It was the year the lights came on in Atlanta, Ga.
Whenever a watershed period in music occurs, as happened here in 2007, it's inevitable that some things will get drowned out by all the noise critics make as they aim for the obvious targets, the dramatic story lines, the bandit bands that piss, vomit and bleed on stage.
But no scene or sound goes from nothing to something overnight. While the world woke up to Atlanta's percolating rock and the city's snap-trap rap extended its reign on clubs everywhere, we all slept on some otherwise dreamy happenings.
So, in hindsight, here are a few gems we dug up that not even Rip van Winkle could afford to miss.
Formed two years ago, Random Rabbit has been popping up in places where most people wouldn't look. Adam Herbert, Andrew Provine and Charlie Pazinets play house parties, after-hours events in warehouses and concerts at unlikely locales such as the Five Spot Café. The trio's mobility is much like a DJ's – it can seemingly play anywhere – but it comprises a working band that mixes spontaneous, jazzlike instrumentation with warm, guitar-inflected electronic soundtracks reminiscent of Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Future Sound of London.
The year was a productive one for Random Rabbit, which completed at least two albums, including the just-released The Book Was Better, and continues to gig frequently. The band's growing reputation and increasing appearances at popular venues such as the Loft means that you're likely to encounter it sooner rather than later. – Mosi Reeves
If Eyedrum is the hub for Atlanta's experimental-music scene, 11:11 Teahouse is its living room. It's been an experiment in itself for proprietor Penney Balmes, who moved into the house on Edgewood two years ago and opened it up for public consumption of her teas, herbs and eclectic taste in music. Booking acts "that are way off the mark" has been her primary rule of thumb, she says. And it works like a charm.
On a recent Monday night, guests and musicians gathered around an open fire in the back yard to warm themselves from below-freezing temps, while acts such as singer/songwriter Isia Cooper and ambient punk artist Chris Daresta of Gold Painted Nails took turns playing at the long-running Kirkwood Ballers Club. In '08, the weekly open mic will move to a new venue, as Balmes cuts back from six nights a week to four so she can refocus. But she promises not to abandon her extended family: "No matter what, I'm going to always be in this world." 753 Edgewood Ave. 404-521-1911. – Rodney Carmichael
Did you know that Yelawolf, that goofy white guy who often performs shows with Gripplyaz and Proton, was briefly signed to Sony BMG? He's a skater kid from Gadsen, Ala., who has made Atlanta a second home. He even appeared in T.I.'s video for "Hurt."
Unfortunately, Yelawolf has already been dropped, probably because the label didn't know what to do with him. But he managed to release a few buzz tracks beforehand. "White Trash" is a stomping and somewhat lead-footed ode to trailer parks and crystal-meth consumption that recalls Kid Rock. The Battery 5-produced "Kickin'" is much better, a Miami bass-style cut that contains a nifty line with an Isaac Hayes reference – "Southern boys got hot butter for your soul." – Mosi Reeves
Club of Rome
The Club of Rome takes its name from an Italian-based secret society that includes several heads of state. Its music is often compared to Suicide, an influential noise-punk duo from the 1970s and '80s, though you probably could toss in Big Black and Butthole Surfers as a reference point, too.
Waylon Pouncy and Aaron King's primary claim to local fame, however, might be their house, also known as the Crackhouse. They've hosted dozens of shows there and have turned it into a brand of sorts, starting a Wednesday club night at Lenny's Bar called Cracked Out Dance Party and launching a small label, Crackhouse Records. It's through the latter that the Club of Rome just released a split 7-inch single with Eiliyas, "122112." – Mosi Reeves
Goodie Mob reunites ... again
The celebration could be premature. But considering all the turmoil Goodie Mob underwent to get to such a point, it makes sense that Cee-Lo, Khujo, Big Gipp and T-Mo felt the need to announce their reunion for at least the second time in as many years. On Nov. 17, the crew joined Ryan Cameron of V-103 (WVEE-FM) on-air to tell listeners what many thought they already knew. Apparently, the crew is back in the studio recording what could be album No. 4 – not counting the 2004 CD, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, released without Cee-Lo, who was busy crafting a solo career.
At one point, Cee-Lo, who took the One Monkey title as a diss, stated he'd never reunite with his old southwest Atlanta homeboys. It's not like he needed to. While other members struggled with solo endeavors and ill-fitting collaborations, Cee-Lo racked up megasuccess with collaborator Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley ("Crazy"). But together, Goodie Mob made history as one of the first Atlanta rap acts (alongside Dungeon Family cohorts OutKast) to transcend the city's limits. And there hasn't been a better blend of street-conscious and spiritually minded hip-hop since.
Sounds worthy of a New Year's resolution. – Rodney Carmichael