Friday, August 29, 2014

Hopscotch Highlight: Celestial Shore

Celestial Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will perform on
Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6 at
Hopscotch Music Festival
You never really realize how stupidly excited for Hopscotch you are until you're only a week away. Thoughts of sore feet, slightly sunburnt necks and sweaty springs between venues become something to look forward to as you frenetically plan out how you'll possibly make it all the way from CAM to Kings and everywhere in between. After perusing the lineup more times than one could ever care to count, it seems like the schedule is finally set in stone (with some obvious room to pop in and out of shows based on the crowd reactions). While it's absurdly exciting to be seeing St. Vincent, Spoon and Mastodon in the middle of our downtown city streets, some of the best parts of the festival is usually from the young upstarts that perform at the gorgeous Fletcher Opera Hall. Last year San Fermin served as one of the absolute highlights of the festival, it reminded me of how beautiful it is when venues and bands perfectly sync. Fletcher is a versatile venue that feels just as comfortable for orchestral baroque pop as it does for spastic, dreamy psych rock like Celestial Shore.

Celestial Shore have been barreling through any expectations of an upstart group of 20-somethings, churning out two full-length albums in a little over a year while earning opening slots with folks like Deerhoof, Ava Luna and Freeman on Friday at Hopscotch. Celestial Shore feels instantly familiar whilst simultaneously being entirely fresh. It's like if The Beach Boys took a dose of bad acid and listened to too much Flaming Lips. There's enough enchanting melodies to keep listeners honed in on the airy vocals while their rhythms and time signatures flip to-and-fro to keep listeners on their toes as well. I spoke with Sam Owens (coincidentally from my hometown of New Bern) about the origins of the band and the blog-buzz they've recently received.

1) When and how did Celestial Shore get started?
We explored the ins and outs of our early 20s together…through music and misadventures. discovered our miscreant tendencies, dropped our responsibilities and found stability in the idea of playing loud music for extended periods of time. we lived in a few different cities, and ended up in the indie swamps of Brooklyn.

2) Did the earliest songs you worked on sound like your current musical output? If not how do you think your sound has evolved throughout the duration of the band?
I'm not sure. To me they sound different. To you they may all be variations on a theme. I feel the quality has improved.

3) When you're writing songs is there an equal musical voice throughout the band regardless of instrument, or does everyone generally stick to their own parts and pieces?
Greg and I switch off singing lead and harmony. max plays drums. We all write things.

4) You got picked up by Hometapes for your first full-length and immediately started to receive a lot of national attention? Did that place any internal pressure on the band or was this the goal from the get-go?
We've always wanted to enjoy some level of success in music. We haven't gotten there yet.

5) Along with that national attention naturally comes the constant reaction from the blog-o-sphere? Do you stay up to date with who's writing what? Do their pieces/reviews have any effect on the way you view or approach your music?
We all pay attention in our own way. we're definitely not above it. it feels good when someone sings your praises, and it feels bad when they pan you. Its impossible not to react. The climate is confusing but amid frustrations I appreciate the opportunity to reach people through the internet.

6) You've had a pretty quick turnover when it comes to album releases, you've already got your second full-length set for release this October? Do you see yourself keeping up with this pace or are you just in a creative spike right now?
I'd like to keep up the pace. It would be fun to challenge the idea of the current album cycle, but I realize its not a marathon. We'll see how it goes.

7) How do you think Enter Ghost sonically and thematically compares to 10x?
Enter Ghost is more realistic. The energy and sounds are more obvious, less oblivious. If 10x was a game of cat and mouse in some dark alley,  Enter Ghost is a psychedelic romp around the east village.

8) You've got a very spastic, yet somehow fluid sound. If you had to choose three bands to describe your sound to a new listener, who would you choose?
During Enter Ghost, I was listening to T.Rex, The Breeders, and Big Star.

Celestial Shore performs at Fletcher Opera Hall at 10:30 pm on Friday, Sept. 5. They'll also be performing at the Trekky/Hometapes Day Party at The Pour House at 1:15 pm on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Hopscotch Recommendations: Freeman, Ava Luna, Krill, Palehound, Landlady and Prince Rama

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ears To The Ground: "So Hard" by Daddy Issues

Daddy Issues (Greensboro) released their new single,
"So Hard" on Bandcamp Aug. 26
Within recent years the Triad region has begun to develop quite the bustling music scene. While folks who hear that statement may immediately jump towards Winston-Salem and the burgeoning scene being developed with the help of Phuzz Records, it'd be unfair to write Greensboro out of the picture so soon. The city hosts a truly eclectic mixture of acts, bands like Holy Ghost Tent Revival serve as the scene's figureheads while The Collective and Lowland Hum are gaining steam with their beautiful melodic folk. Although their orchestral tunes get bukus of focus, Greensboro has always been home to a more raucous rock scene as well. Venues thrive on DIY atmospheres, you're able to find a nationally touring act inside of an I Love NY Pizza and frankly few other cities can make that claim.

