Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shakori Hills Spring 2012 Review

Holy Ghost Tent Revival @ Carson's Grove
Photo Courtesy of Agatha Donkar
Shakori Hills couldn't have come at a more perfect time for this busy college student.  Popping up right before exams kick in, who wouldn't want to spend four days in the woods surrounded by incredible people and incredible music?  While Spring Shakori lacked some of the pull of a big name headliner and suffered from a day full of cold untimely rain, Shakori Hills once again pulled off a weekend full of excellent music with the most welcoming environment a festival could truly have.  The festival boasted and eclectic lineup filled with dance-y gems from bands like Rubblebucket and Equanimous Minds, hip-hop excellence from The Beast and Blitz The Ambassador, and some of the best local music you can find in the Triangle.

I took a bit of a hands on approach to this Shakori Hills and joined my roommate and girlfriend in volunteering for the festival...well kind of.  I went out the weekend before the festival in an attempt to talk with some of the organizers on the origins of Shakori, but as I should have known everyone was in Showzilla mode and it just resulted in a day of lending a hand.  I wouldn't have had it any other way.  There's something about the community at Shakori Hills that just keeps festival goers coming back for more, and you can find that at it's roots with these volunteers.  Hammering stakes into the ground, assembling tents and wooden floors, hanging decorations from trees, there was a little bit of everything going on during these volunteer hours and it was an absolutely invigorating experience to be a part of.  All the way down to the chimes of the lunch bell ringing out through the grounds to call all of the volunteers in for a freshly cooked meal, this experience was just full of welcoming individuals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Around The Triangle: Delta Spirit, Plants & Animals, Frontier Ruckus, Avett Brothers, and more

Plants & Animals @ Local 506 on April 7, 2012
It's been a busy busy month Around The Triangle so we've got some catching up to do with our captures from the latest shows.  Last weekend saw a small crowd treated to an energetic and exciting set from Plants and Animals, while last week also held a highly heralded set from Delta Spirit at The Cat's Cradle. Aggie was also out at Frontier Ruckus at Local 506 a few weeks back, a band we were scheduled to shoot a Bottom String Session with but alas sicknesses arose and we had to cancel the session.  Frontier Ruckus is certainly a band that's still high on my list of Bottom String Session's though so fear not, you'll get your delicious acoustic goodness soon enough!  Rounding up our ATT this week includes shots from Grant Hart, Vacationer, and a couple of videos from The Avett Brothers' set at King's.

Show Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks w/ Bad Veins

Bad Veins @ Motorco
In February of 2010 I was graced with the privilege of seeing We Were Promised Jetpacks and Bad Veins pull the one-two punch in Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte.  I remember being floored by Bad Veins and even more surprised by how absolutely perfect Jetpacks' set was.  I went into the show blind to Bad Veins but a big WWPJ fan, so hearing that the combo was going to be coming to Motorco on April 7 naturally got me all schoolgirl giddy.  We Were Promised Jetpacks has since put out a relatively disappointing new album and Bad Veins are getting closer and closer to the release of their sophomore full length, judging by this show it looks like Bad Veins may be swiftly rising above Jetpacks in terms of longevity and energy.

Bad Veins produce unique indie-rock that has an absolutely mesmerizing live show.  From the minute you see the band setting up for sound check you're tantalized by the presence of the telephone hanging near the microphone, wondering just quite what singer Benjamin Davis will do with it.  Between playing guitar, keyboard, and singing, Davis also operates a reel-to-reel tape that adds wonders to the aesthetic of the band's performance.  It's incredible seeing two men produce music with such density on a live stage, especially considering they're still giving it their all and pouring with energy.

Bad Veins' phone set-up
From Davis' distorted shouts into the telephone to Sebastien Schultz' incessant drumming, Bad Veins filled Motorco with a sense of awe.  Though the band was constantly experiencing sound problems (Davis was asking for his monitor to be turned up in between nearly every single song, an experience I'd imagine could get grating for a band) they rolled right on through it with favorites from their debut full-length with "Gold and Warm", "Cross Eyed" and "Afraid", while mixing in new songs from their upcoming full length The Mess We've Made.  I captured video of the band's first single from The Mess We've Made, "Dancing On TV", which can be found after the jump.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Album Review: "Someone You Used To Know" by Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores

Someone You Used To Know by Wylie Hunter &
The Cazadores was released on March 31, 2012
Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores wear their influences on their sleeves, the sounds of Springsteen, Petty, and Dylan all mesh together in the band's impressive full-length "Someone You Used To Know".  It's got to be daunting being compared to some of the greatest songwriters of all time, but Hunter & The Cazadores work in a similar fashion to these classics, they've heralded a minimalist style of rootsy rock n' roll with a heavy emphasis on lyrics that shine through brightly on this record.

While the band lacks the flare of the E Street Band, their lighter approach is satisfying in it's own light.  This collection of 9 tracks oozes with character, giving us a true sense of Wylie Hunter's own lifestyle, values, and experiences.  You can stream and/or purchase the album digitally via the band's Bandcamp.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Album Review: "Home" by Midtown Dickens

Home was released by Midtown Dickens on April 3, 2012
 on Trekky Records.  The album release show is on
April 7 at The Cat's Cradle
This album couldn't be more aptly titled.  Midtown Dickens' rustic and nostalgic vibes have always jumped right out of their music and defined the band as one that's immediately relatable, sincere, and most importantly lovable.  Home is the band's second full-length album, but this one marks a bit of a step up from their debut effort.  For starters, Home is produced by Scott Solter, known mostly for producing greats like The Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice, and Okkervil River, Solter has made the album feel much more polished than Lanterns but still maintains its grounded sense of minimalistic sounds.  It doesn't feel overproduced or out of the Dickens' comfort zone, it sounds eerily familiar to their intimate shows that are filled with hoots and hollers, foot-stomping jams, and occasionally a soft and delicate song that's led with beautifully fingerpicked banjo or guitar that somehow evolves into yet another raucous sing-a-long.

Midtown Dickens have started picking up steam with this latest release, NPR is beginning to catch on, the band went on tour with The Mountain Goats last year, and they'll be playing at Pickathon in Portland with the likes of Neko Case, Phosphorescent, Blitzen Trapper, and much much more.  It seems as if the nation is finally taking notice of this gem of an act that's been hidden quietly in the Triangle for years now, but with Home the band's shouts and croons are finally carrying the weight they deserve.  The band will celebrate their album release with Diali Cissokho and Kairaba at The Cat's Cradle this Saturday, April 7.