Wednesday, April 30

Tony Stark: Drunk

In his 40+ years of publication, Iron Man has spent much of that time coping with alcoholism. His troubles with booze were a recurring theme in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline perhaps the best known starring the character. In fact, the final issue of that story (#128) might be the best to bear the "Iron Man" title. Stark was put through the ringer in those days, struggling with both his responsibilities as a superhero and professional difficulties. Although the Iron Man film due tomorrow won't focus on the issue, you can bet it will hint at Tony Stark's fondness for drink.

From Iron Man #128

From Iron Man #128

From Iron Man #160

From Iron Man #160

Damn, Tony. Here's hoping no writers drag you down that path again soon.

Tony Stark's battle with alcoholism is featured in the Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle collection from Marvel Comics.

Cars Can Be Blue new album pre-order and tour dates

Mike at the Happy Happy Birthday To Me blog has announced the pre-order info for the forthcoming Cars Can Be Blue album along with upcoming tour dates. Their Doubly Unbeatable will be released June 10, but pre-orders will include the CD, a bonus CD, a button, and a T-shirt for only $15. That's a bargain. They will ship the last week of May. The pre-order is open now.

HHBTM has released a couple of preview tracks from Doubly Unbeatable, one of which I've heard live ("Coat Tails") and the other I haven't ("Sun Blows Up"). "Coat Tails" is about those bands which try to get attention by touting their relationships with more famous acts, something I recall them explaining they were sick of here in Athens (though it's obviously not exclusive to the Classic City). "Sun Blows Up" is a fun little pop song of the sort the band is known for. Looking forward to the full record!

Cars Can Be Blue - Sun Blows Up
Cars Can Be Blue - Coat Tails

Tour dates from Cars Can Be Blue:

5/29 Caledonia Lounge, Athens, GA
5/30 J.J.’s Bohemia, Chattanooga, TN
5/31 TBA, Murfreesboro, TN
6/01 TBA, Memphis, TN
6/02 CBGB, St Louis, MO
6/03 South Union Arts, Chicago, IL
6/05 TBA, Toledo, OH
6/06 Bela Dubby, Cleveland, OH
6/07 TBA, Washington DC
6/08 House Show, Philadelphia, PA
6/09 Cakeshop, New York City, NY
6/10 TT the Bear’s, Boston, MA
6/11 Tender Box, Brattleboro, VT
6/12 Sierra Grill, Northampton, MA
6/13 Charm City Art Space, Baltimore, MD
6/14 Snug Harbor, Charlotte, NC
6/15 511 House, Florence, SC

Cars Can Be Blue is welcoming invitations to play house shows, DIY venues, etc., in the coming months (especially for those TBA dates above). Contact them if you'd like them to play your space. They'll be touring again in August after Athens Popfest, and you can bet I'll post those dates here too.

Deerhunter to open for NIN, play Gwinnett 8/13

I was going to let this slide since I'm not a big fan of either band, but Atlanta's own Deerhunter will be opening select summer dates for Nine Inch Nails. NIN has lined up several indie-tastic bands to play the big joints on their tour. Don't ask me what else is up with them though, as I lost interest back when the The Fragile came out (and, thus, don't really care). The dates with Deerhunter include 8/13 at the Gwinnett Arena, so the boys will get to show off in front of their home crowd.

Deerhunter - Wash Off [from the Flourescent Grey EP]


7/25 Pemberton Festival, Pemberton, BC

NIN w/ Crystal Castles

7/26 Key Arena, Seattle, WA
7/28 Rexall Place, Edmonton, ALB
7/29 Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, ALB
7/31 MTS Centre Winnipeg, MAN
8/02 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

NIN w/ others

8/03 Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL

NIN w/ Deerhunter

8/05 Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ONT
8/07 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
8/08 DCU Center, Worcester, MA
8/12 Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, TN
8/13 Gwinnett Arena, Duluth, GA

NIN w/ A Place to Bury Strangers

8/15 Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK
8/16 Toyota Center, Houston, TX
8/18 American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
8/20 Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

NIN w/ Does It Offend You, Yeah?