One of the acts coming out of Greensboro that's set on slowly building a name for themselves through no-frills, hooky surf rock is Daddy Issues. The female-centric surf-punk quartet is comprised of Lo Davy, Lindsey Sprague, Maddie Putney, and Amethyst White. Together they craft unabashed rock n' roll with the same tenacity of any grizzled band of unkempt dudes you can find. They toss out any preconceived notions of an entirely female rock band with their latest single "So Hard," a song that's literally about making a dude's dick so hard that he's miles away. The band are unapologetic in how crass and straight forward their songs can be, and that's what makes them so great. If you're looking for some stereotypical songs about love, boys and other ridiculously gendered topics then you can get the hell out and go listen to some Best Coast or something. If you're looking for a band that prides themselves on being original, authentic and honest as hell then look no further than Daddy Issues.

Daddy Issues fits right alongside Triangle rockers like Gross Ghost and Ghostt Bllonde (despite their lack of a spooky ghost name) and have bukus of promise lying within these simplistic songs. The band will be performing at ReverbNation's Hopscotch Day Party on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Deep South alongside Hammer No More The Fingers, Jenny Besetzt, Iggy Cosky (of The Lollipops) and thefacesblur (of Body Games).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hopscotch Highlight: Wild Fur

When I first had contact with Wylie Hunter, the local songwriter behind the Americana group Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores, I was immediately hooked. Hunter's got a serious knack for catchy hooks and booming choruses, regardless of whether he's singing in jest of tattoo'd girls or with an earnest hint of sadness over lost loves, he's doing it with passion. That's probably what got me so excited when news of Wild Fur came around. Hunter and fellow local powerhouse Nick Jaeger teamed up last year to create the inexplicably awesome duo of Wild Fur. Combining both artist's songwriting prowess, they immediately began to push genre boundaries between pop, Americana and electronic with their numerous singles (one of which was premiered here on The Bottom String). When Hopscotch's lineup dropped and I saw Wild Fur, I immediately knew I'd have to check them out at some point throughout the weekend. After getting a sneak peek of their live set-up at a recent Local Band Local Beer, it was clear that they'd be one of the weekend's highlights for this busy festival. I recently spoke with Wild Fur about the origins of the band, why they chose to release singles initially as opposed to an EP, and their Hopscotch excitements.

1. What brought the two of you together musically? I know Nick has been involved in a slew of local projects both as a musician and producer, but what specifically sparked the decision to start a project such as Wild Fur?

Wild Fur was started as a way for both of us to do something different with no preconceived notions of what we were trying to sound like. Had these been recorded or released under the monikers of “the Cazadores” or “The Tomahawks” they would be perceived as sounding a certain way because of association with those bands. We were both in a place where we wanted to explore new territories and and not be bound by what had come before.

2. Did you have a musical direction in mind when you started the band or was this just how it came out?

The idea from the beginning has been to avoid genre and follow the muse of each individual song.

3. How do you break up the songwriting responsibilities?

In short, we're still discovering the process. In the beginning we each had songs or song ideas that we had been working on individually. We worked through those ideas together and kept what we liked. Anything we disliked was reworked or rewritten entirely. Every part of an arrangement is discussed, not just lyrics or melody. It's an interesting approach, having someone give you their candid opinion about a song makes you push into ideas you never would have considered. 

4. How did you go about switching the tracks from studio set-ups to a live show?

We decided to start with a four piece band for the simple fact that it makes touring easier. We decided to both play keys and guitars in the live setting. We did a lot of talking about what parts were important to include in a live show and tried to adapt those to work for the setup we have. We basically asked ourselves, “what are the hooks?” and tried to make those translate to a live show.

5. You've been slowly releasing singles throughout the duration of the band, what's the reasoning behind that? Do you feel that the slow trickle of musical releases as opposed to an EP or album out the gate helps to build the trajectory of your band?

