Thursday, March 22, 2012

Around The Triangle: Bowerbirds, Caveman, Devil Makes Three, Good Old War, and more

Caveman @ Local 506 on March 6, 2012
Busy times as usual in the Triangle.  Last week saw what I've heard to be a stellar Bowerbirds release show (my car got towed from the McDonalds parking lot in Chapel Hill and I missed the show due to miscommunications!) and the previous week was filled with shows that were just as wonderful.  From a packed Cat's Cradle showing from Good Old War to Caveman tearing it up at Local 506, there was a little bit of something for everyone over the past couple of weeks.

Aggie was out at more shows than it seems physically possible (as per usual) and while I've been missing out on a few lately, things are about to start picking up yet again.  Check out video of Good Old War performing "Coney Island" as their encore at The Cat's Cradle below, along with plenty of incredible pictures compliments of Agatha Donkar.

Shakori Hills Spring Festival Line-up Announcement

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival is from April 19-22, 2012
in Pittsboro, NC.  Tickets are $95 in advance for
a 4-day pass
We're just under a month away from one of the semi-annual highlights of living in North Carolina, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.  The four day festival of music, dance, art and much more  kicks off this spring on April 19 and lasts through April 22.  Pittsboro will once again be packed full of phenomenal local acts as well as promising up-starts from all over the nation.

Headlined by the legendary Leftover Salmon and filled with grassroots favorites like Donna The Buffalo and Greg Humphreys, Shakori Hills is going to be an absolutely magical weekend as per usual.  While the festival lacks the powerful draws that Fall 2011 did (with a phenomenal lineup including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings as well as a reunited lineup of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones), the lineup more than makes up for that problem with the plethora of amazing local acts and swiftly rising touring bands.  Locals like Justin Robinson & The Mary Annettes, Midtown Dickens, Mandolin Orange, Bombadil, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and The Beast are huge stand-outs amongst the lineup.

Locals aside, the festival is bringing in some familiar names like Dirty Bourbon River Show (an absolute powerhouse of a band from New Orleans bringing a unique blend of zydeco-swing with a bit of a carnival esque touch to it), Driftwood (the band that seemed to be on everyone's lips at the end of Fall Shakori last year), and Shakori mainstays with Donna The Buffalo.  Other touring acts that I'm already giddy with anticipation to check out include Rubblebucket (with a late-night Thursday set that's sure to kick the festival off with a bang), Elephant Revival, and Dark Water Rising.  The full lineup can be found after the jump.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Show Review: Good Old War w/ The Belle Brigade, Family of the Year

Keith Goodwin of Good Old War
As terrible as it sounds, it's rare these days that you can go to a show and be blown away by every act.  Whether it be atmosphere, live abilities, or just straight out talent, it's hard sometimes to find a puzzle in which all of the pieces fit.  Last Saturday was that perfect puzzle.  A fantastic show at The Cat's Cradle from Good Old War, The Belle Brigade, and Family of the Year has become my standout show of the year so far.

The pacing of each band was perfect, from the pseudo poppy folk music from Family of the Year to the seemingly intimate set from Belle Brigade (I say seemingly because The Cradle was getting quite the crowd around this set, however the band still kept their stage banter to that of which you'd expect in a tiny bar room) to the euphoric sounds of Good Old War, it was just an all around phenomenal show.

After eating far too much of my chorizo burrito from Carburrito, I got to the Cat's Cradle a few songs into Family of the Year's set.  Walking into a show being completely oblivious of a band is something I like to dabble in from time to time because the excitement of experiencing a new band for the first time live is something that doesn't happen enough.  Family of the Year didn't disappoint, their set seemed concise but conveyed their energetic pop-folk in the perfect light.  While some of their lyrics were borderline generic ("You bring the ocean, I'll bring the motion/Together we'll make a love potion"), their melodies and instrumentation was enough to keep their songs stuck firmly in your mind.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Album Review: "The Clearing" by Bowerbirds

The Clearing by Bowerbirds was released on
March 5, 2012 on Dead Oceans
Bowerbirds have been a staple of the Carolina music scene for years now, but never before have they released a project as ambitious as The Clearing.  Filled with rich textures, Bowerbirds have done a fantastic job at maintaining their rustic sound while filling in their soundscape with fantastic instrumentation including cellos, violins, trombones, and much more.  With a huge album release show at The Cat's Cradle on Saturday March 17, the band will finally get a much needed celebration for this fantastic release.  Fellow North Carolina folk-duo/couple of Mandolin Orange will be opening, providing for what is sure to be a mesmerizing evening with two of the state's finest acts.

While this album can be viewed as their most ambitious, it's clearly that way for a reason as a lot has gone on within the band since their last album.  Phil and Beth had what was explained as a "disaster chapter" before the making of The Clearing, the two had broken up for a year before getting back together and Beth had severe health issues, it seems like the issues just piled on top of one another before finally everything came back to fruition.  This stressful period is abundantly clear when listening to the album and the band did a phenomenal job at painting this vivid picture of such an important time in their lives.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Album Review: "Concha" by Organos

Concha by Organos was released on March 6, 2012
The album release show is March 10 @ The Pinhook
Concha is a lovely, albeit short, collection of tracks from Organos, whose front woman, Maria Albani, might be better known as the bass player of Schooner.  This is a far leap from Schooner though, as Albani's work is filled with low-fi pop gems that range from slow paced but methodical to minute long tracks filled with wonderful melodies and claps galore.  Concha's album release show will be this Saturday at The Pinhook with The Spacemen and Curtains.  To build up to the release of Concha, Organos has been releasing videos to coincide with tracks from the album over on Vimeo which served as an excellent teaser for the album's release.

Organos makes a unique brand of pop music, they've got an interesting talent that most bands making pop music don't have, the element of surprise.  Maria Albani has made a great pop album that clocks in at just under twenty minutes, but it's got an excellent sense of pacing to make those eighteen minutes feel like the perfect length of time for an album.  One of the standout tracks with "Side Girl" runs a full 1:36, but with its infectious vocal melody and ever-so inviting claps (which are terribly fun for a live show) it makes for an incredible song.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Around The Triangle: Craig Finn, Dex Romweber, and Heartless Bastards

Flesh Wounds @ Cat's Cradle on March 1st
Shows on shows on shows on shows.  Or something like that.  While I've been lacking in the shows department lately, Aggie seems to have been making up for far more than my lack of attendance.  Check out all of her shots on her photoblog at brandnewkindof, but for now here's some of the gems from the recent shows Around The Triangle.

Craig Finn
Saturday March 3rd @ Local 506 in Chapel Hill

Friday, March 2, 2012

Album Review: "Baobab" by Baobab

Baobab is the self-titled self-produced debut from
Durham's Baobab, released in February 2012
There must be something in the water out here in the triangle seeing as fantastic new music has been popping up all over the place.  I became enthralled with Baobab after I came late into their set at WKNC's Double Barrel Benefit Day Party, their minimalist experimental style is compelling to say the least.  It's filled with multi-cultural influences and a wonderful blend of acoustic and electronic sounds all capped off with Phil Torres' soothing vocals and catchy melodies.

This fourteen track debut album is a self-produced gem out of Durham that combines aspects of folk, electronic, experimental, and world music.  It sounds like a conglomeration influences that could very easily produce a half-hazard release, but Baobab has outweighed my expectations completely.  Each track is a stand-out, making for phenomenal cohesion.  The juxtaposition of this wall of sound with raw acoustic guitars layered over it makes for an incredible soundscape that is far easier than expected to find yourself lost in.  Filled with reverberated worldly chants that can often sound afro-pop-ish, the duo of Baobab has done a wonderful job of making themselves stand out in the triangle music scene.  One could argue they're one of the most diverse acts in the region, while they fit a current archetype of a two-person band that sounds much fuller in studio than live, they still pull off their performances wonderfully with a backing track.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trekky Records Releases "Amalgam" Mixtape

Trekky Records' Amalgam Release
Show is on March 2 at Nightlight
On Friday at Nightlight in Chapel Hill, Trekky Records will be celebrating the release of their brand new mix tape featuring some of the finest artists in the state.  Amalgam is a fantastic compilation featuring new tracks from Lost in the Trees and Midtown Dickens upcoming records as well as new music for the first time in six years from Vibrant Green, one of Trekky's grizzled veteran groups.  The release show is $5 and features performances from Butterflies, Phil Cook & His Feat, Vibrant Green and a surprise guest making their return to Nightlight.

Amalgam is a fantastic snapshot of Trekky's artists, giving new tracks from some of the label's premier bands as well as some of the best songs from Trekky's ten year history.  There's a lovely blend of tight indie-rock from bands like Butterflies and Embarrassing Fruits, giving us tracks from their latest releases, as well as the rustic folk music that shines so brightly with Trekky like Phil Cook & His Feat.  One of the best parts of Amalgam is the nostalgic tunes that can be found on the mix tape, bands like Mortar + Pestle (featuring Josh Kimbrough of Butterflies and Joe Norkus of Embarrassing Fruits), Physics of Meaning (an act that we quite frankly see FAR too little of in my opinion), and Vibrant Green rear their heads back up to open up a world of new music for those who may not be as familiar with Trekky's back catalogue.