Friday, January 31, 2014

No Age, Kool Keith & White Fence to headline Phuzz Phest 2014

Phuzz Phest is held from April 4-6 in Winston Salem, NC
Throughout the past few years the Winston-Salem music scene has slowly been revitalized, thanks mostly in part to the good folks behind Phuzz Phest. Whether it be their recently started record label (aptly titled Phuzz Records) or their work within Estrangers, it seems like Winston is firing on all cylinders lately. While previous incarnations of the festival have boasted some pretty impressive lineups, none have been as large as the just announced 2014 roster. In previous years local and regional standouts like William Tyler, Lost in the Trees and The Love Language would headline the festival, but this year there's a crew of highly esteemed nationally acclaimed acts that have filled in the marquee slots with a diverse array of locals rounding out the undercard.

Headlining this year's Phuzz Phest, which will take place at various venues around Winston Salem from April 4-6 will be No Age, Kool Keith, White Fence and Jessica Lea Mayfield, providing an incredibly rounded group of widely respected acts from multiple genres. No Age have been spearheading a new wave of D.I.Y punk, taking part in every aspect of the release of their latest album An Object (that includes packaging, recording, producing AND writing). Kool Keith has long been heralded as one of the premiere experimental hip-hop MCs, whether it be through his variety of pseudonyms like Dr. Octagon (an extraterrestrial gynecologist from Jupiter) or under his regular alias, Keith weaves together bizarre images with lyrical acrobatics that leave the listener yearning for more. White Fence is the name that Tim Presley has adopted for his fuzzed out, crackling brand of intimate rock n' roll that will fit in perfectly with the Phuzz Phest aesthetic. Jessica Lea Mayfield rounds out the national headliners with an earnest burst of heartfelt songwriting inspired by equal parts folk and country for a set that's sure to tug at heartstrings.

And while the top bills are pretty damn impressive for this local festival in its fourth year, the undercard shines just as bright. Diarrhea Planet will be bringing their highly buzzed about brand of guitar rock to Winston alongside touring acts like Ex-Hex, Yip Deceiver, Woodsman and Ex-Cult. However, the local aspect of Phuzz Phest is certainly where fans like myself are foaming at the mouth. Standouts like Mount Moriah and The Love Language are on the bill alongside punk rock mainstays like Brain F≠ and Whatever Brains. Local favorites T0W3RS, Josh Moore, Loamlands and seldom seen Trioscapes will be performing in Winston as well. Really I could just run down the entire lineup with enthusiastic boasts about these performers, but I'll leave that until closer to showtime.

Tickets for Phuzz Phest are now available on Phuzz Phest's website. A 3-Day pass runs a cool $50 while single-day wristbands are $20. Phuzz has also taken on some non-musical activities this year as well as well, as daytime events include bike races, hangover curing brunches, and a skate competition. The festival will take place across various venues in Winston-Salem including The Garage, Krankies, Ziggy's, Single Brothers Bar, Small Beer Batch Co. and West End Mill Works. Be on the lookout for more Phuzz Phest updates as they come in!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Moogfest Adds Flying Lotus, M.I.A & more to 2014 Lineup

Electronic producer Flying Lotus
will be joining Chic, Kraftwerk and
more at Moogfest 2014
from April 23-27
Last December we reported on the stellar Moogfest lineup announcement, an event that proved to any and all naysayers that the lack of AC Entertainment at this year's event means little in terms of how impressive this festival can be. The initial lineup combines some of the most compelling gatekeepers of electronic and dance music with some of the most swiftly rising stars in the still burgeoning genre. Although Moogfest announced a rather robust lineup in December, there were still over 70 acts left to be unveiled, and this morning they've once again chipped away at the unknown by adding Flying Lotus, M.I.A, Pet Shop Boys, Dillon Francis and more to the April festival's lineup.

As previously reported, the festival has expanded to an enormous five-day event that will include daytime panels from esteemed electronic pioneers like Giorgio Moroder and film composer Cliff Martinez. Moogfest also announced another handful of speakers for the event this morning, including Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, Yeah Yeah Yeah's Nick Zinner, Dan Deacon and Futurama creator David X. Cohen.

While this still leaves an insane amount of artists left to be announced, these four nighttime additions helps round out this already impressive lineup even more. M.I.A provides a larger contemporary name to the marquee acts like Chic and Kraftwerk while Flying Lotus and Dillon Francis help to round out the electronic side a bit more with some larger names from the genre. It's clear that Moogfest is revamping all aspects of the festival since the last installment in 2012, one that boasted a spastic lineup including Primus, Santigold, GZA and Orbital. 2014's lineup stands at dead center of the intersection between specialized once in a lifetime acts and beloved frontrunners of the dance music scene. Additional acts included to the lineup today include Factory Floor, YACHT, Moderat, Machinedrum, Riff Raff, Black Dice, Jimmy Edgar, Holly Herndon and locals Body Games, RBTS WIN and Heads on Sticks.

