Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Crazy electronic music at Kings: Pit Er Pat et al.


Alphas Wear Grey: "No Emotions"
"Say Something"
Pit Er Pat: "Underwater Wave Game"
(from Shakey 2005. Buy or download)

Well, it's really saying something when loopy Chicago trio Pit Er Pat is the most normal-sounding act in the lineup, but that's the case tonight at King's Barcade in Raleigh. Pit Er Pat layers angular electric piano and a mannered female vocalist over a busy bass and drums foundation. They grabbed my attention when I first heard "Underwater Wave Game" -- its really not like any other music I know of. I guess it's possible that this is more due to my listening habits than Pit Er Pat's uniqueness, but in any case, I always like a band that does their own thing.

So I was curious about the other acts on the bill for tonights show, two of which turn out to be local. They are further along the electronic/ambient/experimental spectrum than Pit Er Pat, which should make for an interesting evening. Alphas Wear Grey is made up of two folks who have studied computers and/or music at NC State and The Problem Child, "a sampling probability drum sequencer." They blend electronics and acoustic instruments in an appealing way that reminds me a bit of the Books without all the field recordings. Phon is more strictly computer based, and more ambient -- less to my taste, but still interesting. You can stream some of his works here. Finally, Lichens is Robert Lowe making slow-moving droney sounds. I've only listened to the excerpts here, but it sounds like it could be pretty involving if you relax and let yourself float along with him.

So: a collection of artists making music that's rather different from what I ususually listen to. I'll need to spend some more time with it, but I can certainly see the appeal, at least for certain moods. Dunno how it will translate to a live show -- Pit Er Pat seems like Motorhead compared to the rest of this crew -- but it's worth checking out.

Photo of Phon by Robert Shanks

Friday, May 26, 2006


Shakermaker: "What Can We Do"
(from Music Room 2006. Buy it from the band or at CD Alley in Chapel Hill.)

I don't know a whole lot about Shakermaker except that they're based in Chapel Hill, released their first album, Music Room, a couple of months ago, and have played in some pretty good company lately. I mentioned them recently on a bill with the stellar Can Joann and the catchy Hotel Lights; they opened for Dios (Malos) last year, and earlier this week, they played with Say Hi To Your Mom and the quirky (to the point where it's almost too much but then not quite) SNMNMNM (gotta give them a post of their own one of these days...).

Music Room is a nicely varied collection of catchy songs -- sometimes rock, sometimes folkish, occasionally a little twangy. You might find some similarity to the Shins (as the Indy blurb here suggests). Sometimes I get a mellowed-out Spoon vibe ("Junkie" is reminiscent of "I Summon You"). "What Can We Do" and "Refugee" illustrate Shakermaker's breadth; the former a loping rocker, the latter a delicate acoustic number (the horn intro and celeste [?] in the background are a nice touch). If you like those, you can find some other songs from Music Room at the band's site or myspace page.

I suppose if I were smarter, I'd hold this post until they have a show coming up, but evidently I'm not so smart. I have no idea when or where they will strike next. Keep your eyes open for these guys, though -- they're good.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Like the air/like a song": Farewell to the Sames

The Sames, as I've mentioned before, were just about the first local band I profiled back when I started the Oak Room. Last year's full-length release, You are the Sames, wrapped up some tremendous hooks in a mass of fuzzy guitar -- one of my favorites. They also contributed three sharp songs to the collaborative 3X4 compilation released earlier this year. But now they're hanging it up, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. The Independent made the Sames their band of the month for May, and here's an interview and appreciation.

At least they're going out with a bang: a farewell extravaganza at the Cat's Cradle tonight featuring a host of other like-minded bands (most of whom have recorded on Pox World, the label run by Sames guitarist Zeno Gill). I'd pay good money to see this lineup, but it's all free (and apparently they're providing food as well!). In tribute, here's a mix of songs from the Sames and their pals. I'll miss them.

