sh uffle BRODY & CHOCH + ALLIGATOR INDIAN + ESTRANGERS + LINDSEY RYAN
CAROLINAS’ INDEPENDENT MUSIC SOURCE
SHUFFLEMAG.COM ISSUE #16 SUMMER 2012
HORSEBACK’s Debated Evolution
New Beach Music
New LPs from JKUTCHMA, RED COLLAR and THE dB’s Hot Spot MYRTLE BEACH
Charleston’s Company highlights fresh wave of coastal bands trying to get your attention
MASTHEAD Publisher/General Manager Brian Cullinan Managing Editor John Schacht Music Editor Jordan Lawrence Contributing Editor/Website Bryan C. Reed Design Alexandra Nelson Taylor Smith Patrick Willett
New Beach Music
Editorial Intern Samuel Baltes Photo Editor Enid Valu Contributing Writers Grayson Currin Corbie Hill Alli Marshall Eric Tullis Patrick Wall Contributing Photographers Andy Meier Sales/Marketing James Wallace: Columbia, SC Sales Mgr. Bryan Dowling: Charlotte, Asheville Christie Coyle: Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Triad Brett Nash: Charleston Phil Venable: Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Kelly Sweitzer: Wilmington Josh Robbins: Special Projects/Events Send Stuff To: Shuffle Magazine Attn: Music Submissions P.O. Box 1777 Charlotte, N.C. 28224 -1777 For more info on submitting music, please visit: www.shufflemag.com/submissions Main Phone: 704.837.2024 Cover Photograph: Brandon Fish Shuffle magazine is not responsible for your music tastes, just our own. Copyright Shuffle Magazine, 2012. All content property of Shuffle Magazine, LLC. No reproductions or reuse of this material is authorized without the written consent of Shuffle Magazine.
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Gear To Do List Brody & Choch Alligator Indian Estrangers Lindsey Ryan Hot Spot: Myrtle Beach Now Hear This/Editors’ Picks The Insider
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ob Moog was a pioneer in the creation of analog synthesizers. His inventions changed the face of music and continue to provide inspiration to musicians of all genres. Since 1978, Moog Music synthesizers have been designed and lovingly handcrafted in Asheville, N.C. As a “thank you” to the community that Bob Moog called home, Moog Music has created the AHA AVL series aimed at introducing the world to Asheville’s most innovative artists. Each episode is filmed in HD and multi-tracked in the Moog Store at 160 Broadway Street in Asheville. The series is taped in front of a live audience, with new episodes airing each month on videos.shuffle.com. Read on to learn a little more about the performers that will hit AHA AVL this quarter. The Moog Music Factory is located just north of downtown Asheville and is open to visitors each day. For more information about free Moog factory tours, visit http://www.moogmusic.com/content/visit-moog or call tel:828-2390123\828-239-0123.
ALLIGATOR INDIAN AHLEUCHATISTAS For the past decade, Ahleuchatistas have cut a singular musical path. The Asheville band’s name is difficult to pronounce, a combination of a Charlie Parker song (“Ah-Leu-Cha”) and a Mexican revolutionary movement (Zapatista). But it aptly captures the multifaceted nature of its members’ output. Since its genesis, the group has employed a formula of controlled chaos, oscillating between atonal noise and intricate melodies, and drawing from a multitude of genres. Since their first album (2003’s On the Culture Industry) each subsequent LP has been an incremental refinement of the band’s aesthetic. Indeed, it is rare to find an instrumental group capable of this kind of consistent excellence. Despite having undergone lineup changes, Ahleuchatistas have always been tight, and now that they’re functioning as a duo, they sound more organic than ever. Guitarist Shane Perlowin jams econo, deftly placing notes and chords for maximum impact in lieu of gaudy pedal wizardry. Drummer Ryan Oslance frequently takes the least expected line, erecting endlessly rewarding sonic mazes that reward the attentive listener. With six albums to their name and another due later this year, Ahleuchatistas show no signs of atrophy — which is only logical, given the band’s compelling tendency for endless change and movement. 4 | moog
Though the names Spooky Bubble, Christian Church, and Mayor Prankster sound like forgotten characters from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, they belong in fact to the members of the Asheville noise-pop outfit, Alligator Indian. The band started in Florida, relocated to Brooklyn, but in the end have found a home in the N.C. mountains. Given these regional changes, the group’s sound is a combination of urban decay and laid-back bohemia. The result? Dreamy melodies, sometimes dark but always infectious. In the vein of Best Coast or Dum Dum Girls, the band’s early singles are drenched with reverb and smoky vocals, the best example being “Telepathic Boy.” The song is a syrupy distillation of Jefferson Airplane and the 13th Floor Elevators, filtered through the lens of post-punk acolytes. The group isn’t tied down by any lo-fi tag, though. Their mercurial nature is evident on their debut full-length Spring I’m In. With better production values and haunting synths replacing fuzzed-out guitars, the album has a radically different vibe than earlier EPs. But that’s what sets Alligator Indian apart. Their musical ADD is a strength, not an impediment, resulting in a consistently varied style that nevertheless retains an addictive pop sensibility.