Tickets for Moogfest are available in various packages including night-only passes for $199, day only passes for $249 or a night + day deal for $299. You can find the lineup and more ticket information on Moogfest's website. Be on the lookout for more Moogfest updates as the festival gets closer!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ears to the Ground: "No Dark/No Light" by Lilac Shadows

It's with great pleasure that I share this brand new Lilac Shadows track with all of you. I've been intently listening to No Dark/No Light, Lilac Shadows' forthcoming full-length album set for release on Feb. 4, for a few months now. But regardless of how many times I listen to it I still find myself just as transfixed as I was on my first listen. With a revamped lineup, Lilac Shadows has come strong out of the gate for their debut full-length. No Dark/No Light finds the band delving deeper into the explorative tendencies that they toyed with on their Shallow Madness EP, they're swiftly mastering the push and pull that all great psych-rock bands harness.

"No Dark/No Light" is the album's lead single and it's a brilliant representation of what can be found on the album. Whether it's the rich dynamic shifts, the deeply layered strings or the rambling vocal melody, "No Dark/No Light" contains plenty of subtle nuances that the listener can go back and hone in on. It's a revelatory experience each time around, whether you find yourself entrenched in the encapsulating instrumentation or sucked into the equally dense vocal patterns and lyricism, it's all worthy of your undivided attention.

No Dark/No Light is a unique sonic adventure with apt titling. The album is as bold and defined as it is amorphous. Frankly it's one of those albums best experienced with minimal distractions, with eyes closed and headphones on just absorbing all of the intricacies that lie within. Granted that's easy for me to say since I've been following a similar listening pattern for a few weeks now, but if you don't believe me then give this title track the same respect. Nestle yourself inside of some blankets and pump these tunes into your ears and tell me you're not craving more. Sure you can blast this in a car or through your laptop speakers and get an equally enthralling experience, but music this wonderful deserves your aural respect. So give it such!

No Dark/No Light will be released on DiggUp Tapes on February 4. Lilac Shadows will celebrate the release of the album with a show at The Carrack Art Gallery in Durham. Joined by Midnight Plus One and Matt Northrup, Lilac Shadows will also be providing a "collaborative multimedia exhibit" so that fans can truly immerse themselves in the vibrant world of No Dark/No Light. Artists involved in the exhibit will be sharing interpretive artwork that serves as a response to their listening of the album. From Feb. 4-15, the Carrack will house this artwork along with an interactive sound exhibit, featuring samples of the album that people can interact with, creating their own soundscapes.

Artists involved includes: Harrison Haynes, Casey Cook, Ann Tilley, Will Goodyear, Katie Zickefoose, Gabrielle Duggan, JP Trostle, Brian Howe, Jeremy Withers, Thomas Dean, Janie Ledford, Grace Montgomery, Linc Hancock, Liz Bradford, Kelly Kye, David Eichenberger, Sandy Logan, Jacki Huntington, Matt Park and more forthcoming...

Check out the band's upcoming show schedule and listen to the title track below:

Upcoming Shows:

Feb. 8 - Durham, NC; The Carrack Gallery Release Show and Art Opening with Midnight Plus One and Matt Northrup
Feb. 20 - Raleigh, NC; Tir Na Nog with White Cascade and Jazz Tapes
Feb. 21 - Richmond, VA; Boyzhouse with Lonnie Walker
Feb. 22 - Washington DC; The Dunes with Lonnie Walker and The North Country
March 13 - Durham, NC; The Pinhook with Zack Mexico and The Clockwork Kids
March 14 - Charleston, SC; Swamp House with Zack Mexico and Elim Bolt
March 15 - Columbia, SC; Shredquarters with Zack Mexico and Elim Bolt
March 16 - Charlotte, NC;  Strange_House with Zack Mexico and Elim Bolt

Friday, January 17, 2014

Show Review: Perfect Pussy with Davidians and Whatever Brains

Perfect Pussy at Kings Barcade
I am constantly surprised by the Raleigh hardcore scene which may indicate that I am not as familiar with it as I believe myself to be. This was clear to me on Thursday night's show when Davidians broke out into their set. Davidians is comprised of some former members of Double Negative, a band that really defined the hardcore scene in Raleigh.

The band is pretty much defunct as of 2012 but luckily for die-hard Double Negative fans, Davidians holds the future. When they stepped up on the stage to play their set, you could feel a surge in the crowd. They played a solid hardcore set (although I am not the greatest judge of that...) that was energetic and lively. The whole crowd seemed to sway in unison to their scuzzy guitars and frenetic rhythms.

