Meet Me @ the Altar: “Mapped Out (Acoustic)”
In the 1990s, there was a brief but shining return to disco. (Does anyone remember Jamiroquai?) So, it stands to reason that, as older music continues to cycle back through new generations, we’re now seeing a nostalgic step back into the golden age of Y2K era pop-punk. For evidence of this growing trend, gaze no further than blockbuster acts such as Machine Gun Kelly or Olivia Rodrigo — along with this rapidly rising trio, comprised of lead singer Edith Johnson (who grew up in the Atlanta area), guitarist-bassist Téa Campbell (from Florida) and drummer Ada Juarez (from New Jersey).
Johnson recently said on Twitter that this often genre-defying group is embracing a return to “2000s radio rock” and dedicated the band’s forthcoming debut full-length album to Demi Lovato, Avril Lavigne and Pink. Set to release on the Fueled by Ramen label, it should drop sometime this year. While you wait, check out the band’s last appearance in Atlanta Soundtrack, and revisit Model Citizen, its celebrated 2021 EP.
Meet Me @ the Altar, which has continued to gain momentum and accolades (especially for its fierce live performances), was recently nominated for Best International Breakthrough Artist by the 2022 Heavy Music Awards, to be held in London this summer. It promises to be a killer summer for the trio, which will also be playing with pop-punk elder statesmen Green Day and Weezer in Denmark, Norway and Sweden this June.
Lesibu Grand: “Exercise”
Atlanta punk scene favorite Lesibu Grand released its newest tongue-in-cheek single, a satirical tribute to the fitness video craze of the 1980s, in which lead singer Tyler Simone-Molton repeats bright yet hollow slogans (“Feel it!” “Do it !”) like a peppy, iron-pumping robot out of the Spandex Apocalypse.
To do the proper research for this one, bassist John Renaud told Immersive Atlanta that the band watched a lot of videotapes and noticed, “In most cases, they are barely breaking a sweat. Instead, they are just showing off their bodies and having fun with each other. Which is perfectly fine, of course. So we decided to join in their spirit and get into the vibe ourselves.”
Lesibu Grand is coming off hot this month from a March performance at SXSW as part of the Punk Black Showcase. Co-songwriting duo Renaud and Simone-Molton have known each other for a decade, forming the group after bumping into each other at a show at the Earl in 2017. Other members of the band include Brian Turner and Lee Wiggins. This video was shot and directed by Nathan DuConge.
Starbuck: “Moonlight Feels Right”
This 1976 gem from one-hit-wonder Starbuck, our vintage track of the week, is — to use a technical term — a bit bonkers. A laid-back sleaziness washes through the song’s disarming, synth-heavy soft rock. Each line is packed with so much double-entendre, it’s like something that the Lonely Island might have concocted had it been on Saturday Night Live during that show’s first decade. Here’s one: “The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss to make the tide rise again.” Egad.
The song, which slunk its way up to No. 2 on the Billboard charts, also features what the AV Club deemed “the greatest marimba solo ever recorded,” initially improvised in the studio and executed here with panache by the exquisitely groomed, leather-jumpsuit-clad Bo Wagner. Fun fact: Before gaining fame with this hit, he already had years of showbiz experience, having made his television debut as a child on the OG Mickey Mouse Club and performed drums for none other than Liberace.
Formed in Atlanta in 1974 by Wagner, guitarist Johnny Walker and singer/keyboardist and producer Bruce Blackman, the group was reportedly named after Burt Lancaster’s optimism character in the 1956 film the Rainmaker. The Greenville, Mississippi-born Blackman sometimes invokes Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan on vocals.
Following the positive reception of this slick ‘n’ slippery song, the group toured with many of the sizzling bands of the day, including Electric Light Orchestra, Hall & Oates and KC and the Sunshine Band, before parting ways in 1980. Wagner died in 2017 at 72, but that marimba solo, still the zenith of its kind, is a grand legacy.
Alexis Hauk has written and edited for numerous newspapers, alt-weeklies, trade publications and national magazines including Timethe Atlantic, Mental Floss, Uproxx and Washingtonian magazine. Having grown up in Decatur, Alexis returned to Atlanta in 2018 after a living decade in Boston, Washington, DC, New York City and Los Angeles. By day, she works in health communications. By night, she enjoys covering the arts and being Batman.
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