Releasing singles was an attempt to get people to actually listen to each song. There’s so much music released now, when releasing an EP or LP there’s always the potential for someone to start listening but then switch their attention to the latest viral sensation.

6. Speaking of trajectories, when do you see Wild Fur releasing a full-length or EP?

The 4 singles have been packaged and released as an EP and a split 7” with Joshua Carpenter was released in June. We’re currently working on finishing up a full length. We’ll release it once we have the means to do so.

7. What do you feel each of you bring musically to the table?

We each bring our own individual definition of what a hook is. The common ground between those two places is where the songs of Wild Fur are found.  

8. What are some of the major influences in the songwriting process for Wild Fur?

Inspiration for these songs comes from attempting to move away from the well-trod paths of songwriters before us. We’ve listened to a lot of music and have a lot of influences but, we both reached a point where emulating our influences was not filling the creative void.   

Wild Fur performs at The Lincoln Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 8:30 pm 

Lineup Recommendations: Saint Rich, How To Dress Well, St. Vincent, White Laces, Phosphorescent, Sun Club, Free Clinic, See Gulls and Dark Rooms

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shakori Hills Announces Initial Lineup for Fall 2014

One of my favorite parts about the lead-up months to Shakori Hills is the slow trickling news of bands being added to the lineup. Instead of wasting all of my excitement on one massive lineup drop, incredible bands are just continually added until a month or so before the festival and by then we're all pretty much just foaming at the mouthes. This Fall's Shakori lineup proves to be no different than past years, there's a few powerful staple acts mixed in with a handful of up and coming Shakori mainstays and longtime members of the Grassroots family. However, while it may just be because there hasn't been an announcement for it yet, there is a lack of a powerhouse draw like in previous years. North Mississippi All-Stars sits atop this year's bill along with Nahko & Medicine for the People, a "rainbow-envisioned 21st century medicine show for the mind and soul." Naturally staples like Donna The Buffalo, Suénalo and Big Fat Gap are peppered throughout the lineup, but folks like Frank Fairfield, Swear & Shake and Ellis Dyson & The Shambles make this Fall a promising weekend to explore new and invigorating music.

Shakori has always proved to be a unique festival that provides unique performances in a beautiful setting, regardless of whether you're dancing in the mud or soaking in the sunlight, you're guaranteed to have a memorable experience on the 75-acre farm. The lineup thus far boasts an impressive blend of traditionalism and contemporary trends, combining world music with bluegrass, soul, funk indie rock, electronic and more. As fantastic as the lineup is, which believe me it's already a worthwhile ticket grab, the festival's positivity and community is what keeps fans coming back season after season and year after year. With puppet parades, musical workshops, morning yoga and rock stacking corners, there's tons of activities to plunge into if you're somehow unable to find something worthwhile at the tents or stages.  Speaking of which, there really are some great acts already announced for the upcoming festival. Trekky Records' supergroup Auxiliary House makes their triumphant return after a barn burning performance last fall, gritty country-rockers Jack The Radio make their Shakori debut and Wassa Pan Afrika Dance Ensemble brings their 20-piece dance group to radiate positivity and spread multi-cultural ideals.

This year's fall festival takes place from October 9-12 in Pittsboro, North Carolina and tickets are currently on-sale at an early bird of $90 for a weekend pass. But if you're thinking of going now, go ahead and scoop that and save yourself the $10, because after Friday they go up to their regular advance price of $100. Weekend passes are still available at the gate as well for $110. Passes for individual days are available as well and go on sale Aug. 23 at $23 for Thursday, $33 for Friday, $43 for Saturday and $23 for Sunday. Festival goers can choose between vehicle camping for $60 or tent camping at $15 per tent. You can purchase tickets and check out the rest of the announced artists over at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hopscotch Highlight: Landlady

It's crazy to think that we're under a month away from Hopscotch, the multi-day music marathon that annuals takes over downtown Raleigh. Now into its fifth year as a festival, the event has grown to unimaginable expanses, combining a wide breadth of genres to create a surprisingly cohesive lineup with unparalleled character. For the past few years I've been providing weekly run-downs of the artists I'm most looking forward to from the festival, combining local and nationally touring acts to give a nice snapshot of some of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. When I first saw Landlady on the Hopscotch lineup I didn't bat an eye, but as I went through my annual lineup run through I was immediately entranced. "Dying Day" was the first song I heard from this New York based outfit and it's a song that's as upbeat and rambunctious as it is somber and morose, Adam Schatz brilliantly tackles the topic of mortality with a sleek aural approach.

