Athens Intensified at Flagpole

Greg Broussard is a dance music legend. Under his Egyptian Lover stage name, Broussard released several LPs and a whole slew of 12-inch singles in the 1980s, including the club megahit “Egypt, Egypt.” Broussard’s urgent, minimalist production style both foresaw the coming electro movement and helped usher in the golden age of hip hop.

The Egyptian Lover continues to tour and record into the fourth decade of his career, and he’ll hit Athens for the first time ever on Saturday, playing New Earth Athens as part ofAthens Intensified‘s second weekend.

Flagpole caught up with the pioneering producer via email, where he discussed his far-reaching influence and corrected one key piece of the historical record.

FlagpoleGive us the Egyptian Lover backstory in a nutshell.

Greg Broussard: The Egyptian Lover is the person I created to get out the ‘hood and become who I wanted to be. I would imagine what my life should be, and I sought out to be him. And oh, wow, did I have fun living up to it.

What was the dance music scene like when you were first coming up? 

The dance music scene was a lot of funk and soul. Then came Prince, Rick James and Michael Jackson. This was an absolute dream to grow up during this musical time. Then came Kraftwerk, rap music and “Planet Rock.” I could not want to be in a better place or time then in L.A. in 1984. Everything was happening, and I put out an album and the radio played it endlessly. There was some really good music in the late ’70s and all of the ’80s. I was lucky to live it.

Click through to check out the rest of the Q&A.

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Throwing Muses at SoundsXP

You hear it a lot. Mention Throwing Muses and someone will marvel that they once toured supported by the Pixies (decisions on whether to use a definite article are going to be a nightmare here…). As if such a thing were unthinkable. Rubbish.

Now, being over 40 and possessed of ears, I love the Pixies of course. Their highs might even be a teensy bit higher, but the Muses were always their equals. And there’s no question who you’d rather go see in 2014. Especially in the lovely Holmfirth Picturedrome with Tanya Donelly in support and joining back in for a few songs.

Tanya’s songs were always, by her own admission, a bit more straightforward. There’s nothing wrong with that when you’re any good though. And tonight, with a percussion free backing she gives full rein to fabulous voice and proves that she is (like there was any doubt). Chucking in a couple of her own Throwing Muses songs at the end doesn’t do any harm either.

Throwing Muses were always just too odd and spiky to be properly popular. They’re not quirky like college rock – there’s a thankful lack of irony and while there’s tunes, there’s no ditties. They don’t embrace the showbiz side of performing either, unlike many subsequent US ‘alternative’ acts. ‘Punk’ might not be the right word, but it’s just the songs – nothing else matters. They’re not studiously odd either, unlike contemporaries on this side of the Atlantic. They don’t batter with noise. You don’t get the sense that there’s any conscious experimentation in the songs. Just an effort to get them to sound like they should. So to see Tanya and Bernard Georges playing an entire song with one hand twisting the tuning pegs isn’t pushing boundaries. It’s just what you have to do to play Throwing Muses. Add to it Kristin Hersh’s tendency to mix real snarl and bite into the loveliness and melancholy and you’ve got a proper, proper band that’s a going concern – not a nostalgia-fest (despite the slightly greying audience). There is comfort in the songs, but it’s of a hard won sort. The sort to inspire devotion. And tonight they didn’t just renew that devotion, they reminded you how few others are worthy of it.

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Luxembourg Signal at Dagger

Wow, I loved the 7” from back in April (“Distant Drive” b/w “Wishing Pool” ) both of those songs are on here though not sure if they;re different versions or not. This band, mostly based in Los Angeles, feature most of the members of beloved Sarah Records band Aberdeen. We know that Beth has been singing for year with Trembling Blue Stars while the other members, Johnny, Brian, Betsy and Ginny are all aboard. Wondered about Mr. John Girgus and while he doesn’t play in the band he did do some of this recording (and played on a few tunes. . Unlike the 7” the songs are more atmospheric on here with more room to spread out as they make major use of both time sand space. Some of this even reminded me of Spacemen 3 at times. This is even better than expected , form the druggy “Drowning” to the driving “Wishing Pool” and the gorgeous “We Go on’ there’s seriously not a dog amongst these ten songs. If Beth can get her tail over to the states maybe they can play some shows , which would be seriously great. Two side notes: masterfully co-recorded by Mr. Dave Newton and Dale Crover (yup, that Dale Crover, from The Melvins) plays drums on one song (??!!!). Essential listening.