8/22 Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
8/23 Palace at Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
8/27 Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
8/29 Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA

NIN w/ White Williams

8/31 Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY

NIN w/ Deerhunter (again)

9/02 Red Rocks Amph., Morrison, CO
9/03 The E Center, Salt Lake City, UT
9/05 Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
9/06 The Forum, Inglewood, CA

Thanks to Joe H. for passing the word!

Dead Confederate - "The Rat" at GSU's DAEL

C&T's friends over at Georgia State's Digital Arts Entertainment Lab had Dead Confederate in for a session recently, and have just finished editing the video. Because they're awesome, they sent it my way. Here is Dead Confederate playing "The Rat" from the DAEL's cozy confines in downtown Atlanta:

Dead Confederate appear with Cracker May 2 at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse.

Tony Stark: Ladies' Man

When Stan Lee and company created Iron Man, the man in the suit was fashioned after famed aviator and mogul Howard Hughes. As Lee explained, Hughes was "an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies' man and finally a nutcase." The inventor and adventurer aspects of the character are now at the forefront. That said, Stark has had his moments with the ladies.

From Iron Man #117

From Iron Man #160

From Iron Man #240

What does this all mean? Totally missed casting opportunity:

Swap out the armor for a Ferrari, and it's the same guy. I know Supervillain Sean would approve.

Tuesday, April 29

Buffy Sainte-Marie - I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again

Forty years ago, in 1968, Buffy Sainte-Marie released her I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again. It didn't attain the legendary status of some of its contemporary competitors, but four decades later I'm still enjoying the hell out of it.

Sainte-Marie emerged from the same cohort of Canadian artists that included Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young, and her early music was informed by both psychedelia and the New York folk scene. I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again was largely (though not entirely) a departure from protest songs and the like. As the title implies, it is basically a country record. Not unlike Joan Baez or Bob Dylan, however, it ventures into country tones while retaining the folk spirit that defined the mid-to-late 1960s.

Sainte-Marie's passion is evident, and the slight quiver often present in her voice gives her a distinctive tone. The record is made up of both originals and covers, and one of each is available to sample here.

Buffy Sainte-Marie - He's a Pretty Good Man if You Ask Me
Buffy Sainte-Marie - They Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dawg Around

She remains an artist and activist, and Vanguard Records has reissued some of her significant works in recent years. Certainly artist worth revisiting, or looking into for the first time.

Wolf Parade announce tour, Atlanta 7/28

Well, hot damn. With a new album (now called At Mount Zoomer) on the way, Wolf Parade have announced summer tour dates including July 28 at Variety Playhouse. The entire tour appears to be at similar mid-size venues, most considerably smaller than I think they could fill. I imagine tickets will be very tight.

Anybody know the Atlanta on-sale date?

7/07 Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, MI
7/08 House of Blues, Chicago, IL
7/09 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
7/12 Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
7/13 Marymoor Park, Seattle, WA (Sub Pop Anniversary Party)
7/15 Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
7/17 Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
7/18 Henry Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, CA
7/19 Henry Fonda Theatre, Hollywood, CA
7/20 Cane's, San Diego, CA
7/21 Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ
7/24 Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, TX
7/25 La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
7/26 Spanish Moon, Baton Rouge, LA
7/28 Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
7/29 Disco Rodeo, Raleigh, NC
7/30 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
7/31 Terminal 5, New York, NY
8/02 Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
8/09 Koolhaus, Toronto, Ontario

Mmmm.. Wolf Parade:

Wolf Parade - Call It a Ritual [from At Mount Zoomer]
Wolf Parade - You are a Runner and I am My Father's Son
Wolf Parade - Shine a Light

Thanks to Atlanta's own It Covers the Hillsides for the tip!

Update: Ticket ordering info in comments...

Atlanta ticket giveaway: Cracker and Dead Confederate at Variety Playhouse, May 2

Veteran rockers Cracker begin their tour on Friday, May 2, at the Variety Playhouse. They'll be sharing the stage with rising stars Dead Confederate. Cracker is touring while working on their next record, and have begun selling a series of online-only releases including the current Live in Berlin [buy from Pitch-A-Tent].

Cracker - The World is Mine [from Live in Berlin]

I have a pair of tickets to the Cracker/Dead Confederate show in Atlanta to give away. If you'd like them, send me an e-mail with "Cracker tix" in the subject line by 2pm on Thursday, May 1. This is short notice, so get in quick. Good luck!