NAKED GODS Since forming in 2008, Boone’s Naked Gods have solidified a reputation not only for superlative live shows — well described as the stoking of a runaway train — but also accomplished songwriting. The band’s a scraggly bunch; frontman Seth Sullivan could pass for a lumberjack, and the remaining members look as if they’d be just as content with a beer in hand as their instruments. Somehow though, the group comes together with an energy that, to quote the late Donald Dunn, could “turn goat piss into gasoline.” While their debut Welcome Home displayed a gift for catchy melodies, it wasn’t until last year’s sophomore effort No Jams that Naked Gods fully hit their stride. The album is a refinement of their “hapless burlypop prog-punk” aesthetic, loaded with dynamic instrumentation, cutting lyrics, and void of filler. Taking notes from Pavement and Wilco, the group is propelled by the dual-guitar weaving of Christian Smith and Brian Knox, whose angular hooks subtly counterbalance Sullivan’s buoyant vocals. Though Naked Gods’ sensibility may be overshadowed by their unrestrained gigs, the band’s sound is dosed with a rustic anodyne befitting of their folksy environs. With their off-kilter melodies, live charisma, and irrepressible vitality, Naked Gods appear poised for bigger things.
All photos courtesy of Moog Music Inc. Band bios text by Samuel Baltes
See all the performances at videos.shufflemag.com
SOFT OPENING The pillow-y perversion of Soft Opening’s name belies the heaviness of the quartet’s psyched out-drones. Formed in 2008, the Asheville outfit immediately displayed a knack for pummeling eardrums, deploying a dirge of primordial riffs that was somewhat at odds with the pervasive (and misleading) perception of the town as a home for hippie folk and jam bands. In the intervening years, they’ve placed a stronger emphasis on heady melody, and as a result have managed to stretch out without forfeiting physicality. From the start, Soft Opening excelled at synthesizing the best elements of stoner rock and doom metal, assimilating the genres’ strengths while escaping their inherent limitations. While it would be easy for the group to succumb to drone-y redundancy, they constantly push forward, aggressive textures met with equally resilient momentum. Their self-titled 2011 LP is laden with textural fuzz, monolithic chords, and a psychedelic airiness reminiscent of Spacemen 3 and Earth. It’s interesting to note that the band abstained from naming any of the album’s songs, choosing instead to let the music do the talking. But Soft Opening’s indifference to definition isn’t accompanied by a lack of direction. They sometimes sound adrift, a result of restless exploration, not ineptitude. And though they dock at familiar harbors, they spend most of their time orbiting the unknown. In this case, the journey is ultimately more interesting than the destination.
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Ax Man Confessions
ate Hall’s lonesome and worldworn guitar tone — and singular use of effects pedals — shines in his work, from U.S. Christmas’ hypnotic, heavy psychedelia to the moody ruminations of his solo record A Great River. So it makes sense that the Weaverville, N.C. ax man is pragmatic about his gear.
