Intrepid, adventurous Hive reader that you are, you probably already know about Atlanta’s biggest rock ’n’ roll exports. We don’t need to tell you about Mastodon, Deerhunter, Black Lips, et al. But the ATL’s rock scene runs deeper than its most notable musical residents. Dig into the Georgia capital’s dive bars, house parties and off-the-beaten-path venues, and you’ll find a thriving, rowdy rock ’n’ roll underground — these five bands are leading it.
1. Royal Thunder
This female-fronted foursome makes riff-driven, Zeppelin-meets-stoner-rock, with all the pomp and circumstance (and occasional nine-minute jams) that come with that mutation. Their 2009 self-titled EP caught the attention of metal institution Relapse Records, who re-released it in 2010, and then released the band’s debut full-length, CVI, this past May. The band will hit the road with Pallbearer and Samothrace in September.
2. GG King
Following the dissolution of legendary Atlanta punks the Carbonas, frontman Greg King struck out on his own under the GG King moniker, playing with various Atlanta rockers backing him on singles over the past couple years. His best statement so far is last year’s Esoteric Lore, one of the weirdest, most ferocious underground punk LPs in years.
3. The N.E.C.
Walls of feedback are understood when it comes to the N.E.C. But rather than the “What Would Hüsker Dü?” school of songwriting (which these guys definitely would’ve graduated from, had they only tripled the speed of their songs), the Natural Extension Concept revels in the slow unfurling of a Krautrock beat paired with some too-cool-for-school Velvets steeze. Their third album, Last Point of Radiation, drops Saturday.
Carnivore have been cranking out jittery, art-damaged pop songs for a couple years now, and all that playing has led to a slow-and-steady evolution that will presumably come to a head on their forthcoming third album. They don’t fit into a particular niche, instead opting to perform relentlessly at just about anywhere that’ll have them. Incidentally, the next places that will are a handful of West coast dates opening for Franz Ferdinand next week.
5. The Gaye Blades
Originally formed as an outlet for sloppy rock ’n’ roll by Jared Swilley of the Black Lips and late Atlanta scene fixture B Jay Womack, the Gaye Blades, which now include “Gentleman” Jesse Smith amongst their ranks, released their debut full-length late last year. It’s an economic, 10-track package so endowed with garage-rock swagger and infectious ’50s-indebted hooks that it would be ridiculous if these guys didn’t keep working on songs together, side project or no.