Their remaining tour dates are on their website.

Tony Stark: Closet Deadhead

I think it's a little bit sad when somebody shrugs off the music of their past because it's not "cool" anymore. Witness the hip Mr. Tony Stark in Iron Man vol. 4 #2 (February 2005)...

Oh, really, Tony? Apparently he's forgotten that wild night at Berkeley's Greek Theater, captured by artist Steve Ditko in Iron Man #160 (July 1982). Behold...



Oh, yes. We know the truth.

You can stream the Dead's May 21, 1982, show at the Greek via the Live Music Archive.

Monday, April 28

'Iron Man' opens earlier Thursday, on "Giant Screen" at Mall of Georgia

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man

As many of you may be aware, the people behind Iron Man have agreed to allow screenings on Thursday, May 1, beginning at 8pm rather than midnight. Maybe it's just to pad the box office stats, but I'm taking advantage it.

Folks in the Atlanta area, note that the best place to see Iron Man may be at Mall of Georgia's Regal 20 & IMAX. They have "Giant Screen" showings listed for Iron Man on Thursday (8:00, 8:10, and two screens at 11:59). I'm not sure that means they'll be showing it on the IMAX, but it sure sounds like it. The Falconer and I have already bought our tickets. They are still available from Fandango.

Sunday, April 27

The Simple Carnival

When Jeff Boller of Pittsburgh's The Simple Carnival wrote to tell me about his new video and EP, he mentioned that his music "could best be described as what might happen if Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson collaborated on Sesame Street." This piqued my interest, and when I saw the EP was titled Me and My Arrow I saw he wasn't kidding. Jeff has been kind enough to send along both the video and a song to share with the C&T's nice readers (and the mean ones too).

The Simple Carnival - Caitlin's on the Beach [radio edit]

"Really, Really Weird" is squarely in the Wilson/Nilsson school of lush and melodic pop, and the animated video is a bittersweet little adventure with binge drinking and fish with hats. Not, unfortunately, at the same time.

You can order Me and My Arrow online for just $5. Hear more on his Myspace.

Princeton - Bloomsbury EP

Los Angeles-area indie popsters Princeton released one of my favorite EPs of 2006, and this summer they'll be back with their Bloomsbury EP. The flavor and songwriting prowess evident on A Case of the Emperor's Clothes are still present, but Bloomsbury sees the band take a step up. Not only did the EP benefit from the efforts of mixer Pete Weiss (Moe Tucker, Aimee Mann, etc.) and the mastering work of Jeff Lipton (Magnetic Fields, Wilco, Spoon, etc.), but it also sees the band expanding its vision and arsenal of instruments.

Bloomsbury is crafted around a unique concept, with each of its four songs focused on a different member of London's famed Bloomsbury intellectual collective of the early twentieth century (specifically Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and John Maynard Keynes). Serge Gainsbourg, The Kinks, and Jorge Ben are cited as influences as well. Pretty heady stuff for a bunch of youngsters, no? The terrific hooks from their debut remain, but are now backed by strings, woodwinds, and harpsichord as well as more conventional rock sounds. A very nice EP that continues Princeton's impressive output.

01. The Waves
02. Ms. Bentwich
03. Leonard Woolf
04. Eminent Victorians

They have several California dates booked through mid-May. Bloomsbury is due for a summer 2008 release, and A Case of the Emperor's Clothes is still available via their Myspace.

The Buddy System at 40 Watt and DVD giveaway!

As mentioned recently in this space, rising Athens ani-popsters The Buddy System celebrated the release of their new DVD tonight at the Fabulous 40 Watt. They played as part of the Twilight Delirium festivities headed by Je Suis France, and brought along their signature video toys. And it was good.

The Buddy System boys (Matt Lewis, Craig Sheldon, Ryan Lewis)

I didn't time the band's relatively brief set, but each of their seven songs was accompanied by its own impressive animated video. Although I'd seen some of them online, this was my first time seeing the band provide the soundtrack in a live setting. It's a really cool experience. They back the animation without missing a beat, and it's always fun to see a theremin and toy instruments in the mix. The crowd was receptive, vocal, and in many cases quite familiar with the material. One audience member even showed off a new (permanent?) tattoo of the beast from the "Clap Paws" video (nice to meet you, Pierre!). Yowza!

The Buddy System setlist from 40 Watt, April 26:

Rap Music, Clap Paws, Bring in the Day, Nature's Tiny Realm, Little Kitty, Horse Mountain

"Little Kitty" was a cover [audience-shot video on YouTube], but I didn't catch the original artist. Its video featured hypnotic kitty butts, and the song included "meows" played on a Guitar Hero guitar. I fear I'll have interesting dreams tonight.

Lauren Gregg and... the cutest bass ever?

Ryan Lewis

Matt Lewis

As noted, The Buddy System released their new DVD tonight featuring videos for "Clap Paws," "Tesla Sez," "Return to Horse Mountain," and "Nature's Tiny Realm." They're limited to 100 copies, and I have #22 to give away (I'm keeping #23 for myself -- that's Ryne Sandberg's number!). If you'd like to get your hands on the DVD, e-mail me with "Buddy System DVD" in the subject line. I'll contact a winner on the afternoon of Friday, May 2. They should also be available soon from Kindercore.

The Buddy System - Clap Paws
The Buddy System - Tesla Sez

I left early in the Je Suis France set, but I also picked up their limited edition Death Wish EP (66 copies). Haven't listened yet, but if it includes some gems I'll try to share.

Saturday, April 26

Tift Merritt at The Five Spot

A quick editorial note: I'm Brandon, not Rich. But Rich was nice enough to let me post a few words about the Tift Merritt show this last Thursday. Here they are.

Just before Tift Merritt took the stage at The Five Spot this last Thursday (4/24), a huge bear of a man tapped me on my shoulder. I turned to look at him. He asked me if this was my first time seeing Tift. Trudy and I said yes. He replied that this was his 30th time seeing her.

It would turn out to be a night of these kind of opposites butting heads. Older fans mingled with those who discovered Tift because of the buzz around her latest album, Another Country. The funky folk-art vibe of The Five Spot took on a French flair, helped by an intimate opening performance by Parisian troubadour Naim Amor—and a subtitled black and white French film played during the set change. People packed into the sold-out room, making it hotter than it ever should be on a cool April evening.

Tift’s performance kept up that wonderful play of opposites. Halfway through her second song, Trudy turned to me and yelled in my ear, “she’s like the love-child of Carole King and Janis Joplin.” It was the perfect way to describe the dichotomy of the show, which swung from bluesy, belting rock-outs on songs like “My Heart Is Free“ to quiet, honest performances on songs like “Keep You Happy.“ She’s one hell of a versatile singer, and her backing band was both tight and smart: they knew when to step back and let her shine—and when to let loose with intense solos, like an incredible 2-minute mid-show organ romp.

Tift Merritt - Keep You Happy [at Zshare; from Another Country]

The heat of the crowded room may have made some fans a little restless. A few times during the show, the crowd at the bar got loud enough that Tift actually seemed pretty off-put by it. But when she was able to rein in that energy, things got magical. At one point in the show, she climbed up onto a three-foot amp at the left side of the stage with nothing but a harmonica and a guitar. And, without a microphone, she began to strum the opening chords to "Supposed To Make You Happy." The harmonica cut through the room, and the audience could do nothing but shut up and watch. And as she coyly delivered the chorus in 3-part harmony with her guitarists—“All my love, supposed to make you happy”—the crowd sat first in stunned silence and then, as if whispering a quiet hymn, joined in. And Tift smiled and kept playing.

That big bear of a man said something else before the concert began. He looked right at me and said, “When she comes out, put your hands in the air,” he said. “She likes that. And I just want this to be a great show for her.”

I hope it was for her. It was for us.

Some more photos of the show here.

Friday, April 25

Laura Veirs - Two Beers Veirs EP

I doubt I need to reiterate my fondness for Laura Veirs, so I'll just note that I was pleased as punch to get her new EP today. Two Beers Veirs is available only online and at stops on her upcoming tour. Clocking in at five tracks and 16 minutes long, it certainly isn't an essential buy for newbies. It is, however, a collection of songs that Veirs adores and says have informed her own playing style.

