MP3: John Vournakis & the Petty Thieves – “22″

John Vournakis

I get a ton of unsolicited CDs. Through the mail, at shows, in the bars. For me, it’s one of the best parts about running this blog—the opportunity to discover a new favorite, some hidden gem that’s gone unheard by myself, and, most likely, the majority of those following the Atlanta music scene. But the reality is most of the stuff I receive is borderline (or just plain) terrible. Badly written, poorly produced, shoddily marketed muck. But on occasion I receive something like John Vournakis & the Petty Thieves.

When he’s not leading his folk trio, Vournakis plays guitar for psych-pop outfit Slowriter, and it was in this context that I happened to meet him. Slowriter was gracious enough to agree to perform at our recent showcase, and after their performance, Vournakis stopped by to introduce himself and chat, and also to hand me a CD of his solo project. I stuffed it away in my pocket and, after a few more beers and a devastating performance from headliners Cattle Drums, forgot all about it.

A few days later, I found the CD on the floor of my car (it must have slid out of my pocket at some point). I put it on—curious, but not expecting much. “22″ was the first track to spill out of my speakers, a jaunty, stripped-down, whimsically sad ditty about life and death and the importance of family and love. After it was over, I played it again. And then again and again. Honestly, it’s probably not the best song to post; it comes and goes so quickly you barely have time to digest any of it before Vournakis strikes the closing chord. But it’s a song that sticks with you, that seeps into your brain and lingers. There are some other fine moments on the self-titled, five-song EP—most notably the lovely and unassuming “Bloody Ground”—but none that have the same immediacy as the opening cut. Give it a listen below and then head over to Vournakis’ Bandcamp where you can download the entire EP for free.

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