I recently reviewed Landlady's album for Paste Magazine, and in case you've yet to check out the write-up I'm basically in love with it. So I took that as an opportunity to dig into the mind of Adam Schatz, the mastermind behind Landlady. Schatz is a member of Man Man among a slew of other acts that range from loosely constructed improvisational jazz to funky Afropop and more. I e-mailed a few questions over to Adam (as my recorder conveniently decided to "shit the bed" the same day as our interview) about his musical beginnings and life as a musician with your hands in umpteen thousand pots.

1. When did you first get seriously involved with music and what was your first project like sonically?
Adam Schatz: In 8th grade me and a few of my best friends talked about starting a band. It seemed like the appropriate next step for us, living in the suburbs. We had two guitars, bass and me on piano, and met our first drummer the next year. We went through a number of names and settled on the name One Eyed Stanley after our guitarist's one eyed basset hound. The band lasted throughout high school and we took the year after high school off before college to keep playing in the band and not just following the school path without any break. The music had a pop core always but also had a difference to them. Even from that early of an age I had a real interest in using dynamics and arrangements as a way to shape songs, rather than pick influences and try to imitate other songs. It helps that I had a basic understanding of music theory and knew my way around the piano, so subconsciously things were at work when I sat down and tried to write a song, tried to see what came out when my hands messed around and I let my voice go.

2. How have your musical tastes evolved over the years and how has that been displayed throughout your music.
Adam Schatz: My tastes evolve every day, and I try to maintain an openness. There are always the albums and songs you liked when you were younger that are embarrassing now, but for the most part I just like to pile it on.

When I was a sophomore in the high school concert band one of the older saxophonists passed me a DVD. It was Slow Century, the story of Pavement, and he told me to listen to the song Summer Babe. Around that same time I was listening to the Pixies and the Flaming Lips and all sorts of goodness that had been around but was just then landing on my head. They all dealt with personal weirdness in an open way, never afraid to get aggressive or beautiful. From then on I've always embraced thinking of music in human terms, what it does to you and what you can convey with it, rather than approaching the making or listening of it with too much technique at the forefront. Technique is essential and technique is the best when it's subconscious. When the people making it are the heart of the music.

So with every lesson I've taken or every new person I've met who's turned me onto something new I've tried to keep stretching my ears. I'm often very late to the bandwagon on any artist. Charlie Haden just passed away and the attention brought upon him and his music from so many people I know egged me into digging in and there's this live album with him, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in Montreal that's just magical to listen to. Nina Simone was a recent personal discovery. It makes you feel like a big idiot to wait so long, but also so satisfied to get to experience something new and great even now. It's essential to never think you've heard it all or know everything that you like.

In 8th grade I was super into the Three Six Mafia.

3. How did Landlady come together? Where does it fit in time-wise with the starting of the rest of your myriad of musical projects.
I've always done a lot of things because I have a lot of ideas, and rather than pour everything I've got into just one project that may or may not catch with people and possibly burn that out in the process, I've planted a bunch of seeds and tried to work with as many great folks as I can.

But that's not to say that right now Landlady isn't the biggest focus. I'm writing this from the back of my minivan cruising through Montana. This is happiness for me and it's what I'm doing all of the time right now. (Not to say many other things aren't being cooked up).

I started the band in 2010, I had taken a break from writing "real songs" to do a project with my buddy Jeff Curtin called Previously On Lost where we wrote about television and made a lotta folks happy along the way. But I was ready to try personal songwriting again and wanted a crack team of expert musicians and singers who could make it the best it could possibly be. I wrote the songs with these friends in mind, and that became the first album Keeping To Yourself. Since then the lineup's evolved a bit and grown to where there's an extended family of Landlady musicians who could be on a show. But the new record, Upright Behavior, is the core band as it stands now, a 5 piece. We hammered out a bunch of live takes in a studio in Woodstock in April of last year, and did overdubs in our homes in Brooklyn. Not long after that I met the folks who run the Hometapes record label and we really hit it off. I sent them everything I'd ever recorded and even rough mixes of the new album. I believed in what they were doing and it turned out they were quick to believe in us as well. I'd been waiting and working to find people to support this music for years and years and it ended up being a right time right place situation. I'm terribly okay with how long it took, though don't ask me 2 years ago how I was feeling.