The liner notes say that these five tracks were recorded on a whim one February night with the assistance of producer and collaborator Tucker Martine and others. It's a really enjoyable package, and despite the lack of original material is very much in line with her regular folk-pop output. At the very least it reveals music dear to a compelling artist and a provides a satisfying morsel between LPs.

The tracklist, and a sample:

01. Spike Driver's Blues [Mississippi John Hurt]
02. Wildwood Flower [Maud Irving and Joseph Webster]
03. The Coo Coo Bird [Clarence Ashley]
04. Freight Train [Elizabeth Cotten]
05. Wasps of Rain [Mike Dumovich]

Two Beers Veirs is available online from Raven Marching Band.

Friday Night Fights: Black, White, and KTFO

What happens when the Silver Age Captain America is challenged by common thugs? Friends, it ain't pretty. It's beautiful.


Cap drops The Mauler like a sack of potatoes in Tales of Suspense #97 (January 1968) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, reprinted in Essential Captain America Volume 1.

For more monochromatic mayhem, mix it up with Bahlactus.

Bonus mp3: Evangelicals - Another Day (And Yoor Still Knocked Out)

Oh Darling

When your band shares its name with a memorable Beatles song, it's best if you have some serious pop chops. Fortunately, Portland's Oh Darling fits that description. They're more than a typical indie pop act, however -- Oh Darling also draw from indie rock and dance influences for an upbeat, sugar-sweet final product. The band's vocal duties fall to singer Jasmine, who is backed by guitar/keys/bass/drums. I'd express surprise at another fine band from Portland, but I think we're all over that by now.

Oh Darling - Shoulda Never
Oh Darling - Electrocute
Oh Darling - Waking Up on a Train

They are currently working on a summer album release, and have a number of west coast dates scheduled through mid-June. For more information, hit up their Myspace.

Mini Marvels Digest on the way!

Over at Comic Book Resources, they have an interview with Mini Marvels creator Chris Giarrusso in which they discuss the forthcoming Mini Marvels Digest. Wait... there's a Mini Marvels Digest coming?!! I am... pleased.

Giarrusso's pint-size take on Marvel characters is always a pleasure to read, and I'm glad they'll be collected after appearing in various books and backup features. If you have little ones running around, these are fun for kids too.

Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors Digest is now available for pre-order, and is due August 13.

A lousy way to treat a veteran

Presenting the Captain America Super Deformed Plush (seriously), set for a July 30 release:

Cap will be accompanied by fellow deformed heroes Thor, Spider-Man, Storm, Wolverine, Iron Man, and Hulk (or is that an ill Lou Diamond Phillips?). There's also Venom, because there's nothing cuter than an evil, murderous, short-limbed monster.

Looks like I've figured out how to give my nephew nightmares.

Thursday, April 24

Dead Confederate and me (or, really, just me)

As many of you have probably figured out, one of the real joys I get from this blog is introducing others to the great local music of Athens and Atlanta. I'm fortunate to live in such a music-rich environment, and don't take it for granted. The blog also serves as motivation to see local bands I might not otherwise. One such occasion in January 2007 led me to see Dead Confederate at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta. I was there for the headliner rather than them, and all I knew of Dead Confederate was that they had recently changed their name from The Redbelly Band. Still pretty silly, but an improvement.

I mention all this because on that night, and one time I saw them again shortly afterward, I thought Dead Confederate sucked. As in, I thought they were out of their minds to play industry events and open for bands I enjoyed. What was the point? Fast forward a year, and Dead Confederate starts getting major buzz. Not just locally. What the hell was going on? I mean, the blogs and music press often pick up on unspectacular bands... but Dead Confederate? Convinced it was the work of publicists and overzealous bloggers, I ignored the whole episode. Until, really, a week or two ago. While speaking with Dan Geller (Kindercore Records; Ruby Isle, USSR, I am the World Trade Center, etc.), he praised the current Dead Confederate release. I told him of my reservations, and he said the band had come a long way since the days I'd seen them. That brings us to today.

