Sound Advice: Hive Dwellers, Nots, and Michael Peery at Otherlands

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K Records founder and indie-rock icon Calvin Johnson hits Memphis this week with his new band, Hive Dwellers, performing at Otherlands Coffee Bar.

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Calvin Johnson is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer from Seattle and the founder of influential indie label, K Records. At the age of 15 he began volunteering at KAOS-FM, nearby Olympia's community radio station. The station’s unique programming policy mandated playing music from independent and artist-owned labels rather than more corporate media, and the do-it-yourself ethos was a great influence on Johnson's notably whimsical career.

He established K Records 1982 and formed the band Beat Happening the same year, early leaders in the indie rock and lo-fi movements.

Johnson moved on to create the Go Team, a project based around the core duo of Johnson and punk-rock feminist Tobi Vail (later of Bikini Kill and Kill Rock Stars), with a rotating cast of collaborators that included Kurt Cobain, Billy Karren, and Donna Dresch. He then started Dub Narcotic Sound System — named after his accomplished analog recording studio — with another collective that included Larry Butler, Todd Ranslow, and Brian Weber (members of hip-hop group Dead Presidents). Johnson has also previously worked with Modest Mouse, Beck, Heavenly, Jens Lekman, and the Gossip, among many others.

Check out Beat Happening playing the Shangri-La parking lot in Memphis, circa 1992:

Johnson's latest band, Hive Dwellers, is a decidedly funkier project than previous endeavors. 2010 saw the release of the band’s debut, Get In, and, this year, the band put out a new LP, Hewn from the Wilderness. After much experience on the road, Johnson refuses to play in bars and prefers all-ages shows, with Otherlands providing a comfortable Memphis venue. Beyond Memphis, the Hive Dwellers are set to hit Pegasus Records in Florence, Alabama, Sluggo’s North in Chattanooga, and Blackbird Coffee in Milledgeville, Georgia.

The Hive Dwellers perform "Sitting Alone at the Movies:"

Opening up is newly formed band, Nots, comprised of Carly Greenwell, Natalie Hoffmann, and Charlotte Watson, post-Bake Sale. After the loss of Bake Sale’s second drummer, the original members decided to start anew and explore the more narrow possibilities of just bass, drums, and guitar.

Nots debut at the Lamplighter:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Michael Peery (of popular local bands Magic Kids and Sex Cult) will also showcase his new solo project, Hail Maria, a collection of songs inspired by the conflicted legacy of Christopher Columbus. Besides playing drums in a punk band and guitar in a pop band, Perry’s own material is politically and intellectually driven, with songs spouting themes of imperialism, exploitation, and globalization through the glorified image of Christopher Columbus. But the generous and light-hearted sound makes for more of a Brian Wilson feel with Latin vibes.

Hive Dwellers, Nots, and Michael Peery
Wednesday, March 28th, 8-11 p.m. $5. Otherlands

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