Monday, March 31, 2014

Ears to the Ground: "Let Me Out" by Clockwork Kids

Rememory will be released on April 3
Within the past year or so it's become a bit overwhelming as to how many stellar local acts are putting out album after album, it becomes a bit hard to stand out amongst the crowded scene. However, when you're putting out your first full-length you've got to find something people can latch on to, and holy hell have Clockwork Kids done so. To celebrate the release of Rememory, their forthcoming full-length album set to be released on on April 3, the band will be performing the album in its entirety at Morehead Planetarium on UNC Chapel Hill's campus. Accompanied by a string and horn section, the group will be play beneath the stars for a synchronized light show like no other, serving as a top-notch opening for the ConvergeNC Southern Music Festival.

But looking past the release show antics, there's plenty to get excited about with Rememory. Clockwork Kids combine the dreamy aspects of shoegaze with the straightforward melodic tendencies of college rock, topping it all off with the deep, resonant vocals of Justin Ellis. "Let Me Out" gets off to a slow start, slowly rolling along with smoothly strummed guitar lines accentuated by sly overdubs. However, the song gradually builds into a brilliantly robust track, reaching its precipice as Ellis and his three guitar crew reach an emotive crescendo, bringing all of the rich layers together in one dazzling moment of clarity.

The interplay between the band members keeps this six-minute track as fresh and entertaining as a three-minute pop banger and quite frankly should get fans prepped for a night of immersive tunes at Morehead Planetarium. It's rare to see a band that packs in three guitars into one track and it doesn't just feel over the top, but Clockwork Kids' dynamic approach allows each part to shine on its own rather than muddling things up. Combine that with the guest spot from guitarist Chris Petto's father, Frank Petto further fleshing out the track with some slick organ work and you've got a pretty fantastic glance into what you can expect from the band's full-length debut.

Clockwork Kids' Rememory will be released on Thursday, April 3. Rememory was mastered by Thom Canova (The Love Language, Old Ceremony, Dex Romweber Duo) and will performed in full at Morehead Planetarium on Thursday, April 3. Admission is $10 and the show will serve as the opening event for the ConvergeNC Southern Music Festival.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Texoma hosts house show to raise funds for new album

Texoma will host a house show on Saturday, March 29
to raise funds for their new album.
Photo Credit: Kristen Hill
Since crowd sourcing projects took off a few years ago it seems like every band with a vague idea and thin pockets has taken to the web in hopes of funding their ambitious projects with fan-funneled dollars. Hell, even folks like Spike Lee, Zach Braff and Neil Young have found their way in on the action. Frankly it's become an incredibly valuable way for fledgling bands to continue to affordably make music in the industry's current landscape. But with so many artists using the project, it's also become a bit watered down, incentives have become more and more exuberant and sometimes downright ridiculous.

Texoma, the self-proclaimed "dust rock" band from Chapel Hill has adopted the crowd sourcing model and turned it on its head for their most recent project. The group released their first EP last fall, showing an immense amount of promise for their roots-rock oriented sound. Led by Zach Terry (formerly of Magnolia Collective and The Whiskey Smugglers), Texoma has been swiftly breaking ground in the local alt-country scene with opening slots for esteemed acts like Kenny Roby and frequent stops at Carrboro's The Station, they're even set for a Local Band Local Beer performance with Roby in April. Now the group is setting out to release their debut full-length record, and while the tracking and mixing will be done in-house they, like many other bands, can't afford to master and license it all without some serious funds.

Thus, Texoma has combined two exciting ways of connecting with their fans into one night filled with intimate performances and a slew of incentives for those that donate to their forthcoming record. Entitled as a "Jumpstarter" campaign, the band will perform at a home "near Chapel Hill" (email the band at for more info) while accepting donations for their album. Pricing levels are set-up similar to that of Kickstarter, but as Terry puts it, "instead of waiting around, you get immediate satisfaction of seeing your money in action." The house show itself will be free with a solo cup running $5, pizza and drinks for $10, all of the above plus a signed copy of their EP for $20 and the list goes on. For $30 you can also get a copy of their new album, for $40 you can get the album and admission into their release show and at increasing prices you can nab plenty of other album related goodies.