The Sames: "Like a Song (Really)"; "In Liberty Lights" (from You are the Sames 2005 buy)
"Coney Island of the South" (from 3X4 2006 buy)
The Rosebuds: "Governor's Daughter" (from Compulation Volume One 2003 buy)
"Leaves Do Fall" (from Birds Make Good Neighbors 2005 buy/download)
Schooner: "Stunts and Showmanship and Codes" (from You Forget About Your Heart 2004 buy)
North Elementary: "Heartbreakin' in Machine" (from Lose Your Favorite Things 2004 buy)
Audubon Park: "Sunbathers" (from The Bunny is Not as Popular as Julius 2005)
Pleasant: "Fight Song" (from Awkward as a Beehive 2005[?] buy)
Torch Marauder: "Where No One Is" (from Boxers, Painters, and Snappers 2004 buy)

Like the air
Like a song
Now we're here
Now we're gone...


Friday, May 12, 2006

It's Called BAIA

A great lineup of bands, several of whom are new to me, is performing a benefit concert at Shakori Hills on Saturday. The organizers are a group called Battling AIDS in Africa (see here for more info) -- several of them are local high school kids.

A while back, I wrote about the compelling music coming out of the Bu Hanan collective, and several of those guys are playing here. The hyper-verbose chamber pop of Perry Wright's Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers [prev.] grabbed me from the first time I heard it, and it actually has grown on me. Perry was kind enough to make the out-of-print Psalterie available for free download here. It's a little more austere than the follow up Mother of Love..., but full of lovely moments like "Aeterna (Concerning the End of the World) (Ps. 30:9)". David Karsten Daniels [prev.]writes complex folkish songs, and his recent work (like "Minnows") seems to be influenced by minimalist composers as well. Kapow! Music's John Ribo [prev.] ranges from folkish rock with mild electronica touches (like "Just There") to crazy all-electronic bleep bloop songs (like "Five Finger Discount").

A number of the other bands are either old favorites (Schooner, North Elementary) or recent discoveries (The Never). But there are several that I haven't heard before that are pleasant surprises. I haven't had a chance to really dig deep, and I'm not feeling real analytical, but here are a few tracks that stand out at first glance.

Seamus: "Turn Light Nurse"
Pretty polished pop rock, especially considering that most of these guys are in high school. Scott Satterwhite is one of the organizers of this benefit. Hear more songs here.
The Low Life: "Thixotropic"
Their web site says very little about the band (maybe you have to join the street team? but why would you without knowing more?) but they have plenty of songs here. It's got some of that jam band/Dave Matthews vibe -- maybe it's the percussion. As any regular reader knows, I'm a sucker for bands that have more than a drum set.
Asphalt: "Lost in Tremors"
They claim to be "a new form of rock" and though I'm not really feeling that, it's solid enough prog-inflected hard rock. More here.
Zindangi: "Dum Maro Dum"
Cool! An interesting world beat blend of Latin, Middle Eastern and African influences. (Cf. Project Mastana.) It'll make you dance. More sounds here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Checking in with old friends

Can Joann: "After the Seizure's Gone"
"Indecision's Way"
(from Hurt People Hurt People 2006. Out soon -- check here for purchase info.)

The Balance: "Runnin"
(demos for forthcoming EP)

I'm a bit short on time today, so here's an update on some folks that I've written about before. Can Joann [previously] has a touch of the Rosebuds about their energetic pop-inflected rock songs, but with more of an indie edge (and so less of the slightly retro Rosebuds feel). Joel Peck's soaring vocals lead the band through some really catchy songs. These are two songs from the band's new album, due out any time now. They're playing a CD release show next Friday (5/12) at King's in Raleigh with Hotel Lights [previously] and Shakermaker.

The Balance [previously] is working on a new EP and evidently not playing out much. "Game" is in the same indie rock vein as their previous work, but "Runnin" suggests a new, folk/country direction as well.