Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Chatham County Line: straight-up bluegrass

Raleigh's Chatham County Line are four guys making great-sounding bluegrass music in a Bill Monroe/Del McCoury vein. (Actually, some listeners comment, if not complain, that there are "traces of Ryan Adams and Wilco in some of these tunes and arrangements". I'll just say I'm not near expert enough in bluegrass to pick that out...) They won Best Bluegrass Band in the Independent Music Awards back in September.

Guitarist Dave Wilson and bass player Greg Readling played with the Carbines backing Tift Merritt, and fiddler/mandolinist John Teer has backed Thad Cockerell. The fourth member of the group is banjo player Chandler Holt. They perform mostly original songs standing around a single mic. (Wilson says, "In the past, we have gone to bars on off nights, or just on the street, and started playing. We refer to it as guerilla bluegrass' because it can happen anywhere and anytime, all we need is our instruments and some real estate and we’re ready to play.")

For their 2003 debut recording, though, they worked with Chris Stamey (yes, him again), and this article has some interesting insights into the tensions between that no-frills attitude and Stamey's studio expertise. Fortunately, the band won out, and the music's wonderful. You can buy Chatham County Line here or download here.

Their website (which is very nicely designed, by the way) features MP3s from a Cat's Cradle concert back in September. I suggest you download the whole set, but here's a sampler:

MP3: "Nowhere to Sleep Tonight"
MP3: "Banjo Boy Chimes"
MP3: "WSM 650"
MP3: "Bacon in the Skillet"
MP3: "Born to Be With You"

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Schooner demos/Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick pre-holiday post. Back here I pointed to some songs by Raleigh-based Schooner, which are wearing pretty well for me. Here's a trio of demos from their web site, which are (not surprisingly) more low-key, but still pretty satisfying.

MP3: "Long Long Time"
MP3: "Healing the Scars"
MP3: "In the Eyes of the Moon"

Schooner's playing at The Library in Chapel Hill next Tuesday (11/30).

Here's a basically positive review of You Forget About Your Heart, making some (only partially-warranted) Rosebuds comparisons, and another review from the Independent.

That's all for now -- see you next week!

Blogroll addition

Just wanted to reciprocate a link from Woodentop, an eclectic music blog that adds an interesting personal layer to the tracks posted there. I like the UK flavo[u]r as well. Check out the recent Billy Bragg Peel session post.

Thanks, mate!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

More Malt Swagger

In my previous post on the WXYC webcast anniversary compilation, I noted that one of the tracks that appealed to me was Malt Swagger's "Binger". Thanks to someone who came by via a Google search for Malt Swagger, I have come across a couple of songs from their 2000 CD "The Lost Pilot." I still don't know squat about this band, and they have pretty much zero web presence, but I do like what I hear: moody, textured instrumental rock with vibraphone sprinkled in.

The Independent article I linked to previously mentioned a forthcoming album, but that was late 2002. This post at Tuba City suggests that it may still be forthcoming, and I'll certainly be on the lookout for it. (That last post also mentions that bass player Andy Magowan is also chef at the Federal!)

MP3: "Fried Pink"
MP3: "Hill Top"
(from The Lost Pilot, 2000. If I knew where to buy it, I'd tell you.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Connells

A while back, a commenter asked about the Connells. I thought I'd post something in response, but it fell through the cracks, and I see that Peter at Bars and Guitars went ahead and wrote about them on his own. I must confess that the Connells were not really my sort of thing back when they were in their prime, and I didn't pay much attention. "Slackjawed" did make some kind of impression on me -- I remembered it when I started digging around to reacquaint myself with the band -- and I'm certainly more open to their pop style now, though there's nothing that really floors me.

A couple of mixed-bag overviews here and here, and a blurb for a local show nearly a year ago here. Their web site hints that they might be working on a new album, but also says "don't hold your breath."