I finally, just now, listened to the Dead Confederate EP. It's.... pretty good. Sure, it's more straight-ahead indie rock than I tend to like, but I can see why it got people excited. Now I understand the comparisons to Sonic Youth that have littered their press clippings in a way that seemed ridiculous before. Opener "Memorial Day Night" is surprisingly mellow, and later tracks are infused with elements of classic metal and noise rock. Closer "Shadow the Walls" doesn't do much for me, but I could easily imagine it on alternative rock radio. Generally, the EP does its job. I'm curious about the full-length record, and that's more than I would have said not long ago.

Dead Confederate - The Rat [at Zshare]

If you'd like to author your own rambling post, pick up the EP from AthensMusic.Net. The band appears at The EARL in Atlanta on June 7, and have a number of upcoming dates with Drive-By Truckers.

Bonus mp3: The Redbelly Band - On the Beach [Neil Young; 2-23-2006]

Radiohead on Conan last night

Did you see Radiohead on Late Night with Conan O'Brien last night? I didn't. Luckily, it's online:

I'm not sure what Thom was going on about before the song, but he definitely wants us to recycle our shopping bags.

Nana Grizol release album due date, artwork

I've been asked about this for months, and finally have some answers.

The highly-anticipated debut from Athens punk-folksters Nana Grizol finally has a title and due date. Love It Love It will be released May 13 by Orange Twin. For the unfamiliar, the band is fronted by Theo Hilton (Defiance, Ohio) and also includes Laura Carter (Elf Power), Madeline Adams (Madeline), Eric Harris (Olivia Tremor Control), Ian Rickert (Folklore), and Robbie Cucchiaro (The Music Tapes). I've seen them live a couple times in Athens, and they're lots of fun. Can't wait for the record!

Nana Grizol - Voices Echo Down the Halls [courtesy SXSW]
Nana Grizol - Tambourine-N-Thyme

The tracklist:

1. Circles ‘Round the Moon
2. Tambourine-N-Thyme
3. Less Than the Air
4. Motion in the Ocean
5. Voices Echo Down the Halls
6. Stop and Smell the Roses
7. Tiny Rainbows
8. Everything You Ever Hoped or Worked For
9. Broken Cityscapes
10. Theldea That Everything Could Possibly Ever be Said

Thanks to Optical Atlas for pointing this out!

Dean Trippe's Marvel sketch cards

We've already taken a look at Rich Woodall's Marvel Masterpieces sketch cards, and now illustrator extraordinaire Dean Trippe is sharing his efforts as well.

Be sure to check out Trippe's website for more fabulous illustration. I talked the dude's ear off at FLUKE, and he deserves the attention.

Wednesday, April 23

Fun and intrigue in the Marvel U.

I picked up a handful of Marvels this week, and there some really good books in the stack. Before moving on, I'd like to note one delightful panel in the free Avengers/Invaders Sketchbook that was released today. It features some black-and-white previews including the Invaders taking on the Thunderbolts. As a result we get a shot of the noblest of heroes, a time-traveling WWII-era Captain America, beating down the lamest of the new-breed emo heroes, Penance. I hope the latter gets his spiky arse handed to him.

As for the actual books...

From Mighty Avengers #12

Mighty Avengers #12 actually didn't include any of the, uh, Mighty Avengers. Well, other than a flashback or two with attention to Spider-Woman. Basically this issue sets the stage for the return of one Nick Fury, who has been off the radar for far too long. It's a cool issue with some surprising moments and a key splash on the final page. It seems Col. Fury has his sights on the Skrull invasion, and a few of his suspects are surprising. We'll see whether he's accurate, but bravo to the Marvel crew for being tight-lipped as the Secret Invasion saga progresses.

In another book tied to Secret Invasion, Ms. Marvel #26 saw the title character try to prove her own identity in the face of widespread suspicion. It's hardly unwarranted, given that her lover turned up "dead" in the previous issue and "she" was spotted in two places simultaneously in the recent past. This issue includes some stunning revelations about Ms. Marvel's associate Agent Sum from SHIELD, and wraps up the doppelganger storyline rather expeditiously. Oh, and this issue includes grand insanity from the awesome Machine Man, Aaron Stack. Gotta love that guy.