The band also incorporated a few house show options for fans, including a home-cooked meal and acoustic set for $200 or a full-on house show for $400. There's plenty of different donating options with varying levels of rewards for those that get involved, and at the very least you get free admission into a house show filled with rambunctious drink-swinging roots rock...not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening. The band recently released a video highlighting some of the recording process which you can view below:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Show Preview: Blue Sky Black Death w/ Marley Carroll & RBTS Win

Blue Sky Black Death will be performing at The Pour House
in Raleigh, N.C. on Thursday, Mar. 27 with Marley Carroll
and RBTS Win.
As the years have passed I've found myself getting more and more transfixed on the electronic music scene, it's silly not to really. Electronic music is quite simply the future, it opens up the musical vastness to anybody that's able to afford a laptop and a DAW and allows them to fine tune their own sounds down to every intricacy. That's what makes shows like this one so damn interesting, it's a night filled with electronic acts that all have remarkably different sounds but still mesh very well together. Thursday night at The Pour House will be home to some of the most exciting acts in the western North Carolina music scene along with an equally impressive production duo based out of Washington. While Blue Sky Black Death will be headlining the evening with their mind-numbing hip-hop based instrumental tracks, an equal amount of focus will be on Marley Carroll and RBTS Win for me.

Blue Sky Black Death have been making waves in the instrumental hip-hop scene since 2006, blazing a trail for themselves as one of the most impressive production duos on the scene by working with highly acclaimed acts like Jedi Mind Tricks, Gang Starr, Cam'ron and Awol One to name a few. Regardless of the hip-hop acts that have cosigned the duo, the proof of their talents lies within their immense productions. Stuttering synths bob in and out of the mix as their blistering hi-hats and pounding bass drive the tracks along, leaving the listener with an undying urge to bob your head until your neck gets sore. Many instrumental hip-hop artists can fall into simplicity, relying on trap-style beats and heavy sub-bass to draw in listeners, but Blue Sky Black Death packs the groove and swing to keep listeners interested.

Marley Carroll will be representing an entirely different end of the electronic spectrum, bringing mid-tempo IDM together with electronica, Carroll boasts an impressive musical range. Whether you're focusing on the straight-forward melody and rhythm or the densely packed productions, you're liable to fall in love with this music from this Asheville based producer. Carroll's most recently full-length Sings, combines heady beats with rich vocals to create a lush arrangement that's as pleasing to the dancer as it is to the introspective head-bobber. Carroll's pop-leaning IDM tunes place the producer's music in a field of its own, one that's surely going to be an absolute treat to see live.

Opening up the evening will be another Asheville based electronica act, RBTS Win. I remember seeing their name a while back and being initially turned off, seeing it as another group that fell into the "no vowels" fad, but I'll be damned if I didn't learn not to judge a book by its cover. RBTS Win produce an absolutely infectious blend of electronic music that, much like Caroll, combines danceable grooves with head-spinning melodies. Whereas Carroll leans more towards mid-tempo bangers, RBTS Win is geared towards a chill-wave inspired blend of soul, hip-hop and electronica. This production duo brings dizzying soundscapes to the table that are washed over with smooth vocal stylings and lingering hooks that you'll be humming for days. Make no doubt that I'm stoked to see Blue Sky Black Death, but finally getting the chance to see Marley Carroll and RBTS Win on the same night, that's enough reason alone to drag my happy ass out to the Pour House to take in these incredible tunes.

The doors open at 8:00 pm and the show begins at 9:00. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door, you can purchase them online at

Monday, March 24, 2014

Show Review: Ava Luna w/ Krill & Blanko Basnet

Ava Luna performs at The Pinhook
Last Wednesday night The Pinhook was home to a wonderfully eclectic mixture of bands. Some of the most enjoyable lineups are the ones that you don't quite think would mesh well together, but once you get to the show it all doesn't seem to matter anymore. There's a sense of spontaneity that keeps the night exciting, and that's exactly what happened in Durham on Wednesday night. Ava Luna and Krill were wrapping up their SXSW run and making their way back up north, which as a southerner that doesn't get to trek down to South-by is always a joyous time. The two acts teamed up with Blanko Basnet, a group that's become a go-to opener for buzz bands like these, and brought one hellaciously fun show to an intimate Pinhook crowd.