4. How did you get together with Man Man and how has being a part of the band shaped your musical output?
Adam Schatz: All of these answers start with a childhood story, which is okay, and maybe good. In 2006 my friend Kevin took me to see Man Man at PA's Lounge in Somerville. They were just starting to get attention and I was just starting to not feel out of place standing in a rock show around people a lot cooler and older than me. Without exes on their hands.

I could barely see the band in the dark room and the music was unbelievable. The energy destroyed me and the songs were great and I became an instant fan, seeing them at least six times after that when I moved to New York for school. As I went on with my life, a mutual friend of the drummer knew that I was a fan and doing a lot of improvised music, so he introduced us knowing that Chris (Man Man drummer) was also into making spontaneous stuff. We emailed a bit, and not long after that a few of the guys had left Man Man and I played a show with Those Darlins in Philly where Ryan (Man Man singer) saw me play and asked what I was up to. I joined the band not long after that and recorded on the newest album On Oni Pond almost immediately.

Musically, seeing that show happen at age 18 did pleasantly irrevocable damage. The creative drumming and tweaked song structures piled onto a sea of driving new music that was already spreading in my head fueled by the likes of Deerhoof, Wilco and Grizzly Bear. It all helped and that plus all of the jazz and other sounds that steamrolled me when I got to New York has certainly affected the music I make. But I'd say those musical influences are maybe 30% of what affects the music I write. You gotta account for all the other experiences you have being a person walking around on earth. I think there's a misconception about how people write songs or how bands make it happen, where they decide what the influences are and write in those styles. Maybe some people do do it that way. We do not.

5. When writing songs for Landlady do you take hold and orchestrate the entire piece or do individual members compose their own parts?
Adam Schatz: It's different for every song. Sometimes I have a complete vision. Other times I have just the smallest ideas and know I can trust the band for us to make it a finished piece. Sometimes I'll record a demo that has lots of improvisations on it and band members will transcribe those improvised melodies and those become the parts. That's how "Dying Day" was made. It was a piano improvisation that came out very quickly, then took me hours and hours to transcribe it and we rehearsed the hell out of that song to get it to sound as good as it does now.

6. What do you feel are the overarching themes of Upright Behavior? It feels like a very cathartic record, was it difficult to write or did it come together easily?
Adam Schatz: It came together over time, some of these songs are 4 years old, so I never sat down to "write a record." But because of that approach + the big picture themes of many of these songs (life, death, growth, plants, food) it seems to be outlooks from my brain, what I think other brains see, what I think my heart and other hearts feel. There's a lot of humor in the album, because there's a lot of humor in me and in the band. It's something I value so so much. When you analyze all the parts, it just becomes an honest portrayal, and probably how I'll keep trying to write until it stops working.

7. So do you try to tailor these older musical ideas to a newer sound or did these song snippets just not fit in for previous projects/releases?
Adam Schatz: There really is no talking of a "newer" sound. It's amazing when everyone gets along and is incredible at their instruments, we can just go for it. Sometimes we set different musical rules for different songs, based around unisons or textures or anything. But it really is a case by case basis. The recording and mixing process of the album gives it an overall connective sonic tissue, but that stuff isn't thought about in the writing or even arranging process necessarily. Maybe that will change for the next album.

8. Being in such a diverse array of acts, do you feel like Landlady is a project that has all of these separate influences/sounds funneled through it or is it separate of your other work?
Adam Schatz: This is the most whole presentation of myself. Combined with the people I like the most playing music with me. I think it's the most sincere, honest and creative thing I've been able to do so far. Where any of the projects go or grow from here is anyone's guess.

9. Did you set out with a particular sound in mind for Landlady or was this just the music that felt right for your creative output?
 Adam Schatz: It's the music that came out when I was 23. 24. 25. 26. It's all time-dependent more than "sound" dependent. I wrote many of the songs for the first album on Casios and my Farfisa organ which gave a different result than when I started with piano, but at this point each song comes from a new place. I really just wanted to be able to do anything. Landlady is not a band that does everything at once. But we could do anything. We'll surprise you. It's a guarantee. That energy, that attitude, is so awesome. It feels so good.

Landlady performs at Tir Na Nog on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 12:00 am and at the Trekky Records/Hometapes "Friend Island" Day Party at The Pour House on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 3:25 pm.

Lineup Recommendations: De La Soul, Reigning Sound, and Ed Scrader's Music Beat

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hear Here: Aug. 11 - 17

Dana Buoy (Dana Janssen of Akron/Family) performs at The Pinhook
with The Human Eyes on Wednesday, August 13
Last week's ridiculously packed show lineup proved a few things about the North Carolina music scene, not only did it showcase the diversity on display throughout the area, but the camaraderie as well. Spider Bags and Flesh Wounds are two local acts with a largely similar fan base, so having their own release shows fall onto the same night in two separate towns could have been a huge debacle. Instead both artists were donning shirts from their garage rock cohorts and each night went off without a hitch, packed out venues filled with adoring fans shouting along. My last minute decision to check out the ineffable Flesh Wounds/Paint Fumes combo was a fantastic call and an excellent introduction to the Cat's Cradle Backroom. But now we've got another week filled with more locally and national touring goodness all over the Triangle.

1. Dana Buoy w/ The Human Eyes at The Pinhook
Wednesday, Aug. 13
Admission: $8 (Purchase tickets here)
Fans of Sylvan Esso, the local act that's undergone a meteoric rise in 2014, will most likely be quite enamored by the sounds of Dana Buoy. Perhaps that's why the two have a tour lined up for the rest of the month (which kicks off on the 14th at Asheville's Mothlight). Oh, and it's probably notable to mention that Dana Buoy is the project of Dana Janssen, multi-instrumentalist and drummer of Akron/Family. So naturally, Dana Buoy brings together the tantalizing rhythms and enchanting melodies that one would expect from a member of Akron/Family, but it's all funneled through a sleek electro-pop wash. Buoy will be the perfect fit for local dream-pop standouts The Human Eyes, who coincidentally enough opened for Sylvan Esso's album release show. If their set back in May at Cat's Cradle was any indication, then their set on Wednesday will feature tons of incredible and energetic new material that we'll hopefully have a release date for later this year. Such a wonderfully cohesive combination of nationally and locally touring acts rarely comes together so smoothly, and it'll make a phenomenal mid-week pickup as well.

2. Local Band Local Beer w/ Lonnie Walker, See Gulls and Wild Fur at Tir Na Nog
Thursday, Aug. 14
Admission: FREE
When there's a free weekly event, it's really hard to be picky about lineups. On good nights you can check out a few impressive acts, maybe even one of your favorite locals every month or so. However, lineups like this don't come around very often, so I'd imagine that Tir Na Nog will be shoulder to shoulder throughout most of the evening for this powerhouse of a lineup. Lonnie Walker has gone from a regular local staple to an act that feels like a real treat to see out and about. With their upcoming main stage show at Hopscotch in a few weeks, I'd imagine the band will be performing a wide array of new material for the increasingly intoxicated folks at Tir Na Nog. Lonnie Walker alone is reason enough to check this free event out, their bizarre take on Americana-rock is tinged with a country twang and a Byrnian (that's now a word) blend of self-loathing and cynicism, but the lineup also features two of the most exciting local acts opening the evening. See Gulls is a female-centric group of garage rockers that come from a handful of highly esteemed locals. Sarah Fuller of The Big Picture takes over the core lyricism while Maria Albani of Schooner/Organos takes over drums while Leah Gibson of Lost in the Trees and Duncan Webster of Hammer No More The Fingers take over on guitar and bass respectively. Wild Fur kicks off the evening, another local supergroup of sorts that combines Nick Jaeger and Wylie Hunter's songwriting talents via an invigorating take on rootsy yet electronically driven tunes.

3. King Mez w/ Nance, Clevon Don, Well$ & Keaton at Lincoln Theatre
Tuesday, Aug. 12
Admission: $15 in advance/$18 at the door (Purchase tickets here)
While North Carolina gets the most attention for our constantly evolving indie rock scene, there's a whole lot to love about our local hip-hop acts as well. Folks like King Mez have been slowly but surely building up their repertoire, with a handful of mixtapes under his belt his most recent release Long Live The King has garnered unprecedented levels of national acclaim. Mez has an acrobatic sense of melody, his lyrics are as personal as they are punchline-y and perfectly tow the line between a party-starting vibe and introspective headphone music. Mez's opening acts are nothing to look over as well, Well$ is a Charlotte based emcee that's been following a similar trajectory to Mez, he's building up his local roots with continued shows and releases while his talents gain national attention as well. Mez's Raleigh shows feel few and far between now, so getting to see him at what's sure to be a packed-out Lincoln Theatre with a whole slew of talented artists on the lineup is a chance that you won't get too often.

4. Wildcat! Wildcat! w/ Marley Carroll at Local 506
Friday, Aug. 15
Admission: $10 (Purchase tickets here)
I've made few attempts at hiding my musical affinity towards Marley Carroll, he's become one of my favorite producers amidst a sea of IDM-leaning artists. Carroll is one of the genre's most versatile artists and his live set-up is something that fans of all genres can truly enjoy. Carroll has an immersive live show that blends mixing, scratching, analog synth-play and dreamy vocals to make an alluring display of talents. Wildcat! Wildcat! on the other hand is like the perfect Yin to Carroll's Yang. While Carroll is a DJ that's leapt into the indie-pop world, Wildcat! Wildcat!'s tunes are firmly rooted in standard pop sentiments while their soundscapes delve into intricately arranged electronics. It's refreshing to see the two teaming up together for a tour because they're brilliant counterpoints to one another and display the finer aspects of each genre while maintaining a comfortable middle ground for each artist's fans. If you're in the mood for a dancey, beat-driven Friday night then Local 506 is the place to be this weekend.

5. Miniature Tigers w/ The Griswolds & Finish Ticket at Cat's Cradle Backroom
Wednesday, Aug. 13
Admission: $12 in advance/$14 at the door (Purchase tickets here)
So maybe dancey electronic tunes and heady dream-pop isn't your thing. If so, I'm not quite sure why but I'll pretend to not silently judge you over here. If Dana Buoy isn't in the cards for you, or perhaps you just don't want to make the drive to Durham on a Wednesday night, then Cat's Cradle Backroom has one of the most agreeable lineups of the week. Miniature Tigers are a fairly middle of the road indie pop band that has some incredibly catchy tunes, and now that they've got a hefty amount of albums under their belt there's sure to be plenty of tracks that catch your ear throughout the evening.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hear Here: Aug. 4-10

Spider Bags will be performing two sets at The Pinhook in Durham, NC
on Friday, Aug. 8
With The Bottom String's four year anniversary coming up, the blog is getting an overhaul. After running this site mostly on my own for the past four years, there's been a rotating door of series, features, interviews and whatever I can think to toss your way, really. But every time a new year rolls around I want to analyze how coverage compares to previous years, and frankly I got bummed out at the fact that I was no longer giving updates on as many shows around the state, which was one of the primary reasons to run this thing. So thus, Hear Here makes it valiant return! Every week I'll be running down my favorite shows in the area coming up from local and national acts. Whereas past installments of Hear Here gave a day by day list of all of the shows in the area, this will be contained to five shows that are worth your time and money throughout the next six days.

1. Spider Bags at The Pinhook
Friday, Aug. 8
Admission: $10 (Purchase tickets here)
Spider Bags are just one of the latest local standouts to make their way to the powerhouse indie label Merge Records. For years now Spider Bags has been bringing their unique take on garage rock to the Triangle, blending triumphant horns, Americana twang and a particular nonchalance that I can't place my finger on. Dan McGee's songs are brimming with personality, featuring quirks and quips that keep the listener entertained while jumping, shouting and swaying along to the unforgettable songs. Frozen Letter is the band's Merge debut and it's a triumphant introduction to the national market, there's an even split of headstrong straight-up garage pop and long-running tracks with embedded grooves. But that's just the joy found within their studio work, and anyone who's seen this glorious band before knows that their live shows are an entirely different beast.

On Friday Spider Bags will be performing two sets at The Pinhook to celebrate the release of Frozen Letter. The first set will showcase the band's new album from front to back while the second will feature fan favorites from their back catalogue...and there's plenty of fan favorites. Whether McGee is rolling on the ground as he rips out riotous guitar lines or bouncing to and fro as the crowd shouts along to infectious tracks like "Friday Night," he always pours every ounce of energy into his performances. This double-set from one of the area's most exciting acts is my must-see show of the week.

2. Wool w/ It Looks Sad. & Bridges at Slims 
Saturday, Aug. 9
Admission: $5
Slims is an often underutilized venue that doesn't get quite as much attention as the rest of the smaller Triangle venues. Sometimes a bill lends itself to a dimly lit dive bar and I'll be damned if this isn't one of those shows. Wool headlines the evening with their hazy dream-pop music while It Looks Sad and Bridges brings a bit more energy to the evening with their agro-emotional indie rock. Wool has been slowly building up their repertoire around the area with their impressive performances and continually evolving sound, one that utilizes vocalist Troy Hancocks vocals as both an instrument, providing rich texture, and a vessel for introspective lyricism.