X-Force #3 continued that book's post-Messiah Complex storyline, with Wolverine, X-23, and Warpath cutting down Purifiers and searching for lost teammate Wolfsbane. The revelation on the previous issue's closing page doesn't play out as I expected, as the Purifiers seem to have taken control of a mindless "child" of The Magus rather than the entity itself. So what? Well, they appear to have used it to resurrect the stinking zombie corpses of mutantkind's greatest enemies in a reveal that made me groan. The search for Wolfsbane also wrapped up a little too conveniently. A decent book, but I hope this storyline isn't losing steam. It's still on my pull list.

From Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide

As I should have expected from the writers involved, the funnest book of my haul was the Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide one-shot. As the main Incredible Hercules book has been doing, this book relies on both Marvel continuity and classical mythology to tell a fun and interesting story. The tale is narrated by Athena as she tells Amadeus Cho about an early encounter between Hercules and the Hulk on Mt. Olympus. Yes, they brawl. Even better? Herc and Hulk later team up with Ares and Athena to battle giants out to conquer Mt. Olympus. There are some great character moments here for the Hulk, all too rare lately as he's been rampaging and later locked up. This story also features a character who will be in the upcoming "Sacred Invasion" story in which Earth's gods battle those of the invading Skrulls. The bonus material is a reprint of Tales to Astonish #79, in which Herc and Hulk duke it out -- some classic stuff from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Speaking of Hulk... Hulk #3 was not worth writing about. The art was pretty nice, I guess. Otherwise it took about a minute to read and really just set up a big fight in the next issue. I'm probably done with this book.

Oh, and Jeff Parker, if you're out there, I tried like hell to hunt down X-Men: First Class #11, and none of my three local shops ordered it. I'm on board for the hardcover though. Pinky swear.

Nomen Novum

One of the newer Atlanta bands on my radar (thanks to OhmPark) is jangly rock act Nomen Novum. I picked up their current "Mantis Man" 7" at Criminal Records, and am rather impressed with the trio of songs included. They're fun and kinda rockin'.

"Mantis Man" has a cadence that reminds me of The Decemberists' "The Apology Song," while the melodic, guitar-driven "Aunt Urn" and darker "Vinyl" round out the release. It's certainly worth the $5-$6 price tag for the 7", CDR, comic, lyrics, and sticker inside. You can buy the 7" at Criminal Records, Wax 'n Facts, and Ella Guru in Atlanta or send money to the address on their Myspace.

Nomen Novum - Aunt Urn

They have a few upcoming shows in the Southeast, including May 12 at Caledonia Lounge in Athens.

Atlanta ticket giveaway: Sara Bareilles and David Ford at Variety Playhouse, 4/30

Were you shut out of the sold-out April 30 show with Sara Bareilles and David Ford at Variety Playhouse? Well, I have one last chance through the doors up for grabs, along with a copy of David Ford's new Songs for the Road. If you'd like to enter, e-mail me by noon on Sunday, April 27, with "SB/DF tix" in the subject line.

Sara Bareilles - Bottle it Up [at Zshare]
David Ford - Go to Hell [at Zshare]

Best of luck to everyone who enters, and I'll contact a winner on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 22

The Avett Brothers at Variety Playhouse

On Saturday (4/19) I went to Atlanta for both the Record Store Day festivities at Criminal Records and the Avett Brothers show at Variety Playhouse. I wound up shopping more than enjoying the music at Criminal, though I did see part of Club Awesome's indoor set and hear a couple bands in the background outside. My finds at the sidewalk sale included records by Diplomats of Solid Sound, Birdmonster, Good Friday Experiment, The Close, Bunnygrunt, and an Arcade Fire import, all for about $10 total. I also bought the new 7" from Nomen Novum, which I had planned to buy next time I hit Atlanta. Not bad.

The Avett Brothers show was, in a word, satisfying. I won't try to compete with Julia's great review at Fear of Arthropods, but I'll say a few words about the show. I hadn't seen them in a couple years, and certainly not since they became the popular touring act they are now. I completely understand the hype though, as they've created an engaging and energetic live show. The setlist, courtesy of the Avett Brothers bulletin board:

Murder in the City, When I Drink, Paranoia in Bb Major, Laundry Door, Die Die Die, Distraction, 74, PGF Raleigh, Salina, Wanted Man, And it Spread, Late in Life, At the Beach, Denouncing November Blue, Weight of Lies, Colorshow*, The Fall*, Go to Sleep*
Encore: Talk on Indolence, My Heart Like a Kick Drum
Encore 2: If It's the Beaches

*with Paleface

The musicianship was impressive, and the crowd completely swept up in it all. It was nice to see the band live again since I wasn't terribly fond of Emotionalism, as it was a great reminder of what they have going for them. I'd certainly recommend the live show, and suggest seeing them now before they move up to bigger venues. It'll happen soon.

