Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hear Here: February 28 - March 7

Justin Lacy & The Swimming Machine
Last week was jam-packed with fantastic shows and this week showcases much of the same.  Sometimes within the Triangle we'll see a particular city jam-packed with shows while the rest are left to twiddle their thumbs or make the drive up I-40, but every now and then there's that one week where the entire area is filled with incredible performances.  You can welcome that particular conundrum this week.

With a raucous show from Spider Bags at Slim's kicking off the week and a sold out performance from Alt-J at Cat's Cradle, this week runs the gamut of musical genres.  Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are getting equal amounts of lovin' from both touring acts and local favorites, so make your way out to a show this week!

Show of the Week: Onward, Soldiers w/ Wiley Hunter & The Cazadores and Justin Lacy & The Swimming Machine @ Kings Barcade on March 2

Thursday, February 28
Spider Bags w/ Flesh Wounds & DJ Suggadelic @ Slim's in Raleigh
  • Two of the areas finest punk acts are going to be packed into one of the Triangle's finest clubs for gritty, high-energy shows.  Needless to say this show is going to be incredible.  Spider Bags solidified their spot in 2012 as one of the local powerhouses, receiving high acclaim from national publications like Pitchfork, Shake My Head was release that boosted Spider Bags to the glory that they deserve.  I finally got to see their southern blend of punk rock at Double Barrel Benefit earlier this month and suddenly understood why this band has received the acclaim they have.  The energy was bouncing across the stage, much like the band, as they powered through an engaging set filled with sing-a-longs and wild antics.  Spider Bags' fans are a dedicated bunch, exerting just as much energy as the band when taking in their frenetic live performance.  Flesh Wounds couldn't be a better opener either, I got the chance to see them in a crowded Berkley Cafe at Hopscotch last year and saw much of the same that I did at Spider Bags, but with far more grit.  Flesh Wounds give fans exactly what they want, no frills balls-out punk rock with jaunting rhythms and fast-paced melodies.  Slim's is at its finest when it's packed in tightly and filled with the brash tunes that we'll see on display on Thursday.  A fantastic way to kick off this batch of shows.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Album Review: "Miracle Temple" by Mount Moriah

Miracle Temple is released on February 26, 2013
on Merge Records
Mount Moriah is a band that can connect with their listeners on a very rudimentary level.  Albums like Miracle Temple and the band's self-titled debut perfectly encapsulate life in the south.  Heather McEntire's vocals are dripping with emotion and packed tight with vivid imagery.  You're likely to be transported back to a blistering summer day in a college town with tracks like "Younger Days" or to a day filled with sporadic thunderstorms and dark clouds with the intensity found in the album's closer "The Telling Hour".

Mount Moriah are capable of exploring a vast array of emotions and textures within their albums, and their full-length debut on Merge Records does so in a way that Mount Moriah has never done before.  While Mount Moriah was filled with just enough sheen and substance to attract fans in droves, Miracle Temple shows the true depth of this talented act by displaying a refined and enriching piece of music.

Within the opening seconds of "Younger Days" we're greeted with a nostalgia-tinged line from McEntire that seems to glide over the crisp guitar-work from Jenks Miller, "You were always wild" croons Heather in a track that laments on the hopelessness that comes with being left behind.  "August is over, so when are you coming back?", it's a reprise found within "Younger Days" that feels so bright texturally, but upon further inspection proves itself to reek of abandonment.  Mount Moriah's music doesn't dwell on this sadness though, but rather embraces the full spectrum of our emotions.  A track like "Younger Days" serves as the perfect opener for Miracle Temple, it's bright and catchy and perfectly transitions into the bouncy, anthemic track "Bright Lights", but even then it's a song that contains multitudes.  Most of Mount Moriah's songs do.  There's the surface aesthetic that a listener can immediately appreciate, but there's also a veil to be peeled back that opens up a possibility to truly connect with this artist.  Miracle Temple is filled with big-town dreams from a small-town perspective, lyrics that are filled with a deep desire to clutch on to some sense of security.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Around The Triangle: Tame Impala, Virgins Family Band, Frontier Ruckus and Brand New Life

Photo by Agatha Donkar
2013 has proven to be a busy year for shows in the Triangle and it doesn't look like that tradition will be going anywhere soon.  While it's been some time since we've posted an Around The Triangle, this influx of incredible music can't go ignored!  So alas, Around The Triangle has returned once more with another stack of awesome photos from recent shows around the area.

Thanks to contributors Agatha Donkar and Emily Ritter, we've got some fantastic shots from the last few weeks of shows in the area including a sold-out Cat's Cradle show from Tame Impala, an incredible outing from Virgins Family Band for their album release, and a magical Valentine's Day performance from Frontier Ruckus.

Tame Impala w/ The Growl @ Cat's Cradle
February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hear Here: February 21 - February 27

Baobab (Phil Torres & Whitney Trettien)
After a few weeks of Hear Here downtime due to that pestering obligation known as "school", it's back in full effect with an incredible week of shows.  From a sold out Tame Impala show at Cat's Cradle to a couple of highly anticipated local outins from personal favorites like Baobab and Naked Gods, there's a wide array of awesome live music for you North Carolina folks to check out.  Thankfully the shows are relatively spread out throughout the week as well, so for once there's little worry about missing one show for another or attempting to breaking the laws of time and space and being in two places at once.  Diversity and excitement is abound in the Triangle this week, so let's get to some shows!

Show of the Week: Baobab w/ Virgins Family Band @ Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC on Friday, February 22

Monday, February 11, 2013

Album Review: "Desert" by The Dead Tongues

The Dead Tongues released Desert on February 9
at The Cat's Cradle
Ryan Gustafson is a songwriter that I'd only heard of for years, but until Hopscotch 2012 I had never actively listened Gustafson.  Big mistake.  While I'm glad I made sure my first experience with the talented songwriter was a live show, I wish I'd hopped on the train earlier.  After releasing Donkey in 2009, Gustafson hopped around from notable projects like Max Indian, The Light Pines, and Mandolin Orange all the while working on instrumental tracks of his own under the moniker The Daughter Is Ambiguous.  However, 2013 marks the return of Gustafson's solo work, and this new Dead Tongues release is something truly special.  It's clear that Gustafson's break in songwriting allowed him to develop a sense of purpose within his songs, everything feels as raw and personal as it did on Donkey, but it feels far more dynamic than Gustafson's previous release.

Each track has a defining voice, driving the album down a road that contains many exciting peaks and curves, but ultimately arrives at the same comforting sense of sincerity that drew the listener in to begin with.  Ranging from alt-country anthems to expansive six minute tracks like "Milestone" that careen effortlessly through a wide-open musical pallet, Desert is a unique album that can truly connect with listeners through powerful lyrics and gorgeous instrumentation.

Gustafson's lyricism is something that can't be emphasized enough, while each song remains entirely enjoyable musically, the textures and feelings that are brought out through Gustafson's raw approach to songwriting is what makes The Dead Tongues the powerhouse they are.  Tracks like "Depression" boast a bouncy yet rustic approach both melodically and musically, but from the opening lines it's clear that this song contains much more than a catchy hook.  "I get in depression/Like you get into cars driving you home/Like she got into cutting/And I got into drinking on my own".  One of the joys of this album is that each song contains these lyrical gems, these moments where you feel like a veil has been lifted between you and the musicians and you can truly connect with their music.  Tracks like "The Desert" and "No Intentions" feel like sincere statements that can evoke the memories of a particular place or time, sonically they contain memorable melodies and lyrically they draw upon feelings of self reflection and aimlessness that many can immediately connect with.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Virgins Family Band debut "Honeylion" on The Bottom String w/ a new Bottom String Session