The evening kicked off with Blanko Basnet and a set that was filled with roving guitar licks and infectious choruses. Joe Hall's vocal melodies display a staggering sense of dynamic shifts, one minute you're hooked on the buoyant verses then the song upheaves its pre-set structure and shifts into swiftly changing chords, brisk drum beats and some subtle harmonies. Blanko Basnet played some of the standouts from their debut full length that was released last summer and threw in a new track as well, which makes me excited to know that Blanko won't just be a one-off side-project from this Hammer No More The Fingers guitarist.

Krill performs at The Pinhook
Blanko made for a smooth transition into the indie-punk leaning power-trio of Krill. Despite a set mired technical difficulties with their microphone, Krill rolled right along with it, even joking that "it wouldn't be a Krill set if something didn't mess up." But the band never lost their footing, blasting through short songs filled with heavily distorted guitar, throaty shouts and tight drum beats that drove these songs along with a headstrong sense of determination. While Blanko's brand of indie rock eased the crowd into the evening, Krill thrusted their sounds upon the crowd with the ferocity of a punk act but the smooth sensibilities of a pop-rock group. Krill's romping sense of intensity was anchored by vocalist Jonah Furman's swiftly spat vocals, tying together the entire aesthetic of this Boston-based indie punk crew.

While the openers of the evening proved to be an exciting combination of two different ends of the indie-rock spectrum, Ava Luna took the night up to the next level. Sure this self-described "nervous soul" act displays a bit of punk-rock influence in their spastic rhythmic tendencies, but most of Ava Luna's songs are firmly rooted in a far weirder territory than the previous acts. Ava Luna is defined by their eccentricity, whether vocalist Carlos Hernandez is belting out his frenetic shouts or Becca Kaufman and Felicia Douglas are smoothly crooning their way into the listener's hearts, you're guaranteed an entertaining performance. With equal parts R&B and peculiar art-rock, Ava Luna played through some of Electric Balloon's standout tracks like "Daydream," "PRPL," and "Sears Roebuck M&Ms" while tossing in some of the best tracks from their debut Ice Levels. Their set felt like an anomalous blend of the quirk and tenacity of Talking Heads and the vocal prowess of Dirty Projectors, making for a weird yet whimsical closing to this incredible night of music.

Album Debut: "Rogue Band of Youth" by Rogue Band of Youth

Rogue Band of Youth will celebrate the release of
their self-titled full length at Nightlight in Chapel Hill
on Saturday, Mar. 29
Sometimes it's best to revel in simplicity. The contemporary music scene has become affixed on jamming as much detail into one track as possible, whether that be with densely packed electronic experimentations or massive orchestrations. But every now and then it's nice to be able to tune out and drop in to some stripped down music, to return to the roots and immerse yourself in music that's focused on a powerful core. Rogue Band of Youth seem to have found that sweet spot, sure you'll find a few well placed string sections that flesh out these excellent folk rock tracks, but their self-titled debut is mostly filled with straightforward tunes that flesh out rich narratives and vivid images.

This focused trio of Carrboro based musicians have been writing songs together since 2012, but even the impressive work on their previous EPs can't compare to the deft songwriting on display on Rogue Band of Youth. Tracks are contextualized with subtle field recordings that give an air of a warm southern days, tight harmonies give way to powerful melodies that soar atop a bed of delicate acoustic instrumentation. The album starts out with "Fair Shake," driven by a briskly fingerpicked acoustic guitar that slowly unfurls with a rolling vocal melody that gradually rises to a serendipitous three-part harmony seeping with emotion.