Whatever Brains at Kings Barcade
Up next were my absolute favorites, Whatever Brains. I always forget just how talented these dudes are but every time I see them play, I am totally blown away.  As they walked out they requested the lights to be turned off and they begin weaving their magic with a gradual build up of noise. Whatever Brains manages to create this incredible wall of sound but each sound is very distinct and they constantly build on to this wall of sound with new sounds. If I totally lost you here, they are basically very talented musicians that manage to create a brand of punk-rock that is totally unique, implementing a slew of synths along with traditional punk-rock instrumentation. This show did not disappoint.

Finally, the infamous Perfect Pussy took the stage. This blog post comes so late because I had to really meditate on what I thought of this show. The band looked like very nice people but when they started playing, the only thing that was audible was their synth-noise-making machine. I came in knowing from their EP that the vocals would be indecipherable however I did not expect to hear nothing at all. All that said, the band was lively and their stage presence was really intense and I could tell they were super into it. Overall, I got the hardcore show experience but I would've loved to hear more of the female fronted vocals.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Show Review: Speedy Ortiz with Grass is Green and Blanko Basnet

I haven't been to the Local 506 in a while. As a Raleigh resident, the trek to Chapel Hill is doable, but easy to put out of mind if there's another show downtown here. That being said, I picked the coldest night in the midst of an epic polar vortex to return. The concert gods looked kindly upon me and blessed me with a parking spot right in front of the venue. It was soon after that I found out that 506 now has Tecate tallboys. You're welcome.

Blanko Basnet started off the night. The band features seasoned members of the local music scene, Joe Hall, Jeff Stickley, Brad Cook and Matt Peterson. Their personal experience shined through, working well and in sync, performing like they're not as fresh to the scene as they actually are. The beginning of their set drew out some qualities similar to older Modest Mouse tracks, a tad abrasive and raw while still being enjoyable. Their set seemed to drift from that center, and went into different arms of genres. With so much creative influence, it's expected that they haven't found a particular niche yet. Not that anything was unpleasant to hear, but a particular stream of sound for the band as a whole is still in its developing stages.

After checking out the recorded music of Grass is Green and reading some show reviews, I was stoked to see a high-energy punk set live. One guitarist was wearing a Hammer No More The Fingers shirt -- I love seeing bands support each other. They tuned, plugged in. The lead vocals/guitarist stepped up to the mic and in a flat, valley-girl-esque tone sarcastically announced the band. The songs rocked, the crowd head nodded in approval. Between songs there was little to no stage banter, creating bit of an awkward air with an open end for good-natured heckling from friends and drunks in the crowd. Grass is Green played a lot from their newest album, "Vacation Vinny (Exploding in Sound Records, 2014)," including songs aptly named "Another Song Called Supersoaker" (because there was already a song named supersoaker) and "Big Dog Tee Shirt Birthday Weekend" (it was one of the member's birthdays recently), as well as hitting a track off of their split 7" release "Split Dicks" that also features label mates Two Inch Astronaut. They had everyone laughing and having a good time, rocking out on stage and still being chill. They're a band I definitely want to keep on my radar and will keep listening to on bandcamp

And I just love Speedy Ortiz. Their 2013 release of Major Arcana was well-represented at the show, my favorites of which being "Pioneer Spine" and "MKVI." They also shared two new songs, including "American Horror" that is available for stream now via Entertainment Weekly. Besides digging all the songs they played, I really enjoyed the atmosphere they created. For example, lead singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis would come off of flaming riffs and singing her heart out, then talk to the audience relaxed and friendly as if you were sharing a cigarette on the deck of a house party. Their performance didn't include any theatrics, just simply them sharing music that they obviously enjoy playing.  I was sure they'd do the annoying industry-standard "surprise" encore, as they all dispersed quickly after the last song, but that was it. Good, strong set. I look forward to catching them again. 

This show made me want to dive deeper into the Exploding in Sound catalog, which includes bands along the same sound, like PILE and Porches. That's one of the beauties of live music -- it always points you to more music. 

Show Preview: Saintseneca w/ LVLUP at Local 506

Saintseneca (website)
Clockwise from top r: Zac Little, Matthew O'Conke,
Steve Ciolek, Maryn Jones.
The last time Saintseneca made their way to our little triangle of the nation, I was supremely dejected to discover I had missed them. It was mid-2012 when I first heard their debut LP Last [spotify], and I have been listening to it, or at least tracks from it, a minimum of once a week since then. It came as some great relief, then, that Saintseneca would be back to North Carolina, and this time, not in Raleigh, but the Local 506, which is in walking distance from HQ. It was some cosmic gift: "You couldn't make it out, we'll bring them closer to you."

