To help you weed through it, we're offering
our picks of the 20 or so acts from each event most worth checking out, including our analysis of one particularly vexing choice you'll have to make each night, between Atlantis and IG showcases happening simultaneously. The Showcase Showdown is here. Now, the choice is yours.
Showdown #1: Wednesday, July 31, all night
ATLANTA LOCAL MUSIC AWARDS (Atlantis, 8 p.m., EarthLink Live): The 10th annual ALMAs recognize someone's view of the best music Atlanta has to offer. Between awards for things like "favorite rock band," "hardest-working local artist" and "favorite local band website" (no wagering, please), live performances feature drivin n cryin, Gwen Hughes, Left Front Tire, Muddi Souls and Uncrowned. Biggest head-scratcher: The People's Choice Award goes to ... Plankroad Chaingang? (Sarig)
DEF JUX SHOWCASE, FEATURING EL-P, AESOP ROCK, MR. LIF, RJD2(IG, 11 p.m., Echo Lounge) Showcasing the haunting, dissonant sounds of the Def Jux crew, label head El-P -- along with MCs Aesop Rock and Mr. Lif -- who twist verse over twisted sounds, hammering home introspective yet confrontational lyrics over vicious bass and aggressively syncopated beats, like a robot wracked by internal paradoxes. Also on the bill: up-and-comer RJD2, who produces smoky, soulful instrumental washes like most people produce sweat. (Ware)
WINNER IF YOU'RE DOWN WITH ABSTRACT HIP-HOP: Def Jux
WINNER IF YOU'RE AN AWARD WINNER: ALMAs
Showdown #2: Thursday, Aug. 1, around midnight
AERIAL (Atlantis, midnight, Smith's Olde Bar) A band with the ability to supersaturate and intoxicate the air of any venue it plays, Aerial throws its gossamer web of bass, breakbeats, sax and sensuality over audiences as it weaves and wails a tightly woven spell. From fairy-tale drum 'n' bass to funky house to acidic squelches to atmospheric trip-hop, Aerial is light on its feet but heavy on talent. (Ware)
THE SUNSHINE FIX (IG, 11:20 p.m., The Earl) The Sunshine Fix, led by former Olivia Tremor Control pop-guy Bill Doss, dwells on a more charming form of rock nostalgia from the Elephant 6 arena. The band's debut, Age of the Sun, is a crisp paean to a historically thin slice of West Coast guitar pop circa 1965/'66 -- music that begins at the tail end of the British Invasion and ends just before the acid kicked in. (Robertson)
WINNER IF YOU'RE SPIRITUAL BUT CAN'T HELP THAT YOU'RE ALSO HIP AND BEAUTIFUL: Aerial
WINNER IF YOUR SPIRITUALITY REVOLVES AROUND "TEENAGE SYMPHONIES TO GOD": the Sunshine Fix
Showdown #3: Friday, Aug. 2, 10 p.m.
BINARY SYSTEM (IG, 10:15 p.m., Echo Lounge) Binary System's Roger Miller is best known as a driving force behind Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma. When hearing damage made Burma unbearable, Miller broke up the band and formed the quieter, vaguely avant-garde/classical outfit Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Meanwhile, the legend of Burma -- oft-cited as an influence by notables from R.E.M. to Moby -- continues to grow, leading to recent Burma reunion shows. That, in turn, has shined more light on Miller's latest project, Binary System, which combines the piano-based art songs of Mesozoic with the tape-manipulations and discordant assault of Burma. (Sarig)
CHIEDZA (Atlantis, 10 p.m., Apache Cafe) Real emotion in soul music is hard to fake, though many try to force it. Oddly named singer/ songwriter Chiedza (pronounced key-ED-za) wrenches emotion from the most banal of subjects for intimate heart-bearing epics. He's been the golden boy of Atlanta's neo-soul scene for a while now, threatening to go the way of India Arie. (Smith)
WINNER IF YOU'RE FEELING YOUNG AND SEXY: Chiedza
WINNER IF YOU'RE FEELING OLD(ER) AND ARTY: Binary System
Showdown #4: Saturday, Aug. 3, 11 p.m.
MINAMINA GOODSONG (Atlantis, 11 p.m., Riviera) The most widely seen, if not widely known, of the Kaleidoscope collective of subterranean/suburban Atlanta hip-hoppers, Minamina Goodsong have matured without growing up, continuing to make good fun along with good songs. Playful and sing-songy, Minamina toasts the influx of rappers into the simmering scene that is the 80-L. (Ware)
SHANNON WRIGHT (IG, 11:20 p.m., The Earl) Shannon Wright's as much actress as singer, director as much as musician, deploying well-crafted songs suffused with drama and disarming intensity. Wright's nimble voice soars, trills and shrieks, traversing from soft and sonorous to brash and bullying as it echoes the music's cabaret quality. The ebb and flow of her folk-inflected sound creates an almost waltz-like quality, while her lyrics invite interpretation, mere fragments of feeling and expression wedded to earnest, evocative vocals. (Parker)
WINNER IF YOU'RE OUT FOR CATHARSIS: Shannon Wright
WINNER IF YOU'RE OUT FOR FUN: Minamina Goodsong