Athens, Ga. — While we were catching up with Supercluster and Pylon vocalist Vanessa Briscoe Hay in Athens this month, we decided to go for broke (literally!) and ask the resident godmother of the Athens music scene to recommend some of her favorite local bands during a stroll through Wuxtry Records on East Clayton Street.
Hay then introduced us to Mike Turner, the founder of Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records whose prolific indie record label will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend with shows at The Caledonia Lounge featuring many acts from HHBTM.
From the HHBTM racks in the store, Hay turned us on to the EP from electronic pop duo The Lolligags and the hilarious, loud Cars Can Be Blue’s “Doubly Unbeatable” CD. Whispered Hay: “You’ve got to see them live. I took [B-52's frontman] Fred [Schneider] and he loved them.”
Hay is also a fan of Athens native Madeline Adams and her group Madeline’s latest, “White Flag” whose exquisite, emotional songwriting, we discovered, invites repeats listens. On the same car trip.
Standout tracks include the title song, “Jive Talking” and “Dirty South (Tie One On).”
Hay also playfully chided us when we confessed that we were tragically underexposed to the late, lamented Athens band’s Neutral Milk Hotel’s historic 1998 album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” (that was quickly remedied when she added a vinyl copy of the classic recording led by singer/songwriter Jeff Mangum to our growing pile).
The final purchase of the day? A DVD copy of the 1987 film “Athens, GA Inside Out,” the music documentary that first introduced local bands Pylon, Squalls, Love Tractor and Kilkenny Cats, along with Athens characters including folk artist Howard Finster to art house cinema audiences 22 years ago.
When we mentioned that we saw the film three times during it’s original theatrical release, Hay laughed and conceded: “I think we have a videotape copy somewhere at home. I can’t ever stand to watch myself in it!”