MP3: "Choose a Side"
(from Boylan Heights, TVT 1987. Buy )

MP3: "Slackjawed"
(from Ring, TVT 1993. Buy)

MP3: "Living in the Past" (Jethro Tull cover[!])
(from Ring (import) and New Boy [EP], TVT 1994. Buy )

MP3: "Maybe"
(from Weird Food and Devastation, TVT 1996. Buy )

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

WXYC 10 Year Webcast Anniversary

Back in 1994, on Sept. 7, UNC-Chapel Hill radio station WXYC went on line with a simulcast of their on air broadcast. Despite a few claims to the contrary, they are generally recognized as the first radio station to webcast their programming. (And really, if you can't trust Alex Trebeck to give you the straight dope, who can you trust?) They've come a long way since then, with MP3, Real Audio, and even OGG streams, plus a nifty live playlist feature.

So, to celebrate the anniversary, they've put together a nice compliation of local music called Bandwidth. There are some physical copies for sale, but the whole thing is available to download, including cover art and liner notes. If you wish, they have a BitTorrent file to download everything at once, or a zipped file with MP3s inside. Or you can pick and choose individual MPs to download here. It's a somewhat hit and miss collection, so here's my quick take on some of the more worthwhile tracks.

MP3: "Binger" (Malt Swagger)
First time I've heard of Malt Swagger, but I like the woozy lope of this instrumental, with some vibes and violin adding texture.

MP3: "Life Ain't Easy" (Spectac and Median)
Hip-hop has been sorely lacking on this blog so far. Don't know much (anything) about these guys but like the simple old-school beat with horn sample and scratching.

MP3: "Open Season" (Shark Quest)
I posted a little bit about these guys before. This one isn't as surf-influenced or as energetic as some of the other stuff I've heard, but a mellow instrumental that flows along nice and easy.

MP3: "Lost John" (Etta Baker)
Old-style acoustic guitar picking on this traditional tune from 90 year old Baker. I don't think Honey, Where You Been So Long has posted any of her music, but it's right up Peter's alley.

There's other good stuff on the comp, and some stuff that I just don't care for ("Bush Laden Family BBQ" and "A Space Nomad's Wildest Dreams" are pretty silly), but check it out for yourself. And remember, all this computer stuff costs money, so if you have the chance, help WXYC out. They're a real asset to the area.


Badgerminor steps up at Orbis Quintus with yet another post of old-school NC music, this time from mid-1990s alt-rock almost-made-its Archers of Loaf. I was not really paying close attention at the time, but it's my impression that AoL and Superchunk were the two acts primarily responsible for the short-lived buzz that the Triangle was the "next Seattle".

Election blues and a head injury (really! 27 stitches!) have slowed me down lately, but I'll try to have something of my own up before the end of the day.

Just a hypothetical

Would it be wrong to have a little crush on Elastigirl? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Well, who the hell knew so many conservatives read music blogs? Not really much to say other than that at the very least Bush has to be held accountable for his actions thus far. (Very small consolation, it seems to me.)

Here's some pissed-off music for a pissed-off morning from NC's seminal punk/metal band, Corrosion of Conformity. From fairly hard-core roots in the mid-1980s, they moved towards a more metal-influenced sound by the early 1990s. Follow the ever-shifting lineup at this fan site. (Despite the protests on that site, it does get a bit Spinal Tap-ish...) Read the All Music profile here.

MP3: "Vote With a Bullet"
(from Blind, Relativity 1991. Buy the 1995 remaster.)

(And please note that this just happens to be the CoC song I found available on line. I'm certainly not putting it out there as any kind of message. )

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

Craig's got this "Music Bloggers for Democracy" thing going on at Songs:Illinois. (Seems like he's organizing it; I could be wrong.) I'm ambivalent -- it's a good, civic-minded idea, but I also agree with John at Tofu Hut: I'm too partisan this year to want to encourage just anyone to go vote.

In any case, it'll all be over soon (we can only hope). I've already linked to the Chris Stamey/Yo La Tengo PSA that's making the rounds, but I'm also tickled by the Flash animation Yep Roc's got up for it with the Rather Good-style musical dogs.

Go vote, but make sure it's for the right guy.