Friday, February 24, 2006

Outstanding Alt-folkish/whatever show at the Coffeehouse

Regina Hexaphone: "Ethan's Dream"
(from The Beautiful World, 2004. Buy or download.)
[File taken down, but "Radiate" is not a bad substitute in this mix]
The Strugglers: "The Cascade Range"
(from You Win, 2005. Buy)
The Zincs: "Bad Shepards"
(from Dimmer., 2005. Buy or download.)
Edith Frost: "Cars and Parties"
(from demos, 2004. Download the whole thing free here, buy other things here.)

Holy crap, what a great show tonight at the Duke Coffeehouse! The lineup of Regina Hexaphone, the Strugglers, the Zincs, and Edith Frost won't shake the rafters, but there will be more than enough folk(ish) rock goodness to go around. I think the lineup of songs above gives a nice sense of the common stylistic thread that connects these bands -- low-key, acoustic, with at least a touch of strings. "Ethan's Dream" features some the lovely violin of Sara Bell, and "The Cascade Range" adds Randy Bickford's wonderfully dusty voice to another fine piece of fiddling. Brit-by-way-of-Chicago Jim Elkington leads the Zincs, and his baritone on "Bad Shepards" follows comfortably after Bickfords', though he's considerably smoother. I don't really know Edith Frost, so I'm not sure how representative "Cars and Parties" is of her overall sound, but her intimate voice is a perfect capper for this set of music.

I've written about Regina Hexaphone and the Strugglers before. The Hex are working on recordings for a new album, though when it'll be completed is anyone's guess. The Strugglers relased a fine album, You Win, since the last time, and it looks like they have a pretty extensive European tour planned for later this year. Here's an interesting interview with Bickford about the, well, struggles he's faced getting his music distributed.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Don't call it a comeback...

...except, you know, that I've decided to come back and try to give this blog thing a go again.

I think I can make it work on a limited basis, so look for regular Friday posts, and we'll see how that works. (I do all my blog reading through an aggregator, which is the best way to keep tabs on sporadically-updated sites like mine.)

So, to kick things off, here are several songs that have caught my ear during my time off.

MP3: "White Wave"
(Portastatic, Bright Ideas, Merge 2005. Buy here or download here.)

Mac McCaughan's Portastatic began as a Superchunk side project, but these day's Portastatic seems more like the mothership for McCaughan's music. (Superchunk performance at SXSW not withstanding.) Although the band's output has been stylistically quite eclectic, Bright Ideas is pretty 'chunky, which is more than all right with me. "White Wave" is the song that sticks in my head the most from this album. If I had a band, I'd cover this song.

MP3: "Ruins"
(The Kingsbury Manx, The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, Yep Roc 2005. Buy here or download here.)

The Kingsbury Manx's Fast Rise and Fall of the South is a beautiful folk rock kind of album. "Ruins" isn't quite representative of the whole album, but in part I like it because of the way it peps up the overall mellow feel.

MP3: "Against Pollution" (Mountain Goats cover)
(The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers, live on WKNC 1/30/05)

I linked to this previously, but I appreciate it more now that I've gotten better acquainted with the original. It's kind of odd to hear someone other than John Darnielle sing this, but Perry Wright does a great job. This was recorded before PTOADS toured with the Mountain Goats (I think) -- wonder if they played it then?

See you next week!