Thursday, August 04, 2005

More Polvo

Just a quick post to follow up on last week's post about Polvo, one of the big names of the 1990s Triangle music scene. I downloaded 1993's Today's Active Lifestyles, and like it quite a bit. It surely isn't easy listening, but a some challenging stuff in the musical diet is good, right?

I also came across a couple of songs from their later albums on Touch and Go Records, Exploded Drawing (1996) [review] and Shapes (1997) [review]. They don't sound that different to me on limited listens -- Shapes' "Enemy Insects" is slightly more mellow, but that't highly relative here -- but at least one person has recommended Exploded Drawing to me as Polvo's real high point.

MP3: "Feather of Forgiveness"
(from Exploded Drawing, Touch and Go 1996. Buy it here.)
MP3: "Enemy Insects"
(from Shapes, Touch and Go 1997. Buy it here.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Balance: in good company

Well, The Balance is a new band to me, but since they're playing tomorrow night with two other bands that I like quite a lot -- The Sames [prevously 1, 2] and North Elementary [previously 1, 2] -- I thought I'd check them out. I'm glad I did -- it's good stuff. The first impression is of reasonably typical indie rock, but subtle things make it more interesting -- for instance, the way that "Charlatan" speeds up towards the end, or the semi-electronic breakdown in the middle of "Himeola."

I really like the drumming -- Matt McCaughan's jazz influence adds nice varation and flow. (Bass player Wes Phillips is actually a great drummer as well, in Ticonderoga and the Physics of Meaning [previously].) Guitarist Jim Bradley used to be in the Ashley Stove as well. This trio recorded a self-titled album in 2004 [review], and recently added a second guitarist, the Sames' Clay Merritt, and Dan Byrk on keyboards (etc.).

MP3: "Charlatan"
MP3: "Himeola"
MP3: "On A Wheel"
(from The Balance, 2004. Buy it from the band -- send 'em an e-mail)

There are a few other songs to stream at the band's My Space site.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Regina Hexaphone

I have had notes for a post on Regina Hexaphone cued up for almost as long as the Oak Room has been in existence. This was one of the first Triangle bands that I explored, and they are still one of my favorites.

They've been around for a while (since 1997 in some form), but didn't release an album until last year's Beautiful World. It's a quiet, folk-inflected collection of songs led by Sara Bell's lovely vocals. Margaret White's violin adds quite a lot to the broad, pastoral sound, and the Hex are joined by various guests including Polvo's Ash Bowie and Chris Eubanks, with whom Bell plays in Shark Quest. White's departure for New York has left a hole in the lineups of both Regina Hexaphone and North Elementary, sadly. After a bit of regrouping, they've been playing locally fairly often lately, so I'm hoping to be able to catch them sometime soon.

MP3: "Radiate"
MP3: "Move"
MP3: "Bright Falling Stars" (aka "The Happy Waltz"?)

(from The Beautiful World, Erie Recordings 2004. Buy it here or download it here.