Monson Wendigo Custom “Monson guitars, they’re building me my design right now. It’s got sort of like a Neil Young vibe to it with a high-powered bridge pickup. I’m talking to the dudes at Lace Pickups about working with them and making a Matt Pike design pickup for the bridge of that guitar. It’s a real high-output pickup.” Gibson Custom V “That’s a one-off that a guy at the Gibson factory made for himself back in the day. There’s no serial number or anything on it. It’s a really nice guitar. He used really good parts on it. He used a Les Paul neck on it. It’s left-handed, the neck, which is weird. It’s got the dots on the other side (of the fretboard). Then he used one of the bodies they made for the V, the V-2, that had these weird boomerang pickups in it, but he put DiMarzio Super Distortions in it. It’s not like a standard V body. I’ve never seen one like it.” Marshall Mosfet Head “I like single-channel amps. I don’t really like multiplechannel amps at all. I don’t like anything that’s not really necessary. I’ve had to use some of the Marshall, like triple lead and things, before when I was at festivals and things, and I always have to figure out, ‘How do I get the clean channel?” Multi-amp setup “I always run stereo amps, at least two amps at all times when I’m playing live for a lot of reasons. It gives you depth of sound. That’s what I tend to like more than volume.” Electro-Harmonix Freeze “You play a chord, and you hit it and it holds the chord just like that until you switch it off. It’s pretty cool. It’s the only thing I’ve bought in a long time, really. It’s a pedal that was different that I really liked, and I’m definitely going to use it on one of the records. It’s like having another guitar player.” Ibanez DL10 Delay “Delay is a really important thing for me. I use an Ibanez DL10, I’ve got two of those things. That’s a sound I can’t get from any other pedal.” MXR Blue Box “It’s a weird pedal. They cut out a lot. You get a lot of signal loss sometimes. I can’t think of why, but that’s what they do. Sometimes they sound really good. I used one on my solo record getting these big, thick guitar lines, and it worked fine, but not always. They’re real weird.” — Corbie Hill
6 | gear
Photos by Andy Meier
Nate Hall, guitarist: U.S. Christmas, solo
The Toy Box
Carolinas music gear in review
Hammer of the Gods Olympia fuzz (Caroline Guitar Company, Columbia, S.C.)
M MUSIC, AND SO CAN YOU! AREA MUSICIANS SHOW OFF THEIR GEAR
Given its place among the boutique fuzz market — alongside mega-modded Muffs, tricked-out Tonebenders, and wild and crazy fuzzes that spit, gurgle, crackle, oscillate and vomit — the Carolina Guitar Company Olympia fuzz ($145) seems rather conservative. It’s a simple, two-knob fuzz pedal with a circuit that splits the difference between classic transistor Tonebender- and Big Muffbased fuzzes. It’s also a conservative offering considering Caroline’s flagship pedal, the Wave Cannon distortion, boasts a switchable feedback generator: the Havoc mode. But conservative doesn’t mean boring, and the versatile Olympia boasts a wide palette of sonic colors that’s sure to please even the finickiest fuzz freaks. From a sonic standpoint, the Olympia is as stout as the mythological mountain from which it derives its name: It splits the difference between Big Muff wooliness and Fuzz Face rasp. A true tone-shaping tool, the Olympia paired well with everything I threw at it, no matter where it was placed in the effects chain. With a Jazzmaster running in front of it and a vintage Marshall JMP half-stack behind it, the Olympia nailed J Mascis’ signature Dinosaur Jr wail circa “Start Choppin’,” pairing with the slightly dirty Marshall to yield a bright and brassy fuzz tone with plenty of lowend woof and high-end sizzle. “Start Choppin’” also seared and soared with a Fender Telecaster and reissue Fender Twin; with the reverb knob cranked (plus a little added ambience from a Boss RV-3 reverb pedal and Line 6 delay unit), it reached shoegazer heaven. Even with higher output humbuckers from a chambered, double-cut Gibson Les Paul, the Olympia sang: On lower gain levels
with the Twin, it copped a Queens of the Stone Age grunt; with the gain maxed and running through a Fender Bassman combo, it dripped with thick, Sabbath-y fuzz tones. It even sounded huge with a Morgan AC20, an amp derived from the classic Vox AC30, which is notorious for being picky with pedals. And with a drop-tuned vintage Ibanez ST50, equipped with highoutput Seymour Duncan humbuckers, the Olympia turns a Mesa Tremoverb into a doom machine, producing a thick tone that still retains remarkable note clarity and separation. Best yet, maxing the gain doesn’t sacrifice any response to picking dynamics, and even complex jazz chords bloom with rich detail, each note ringing bright and clear. If there’s one drawback to the Olympia’s elegant simplicity, it’s that the lack of a tone control knob affects the pedal’s versatility: the first half of the gain sweep seems to roll off some treble, resulting in a dark, muffled tone that dulls its bark; at extreme gain levels with bright pickups, the amount of treble added can be shrill and piercing. It’s a minor problem that can be tamed with a complementary stompbox like a booster or equalizer, and the Olympia, unlike some fuzzes, plays well with other pedals; [it got along with the Caroline Guitar Company Icarus boost, the Paul Cochrane Timmy overdrive. and the Fulltone Full-Drive 2 we paired it with. Even without the aid of a separate overdrive, the Olympia cuts through in a mix, seething and squealing with rich harmonic overtones.] Caroline’s Wave Cannon was a hit upon its release in 2010, racking up numerous awards and rave reviews from gear magazines. The Olympia, released late last year, has flown largely under the radar. But given its classic design, broad harmonic response and reasonable price point, it likely won’t go unnoticed for long. —Patrick Wall
Image courtesy of Caroline Guitar Company
ONLINE EXCLUSIVES Visit us at shufflemag.com for more exclusive features!