Accurately describing Saintseneca is problematic. No words, no matter how artfully crafted or presented, will correctly articulate their sound. They're a folk band, for sure, but a unique brand. Anchored by Zac Little's nasal voice and introspective lyricism, the band vacillates between high-energy DIY circuit inspired stomp and the traditionally flavored folk song, but with an ear for artful craftsmanship.

Their latest release Uppercutter, a single from their upcoming Anti- records debut, Dark Arc, sees them expanding on the production and arrangement of their songs, which is exciting. It's akin to giving a painter another box of paintbrushes and some new paints. While the core elements haven't changed, the presentation and craft are elevated.

The show opener, LVLUP, peals with a lofi 90's guitar rock vibe. Moving between heartfelt ballad-like tunes and heavily rhythmic, guitar-focused horsepower, these Brooklyn natives draw deep from the well of early indie-, alt-, and punk rock monoliths. Band members have specifically cited Superchunk and Pavement among their influences, as well as Jawbreaker and Lifetime, adding in a July 2012 interview, "I think it’s a given that all of us draw from bands like Modest Mouse and Built To Spill."

Saintseneca and LVLUP will be at the Local 506 Sunday, January 12th. Admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Show Preview: Perfect Pussy w/ Whatever Brains & Davidians

Perfect Pussy will perform at Kings Barcade in Raleigh
on Thurday, January 7 with Whatever Brains & Davidians
Well the holidays are finally over, school is starting again and I suppose its time to stop having fun….or not. Thursday’s show at Kings will keep your energy high and your feelings on edge, if you will even be able to hear what Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves has to say.  Don’t be offended by the vulgar band name because Graves’ lyrics speak honestly and passionately personal experiences under a wave of jarring noise from her band members’ instruments.

The openers for this show are Davidians and Whatever Brains. Davidians remain anonymous in the Internet sphere and perhaps rightfully so, preferring a different route than most blog-famous bands. The next band is a solid staple within the hardcore/punk scene in Raleigh and one of my favorite local bands, Whatever Brains. With a brand new record on Sorry State Records, released just last year, Whatever Brains has critical acclaim across the country. They have a unique sound that is composed genre-bending noise and a nonchalant attitude about their success.

Last of all is the best of all, the new buzzband in the hardcore scene, Perfect Pussy. Hauling all the way from Syracuse, New York, this band had humble and hilarious beginnings. Posing as a fake band for an indie movie to recording a short EP, Perfect Pussy has become one of the most talked about bands in the blogosphere. As a band thats already been reviewed by Rolling Stone, they don't have more than four songs on bandcamd but the songs are easily some of the best hardcore songs I've heard in a while. Maybe its because I'm a girl, but when a girl screams in a hardcore band, with poetic lyrics nonetheless, its hard to resist.

Doors open at 8:30 and the show begins at 9:00. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased online at Kings' website.

Show Preview: Speedy Ortiz w/ Grass is Green and Blanko Basnet

Speedy Ortiz performs at Local 506
on January 7 w/ Grass is Green & Blanko Basnet
Speedy Ortiz, indie rock band hailing from the Massachusetts scene, will be supported by Exploding In Sound Records labelmates Grass is Green and Durham-based Blanko Basnet at Local 506 in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, January 7.

Blanko Basnet is a four-piece local super group, with Joe Hall and Jeff Stickley of Hammer No More the Fingers, Brad Cook of Megafaun, and Matt Peterson of Canine Heart Sounds.  The project became public last year, playing lots of Triangle-area shows with good turnouts. When I first saw them at Local Band Local Beer, I was caught off guard and immediately thought it was Hammer, but Blanko Basnet is taking the creative energies and blending together nicely without being too one-sided on sound.

Boston-based Grass is Green will be accompanying Speedy Ortiz on their two-month tour throughout the east coast. These guys sound like they'll be fun and loud live -- quick stops and starts, punk yells, and chaotic guitar blasting in front of fast drumming. Post punk with some experimental elements, their latest release is Vacation Vinny, out January 14 on Exploding in Sound. It's messy without looking lazy and has good momentum without looking predictable. Their rap sheet includes opening for bands like Tera Melos, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, and Joe Lally of Fugazi.

I didn't come across Speedy Ortiz myself until their July 2013 of Major Arcana on Carpark Records. The album got great reviews across the board and major airplay in the college radio market, and was one of my favorite releases from last year. Reminiscent of the Breeders, Speedy Ortiz opened for the 90s rock band at CMJ this past year and continue to grow acclaim. It'd be my bet they will have a prominent role in the summer festivals, so all the more reason to catch them at an intimate club like 506 before you can't anymore.

Doors are at 8:00 pm and the show starts at 9:00 pm. Tickets are $7.00 and entry does require membership to the club. For more information, visit