Thursday, September 30, 2004

This Weekend's Shows

The big show in town this weekend is the Independent Weekly's Indy Music Awards. It starts at 6:00 p.m. Saturday (10/2) at the Cat's Cradle and Carrboro Arts Center. Maybe I'm a dope, but I can't actually find a performance schedule anywhere. In any case, here's a selection of some of the local artists nominated for the first ever Indy Music Awards (and wouldn't you be dying for that pig statue?!?):

The Rosebuds: "Kicks in the Schoolyard" from Make Out (buy)
nominated for Best Rock Band, Best Rock Record,Best Rock Song (this very song!)

Two Dollar Pistols: "Runnin' With the Fools" from Hands Up! (buy)
nominated for Best Country Band, Best Country Record, Best Country Song (though not this one)

Caitlin Cary: "Cello Girl" from I'm Staying Out(buy)
nominated for Best Solo Artist, Best Solo Record

Superchunk: "Her Royal Fisticuffs" from The Laughter Guns (buy)
nominated for Best Rock Band

Some quibbles:
  • I guess you have to acknowledge Superchunk in the rock band category, since (as the Indy says) "they are to Chapel Hill what REM is to Athens and Fugazi to D.C.," and their impact as founders of Merge Records is arguably even greater. But they haven't had a new record since 2001. Hopefully this award would go to a band that's a little more active right now.
  • Claming the Mountain Goats and Branford Marsalis as local musicians seems a little questionable, but whatever.
  • I gather there's some question about the voting, especially how to prevent ballot box stuffing. (But what's a local music gathering without the political element?)


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

David Byrne update

David Byrne has updated his tour diary to include his recent stop at the Carolina Theater in Durham (scroll down to entries for 9/18 and 9/19). No indication of whether it was a particularly good show or not, though the one before in Nashville was "one of the best received of the whole tour." Not sure what the history lesson about the Dukes is for (that's the tobacco baron Dukes, not the General Lee Dukes), and he probably wouldn't have included it at all if he'd realized that the Carolina Theater is actually not on Duke's campus.

I'd still love to hear music from the current tour -- any recordings available? In the meantime, here's a link to a Quicktime video of an old live performance:

VIDEO: "Help Me Somebody" Live on Sessions at West 54th.
(original recording on the great My Life in the Bush of Ghosts -- this version is very different, with a fantastic female vocalist -- well worth a listen!)

Welcome Totally Fuzzy readers!

Thanks to Herr K at Totally Fuzzy for the link (a blog that does a nice job filtering the vast amount of music being posted). Hopefully some of y'all will stick around. Briefly, this is my effort to dig into the local music scene in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. For more background, see here.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Tres Chicas

Just a brief post to get things flowing again. One of the first local acts that I was interested in hearing was Tres Chicas. Notwithstanding their name, there's nothing Latin-influenced about the music that these three women make. (I believe that it's a requirement that any discussion of Tres Chicas make that half-joke, so there you go.) A Triangle folk super-group of sorts, Tres Chicas features Caitlin Cary (who used to play with Ryan Adams in Whiskeytown and has a couple of fine solo albums out), Lynn Blakey (who was in Let's Active back in the day and now records with Glory Fountain, which just got added to my list of bands to check out), and Tonya Lamm (formerly of Hazeldine).

They have a record of gorgeous country-folk songs called Sweetwater and recorded a song for the Alejandro Escovedo tribute/benefit album Por Vida.

MP3: Sweetwater
"Media Player": Deep as Your Pocket (This ought to launch a pop-up window -- don't know if it will work...)
(From Sweetwater, Yep Roc 2004. Buy or download)
I'm partial to the closing track, a cover of George Jones' "Take the Devil Out of Me", which picks up the tempo a bit -- after the mellow, Chris Stamey produced tracks that precede it, it's a rousing campfire singalong with simple guitar accompaniment.

Back in action

Of course, it would happen that I get my first (and only, so far) major link on the first day of a two-week hiatus. (Thanks, John! Can I get on the blogroll?) Hopefully some of y'all that clicked through back then have stuck around till now.