ON THE RISE Floating Action’s Seth Kauffman discusses his band’s superb new LP, Fake Blood, as well as his new Jim James-curated label, and what he learned not to do from Park the Van.
WILD HORSES Band of Horses side man Ryan Monroe talks about his excellent new LP, A Painting of a Painting on Fire, the solo debut that took an accidental and thrilling turn towards power-pop.
Photo by Sandlin Gaither
Photo by Lydia See
TO DO LIST EVENTS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS
OCT 11-13 YEP ROC 15
EXTRA! EXTRA! Go online to read about two additional Editors’ Pick selections — Joe Norkus’ charming indie rock EP and No Tomorrow’s sock-to-thegut split with Oiltanker.
Los Campesinos! 06.27 Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro Death To False Hope Fest 06.29-30 Motorco Music Hall, Durham Dirty South Fest 2012 with Cro-Mags, The Queers, Pietasters 06.30 Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro Tres Chicas 07.03 Berkeley Cafe, Raleigh
SEP 3-6 ATIC DEMOCR L NATIONA N IO CONVENT
The Men 07.04 Haunted Mill, Belmont Andrew Bird with Mavis Staples 07.13 Museum Park Theater, Raleigh Best Coast with Those Darlins 07.13 Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro Blitzen Trapper 07.19 Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte Dent May 07.23 Blind Tiger, Greensboro The Tallest Man on Earth 07.24 The Orange Peel, Asheville 07.25 Haw River Ballroom, Saxapahaw A Place to Bury Strangers 07.25 Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte Recess Fest 07.27-28 Various Venues, Charlotte Bele Chere 07.27-29 Various Venues, Asheville
Childish Gambino with Danny Brown 07.27 Uptown Amphiteatre, Charlotte 07.28 The Orange Peel, Asheville The Zombies 07.29 Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro Dr. Dog 07.29 Ziggy’s, Winston-Salem Agalloch 07.29 Kings, Raleigh Cannibal Corpse with Between the Buried and Me 08.03 Amos’ Southend, Charlotte Dirty Projectors with Pop Etc. 08.10 The Orange Peel, Asheville Sebadoh 08.11 Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro My Morning Jacket with Band of Horses 08.25 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Charlotte 08.26 Raleigh Amphitheatre, Raleigh Hopscotch Music Festival 09.06-08 Various Venues, Raleigh Built to Spill 09.08 Music Farm, Charleston Mark Kozelek 09.25 The Grey Eagle, Asheville
Visit shufflemag.com every Thursday for our weekly update of the best shows in the Carolinas. Danny Brown
Photo courtesy of Fool’s Gold Records
Brody & Choch (Ever)Green By Eric Tullis
f you call Jordan Evans’ cell phone and reach his voicemail, you’ll be greeted by a 10-second
rap. It’s a juvenile gesture, more appropriate for a creative high schooler than an up-and-coming emcee. But for Evans and his brother John, who comprise the Huntersville throwback-rap duo Brody & Choch, it’s all part of the act. The duo loosely describe themselves as “nonsensical.” It’s a style that playfully parallels their everyday, blue-collar lives with the those of their listeners, rather than trying to sell themselves as inauthentic gangster rappers — or, on the flip side, ultra-serious truth seekers. Instead, Brody & Choch’s trademark fanny packs, vintage Charlotte Hornets jerseys, and high-top fades are fun homages to an era in hip-hop where the clothes were just as colorful as the rhymes. “Once people see the style it opens them up to something else,” Jordan says. “They laugh a little bit and then we hit them with the lyrics.” So far, the strategy has worked out well, especially as openers for large audiences packed in to see nationally-recognized acts like Slaughterhouse and Mac Miller. Of course, any up-and-coming act must put itself through this rite of passage, and these days an act’s reputation — locally and nationwide — is largely dependent on the word-of-mouth such performances produce. Brody’s experience as a cook at Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktail in nearby Cornelius, N.C., and his brother’s experience at Huntersville’s Red Rocks Cafe, helped shape their philosophy on live shows, which is to be indiscriminate, professional and
pumped up by the challenges of performing onthe-fly in front of any crowd. “Every plate I put up there is good, but it pisses me off when I’m told that a certain person is in the dining room and to ‘make it good,’” says Jordan. “I’d make the same, exact food for the Prince of England as I would for some dude that just found eight dollars and comes to get a steak. So, I take the same approach to performing.” When the brothers were 8 and 12, their family relocated to Charlotte from Washington, D.C. after their father received a job promotion. Several years later, the family moved just north of the city to Huntersville, where the brothers — now 21 and 26 — currently reside. The small town isn’t exactly a hotbed for music, but for Brody & Choch, it’s enough of a refuge to shield them from a metropolis of rappers all watering down each other’s sound. Also, as it frequently happens in hip-hop, rappers find themselves running from location to location trying to fit in separate studio sessions with multiple producers. In the end, everyone is on different schedules, and it hurts the rapper’s bottom line. Conversely, Brody & Choch have chosen to rely on their long-time friend and producer, C.Y. He shaped their self-released 2010 debut,The Boys Will Be Boys, providing necessary restraint. His in-house, boom-bap nostalgia guided Brody & Choch’s batonpassing, interconnected random-mania, and frequently saves them from their tendency to rhyme without inhibition: On “Thumbin’ Around
Times 3” Choch’s culinary quirks quickly follow Brody’s insistence on parking his “car” in a woman’s “boulevard.” On “Sweek k Aid” C.Y. provides extra gristle, offsetting the brothers’ playful banter about women being “down with the brown.” Their ongoing fixation with everything yesteryear is a sticking point as well. “Chochie AppleBrode,” the lead single from their recent None Since ’96 mixtape, is a remake of the A Tribe Called Quest classic, “Bonita Applebum,” and is featured along with three other old-school remakes (“Summertime”, “Represent”, and a rap version of Lauryn HIll’s classic ballad “The Sweetest Thing,” featuring vocalist Jocelyn Ellis). It’s an opportunity to reintroduce their fan base to some of the music that Brody & Choch grew up idolizing and maybe repay some of the select fans who have gone so far as to donate some of the retro apparel Brody & Choch wear on-stage and in photo shoots. For now, you can look forward to more on their sophomore LP, Partners in Rhyme, due out this summer on Charlotte’s B.i.M Music Group. The notion of their second album being a nonsensical take on rap is a broad overstatement, especially to golden-age rap fans who couldn’t ask for anything more than a good time and fun rhymes. There’s plenty of backwardness in hip-hop to mock, but the punchlines are only funny when executed with finesse, talent and some level of self-respect. Brody & Choch serve up enough of both ingredients to satisfy any party — no matter the size. sm
Photo by Ben Premeaux
shufflemag.com | 9
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Alligator Indian Totally Swamped By Alli Marshall
sheville’s Christian Church and Spooky Bea are busy people. As Alligator Indian they make left-field indie pop that marries strident guitars to creepy-cool atmospherics. They also recently doubled as the organizational force behind the New Weird Asheville compilation. But these curators of the unconventional aren’t finding it hard to fit in. “We love pop sensibility,” says Bea, and it shows: Catchy hooks, echoes of 60s girl group bands, 80s synth-pop and dance beats are all over Spring I’m In, Alligator Indian’s new LP. But as excited as the band is about the release — an expansion on the techniques of last fall’s Football EP— they’re also dedicated to their roles as leaders of Asheville’s Swamping Collective. It’s Swamping that released NWA and which seeks to bring together not just musicians but visual artists, videographers, writers and fashion designers “There are a lot of people who do stuff, but they do it on a small scale, or they don’t really show their stuff off,” Church says of the artistic nooks and crannies of the Asheville scene. ”We’re trying to bring those people out of the woodwork.” Bea and Church grew up in Melbourne, Fla., and went to college in Orlando, where Bea studied music technology (she’s currently a voice instructor). Bea says she started experimenting with writing her own music in high school but
didn’t identify as a musician until 2004; Church began working on music in 2005. Together, they moved to New York where the couple spent their free time wandering the city and recording as Eleven & the Falcons. Two-and-a-half years ago they relocated to Asheville in hopes of creating or being a key cog in an up-and-coming arts community. “Coming from New York, we saw so much cutting-edge art all the time,” Bea elaborates.. “Here, you have to dig for it.” The other challenge is finding a venue for those sorts of hard-to-typify acts that populate the NWA compilation. It’s not that these bands are necessarily aggressive or offensive. Some are orchestral (dep). Some use found sounds (Muntjac). And some are darkly melodic (Wyla). But none are rock bands in the traditional sense. One club that seemed open to the Swamping bands was recently shuttered, but Church and Bea aren’t discouraged. They were tapped for a May AHA AVL session by Moog Music, and they hope to eventually open a venue of their own by pooling the resources of the collective. For now, they make do: The launch party for Spring I’m In was held at Asheville’s garage-like Warehouse #10. “Considering the title, it’s a little bit dark,” says Bea, though she insists the content isn’t that
dark. “I was highly inspired by The Wonder Years.” While that early-90s TV show celebrating the gradual loss of innocence might not be obvious, other influences, like dream pop and post-punk, certainly are felt. Bea says Alligator Indian was initially inspired by punk. They’ve since moved past it. “As we’ve seen the positive aspects of trying to build a future for ourselves, we’ve identified with post-punk more,” she explains. “What we’re trying to do,” Church adds, “is move past the sonic palette and take those concepts that made post-punk so interesting and innovative and apply them to the now.” Spring pairs dance-y beats and melodies with thoughtful writing. On opener “Our Love Was A Crime,” penned in support of gay marriage, Church and Bea sing, “They said that two alike should be two apart, and they scowled at us.” Other songs — like the mostly-spoken-word “Ice & Asteroids” and the charmingly off-kilter “Gnarwhal” — were crafted during bouts of boundary-pushing experimentation. But they serve as a sort of purging of past influences, too. “It’s very attractive to want to re-create the music you love,” Church explains, citing the duo’s soft spot for 60s girl group pop as an example, “but we don’t need to make a whole album of that. We try to put our own spin on things that we like.” sm
Photo by Skyler Bing
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Estrangers Eternal Sunshine of the Melodic Mind By Ryan Snyder
always get kind of fidgety, or feel pretty valueless if I’m not doing something,” Philip Pledger confessed, sitting outside of the Winston-Salem dive Single Brothers. The stimulus of organizing the second Phuzz Phest, the four-day homage to left-of-center rock and pop that dominated area rock clubs in early April, had likely waned by this point. His six-piece pop outfit Estrangers is off until mid-June and likewise for The Bayonets, where he plays lead guitar. Without something big to work towards, Pledger might have been feeling a little less than self-actualized. But these days, that’s still rare. Most days, he’s found manning the counter at Krankies, Winston’s venerable coffee and live-music institution, and the namesake for the local music compilation he curates. It’s served as a home of sorts for Estrangers, a dual keyboard, twin-guitar foundry of sunny analog pop that’s steeped in the music of bands like The Zombies and The Walkmen, not to mention North Carolina’s The Love Language. The band’s lineup has remained fairly consistent since its inception last June, but as it stands, Pledger is bracing for the potential loss of two key members. Bassist Trevor Reece is expected to move to California, while keyboardist and singer Jodi Burns’ burgeoning opera career and solo project could pull her away from the fold. “Jodi is the most naturally gifted musician that
12 | snapshots
most people would ever meet in their lives. She sings at a world-class level, and people like her are very, very rare,” Pledger said. “It’s a challenge to find a place within a band that doesn’t pay very much.” It’s not difficult to discern Burns’ parts from those of Pledger and synth player David Todd Murray on Black Ballroom, the band’s 2011 debut EP. They stand out from the wooliness of laconic psych-pop gems “House Ghosts” and “Tell Her No Thanks” with the precision of classically trained fingers. The juxtaposition of her analog warmth on the Korg SV1 with the more contemporary sounds of Murray’s Korg M3 have been the hallmark of the band’s live sets, too. But Pledger has already proven himself something of a creative pathfinder. His insertion into the lead guitar slot with The Bayonets (né Caleb Caudle & the Bayonets) prior to the recording of their 2012 album Driver was key to the band’s evolution from No Depression-style roots folk to ass-kicking barroom rock & roll. No solid plans have been made in the event Burns or Reece must depart, but there are suggestions of a new direction on Sunmelt, Estrangers’ new foursong EP of demos recorded between January and March with Murray and drummer Pat Nolan. The new songs suggest a future in which the band’s dynamic shifts from contrasting clear
Photo by Ryan Snyder
and cloudy pop to melodies enveloped in a thick, quasi-electronic haze and delivered with saturnalian jubilance. Drums burst into the mix of the title track and then disappear under torrents of vocal gain — the happenstance of iPhone recording fidelity (used for the drum tracks). The borderline creepy “AM Radio Summer Beach Hit #3” sounds like Jan & Dean as heard during an ether binge, Murray’s summary of it “feeling like a mustached man with binoculars at the beach” speaking to the song’s strange vibe. They’re demos, though, so a re-recording of at least two Sunmelt tracks is on tap, possibly for a fulllength release next year. Still, its sound is largely a result of skilled studio trickery, meaning Estrangers’ next challenge is to reproduce it live. Murray, a parttime electronic musician who draws deeply from Com Truise and Neon Indian, will take on greater weight in the event of attrition. “No matter what happens, there is going to be less timidity about talking out and coordinating our parts,” Murray explains. “If (guitarist) Mike (Wallace) and Philip keep playing together, there’s going to be a lot more playing off of each other, and if Jodi stays in the band, I hope we’ll do the same.” sm
shâ€Šuffle Help Wanted Know your way around your local music scene? Shuffle magazine is looking for part-time sales/market reps.
Prior or existing media sales experience helpful but not necessary. A passion for what we do, intimate knowledge of the local music scene and great relationships within it are what weâ€™re looking for. Flexible schedule requiring a few hours a week making sales calls/visits. A great gig for someone already employed in the local scene looking to help us out and make some extra dough in the process. Interested? Email publisher Brian Cullinan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsey Ryan Reluctant Songstress By John Schacht
hortly after releasing her debut The Lindsey Horne Band in 2004, singer/ songwriter Lindsey Horne enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College to get a master’s degree in poetry and put her music career aside. She released her follow-up, this year’s gorgeous The Divers, a full eight years later and under the stage alias Lindsey Ryan. If all that suggests to you that Ryan isn’t super comfortable with the business of music, go to the head of the class. But don’t take it as a knock on her talent. To the contrary, the 10 twangy shuffles and piano-based ballads on The Divers are a far notch above the usual self-released fare, easily calling to mind—sometimes all at once—the music of Emmylou Harris, Kate Bush and Tori Amos. But for a writer who’s used to couching their soul-baring in the metaphor-rich folds of poetry, confessional songwriting means relinquishing the comfort of privacy. “It’s a bit like letting people go through my drawers, my little private knick-knacks,” the engaging 31-year-old says. “If I do get a poem published, only this small handful of dorks that read poetry are actually going to see it. It’s safer. There’s a lot more pressure in being a musician: You’ve got to have this, and have that, and as a woman you have to look this way and do that. That’s not why I make music.” But that gulf between songwriting and performing is one Ryan is acutely attuned to; she’s 14 | snapshots
never stopped writing songs, after all. She even makes her living teaching piano and providing written arrangements for a local gospel choir. But a couple of recent events convinced her to venture back on stage and into the studio. At an April 2011 benefit opposing Charlotte’s proposed noise ordinance, Ryan sang a couple of covers with the heretofore instrumental-only act Sea of Cortez. She was asked to join on keyboards shortly after and reveled in the creative whirlpool and her side-musician role. Her tenure seemed to re-focus Sea of Cortez, too, but it was cut short with bandleader Rodney Lanier’s sudden death last December. Still, connections took root. In June of 2011, after hearing a Mike Strauss record he’d produced and played guitar on, Ryan sent ex-Les Dirt Clods founder Randolph Lewis a letter asking for his help with the stockpile of songs she’d accumulated. The two met and chose some thematically similar songs to work up. They exchanged beloved records and artists — Lewis, Jon Phillips and Spirit of Eden-era Talk Talk; Ryan, Pieta Brown and Laura Viers — and began talking about instrumentation and arrangements. They didn’t always see eye-to-eye, like when Ryan nixed the idea of a full string section on one track. But she learned to trust Lewis’ instincts. For his part, Lewis wanted to take part the moment he heard the richness of
Photo by Angie Courtney
Ryan’s material; “the progressions, melody, lyrics, etcetera, (were) excellent,” he says. His task therefore was to make sure the songs took listeners where they wanted them to go emotionally. “It was one of Lindsey’s goals from the beginning to keep the overall landscape of the album sparse, so we were very selective with overdubs,” he says. What comes through is a warm, intimate palette for Ryan’s minor-key vignettes and striking lyrical imagery, mature-woman themes delivered in her child-like voice. Unlike her debut, Ryan’s debt to the late-90s era of female piano balladeers integrates fully here with guitar, shuffling brushwork, stand-up bass and occasional accents like cello, harmonium, organ and pedal steel. Though she cites the other musicians’ parts as her favorites, Ryan’s songs are the stars. Classically trained through childhood, you can hear her piano chops just as often in the spaces she leaves for the chords and notes to exhale. And while she’s still artistically conflicted about holding back some “R-rated” material that would’ve made her poetry, she now sees that thematic balance as part of the craft. “Two years ago all I wanted to do was make music with people I respected, and then that happened,” she says. “So now I guess all I really want is to do that again.” That may not be a resounding music business endorsement, but it beats eight years of silence. sm
Against the Current Coastal musicians, promoters trying to make tourism, tour-stop equation work By Corbie Hill
t’s a warm and sunny April morning, and the locals and visitors are learning that it’s far easier to drive out of the coastal North Carolina town of Southport than it is to drive into it. Tourists crowd the one road into the small town at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and entire families wander across it, oblivious to cars. In a downtown park overhung by Spanish moss, there’s a major crafts festival where the out-of-towners converge. But Museum Mouth drummer and vocalist Karl Kuehn isn’t downtown. The 21-year-old, who has lived in Southport since he was two, is sitting in the sand by the river, watching boats in the channel. He loves his town, though he admits it’s more accommodating to retirees and tourists than young musicians.