The interplay between James Patrick, Chloe Gude, and Jack Hartley's vocals is enough alone to make this self-titled debut worth a listen, but once you dig deeper into these songs you begin to clutch onto their ethos. Harmonicas are used as vibrant textures, pizzicato strings provide bouncing rhythms and lilting vocal arrangements make for dynamic tracks despite their stripped back set-ups. Rogue Band of Youth prove that you don't need 10-piece string sections or cutting edge technology to create a captivating album, what you need is a story to tell, a song to sing and a soapbox to shout from. Through their meaningful storytelling and catchy choruses, Rogue Band of Youth have crafted an immensely enjoyable album that sets the band up for a promising future with limitless possibilities. Rogue Band of Youth will be officially released on Saturday, March 29 at Nightlight in Chapel Hill alongside label mate Jphono1, Hospital Smokers and an acoustic set from T0W3RS. Check below for a full stream of the album along with their additional tour dates:

Rogue Band of Youth Tour Dates
27 - The Mothlight in Asheville, NC
28 - Billy's Barn in Salem, VA
29 - Nightlight in Chapel Hill, NC

3 - The Caledonia Lounge in Athens, GA
4 - WPBR Radio-room in Greenville, SC
5 - Doodad Farm in Greensboro, NC

2 - Slim's in Raleigh, NC

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WKNC announces Fridays on the Lawn lineups

It goes without saying that two of my favorite things in the world are free food and free music. When the two come together for three special nights then all of the woes and stresses of life suddenly seem worth it. Okay, so that may be a little bit over the top, but it's still pretty damn close to how excited I am about this spring's Fridays on the Lawn lineup. Every semester WKNC, N.C. State's student run radio station, puts on a handful of free concerts on the titular lawn at Harris Field on N.C. State's campus. The past few events have been displaced due to construction on Witherspoon Student Center, but alas the event has returned back to it's home on the corner of Dan Allen Dr. and Caites Ave. and this spring has one of the most impressive lineups in recent memory.

On Friday, March 21, T0W3RS will be headlining the free event alongside openers White Cascade. Recently T0W3RS has become the talk of the Triangle, going into showzilla mode with the new solo set-up. The band was previously best known for their psych-leaning indie rock, but since the beginning of 2014 the band has shrunken back to the solo guise of Derek Torres. But despite the truncated lineup, T0W3RS' sound is bigger than ever. Torres' new live act boasts an unparalleled stage presence amongst the region, he's meticulously crafted an entrancing set filled with disco infused rhythms and inundating melodies that linger in your head for days. The sense of showmanship is usually worth the price of admission alone, but when the show is free AND includes some Jimmy John's to boot, there's no reason not to check it out. Openers White Cascade will ease fans into the evening with some heady shoegaze-inspired tunes that will serve as an excellent soundtrack to soak in the sun and celebrate the beginning of spring.

On Friday, March 28, Gross Ghost will be taking over the lawn with openers Cat Be Damned. Allegedly set to debut some new tunes, Gross Ghost will be bringing a high-energy set filled with fuzzed out semi-garage rock anthems. While the band's instrumentation never gets too complicated, the sense of symmetry amidst the melodies and instruments is enough to hook the listener in and leave them in a daze, singing along to songs that they never even knew. Song structures may be simplistic, but Mike Dillon's lyricism is nonetheless poignant, combining hard-hitting emotionalism with driving rhythms and the occasional nonchalant punkery together for an immensely enjoyable time. Openers Cat Be Damned kick off the evening with a sly twist to the folk rock formula, combining the lyrical prowess of bands like Built to Spill with the dynamism of experimental college rock and the simplicity of folk music. Oh and how could I forget that there'll be free burritos from Moe's?!

Lastly on Friday, April 11, J Kutchma and The Five Fifths will close out the series with what's sure to be a raucous night of roots-leaning rock n' roll. It's hard to put the intensity of Kutchma into words, he's a showman cut from the same cloth as Springsteen with the intensity of a punk rock frontman. One minute the frontman can be seen gently strumming his acoustic and crooning into the microphone over pastoral landscapes, but the next he's dropping to his knees and swinging his guitar wildly whilst beating his chest and shouting to the sky. Kutchma's lyricism is simultaneously intensely personal and insanely relatable, a line that many songwriters struggle to tow. While the openers for this date have yet to be announced, Kutchma alone is reason enough to pull yourself out to Harris Field and soak in some of the free sounds of some of the area's finest local musicians.