My major regret from this hiatus is that I missed the David Byrne show at the Carolina Theater. Although his latest recording isn't as percussion- and rhythm-heavy as my favorite stuff of his, I'd love to see how this current band, including the Tosca Strings sounds. Somewhere I read that they're doing "I Zimbra" on this tour, a song I've always loved. Anybody seen Byrne, 'round here or elsewhere on this tour? His tour diary isn't quite up to the 9/19 show, but I'll keep a look out to see how it seemed from his side of the lights.

Also missed the Carrboro Music Festival yesterday. A quick scan of the schedule doesn't turn up anything I was dying to see, but a free afternoon of music is nothing to turn up your nose at.

That was the only really lengthy absence I'll have this fall, though shorter ones will follow. In any case, I'm back now, so let's see if I can keep this going for a while.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Well, it's no way to build traffic to launch a blog and then head out of town. But work calls, and my internet acess will be scarce for the next two weeks. So I won't have much time to post, let alone research bands for a worthwhile post. I do have one thing on tap for next week, though it's hardly an unknown act.

I read most of my blogs through Bloglines, so if you happen by while I'm gone, subscribe so you'll know when I'm back.
Subscribe with Bloglines

I don't suppose it matters much, since nobody's found me yet. In any case, things will be sparce here until the week of 9/27. But I'm not giving up -- I'm just getting going!

The Sames

Two things often pass for "criticism" or fill up space in writing about bands: biography and comparison. Fortunately for you, I can't really rely on these crutches to tell you about Durham's Sames. I can't find out much -- anything, really -- about who's in the band or what they did prior to their 2002 EP (titled E.P.) on Pox World Empire. And my musical knowledge, though fairly broad, is shallow and patchy enough that I can't really slot them into a genre or compare them to other bands. For what it's worth, reviews of the EP cite the Feelies, Pavement (fine, I know them) and mention emo and shoegazer, which doesn't enlighten me, though it may you. A couple of high-concept descriptions from the reviews are "Pavement doing a bunch of Beach Boys songs" and "Wire-meets-Sonic Youth".

All of which ends up as what I would describe as indie guitar-based rock, featuring angular guitar lines more than chord-based riffs. The music is fundamentally pop (which I guess only implies a certain catchiness and accessibility to me), but complicated and darkened by some well-placed dissonance. This is a very solid band making music that I enjoy, though they aren't really doing anything earth-shaking.

MP3: I Wish That You'd Written This Song
MP3: Live My Life For Me
(from E.P., Pox World Empire 2002. Buy )
"I Wish That You'd Written This Song" is probably the standout for me. Nice harmonies. "Live My Life For Me" rocks harder than any of the other songs here, and has more dissonance.

MP3: All We Need Is A Friend
MP3: Snake
These are somewhat less polished, but also a change of pace, especially the electronic/studio textures of "Snake". It's mostly tacked on the beginning and end, though.

MP3: You Are A Ghost
MP3: Homeland Security
(from split-CDR, October 2002.)
These are the least distinctive songs here. Nice enough, but similar tempos and feels -- a little mopy for my taste. An album of this stuff would be too much.

The Sames also have a song on the Pox World Empire Compulation Volume One CD, which is singled out as a highlight in many of the reviews. This is a CD I'll be ordering soon.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

What's on this weekend

Here's what I'd go check out this weekend:

Samite at the Carrboro Arts Center. 9/10 8:00 p.m.
Ugandan musician with a lovely smooth voice and some great kalimba playing.
MP3: Tokido
MP3: I Talk to Children
MP3: Mirembe
(From Kambu Angels, Wind Over the Earth 2003. Buy)
His latest, Tunula Eno, sounds like it has more percussion, which I like. This seems to be a solo show, though, so that probably won't be a factor here. (Tunula Eno: buy or download)

Solomon Burke
(et al.) at the Bull Durham Blues Festival, Durham Athletic Park. 9/9-11. (Burke is 9/10 10:30 p.m.) Full schedule
Won a Grammy for best contemporary blues album in 2003.
MP3: Diamond in Your Mind
MP3: Flesh and Blood
MP3: None of us are Free
(From Don't Give Up On Me, Fat Possum 2002. Buy or download)

The Mendoza Line at Local 506. 9/11 10:00 p.m.
Rock/pop with some twang.
Lots of MP3s here. I like "It's a Long Line".

Friday, September 03, 2004

This Weekend's Shows

If I were going to see a show this weekend, I think I'd be interested in the Shark Quest record release at Local 506 (Friday, Sept. 3, 10:00) I've got to love a band that describes their instrumental sound like this: "Dusty pop melds with elements of surf guitar, bluegrass, traditional folk, bossa nova, Sufi-western and neoclassical baroque."

Here are a couple of MP3s from the 2000 record Man on Stilts (via Epitonic):
Race Dragging
Crazy Laura
On first listen, I'm liking these a lot.

Merge claims to have streams from the new record, Gods and Devils, but they're not working for me.

The North Carolina Rock Project

Let's start things off with a little nostalgia. Time was, the Triangle (and I guess Chapel Hill in particular) was going to be "the new Seattle". Since grunge has long since faded and Seattle was only briefly the fount of the new cool, I'm not sure what that would have gotten us, so perhaps it's just as well that it never came to pass. There were some great bands with NC and Triangle ties in the 80s bubbling under the REM-led college rock scene -- the dB's and Let's Active, and then later Dillon Fence are my touchstones for this -- but they never really hit it big. I think it was Superchunk in the 90s that really drew national attention to the Triangle music scene.

Here's an article from the Independent a couple of weeks back about a documentary under production highlighting "the North Carolina music scene, specifically the rock/power pop from Arrogance in the late '70s/early '80s up to Dillon Fence in the late '80s." Sounds like an interesting project -- I hope it comes to fruition. I'm not familiar with the bands that are highlighted in this article -- Arrogance, the Woods, and the Hanks -- but I'll see if I can dig anything up and post it later.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

What it's about

This is a music blog focused on the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. (That's in central North Carolina, if you must know.) There are a lot of talented musicians around here, some established and reasonably well-known (Superchunk, Chris Stamey) others still building a reputation (Rosebuds, Little Brother). National bands large and small pass through here playing venues that range from tiny (Duke's Coffeehouse) to vast (Raleigh's Walnut Creek), with some great midsized clubs in between (Local 506, the legendary Cat's Cradle).

I live in Durham, but I actually don't get out to see live music much at all. (Work and family fill up most of my time right now.) So I can't claim any particular expertise. My hope is that this blog will be a sort of substitute for the concert-going that I would do if I had more time (and money). If you're inclined, feel free to look over my shoulder.

My musical tastes are pretty varied. It's not that I like everything -- frankly I wouldn't trust someone who wasn't discriminating enough to have likes and dislikes -- but I do like some of almost everything. I haven't played in a while, but I was a percussionist in high school and college, in everything from a rock band to an orchestra. So I'm partial to music with a strong rhythmic element. Lately one of my strong areas of interest is the folk/country/roots/Americana/whatever else nexus. Fortunately, the local scene has quite a lot in that vein. I suppose some pattern will emerge out of the music I link to here, but I can't imagine what it will be.

The inspiration for this project was the rapidly-multiplying number of music and MP3 blogs out there. I've been exposed to some fantastic new music in the past six months or so. The best of the lot have great, eclectic taste and write well enough to give you a flavor of the music even if you don't download the files. Here are some of my favorites, both for the writing and because I like their selections more often than not:
Tofu Hut
Said the Gramophone
Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again (nice template!)
Music (for Robots)
and the only other NC-based music blog I know of, Honey Where You Been So Long.
Hi y'all -- hope I can live up to your examples!

I don't plan to host MP3s, but I'll link to them whenever I can. I welcome feedback from anyone who finds this interesting. Leave a comment or e-mail me (oakroom at gmail dot com).

first past the first post

Romeo Delta Uniform