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The COMPASS: Athens, GA

Athens
Check out the full COMPASS series here!

By Coley Dennis of Maserati

Athens is a microcosm unlike any other city I’ve ever seen — equal parts indie rock mecca, college party animal house, and football-obsessed mental ward. Yup, I’ve called this place home for 15 years. It’s a strange environment that only attracts the true slackers and let’s them thrive. If playing in a band is your thing, working 3 days a week, or going all out to become beer pong champion, you really can’t find a place better suited for you. Welcome to the musical paradise that is Athens, Georgia.

orange twin

Orange Twin is a collective, a record label, a commune, you name it. It started out as a property outside of Athens owned by the Elephant 6 folks where they threw gatherings and concerts, and has now become something bigger, like a mini underground society where they can pick and choose exactly what they wanna do. If it’s going camping out there, having a special show for Jandek, or a lucky friend’s wedding, it has become this special place that is completely and uniquely Athens. If there is a place where all the sounds of Athens’ imaginative pop music is constantly pouring from, it has to be here. Its like entering a world of pure imagination. Yup, just like Charlie.

The Caledonia Lounge has been a second home for me for the last 15 years or so. No better place in Athens to get cheap beer and listen to the best bands you’ve ever or never heard of. As an added bonus, it’s probably the best sounding room in town, not to mention it’s the room where the first REM show went down. Add that one to your trivia arsenal.

+ Read more: Plan a tour through the Pacific Northwest with Briana Marela’s “The Compass: Seattle”

Low Yo Yo Stuff Records

Low Yo Yo Stuff Records has been shaping my musical mind for almost 20 years. My favorite record store in town, and run by guys who were running this thing back when vinyl was cool the first time. Whatever time of day you come in here, I guarantee you are going to hear something you love or that you will soon love. The most knowledgeable staff of any other store I’ve been in, I often just go in to talk for hours with these guys. Always a great selection of used LPs, and if tapes are your thing, talk to Jeramy because he is the source!

Aqua Linda Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

It’s a little known secret, but the BEST BAND in town is the 3-piece mariachi band that plays at the Aqua Linda Mexican Restaurant & Cantina on Thursday nights. Try the al pastor tacos, too. You can thank me later…

Ask any Athenian, and they will know who Jazzy-J is. He’s been busking around town for as long as I can remember, rappin’ to groups of sorority girls, wasted frat boys, and any locals who are in the mood for a drunken rap battle. He may lie somewhere on the more annoying side of the Athens music scene, but if you let him in, even briefly, he’ll get a smile out of you for sure.

Interested in hearing more about the sounds of cities from the artists who love them? Catch up on the full COMPASS series here.

maserati
Photo by Matt Cherry.

Maserati is a band obsessed with process. Specifically, they’re obsessed with the process of marrying the past to the future – retro futurists hellbent on forging Krautrock and classic rock into one motorik, monolithic vehicle. For the past decade Maserati has built a career out of relentless forward momentum – a tight, sleek, chugging beast that drove towards the sun and rarely veered off course.

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