Each event will kick off at 5:00 and last until 7:00, with food being available on a first come first serve basis. Maybe I'm a bit biased due to my involvement with the station, but I can proudly say that Fridays on the Lawn is one of the most enjoyable events that local fans can take in. When the weather cooperates what's better than plopping a blanket down on the grass, eating some free food and supporting your local music scene. Absolutely nothing in my book.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Show Preview: Ava Luna w/ Krill & Blanko Basnet

Ava Luna will perform at The Pinhook on Wednesday
w/ Krill and Blanko Basnet
It takes quite a bit to drag me away from Raleigh on a school night for a show. But this Wednesday I'm prepared to trudge through what's sure to be an early and tiresome Thursday morning for the chance to check out the fantastic lineup at The Pinhook. The last time I saw Ava Luna they opened up for Sharon Van Etten at Kings a few years back, it was a strange fit for the songstress but their self-described "nervous soul" still struck a chord with me. Now on the heels of their second full length album Electric Balloon, I'm far more prepared to soak in the frenetic sounds of Ava Luna and their impressive opening acts.

Ava Luna is a band that's carved out their own corner of the musical world, something that's rather hard to do now in such an over saturated market. Plenty of acts are harkening back to the soulful sounds of Motown, but Ava Luna has taken the most exciting bits of the genre and enveloped them into a musical collage of sorts. Part art-rock, part doo-wop, part R&B and a hint of punk, that gives you a solid indication of the reeling soundscapes crafted by this eccentric act. Songwriter Carlos Hernandez shares vocal duties with Felicia Douglass and Becca Kauffman, making for some highly entertaining displays of acrobatic vocal stylings. Expect some angular arrangements that will compel you to bob and sway one moment then aggressively thrash around at others. Songs can shift direction at the drop of a dime, but they still feel cohesive and most of all smooth.

Speaking of smooth, the transition between the two openers will be nothing but. Krill are a buzz band of poppy garage rockers that hail from Brooklyn who garnered quite a bit of critical acclaim from 2013s Lucky Leaves. Their performance will surely compel the Triangle residents, there's enough fuzzed out rock to get the attendees amped up for Ava Luna despite their stylistic differences. Despite their namesake, this band packs a mighty punch with some emotionally intensive lyricism and some lofty arrangements.

Blanko Basnet will open up the evening, allowing concertgoers to dip their toes into the evening with some familiar locals. Blanko is led by Joe Hall of Hammer No More The Fingers and the group features much of the same tendencies as Hammer. Technically impressive guitar lines leave musicians in the crowd in awe of Hall's prowess as he stretches his hands to unnatural lengths across the fretboard for some seriously unique chord structures. Blanko Basnet is packed with enough familiarity to feel like an old favorite for locals (the band's lineup is filled with local favorites), but there's enough innovation to the Hammer formula to keep it thoroughly entertaining.

Tickets for the show are available at Admission is $8, doors open at 8:00 and the show begins at 9:00.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shakori Hills announces full Spring lineup

Shakori Hills' spring festival will take place on
April 17-20 in Silk Hope, N.C
Back in February we reported on the initial lineup announcement for Shakori Hills' spring 2014 festival, one that boasted a stunning array of both local and national acts including everyone from Ben Sollee and Morning Brigade to Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the effing Indigo Girls. Since then the festival has been slowly and silently adding artists to the lineup with little fanfare involved. Acts like Des Ark and Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba were added alongside folks like Phil Cook & The Guitarheels and DJ Gonzo, bulking up the local anchors for this already excellent lineup. But earlier this week the good people of Shakori Hills have unveiled the full festival lineup for their April 17-20 festival. With a remarkable combination of world music, funk, Americana, folk, soul and dance music, Shakori Hills has once again proved to be one of the most consistent festivals around.