However, the act I'm most excited to see rolling into Slims is Charlotte's It Looks Sad. Cut from the same cloth as acts like Junior Astronomers and HRVRD, this Charlotte based crew (formerly It Looks Sad That's Why I Said It's You) brings angular post-punk vibes with a sleek sense of melody to wash over the jagged rhythms. It Looks Sad. has been receiving heavy national acclaim from outlets like Pitchfork and Stereogum, so it's only a matter of time before they move onto bigger venues in the area. Jump at the chance to see these guys in a tiny dive bar on the corner of Wilmington St. and you won't be disappointed. Bridges will be opening the evening as well, providing a shoe-gaze inspired take on indie rock that blends dynamic song structures with heartfelt lyrical content.

3. Local Band Local Beer w/ Oulipo, Vannevar & Ancient Cities at Tir Na Nog
Thursday, Aug. 7
Admission: FREE
To put it simply Local Band, Local Beer is one of the best parts of living in the Triangle. With a continually rotating cast of talent, this weekly showcase gives local fans a chance to check out fantastic acts from across the state...for free! Since Craig Reed of Younger Brother Productions took over the booking, the event has been revitalized, hosting more relevant acts with a wide array of sounds on display. Bills like this one are a perfect example of that, one of the most promising psych-pop acts in the Triangle is teamed up with a swiftly rising psych-folk outfit out of Charlotte to make for an excellent night of music (with free Lonerider samples!)

Ancient Cities is a new project from a handful of Charlotte-based musicians who've already received quite a bit of love from previous acts. Songwriter Stephen Warwick received high acclaim from his previous solo project while Justin Fedor of New Familiars and Matt Branniff and Jonathan Erickson of The Noises Ten fill out the rest of the band. Ancient Cities have revitalized old-school psych-rock and put a modern twist on the tried and true formula, blending entrancing instrumentation with powerful hooks. If Ancient Cities represents the finest of old-school psych, then Oulipo heralds in the new age, drawing inspiration from acts like Radiohead, Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective to blend samples and drum machines with spaced-out guitars and tantalizing melodies that toy with tensions and release. It's hard to find a better bill this week with absolutely no cover.

4. The Rock*A*Teens w/ The Love Language at Cat's Cradle - Back Room
Wednesday, Aug. 6
Admission: $10 (Purchase tickets here)
Just because the Merge 25 festival has come to a close doesn't mean that the celebrations have to end. The long gone quiet Rock*A*Teens reunited this year for their first shows in over a decade, and these early 90s Merge standouts will likely draw quite the mid-week crowd that's hankering for another blast of nostalgia. Merge describes the band's sound as a "thick primordial stew that defies categorization" which strangely enough is pretty accurate. Gritty, fuzzed out guitars blend their southern influences with their straight-forward rock sentiments. Wrap that all together with some sweet melodies and baby, you got a primordial stew goin'!

Local favorites and label mates The Love Language will be opening. Whenever a band that could sell-out the Cat's Cradle performs at one of the region's smaller venues I feel like you'd be foolish to miss out. These small shows from local figureheads are usually a great place to hear new songs in their trial phases and sing along vigorously to your favorites without having to battle the awkward pre-teens in the crowd that are texting their bae's.

5. Flesh Wounds w/ Paint Fumes and Drag Sounds at Cat's Cradle Backroom
Friday, Aug. 8
Admission: $8 (Purchase tickets here)
If Spider Bags just isn't your cup of tea, but you're still looking for a raucous night filled with high-energy garage rock then you needn't look further than Flesh Wounds' LP release show. Flesh Wounds, much like Spider Bags, received a bit of Merge love earlier this year when the label released a 7" from the band. It was almost as if their Merge release reignited the area's love for this often overlooked act, because they've been building steam ever since. The Cat's Cradle Backroom will surely be packed out with a slew of concertgoers ready to throw themselves around in a fit of unadulterated joy at the deft punk-inspired stylings of Flesh Wounds.

Openers Paint Fumes and Drag Sounds will certainly be holding their own as well. Paint Fumes are arguably one of the most talented garage rock acts in the state, but sadly the Charlotte-based rockers don't make it down to the Triangle as often as I'd like. So when you get to see them on a bill with some of the area's most talented cohorts there's no reason to miss out...unless of course you're just a Spider Bags kind of guy (or gal!)