped her Dollhouse EP in 2014, which was then incorporated into her debut album released in August of 2015, Cry Baby. Since the release Martinez has been on a whirlwind tour for to support this incredible project. The 13-track album is not light-hearted fare, but it a gorgeous conceptual album that is the perfect solution to any bad day.

Melanie Martinez 'Cry Baby' Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Melanie Martinez ‘Cry Baby’ Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Martinez finally made her way to Atlanta on Tuesday, April 5, for her sold out show at The Buckhead Theatre with Mainland in support. For a standing room only show, as it was completely sold out, as has been the case with the majority of Martinez’s stops on her Cry Baby Tour. People drove in from all over the southeast, lining up as early as 8 am for a 7:30 pm show, in order to get to be as close as possible to this fast rising star.

What’s so wonderful about The Buckhead Theatre is that while it’s not the smallest venue in Atlanta, it holds approximately 1,500 at full capacity, but has this delightful retro feel – while maintaining an intimate atmosphere, that both the fans and artists truly appreciate and was the perfect place to host the Cry Baby tour.

Mainland opened for Melanie Martinez sold out 'Cry Baby' Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Mainland opened for Melanie Martinez sold out ‘Cry Baby’ Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

The alternative New York-based trio, Mainland opened the show with performing songs off their soon-to-be-released Outcast, out on 300 Entertainment later this summer. This was the masterful blend of music that balanced each other out perfectly for its honest intent and pure moments of connection, conception and poignant lyrics across the board between both Mainland and Martinez.

With a 14-song set list, Martinez pretty much played her Cry Baby album in track order, by starting off the evening by popping out of a crib for “Cry Baby” followed by the powerfully hypnotic “Dollhouse.” The dark illusions of “Sippy Cup” was up next, with the most expressive lyrics being “Kids are still depressed when you dressed them up.” It’s a powerful reflection, mirrored back to us on the context of perception. How perception actually alters the landscape of reality. Yet reality still exists under the context of layers of disbelief, where the lies we tell ourselves only to shout to the world at large live in. It’s a mind-boggling, Melanie’s artistry to her wordsmith skill set to craft a delicious sentiment that translates so accurately. I truly feel she is a voice of a generation that needs to be heard and this is their path to being understood.

Melanie Martinez 'Cry Baby' Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Melanie Martinez ‘Cry Baby’ Tour at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta

Of course “Carousel” was up next, you can’t have a Melanie Martinez show without “Carousel.” Followed by “Alphabet Boy,” “Soap,” “Training Wheels,” “Pity Party,” “Tag,” “You’re It,” “Milk and Cookies,” “Pacify Her,” “Mrs. Potato Head” and ended the regular set with “Cake.” For Martinez’s encore she came back out for one final song and end the night on an impeccable note with “Mad Hatter.”

What is so remarkable about Melanie Martinez is there is no pretense, she is a woman who is playing by her own set of rules, and boy are they a glorious set of rules. She is a voice of a generation that is needs to be heard. There is nothing quite like seeing her perform live, as she is fully in the moment and brings us all along for the ride. Martinez is a delightful performer, who is maintains being down-to-earth and earnest. And if you get the chance to see her live, do.

 

Full Photo Gallery of Melanie Martinez

Full Photo Gallery of Mainland