It feels like with each festival Shakori Hills tries to expand their reach a little bit more, and when they're adding invigorating acts like Miami's Afrobeta, an avant dance-duo and Congolese-Belgian hip-hop artist Baloji & L’Orchestra de la Katuba, one can't help but get excited. Shakori is a festival of exploration, dabbling into new musical territories that may seem a bit overwhelming at first but end up welcoming you in with open arms. I'll never forget my first brush with Afrobeat, my first dance party lead by the Latin funk crew Suénalo or my first (of many) encounters with the washboard slappin', festi-freak rousing antics of Donna The Buffalo. Shakori Hills radiates positivity, and when it falls on Easter weekend it always makes for memorable camping stories. Whether you're waking up to the Meadow Stage's morning musings or cheerfully greeting every passerby, it sure beats the hell out of chocolate binging until you vomit (which no doubt would still probably be pretty awesome at Shakori).

This Spring's headliners are packing quite the punch, Shakori is usually a festival that gets by on its solid undercard. While you may not be jumping at the bits to check out folks like the Indigo Girls or last fall's headliner Yonder Mountain String Band, there's always a few high-tier acts that will rouse up some new and insanely dedicated fans on the farmlands. Ben Sollee's virtuosic cello skills will be a certainly soothing excursion (here's to hoping for an evening set-time) while Dirty Dozen Brass Band will lead a wildly exciting dance party filled with their amorphous blend of jazzy tunes. But artists like The Last Bison and J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices are just as excitable as the top-tier acts, which is arguably the best aspect of the festival. Lump all of those in with some of the finest locals from across the state and baby you got a stew goin'!

Tickets for Shakori Hills are available for purchase at, a 4-day weekend pass is $100 with individual day passes ranging from $23 to $43. Shakori Hills takes place in Silk Hope, North Carolina on a semi-annual basis. Check out the full lineup on the website and be on the lookout for our regular series "Shakori Spotlights" to find out who we're most excited for at Shakori.

Drumstrong announces 2014 festival lineup including Kopecky Family Band, Felice Brothers & more

Drumstrong is a non-profit festival that will take place
on May 16-18 in Weddington, N.C.
Since 2007 Drumstrong has been hosting an annual festival to raise money for cancer organizations and in 2014 they're seriously upping the ante with their lineup. This week the Charlotte based organization announced the lineup for their forthcoming event, set to take place on May 16-18 at the Misty Meadows Farm in Weddington, N.C., and it's an impressive combination of beloved national acts and some of the top tier talents that the state has to offer.

Railroad Earth sits atop the lineup as the marquee headliner, but the strength of the festival lies within the diversity of each act on the bill. Names like Kopecky Family Band and The Felice Brothers are right alongside North Carolina acts like Chatham County Line and American Aquarium. Those four alone warrant a pretty exciting group of bands, but Drumstrong's strength lies in the fact that they've pulled some of the most exciting acts from every corner of the local scene. Lost in the Trees and The Love Language stand alongside acts like Bombadil, Dom Flemons (of Carolina Chocolate Drops), Marley Carroll, Junior Astronomers, HRVRD and even Yo Mamma's Big Fat Booty Band.

Drumstrong's dazzling lineup boosts it right towards the top of my local festival list, not just because of the inclusiveness of it but because of the totality. I'm a sucker for local-heavy lineups and quite frankly Drumstrong has done an awesome job of straying away from boring, genre-based lineups to provide an eclectic and exciting weekend of music.

Best of all, festivalgoers will be able to camp out over the weekend on the gorgeous Misty Meadows Farm, just four miles south of Charlotte. There's just something about camping festivals that produces a much more communal environment then traditional street-based events and it's one of my favorite draws for the event. Friday's festivities kick off at 2 pm and last until 11, Saturday runs from 10 am to 11 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets for the event are available in the form of a $50 weekend pass ($80 at the door) or day passes that run $15 for Friday ($25 at the door), $30 for Saturday ($40 at the door) and $15 for Sunday ($25 at the door). Alternatively you could pay $200 in advance for the VIP Passes that grant special VIP access and food and drinks.

Tickets go on-sale today at 11:00 am. For more information and the full lineup you can head to

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Show Review: No Eyes w/ Jenny Besetzt, Naked Naps

No Eyes performing at Kings Barcade on Mar. 7
This lineup was a great fit together, a fan of any of the bands individually would easily dig the other two. For $5, it was a no-brainer. Considering that tidbit in addition to timing with Raleigh's First Friday, I was expecting a big turnout. While the crowd wasn't uncomfortable thin by any means, I do think the 24+ hours of freezing rain, icy roads and torrential winds that made the infamous Martin Street wind tunnel more intense than usual (I typically feel like I'm in a hair commercial versus the brink of a tornado), nudged people to stay in.