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Lunchbox at When You Motor Away

Listening to Lunchbox Loves You can be compared to opening an actual lunchbox packed by your mother without consulting you beforehand.  You know that your mother loves you, because she is your mother.  You know that Oakland, California’s Lunchbox loves you, because they told you so in the title to the album.Lunchbox Loves You .  But the core question is whether the contents bear witness to the love.  I certainly can’t speak to the contents of your school lunches, and my lunches weren’t always ready for Master Chef.  However, I think you’ll like the ten course lunch that Tim Brown and Donna McKean have packed for you.  The ingredients include jangle, fuzz, hooks and a good dose of bubblegum for your finishing pleasure.  It is a rush of sounds constructed around Tim’s acoustic and electric guitars and Donna’s bass, with other embellishing touches, and the male/female vocals.  There appears to be a punk foundation to these songs, but the execution is pop with the emphasis on fun.  And to show you how good it is, I didn’t cherry pick songs, I just embedded the first three.  Enjoy!

Click through to check out the embedded tracks.

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Luxembourg Signal at Linear Tracking Lives!

For fans of Sarah Records, it’s been a year to reminisce and rejoice. So far there has been an art exhibit, a documentary film and a book announcement. Looking back is all well and good, and it’s certainly wonderful to see Sarah receive accolades in a way it never did when it existed, but let’s not forget there are still some label alums making great music in 2014. For starters, check out ‘Cornish Love Songs’ from the Hit Parade and ‘Kick to Kick’ from the Steinbecks. (That’s the Sugargliders’ Josh and Joel Meadows.)

Back in the spring I heard a most wonderful piece of dreampop. The single “Distant Drive” had a timeless sound — familiar but fresh at the same time — full of soaring guitars and a just a hint of shoegaze sensibilities. Wow, who were these guys? Turned out I did know the Luxembourg Signal. Three members of the band were from Aberdeen, a Sarah band that, gasp, came from right here in America. It’s kind of like Go-Betweens on Postcard. Geography be damned. They were, simply, a fine fit. If you were a fan of those Sarah days, the impending full-length release will be right up your alley, but this is no retread. Expect a slightly louder, darker and more mature affair.

The album was due for a Sept. 30 release, via the always dependable Shelflife Records, but a delay in the delivery of the vinyl has pushed the date back to Oct. 21. This is becoming an old story as the scarce number of vinyl pressing plants struggle to keep up. Tough not to have mixed feelings about that development, but that’s a story for another day. I’m going to spend the rest of the week on more new releases and reissues. They are coming fast and furious now. In the meantime, here are a couple of real gems from the Luxembourg Signal. Preorder now!

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Casper & The Cookies at Razorcake

Casper & The Cookies are an Athens, GA pop band that can be loosely linked to the Elephant 6 Recording Company Collective because of one of the members having been in E6 bands Of Montreal and The Sunshine Fix, among others. Musically, they don’t stray far from the pop side of the E6 aesthetic—poppy and quirky with new wave tendencies at times. Athens has a long history of poppy and quirky indie-rock bands, starting with R.E.M. and the B-52’s, and this influence can still be seen and heard today, with this record being no exception.

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Muuy Biien at Razorcake

If you can weather the ambient intros on both sides of the record then you’re in for some spastic dance punk with noisy guitar accidentals, chunky bass lines, and bestial howls galore. This is a difficult sound to leash, but Muuy Biien has lassoed it like a wild animal tamer. You can almost taste the salty sweat dripping off your brow from the inevitable nonstop pogoing while these dudes thrash out some tasty tunes with “fuck all” attitude. D.Y.I. (do yourself in) got me undulating in my rickety desk chair. Recommended for the secret freak in you.