The Avett Brothers - Die Die Die

The song that opened the show, "Murdered in the City":

New Mates of State video - "Get Better"

Mates of State have their fifth full-length album, re-arrange us, due on May 20. Accordingly, they have released a video for the first single. "Get Better" is a sweet-sounding pop song as you'd expect from Kori Gardner and Jason Hammell, but I'll be darned if the video isn't a bit... freaky.

Their re-arrangeus will be released by Barsuk Records.

C&T on Blog Fresh Radio: Supercluster!

I'm a day late in posting this, but I'm featured again this week on Blog Fresh Radio. This episode also includes interviews with the folks from Chromewaves, Music Like Dirt, Sonic Itch Music, and Mr. Mammoth. My submission? Athens supergroup Supercluster.

Supercluster includes members of Pylon, New Sound of Numbers, Bob Hay & the Jolly Beggars, and Casper & the Cookies, and their current release is a 5-track EP titled (appropriately) Special 5. Vanessa Hay (of Pylon) handles most of the vocal duties, and the EP features tunes reminiscent of both her band's art-rock and the pop sound closely associated with Athens.

Supercluster - Peace Disco Song

I shared the EP's closing track, "Anyone" with Blog Fresh because of its interesting history. The track was written in the early 1980s for Bob Hay's Squalls, but never recorded. As it was a favorite of wife Vanessa, the song found its way onto the Supercluster EP two decades later. Pretty sweet, huh? It's not the most representative track on the record, but I like it quite a bit.

Supercluster - Anyone

For more on Supercluster, visit their page on Myspace. Special 5 is available from AthensMusic.Net.

Monday, April 21

Sniffles and covers

Jack of Hearts illin', from The Avengers vol. 3 #67

I've been in an allergy-induced haze most of the day, and basically useless in most respects. Any commentary on Record Store Day or the very good Avett Brothers show at Variety Playhouse will have to wait.

For now, here's a six-pack of covers to get the week started. All tracks courtesy of the Live Music Archive and the tapers who contributed them.

The Ditty Bops - Painted Eyelids [Beck; 3-7-2008]
Alejandro Escovedo - Foggy Notion [Lou Reed; 3-15-2008]
The Mountain Goats - banter > The Sign [Ace of Bass; 10-23-2002]
Glen Phillips - Exit Music (For a Film) [Radiohead; 7-27-2007]
Tim Reynolds - Purple Rain [Prince; 3-21-2008]
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Down by the River [Neil Young; 2-23-2008]

Hope your weekend was a blast, and the week ahead is even better.

Sunday, April 20

Rich Woodall's Marvel Masterpieces

Artist Rich Woodall has landed a sweet gig designing 1,000 Marvel Masterpieces sketch cards for Upper Deck, and has been sharing examples of his work online.

So far he's offering cards featuring the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four.

While you're at it, don't miss his MODOK!

New trailer: 'Will Eisner's The Spirit'

The MTV Movie Blog has released the first trailer for Will Eisner's The Spirit, the classic comic adaptation directed by Frank Miller. It's pretty cool in it's own right, but it sure does look a lot like Miller's own Sin City.

The film stars Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Scarlett Johansson. It is scheduled for a January 16, 2009, release.

Saturday, April 19

Rewind: Revisiting 'They Live'

With all the Secret Invasion stuff going on in Marvel books right now, when I stumbled across John Carpenter's They Live (1988) tonight it was impossible to resist. The plot is similar to the numerous they-hide-among-us works of fiction, with a little 1984-style authoritarianism in the mix as well. They Live, however, has a few extra things in its favor:

1. It stars 1980s pro wrestling superstar "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.

2. He is all out of bubblegum.

3. Two construction workers do what Iron Man could not. In, like, two days.

4. Bitchin' sunglasses.


No wonder critics love it.