Don’t Listen to Me? I Think I Will!

Halem Albright Band, source: Facebook

Halem Albright Band, source: Facebook

Thursday night I missed both Moon Taxi shows in town, but things turned out alright in the end… or should I say Albright! Later in the evening I strolled into the Green Room and caught a good chunk of a set from the Halem Albright Band (H.A.B), who absolutely lit the place on fire. The shear number of jam bands in Athens never ceases to amaze me, and still more amazing is that each of them have their own distinct sound; not once I have found myself saying, “This sounds just like…” or “Didn’t I see these guys last night?” H.A.B. was no exception to that trend, and by the time the show was over, I found myself, jaw dropping, loving another band.

3462After the show I spoke with guitarist and frontman, Halem Albright, who hooked me up with a copy of his 2012 album, Don’t Listen to Me, which has now been on repeat the last few days. Predating the 2013 formation of H.A.B, Halem’s solo release is a work of major collaboration between some top-notch local musicians and producers (John Keane, Jeff Mosier). The results are an impressive, highly polished sound that presents an eclectic, but masterful blend of instruments and styles that takes listeners on a kind of musical road trip.

As the album plays through, one can imagine gazing out of a car window at the changing environment rolling by; being aware of the distinct environments, but understanding the whole picture as part of one journey. The pacing of the album matches this sentiment well, driving forward with relaxed, but energetic drum beats that fall anywhere on spectrum from dance to rock steady, but aren’t afraid to get real tight and complex when the moment is right. Over this, the range of melodic influences are just as vast, using a blend of electric and acoustic to play blues, reggae, southern and classic rock, and even a little bit of that wistful western sound, too. Featured instruments include flute, banjo, violin, several types of organ, harmonica, and a horn section, broadening the diversity even further.

10600624_911700295511079_2470095596923669479_nHalem Albright shows his versatility as a guitarist and singer on this album, showcasing his talent without showing off. The melodies and soloing achieve a more structured tone than plain noodling on the guitar, keeping things interesting and grounded through some of the more lengthy tracks. He also creates some wild noises; every now and then a siren will scream through the music, and it takes moment to realize it came from the guitar. The vocals are well harmonized and pristine, allowing the lyrics to be just as relevant as any other part of each song. While Halem shines through, every instrument featured gets to have its moment, making for a tasteful and balanced total composition that keeps the album interesting over multiple listens. It can be dangerous to give comparisons to bigger names, but for anyone who needs a little orientation, blend up Phish with String Cheese Incident and some of the jazzier Lotus, throw in the lyrical consciousness of Twiddle, and you’re in the right ballpark.

Don’t Listen to Me has been thoroughly enjoyable so far, and I look forward to catching more of H.A.B. in the future. Their live presence is much different. As a four-piece, they ramp up the energy to a much more heavy-dancing level, taking time to do some serious shredding and extended jams. Worth mentioning is that the Green Room was fairly empty when I saw them, and they still raged their set. Respect to bands who still give everything to tiny crowds; they got me moving! It would be interesting to see what an album from H.A.B. would sound like after performing together for a year or two now.

The Halem Albright Band plays next at New Earth Music Hall on September 18th with The Heavy Pets. Don’t miss it!



Thought of the Day: Looking Forward at Animal Collective – A Retrospective


Are you also frightened? It can be a bit scary to think about the fact that Centipede Hz, the most recent album the psych/noise-pop/experimental group, Animal Collective, came out two years ago. It’s enough to make longtime listeners feel pretty damn old; time is rushing by.

Where’d he go, where’d he go?

Since then, Animal Collective has done some touring (infamously riddled with cancelled and rescheduled dates) including appearances at more than a couple festivals over the last two summers – and now seems to have tapered off in activity, with the exception of Avey Tare’s side-project, Slasher Flicks, releasing an album back in April, and a number of DJ sets scheduled for this fall. With no major artistic projects announced (think back to ODDSAC), it’s feels appropriate to start wondering what’s next for the band.

As of late, their Facebook page has seen a lot of throwbacks being posted. Pictures dating back to 10 years ago are surfacing and tantalizing lookers-on with serious nostalgia trips and desire for some new material to be released. Given the low number of shows happening right now, and recently-announced Panda Bear fall tour, there is good reason to believe some new ideas are brewing. The prospect of a new Panda Bear album is a good place to start when trying to what’s going on, as a release from this solo act often precedes activity with the band itself.

Here’s one guess at what a new Animal Collective album could be:

Given the amount of throwback photos and the fact that the whole group has been playing together again, and the highly conceptual nature of Centipede Hz, which took listeners through a bizarre journey through radio using aggressive sound but very pop-y song writing, an album focused on experimenting with concepts of memory (remembering, forgetting, nostalgia, etc) and time (particularly pertaining to past) might be in the works. Animal Collective is constantly reimagining itself from album to album, so there’s no way to tell what they’ll do, but this could prove to be a very interesting concept to work with. The idea of the band projecting itself into the future through a rumination on the past would be quite the experience too!

Feel free to comment about you think might be in store for Animal Collective. It could make for some pretty interesting discussion and debate!

Panda Bear Tour Dates:

DJ Sets: