Friday, May 31, 2013

Listen To New Music From Lilac Shadows and Jenny Besetzt

Find me a better local label than DiggUp Tapes.  I'd give you time to do so but I highly doubt that said label exists right now.  DiggUp has been firing on all cylinders lately, whether they're releasing incredible music from some of the state's fastest rising acts, consistently putting on fantastic shows around the Triangle, or reviving the tried and true art of cassettes, the label is always giving back to this tight-knit music community.

Most recently the label has been putting out stellar Cassingles featuring new tracks from some of my favorite local acts.  We've been given some stellar new music from The Human Eyes, Spider Bags, Oulipo, Body Games and much more in the past few months.  However, the label's most recent release proves to be one of the standouts of the past few months.

Lilac Shadows and Jenny Besetzt recently teamed up for an east coast tour that kicked off with yet another Cassingle release show, marking the debut of two new fantastic songs from these local gems.  Lilac Shadows contributed a shimmering new song called "Turn It Off", trading in their darker, moody sounds for a dazzling pop tune that oozes with summer aesthetics.  While the group's lyricism retains its bleek and somber tones, the melodies are bursting with energy, soaring above pulsing rhythms and driving guitar lines.

Jenny Besetzt on the other hand, deliver a down-tempo track with a slow-build to counter Lilac's in your face pop tune. John Wollober's vocals provide a haunting tint to this minimalistic track. "Dennison Corners" is mostly comprised of a repeating chord progression and Wollober's bleak, static melody that glides slowly through this low-key track.

Listen to the two new songs below and share your thoughts:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Holy Ghost Tent Revival To Release An Album Of Previously Unheard Recordings, "The Blood Beneath"

The slow rise of Holy Ghost Tent Revival has been filled with many ups and downs, members have come and gone, their sound has evolved and fans have cheered and jeered at the developing sound of these raucous performers from Greensboro.  While some applaud the natural progression of this former rag-time folk group, many have found themselves yearning for the bluegrass days of Patrick Leslie and Mike O'Malley.  Well yearn no longer, as Holy Ghost Tent Revival have announced the June 10 release of a The Blood Beneath, a "lost album" from 2010 that highlights the group's beloved beginnings.

Along with this announcement the group has released two of the fifteen tracks to be featured on The Blood Beneath, "Shadow Rag" and "Hopelessly Longing".  Both songs immediately take me back to the packed-out, sweat-filled shows of the group's past.  Stephen Murray and Patrick Leslie's smooth harmonies fill "Shadow Rag", packed tightly into a mix that's bursting with soaring horns and vivacious rhythms.  "Hopelessly Longing" begins with a slow build and Leslie's lone vocals, but erupts into the group's familiar call and response trade-off of vocal duties.

The album features an early recording of Sweat Like The Old Days' "Young Black Hair" and various other tracks from the early days of HGTR.  While the album won't be getting a physical release, it will serve as a digital glimpse into the past of a dynamic group of North Carolina musicians. Holy Ghost's unfiltered sense of self has always led to powerful songs capable of commanding listeners to lose themselves to the timeless twists and turns of their infectious sounds.

You can pre-order The Blood Beneath for $10 on the group's Bandcamp and receive a download of "Shadow Rag" and "Hopelessly Longing".  But for now you can also preview the tracks below:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Album Review: "Vermillion" by Dirty Art Club

Vermillion by Dirty Art Club is released on May 28
on Phonosaurus Records
I can't remember the last time a local band surprised me as much as Dirty Art Club.  The Charlotte based duo of Matt Cagle & Madwreck deliver dense tracks filled with hip-hop styled breaks and psychedelic instrumentation, but most importantly they're capable of eliciting emotion through their music.  When I first heard Hexes, Dirty Art Club's 2012 EP, I was immediately enthralled by their brilliant Dilla-esque production.

Hexes contained dark undertones and a chaotic sense of direction, but Vermillion is vastly different in that sense.  Vermillion is filled with bright melodic exploration, showcasing heady tracks with entrancing rhythms and tight percussion.  Coated sun-soaked, reverb washed grooves, Vermillion is another incredible release for a band that's on the fast track to great things.

Album opener "Hemlock" glides along with a constant, smooth bassline and choppy vocal samples but gradually expands into a surprisingly expansive track with airy woodwinds and lush strings.  The song seamlessly deviates from its bassy foundation into an easy listening soft-rock dreamscape for it's closing seconds to make for an even more fulfilling transition to the standout "Sun Burn."  The aptly titled track plays out like a sepia-toned summer soundtrack thats filled with soulful samples, funky basslines and commanding rhythms.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ears to the Ground: "Calm Down" by The Love Language

The Love Language's new album, Ruby Red will be
released on July 23 on Merge Records
Fans of the North Carolina music scene are most likely already familiar with The Love Language, the brainchild of Stu McLamb.  Their debut full-length wowed listeners with lo-fi bedroom pop that was crafted in a grandiose manner.  Crackles and hisses couldn't quell the mighty presence of McLambs vocals and the band quickly picked up steam, signing to Merge Records for their 2010 follow-up Libraries.  While their self-titled record gained them local notoriety, the shimmering summer sounds of Libraries gave the group national attention.

Stu McLamb wears his heart on his sleeve in these albums, the songs pour out like a late night heart-to-heart with an old friend.  The raw grit and intensity of their lo-fi debut has blossomed into fully fleshed out anthems of heart-ache and nostalgia.  The Love Language has since gone on to perform at festivals like Coachella and most recently debuted a brand new track from their upcoming full-length Ruby Red on Pitchfork.

"Calm Down" is driven by snappy percussion and sharp basslines, coated in McLamb's reverb washed vocals.  The sonic progression in this band continues, expanding upon the strong foundation set forth by their previous efforts.  "Calm Down" bursts into an explosive chorus of rich textures and powerful melodies, and the rest of Ruby Red feels quite similar.  I got to listen to the test pressing as I was interning at Merge last week and must say that the group has continued to grow stronger, the songs are crisp and full of energy while maintaining a balance between slow-churners and faster songs of summer.  The album's closer is capped with a robust string arrangement, further solidifying the expansion of this already sonically immense group.

Ruby Red won't be released until July 23 but you can hear "Calm Down" below.  Also check out the video we shot at Hopscotch 2011 of the group performing a cover of Diana Ross and The Supreme's "My World Is Empty Without You":