Naked Naps came on stage at about 9:45. The two-piece sets up facing each other slightly angled out towards the audience. They're playing their music and having fun, not to imply that the audience is put on the backburner, but it isn't their main concern once they're on stage. Catie Yerkes has two guitars and a modest pedal collection. The second guitar came in handy when she broke a string mid-set, ignoring the hiccup entirely until the song was over without missing a beat. John Meier also killed it on drums, especially on a new song they revealed to us last night that will be on a split 7" with Greensboro-based Black Santa. From his fringed drum seat, he wailed with badass solos where typically subtle fills would be and it worked so well. Every time I see Naked Naps they keep getting better. Keep your eye on them. 

It seemed like overall Jenny Besetzt was the biggest draw of the night. They've done some switching in and out with their lineup, but came across really strong last night after a few songs in and sound adjustments in the monitors. Bradley Morton and John Wollaber front the band with vocals, guitars and keys. A friend likened Wollaber's vocals to The Cure's Robert Smith, which I thought was a pretty accurate comparison.  This was the first show I've seen with Thomas McNeely playing, who covered bass. Drummer Hunter Allen is one of the best drummers I've seen, besides being incredibly talented he's really fun to watch, dancing in his seat and just a general swanky style of hitting the kit. He played with different sounds and textures through various means: switching out cymbals from chipped ones to unbroken, covering the snare with bandannas, attaching metal beads to a cymbal, duct taping a tambourine to the hi-hat, and playing left-handed with a shaker in his right.

Jenny Besetzt was a good dreamy segway into No Eyes' spacey set.  Projections lit up Kings' big back wall of the stage, divided into thirds to match perfectly with the cut out already there. The visuals varied from floating drawings to spiraling kaleidoscopes and mandalas, with the offset of some more unsettling visuals, like closeups of crazy eyes center stage sandwiched between fuzziness and distortion, in both a visual and audible sense. The setlist was solid and engaging. The focal point for watching the band was definitely on the backdrop, but the members weren't stagnant on stage. Moving around in their own interpretation, the guitarists were veiled by long hair and drummer concealed by the shadows of the projections, meanwhile the bassist was painted with hallucinatory colorful designs shooting from the soundboard.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Show Preview: No Eyes, Jenny Besetzt, and Naked Naps

No Eyes performs with Jenny Besetzt and
Naked Naps at Kings tonight
Kings Barcade will host an end cap to First Friday by hosting a show with No Eyes, Jenny Besetzt and Naked Naps. If you're into any kind of psych rock or fuzzy punk you'll have a good time. No Eyes and Naked Naps are both out of Raleigh, whereas Jenny Besetzt, also local, is from a little farther west out in Greensboro.

Naked Naps is John Meier and Catie Yerkes, two of the masterminds behind house show venue Mattress Fort. They released their first album at the end of January, entitled Ok, Bye. The tracks have great names, like "Bill O'Reilly's Bedroom Song" and "Power, Passion and Purpose (29-32)." Live the band puts on a solid show, and it will be great to see them perform at a bigger venue. They're extremely laid back, especially considering the rawness and power behind the music once the song has started. Between songs they tell jokes, share stories and tune up. The songs are pretty addictive and will be a great precursor for the rest of the bill.

Jenny Besetzt is the fuzzy dreamy indie rock that should appease anyone with a soft heart for shoegaze. With members also in other bands such as Lilac Shadows and The Bronzed Chorus, the members are are comfortable on stage and very in sync with their sound as Jenny Besetzt. Look for a new lineup and new songs -- the guys are working on some new material that should be recorded and officially released before fall. 

Headliners No Eyes have been together for about two years now, playing psych rock along the lines of Birds of Avalon and Tame Impala. The band consists of Nick Kirkland, Andrew Manson and Cyrus Atkins. Although they've been through some lineup changes, Kirkland has continued to front the band, meshing well with both Manson and Atkins. More stability has lended to having a higher frequency of shows, with this being one of the first in quite a while. With another album in the works, expect to hear what they've been working on. 

Doors are at 9:00 pm on Friday, March 7 with music starting about 9:30 pm. Tickets are $5 and it's an all ages show.

No Eyes Live at Dive Bar in Raleigh, NC performing their song "Slob" from David L. Sherrill on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ladies Who Lunch: Rebekah Todd

After kicking off "Ladies Who Lunch," a feature highlighting local female artists, their work, and everyone's favorite part of the day- lunch, it is clear that Rebekah Todd is an NC artist you should be keeping your eyes on.  She is obviously making moves, from creating her new album Roots Bury Deep with a full band, to pushing to be more involved with the festival circuit.  This is the year Todd is laying down some roots of her own. 

While teaming up with a full band was a conscious move, Rebekah Todd becoming "Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey," seems to have been an unexpectedly smooth transition.  After being asked to perform with the band on the 4th of July, Todd soon fell into sync with them.  While the lyrics and melodies recorded for Roots Bury Deep, were already complete when "The Odyssey" joined, they did have time to practice, to get to know each other, and to be on solid, and exciting ground when they hit the studio.  The album was recorded in Greenville, NC, Todd's current home, but was written during a lonelier stretch spent in a basement apartment in Raleigh, NC.  Todd centers in on grief, memories, and the idea of moving past.  The album was written during a "dark, and reflective" time as Todd explains, but was recorded when she, and the band, were in a completely different frame of mind.  The evolution of the songs is striking. “Old Days,” a track on the album that Todd felt was so sad she needed to make it “more upbeat and listenable,” is carried through by the horns, and a lifting tempo.  The heavy lyrics, and tone, set against the full band is indicative of pushing forward, and reaching out, bringing the title of the album to life.

Rebekah Todd at Neomonde's Cafe in Raleigh, NC

A self-proclaimed Soul/Folk artist, the band brings elements of jazz, gospel, and even some funk to the table, positioning heavy lyrics from a “dark time” in Rebekah’s life against a lighter, and more upbeat backdrop.  The stand out about this album is the deep tie to Rebekah’s own life, and the transition into a full band.  The journey from the inspiration of the lyrics, to the final piece is amazing.  Todd herself described it as a “fun process,” which is inspiring - that these dark feelings are doubling as a reason to keep on moving forward.  While not from North Carolina originally, Todd’s own experience in moving to a state where some families have been for hundreds of years, and tradition still has a hold casts an interesting shadow on the title Roots Bury Deep.  Todd noted that the title speaks to “not necessarily physical roots, but how the circumstances, and what you go through, shape you,” and goes on to explain that the album also represents how much she herself has changed over the past three years.  From the death of her father, and the “crazy spawn of events that followed,” to the present, and finally feeling “out of it, and ready to live normally.”   

Roots Bury Deep was brought into being through Kickstarter.  Todd was not only able to reach out to fans, but to go into the studio knowing she had a supportive audience.  Even more telling of Todd’s draw, and talents, was the popularity of the “Paintings” tier of her Kickstarter campaign.  Todd was surprised at the number of fans who requested a painting in return for their donation - the tiers ranked based on donation amount and ranged from a “Happy Birthday” phone call, to an original song.  Todd netted 100+ supporters for the album, and reached her goal 10 days before deadline.  This year Todd hopes to continue building a foundation, and is adopting a “quality over quantity” mindset in terms of performances.  Todd is excited to participate in more festivals now that the The Odyssey will be gracing the stage with her, and feels that the band opens doors both in terms of larger performances, and in the impact it has on the style, and sound of the album.

Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey are adjusting to traveling as a full band, and are directing their energy towards promoting their upcoming performances - like their small tour coming up this later this month from March 26th to March 29th.  Todd will also be touring solo, and “doing some leg work,” as she calls it, throughout the next year.  With such a broad range- from full band, to solo, from a Raleigh basement, to a festival stage, Rebekah Todd brings soul, folk, and a lot of heart to her music, art, and the North Carolina scene.  Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey will be at the Local 506, in Carrboro, this Saturday, March 8th at 8:00pm.