Honeylion by Virgins Family Band was released on
February 8, 2013.  The band will be celebrating
their album release on February 22 at Local 506
with Baobab.
Virgins Family Band are one of the most surprising acts to come from the Triangle in recent memory.  As I was scouring the web for local shows I found the Baobab double album release show with Virgins Family Band and knew that I'd be in for a treat.  However, when I first listened to Honeylion there was a visceral reaction that I wasn't expecting.  Their sweet harmonies and unpredictable melodies make each listen through an experience in which you can peel back new layers and find new moments in this music to connect with.  Ranging from frenetic soul to jazzy indie rock, Virgins Family Band have a sound unlike any other band in the state.  It's one of those bands where you can genuinely start to realize the depth of the Carolina talent pool, because seemingly from out of nowhere I've grown incredibly attached to this band.

Honeylion is as strong a statement that any band can wish to make with a debut, they've crafted a sound that's entirely unique and filled with melodic masterpieces.  Tracks like the album's opener, "Moon Breath" display the dynamic breadth displayed within this 8-track album.  Powerful rhythms drive these tunes, and they're capable of changing direction on a dime and delivering a brand new addictive melody that's filled with adventurous originality.  The best part about Honeylion though is that it always leaves you guessing, Virgins Family Band combine elements from jazz and pop music in a way that creates an inviting yet still complex soundscape that's filled with gorgeous musical moments that create for an invigorating listening experience.  The entire album is packed with fantastic musical endeavors, from the croons of "Eyes Like Troubled Dreams" to the shiver-inducing shouts that close the album in "Lily Molusco", Virgins Family Band display a mastery of dynamics and pacing.

Honeylion feels like a truly cohesive piece of work, it's difficult to not listen to this all the way through as each track beckons the listener to continue on.  The flow of Honeylion is as smooth as the title implies, this release is filled with seamless transitions and brilliant resolve.  Honeylion soundtracks my winter days and will soon do the same for my spring, mostly because it's a ubiquitous piece of music that truly feels timeless.  Honeylion has given Virgins Family Band my complete attention.  They're one of the most talented acts I've seen from North Carolina in years and I take great pride in being able to debut their first full-length.  Check out the Bottom String Session I filmed with the band below and purchase their album Honeylion on Bandcamp:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Debut: "Tell-Tale Heart" by Villa Verde

As we get closer to the release of The Bottom String Compilation Vol. 1, I can barely contain my excitement for this thing.  Some of my favorite local artists have contributed tracks to this compilation, and I've also found new favorites as well.  The best way to spread some of that excitement is to let you guys hear some tracks from this thing!  Last week I debuted "Love is Loathing" by Ghostt Bllonde, and this week I've got yet another track for everyone to hear.  This one is from Villa Verde, a band out of Wilmington that I met at Kings back in December.  When I started to think of bands to include on this compilation I went back to finally listen to Villa Verde and found myself pleasantly surprised.  After contacting the band they decided to contribute an unreleased track for the compilation.

Villa Verde recorded "Tell-Tale Heart" last May, shortly after losing their lead vocalist and guitar player, but bassist Joshua Sullivan took on vocal duties.  After recently adding Corey Blackburn (of Museum Mouth and Fractal Farm) on guitar, Villa Verde has become a trio yet again, but one that's refined their sound, adopting jaunting rhythmic changes that are contrasted with smooth vocal melodies.  "Tell-Tale Heart" builds slowly but surely, taking an ever-changing dynamic approach ranging from soft-spoken restraint to anthemic choruses.  Villa Verde is a young band that's filled with potential, as they continue to evolve and find their footing we can hope to hear great things from this group.  Sullivan said the band is growing to be "more math minded, kind of like old Maps and Atlases, but still with plenty of indie rocking".

With a new lineup and a new year, I expect to be hearing a lot more from Villa Verde, they're a part of an emerging Wilmington scene that's being fueled by many of the folks that are included on this compilation.   I'll be dropping news soon about the release date and track listing for The Bottom String Compilation Vol. 1, but for the time being check out this awesome new track from Villa Verde: