Friday, December 21, 2012

UNC's Beat Making Lab release new track + featured on State of Things

2012 was an incredibly exciting year in the triangle, but one of the things that I was the most enthralled with was without a doubt the Beat Making Lab run by Pierce Freelon of The Beast and Stephen Levitin, better known as Apple Juice Kid.  The Beat Making Lab is based out of a Chapel Hill classroom but swiftly expanded its reach worldwide, traveling most recently to the Democratic Republic of Congo and currently working on a trip to Panama.  While the first semester of this class resulted in a stellar mixtape called "Tarheel Tracks", a mix that consisted of students sampling local acts like The Love Language, I Was Totally Destroying It, and even Anthony Hamilton, the resulting tunes from the DRC project have already begun to seep out and prove to be even more enthralling than their last output.

Stephen and Pierce were on WUNC's The State of Things on Thursday and previewed a few tracks from the DRC's lab, one of which they released as a free download, "Cho Cho Cho".  Stephen and Pierce also spoke on the possibility of a Triangle community lab as well as a future open source software for beat making.

All eyes should be on this Beat Making Lab, they're doing fantastic things for the music community not only within our great state but across the globe.  They're bringing 21st century music production to folks that would otherwise have little to no access to these resources, it's a task that isn't easily tackled but these two are working wonders.  "Cho Cho Cho" forays into EDM territory while incorporating hip-hop sentiments infused with world music stylings of syncopated rhythms and anthemic melodies.  Check out "Cho Cho Cho" below and listen to their full State of Things interview here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Bottom String's Top 10 North Carolina Albums of 2012

As December begins to roll on through just as swiftly as the rest of the year did, it's been a hard process to narrow down my favorite releases from the state this year.  2012 was yet another fantastic year for North Carolina artists, many of our favorite local darlings have begun to achieve more national success than one could have ever imagined.  Acts like Midtown Dickens have begun getting the national attention they deserve from outlets like NPR, Mount Moriah signed to Merge Records and announced their sophomore LP (to be released in February 2013), and countless fantastic new acts have found their footing and began making waves in our already overflowing music scene.

With Hopscotch growing larger than ever before, bringing in highly esteemed acts like The Roots and Jesus and Mary Chain, the tobacco state has been getting heavy praise for it's tightly packed, deep-rooted community of musicians.  While touring artists were bringing in fans from across the country it was local acts like T0W3RS, Jenny Besetzt, and Hiss Golden Messenger that left Hopscotch'ers floored...and rightfully so!  2012 was filled with an insane amount of wonderful North Carolina tunes, so without further ado I give you my ten favorite releases of the year:

10.  Pastoral - JKutchma & The Five Fifths
The full-time frontman of Red Collar has turned a solo side-project into an absolute gem of a live act.  Much like other local side projects, Kutchma enlisted in the help of fellow local musicians to take time out from their regular bands to participate in one of the finest, most unique releases of the year.  While it's easy to write Kutchma off as a Springsteen-lite, Kutchma brings and intensity and passion to his music that is unparalleled.  Seeing Kutchma command a crowd at Tir Na Nog this past Hopscotch is what solidified his excellence for me, flailing around stage with a sense of purpose whilst combining punk rock furiosity with Americana's honesty and sentimentality, Kutchma's songs range from shouts to whispers.  Tracks like "Teenage DMZ" have a jangly yet gritty bounce to it that makes it easy to take in Kutchma's raw imagery while still dancing around like a fool.  However, the other side of the coin is found within tracks like "I'll Survive", a somber track that details the struggles of coping with the hard times but coming out alive and kicking.  Pastoral is a fantastic release from a versatile group of local artists, one can only hope for more of the Fife Fifths to be popping up in 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

AC Entertainment announces Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit

For the past three years AC Entertainment, the company responsible for the U.S. superfest Bonnaroo, has been bringing an eclectic mix of indie rock darlings and electronic savants to the great city of Asheville under the Moogfest banner.  Starting the same year as Raleigh's Hopscotch, the two festivals have acted as staples of the Carolina music scene by providing vastly different but insanely enjoyable festival experiences.  However, it appears that 2013 will be opening new doors for the fantastic mountain city of Asheville, as AC Entertainment recently announced that they've left the Moogfest banner and will instead be hosting a brand new festival, Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit.

Ashley Capps, AC Entertainment CEO, said that Moogfest has not been re-liscensed to AC Entertainment and that "...we really have no choice but to re-name it.  We enjoyed booking, marketing and producing our event for our fans and want to continue with them on this creative journey."  While Moogfest will surely continue on within it's regular Halloween weekend slot, the addition of Mountain Oasis opens up an exciting realm of possibilities for live music in Asheville.  The beautiful town has a thriving culture of its own, walking down the street one can find busking accordion players and friendly smiles.  This large and thriving city has maintained the sense of community found within a small mountain town, but most importantly it's open to welcoming the booming electronic scene.  This past year Beech Mountain was home to the seemingly disastrous Gnarnia Festival, but Mountain Oasis will provide a legitimate outlet for those anxious Carolinians looking to get their dance on.  AC Entertainment has brought electronic pioneers like Flying Lotus, Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, and Brian Eno to Asheville within the past few years and will surely continue on with this exciting new festival.

News on both Mountain Oasis and Moogfest will be coming in 2013, and whether Mountain Oasis contains the diversity found within Moogfest's lineup has yet to be seen.  But either way, this can only mean great things for the bustling festival scene in North Carolina.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gross Ghost announce Odessa debut + tour with Spider Bags

Gross Ghost @ Hopscotch 2012
It's no secret that Gross Ghost is one of my favorite local bands, ever since they put out their Lip City EP I've been addicted to their refreshing take on surf rock sentiments fused with a punk rock drive, topped of nicely with the infectiously poppy melodies of songwriter Mike Dillon.  Gross Ghost released their debut full length, Brer Rabbit, this February on Grip Tapes and it seems that the band hit the ground running and never stopped in 2012.  They've hit up quite a few east coast tours and some high profile dates with local favorites The Love Language, and damn near tore down Berkeley Cafe with a capacity show at Hopscotch.  The sight of wall-to-wall fans vigorously rocking out to Gross Ghost was something that stayed with me throughout Hopscotch, it was an indefinite highlight of the weekend.

Most recently the band announced an upcoming tour with Spiderbags, a band hailed by Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus as one of the best bands in the world.  The tour kicks off on January 15 at The Pinhook in Durham and makes stops in Virginia, Philly, New York, and Baltimore.  While this was exciting news in itself, it was recently announced that Gross Ghost would also be joining Spider Bags as a member of the Odessa Records family.  Gross Ghost is set to release their sophomore full length next spring with the Chapel Hill record label, home to fantastic local acts like Wesley Wolfe, Kingsbury Manx and Americans in France.  Color me excited, Odessa has been a local favorite for me since I discovered Wesley Wolfe back at Troika Music Festival's last year and I've been a fan ever since.  With one of the consistently strongest outputs of the state, one can expect great things from this blossoming relationship.  Check out our You Should Know feature on Gross Ghost below:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Robes release video for "Dead Sounds"

If there's one new local band that hasn't gotten anywhere near the amount of attention that they deserve it's probably Robes.  Throughout the year they've been the opening act for some stellar bands such Youth Lagoon and YACHTS, yet something still hasn't clicked within the Triangle to catch on to this awesome group.  Robes are based out of Chapel Hill and are a member of the Potluck family along with the likes of Schooner and Organos, but they're bringing something far different than the rest of the Potluck roster.  Robes build upon tight electronic drum beats that coincide perfectly with the upbeat yet melancholy tone of their music.  An even blend of breezy and beefy synths entangle themselves within driving bass and catchy guitar hooks, all of which sit comfortably under an infectious, poppy melody.

Robes released a promising 7" this summer entitled "Dead Sounds", and the band recently teamed up with Hueism Pictures (the same crew responsible for videos from Mount Moriah, Kooley High, and the wonderful Kool A.D) to release a video for the title track of "Dead Sounds".  Robes will be performing at the Local 506 for a free "Merch Holiday Dance Party" on December 26.  Consider it a late Christmas present to yourself and go check this band out, you won't be disappointed!  Check out the new video below:

Robes - Dead Sound from Hueism Pictures on Vimeo.