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Now It's Overhead

Athens, Georgia, how you've changed. Ages ago, you coughed up the The B-52s, and a little later, R.E.M.. For many of us, those bands still represent Athens, Georgia musically, though the advent of Neutral Milk Hotel changed that some.

To some extent Now It's Overhead, featuring Andy LeMaster (the band's main creative force) and members of Azure Ray (an Athens band until they moved to Omaha) plus drummer Clay Leverett, follows in the footsteps of Neutral Milk Hotel without being quite as passionate. LeMaster's vocals are more pensive; he probably doesn't go hoarse after each show.

The music on Now It's Overhead's 2001 self-titled debut album, which is excellently produced and engineered (LeMaster runs and co-owns Chase Park Transduction Studio with ex-Sugar bassist David Barbe and The Glands' Andy Baker ) strikes a new sound for Athens. Its space rock vibe shares Neutral Milk Hotel's fuzzy openness. LeMaster's crooning Southern twang hangs over all of this, at times ringing a little sharp, but for the most part perfectly suited for the music it accompanies.

Here's hoping for a quality follow-up album. With the departure of Azure Ray (though they're still on Saddle Creek Records) it'll be interesting to see how this group matures.