I’ve always been a fan of the musical compilation. Be it a playlist, a curated slab of vinyl or, my favorite, the old-fashioned mix tape – there’s something about an assemblage of disparate tunes and artists that appeals. And while this buffet-style approach to making a music meal doesn’t always – or often, if we are being completely honest – completely work, there’s a certain artistic integrity to the attempt.
I bring this up because, over the past 18 months or so, I’ve transitioned from quiet fan to fervent follower of an occasional segment on Georgia Public Radio’s On Second Thought – the Georgia Playlist.
The segment asks a simple question of its guests, each one drawn from the ranks of Georgia’s rich musical community of performers, writers and fans – What two songs would you add to a comprehensive playlist of Georgia music?
There have been a few guests with Augusta roots – Funk You, T. Hardy Morris and the Chronicle’s own Don Rhodes – that have contributed to the list and, predictably, some Augusta tunes as well. James Brown shows up a lot. What I love about the ever-evolving list is, of course, comparing my tastes to those of people whose opinion I suspect I respect and pondering what my own additions might be. The answer to the latter does tend to change on a fairly regular basis. This week, I suspect, my choices would be informed by an upcoming show at Sky City.
On July 20, the Broad Street venue will play host to a couple of my favorite underdog acts that, despite a pretty fervent fan base and critical acclaim, never quite garnered the level of general recognition each deserved.
The first is the rarely-sighted but always exciting Augusta band Deathstar. The rare band able to straddle the line between willful experimentalism and engaging tunefulness, Deathstar shows were never predictable and always memorable. If forced to pick my playlist tune, I would probably go with Motorcycle, a song that starts with spacy sitar before shifting into a propulsive chug that feels appropriately road ready.
The headliner on the Sky City bill is the veteran Athens act Five Eight, which will be celebrating the release of its new record Songs for St. Jude. At one time touted to be the heir apparent to R.E.M. and then the next Nirvana, the band’s guitar-driven rock mercilessly exploits the verse-chorus-verse structure in much the same stadium-ready way as more commercially successful acts – only with a margin more creativity and imagination. That, evidently, was the killer.
And while it will seem an obvious choice to my fellow Five Eight fans, it is impossible for me to not include the disenfranchised anthem Weirdo on my playlist. A song and band that predated, predicted and I personally prefer to emo acts that would eventually follow, it’s a great rock song about that feeling of being an outsider that fuels so much interesting art.
To listen to episodes of Georgia Playlist – including a recent inclusion by Five Eight frontman Mike Mantione – go to http://gpbnews.org/topic/georgia-playlist.