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Muuy Biien at In Transit Records

Among many fairly interchangeable indie rock/garage bands in Athens, Georgia, Muuy Biien stands alone and bares their teeth at an otherwise complacent scene. From solo noise project to punk band, Muuy Biien has found the right amount of rope to hang themselves exactly the way they want to with their latest album, D.Y.I (Do Yourself In). What differentiates Muuy Biien from every other frenetic noise band is the obvious method to their madness, their controlled chaos, and specific instrumentation. From start to finish, D.Y.I is an intentional journey back to true punk and hardcore roots. Taking time to slow down with tracks such as Cyclothymia I and II, these songs are perfectly punctuated ambient commas on the otherwise “in your face,” but passive aggressively so, record, letting the listener know where to take a break and catch his or her breath before a song like “Virus Evolves” pops up and commands you to jump back in the pit.

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Eureka California at POP! Stereo

Sometimes being obnoxious can work to your advantage. It certainly does for Eureka California who’s album Crunch is an energetic explosion of spazztic indie rock riffage and their second album in less than two years. Seemingly unable to stop making music, Eureka California can’t slow down and that inability to control themselves is reflected within the sounds of Crunch. Sounding like a long lost artifact unearthed from 1994, this record is loud, raw, unrefined and about as sloppy as the best Pavement record. 

Crunch is a hyper, jumpy, caffeine fueled journey through eleven songs in twenty five minutes. It’s such a fantastic mess that the whole thing sounds like it was pieced together with chewing gum and duct tape and recorded on a broken boom box found their parents garage. It’s exuberant and simple and almost impossible not to love. Guitars jangle, wrangle, distort and sound like they’re tearing themselves apart while drums bash and bang and the vocals strain, scream, and snap vocal chords. Crunch is one giant wall of indie rock noise that should really suck but miraculously doesn’t. It’s proper indie rawk and it’s relentless in the pursuit of the two minute noisy pop song. 

Crunch on paper isn’t much to write home about, it’s an uncomplicated, noisy and brash mess. But listening to the thing makes it all worthwhile. This is what indie rock is supposed to be like; it’s honest, raw, and pure and contains zero percent posturing. As their bio notes Eureka California are often torn between rocking out and giving up. How can you not love that? That’s the kind of rock and roll I want to listen to…bands with a suicidal lust to just kick butt and rock out or chuck in the towel and go home.

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Hobbes Fanclub at God Is In The TV

The Bradford-based trio The Hobbes Fanclub conjure up a dreamy, reverb-dipped and melodic sound on their début album Up At Lagrange, which harks back to the restrained production values and style of late 80s/early 90s shoegaze pop. 

The delicate haze and plaintive vocals of‘Into The Night’ create a wonderful opening and is followed by the highlight‘Stay Gold’, which dazzles with its shimmering guitar hooks, early 90s production and colourful boy/girl vocal melodies. A version of the band’s 2012 début single ‘Your Doubting Heart’ provides a pacey breeze of sweetness, while the melancholic indie pop punk moment ‘The Boy From Outer Space’ delivers bright harmonies, yet the lyrics could have done with improvements. Although at first the splendid ‘I Knew You’d Understand’ just seems to blend in with the previous track, its joyous Stone Roses-esque melodies and emotive jangle catapult it to brilliance, before the wonderful ‘Run Into The Sea”s guitars ring out beautifully over a sweetly melodic and powerful, atmospheric backdrop, almost bringing to mind a Felt/Jesus And Mary Chain/Ride hybrid. Absolutely perfect for these late summer nights.

The magnificent shoegaze epic ‘How Could You Leave Me Like This’ is equally brilliant, contributing towards two fine centrepieces that pull at the heart strings while combining distortion and melody to brilliant effect. ‘Outside Myself’is energetic yet melancholic, and comes complete with a very Britpoppy guitar solo, but doesn’t feel as strong as the other tracks, while ‘Why Should You Tell The Truth’ is a dreamy grower, and with it’s swooning guitar lines, the title track sounds almost like what might have happened if Sonic Youth wrote ballads. The emotionally expansive, closer ‘Sometimes’ is beautifully spacious in its simplicity and effective in its largely instrumental structure, concluding the LP wonderfully.

On the very focused Up At Lagrange, sunset-lit shoegaze vibes and melodic alt-rock sounds are wired together to create a type of reverb-laden guitar pop that evokes the true indie of decades past, while picking up plenty of influences from more recent years. A delightful slow burning beauty of an album.

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