16 | coast music
“I forgot that was happening because I’ve seen that every year, and I’ve just become numb to it,” he says of the Spring Festival downtown. ”It’s a craft festival that I don’t even go to, so I forget that it exists. It’s a bunch of rude old ladies in booths selling weird paintings.” Of course, tourists and retirees are constants of coastal life everywhere. The windy shores and laid-back lifestyle draw them in droves. Given its usual role as a vacation destination, it’s easy to mistake the Carolinas’ coastline as a homogenous stretch of sun and sand: a place to get a sunburn, drink Natty Lite, and toss a Frisbee. And when music enters the equation, it’s too easy to think of Shag culture or, more recently, inane jam bands or tiki torch-lit acoustic Bob Marley and Jack Johnson “surf ” covers. But that’s far from the fleshed-out picture. “Carolina Coast,” for instance, can mean anything from the subtropical bake of the South
Carolina lowcountry to the gray waves and wintry storms of Bodie Island, the northernmost Outer Bank. There’s not even a common history, as the dialects make obvious: from Gullah, a Creolization of English with West African languages, to High Tider, which preserves elements of Elizabethan speech. And that rich array of language mirrors the diversity of the region’s homegrown music. From the Burt Bacharach-and Brian Wilson-isms of Charleston’s Explorers Club to the uncommonly candid poppunk of Museum Mouth; from the unhinged surf-pop of Kill Devil Hills’ Zack Mexico to the twilit glam of Myrtle Beach’s Octopus Jones; from the roots rock of Shovels & Rope to the smoove grooves of Nicolay; few, if any, generalizations stick. “We (don’t) all drink Coronas,” says Dan McCurry of the moody Charleston rock outfit Run Dan Run. Still, despite the area’s musical diversity, jaw-dropping scenery, and the seasonal influx of the young and intoxicated, it can be hard to convince touring bands to route far enough east to play coastal towns. And without the influx of non-coastal regional bands, the musical exchange rate remains a mostly one-way road — which is increasingly the landlubbers’ loss. A big part of the problem is the lack of interstates in coastal Carolina. The closest tend to be an hour inland or, in the case
book house shows in Southport with acts like Columbus, Ohio’s Tin Armor and jubilant Orlando punks You Blew It!, but it’s not easy getting bands to come through. “After the hour-and-a-half-drive off the highway, they’re like ‘Oh my God, why did I do this? This is stupid,’” says Kuehn. “Living in Southport and trying to be in a band makes me feel like I’m on another planet.” But he’s made it work: Kuehn has been throwing shows in his basement since a friend, whose house had been used as a venue, went off to college. With so many of his friends being teenagers, such departures are a recurrent theme. Kuehn recognizes this is an odd home base for an ambitious poppunk band, and he’s ready to leave, too. “I’m dead set on it,” he says. His plan is to be in Raleigh, where Museum Mouth guitarist Graham High already lives, by the end of the year. It isn’t just small towns like Southport that fail to attract touring acts. Larger cities like Wilmington and Charleston also fall off the map for most high- and mid-level touring bands. “I-95 is like 50 miles from Charleston,” says Jason Brewer, the principle songwriter and vocalist in the summery retro pop outfit The Explorers Club. Though I-26 leads directly to Charleston, that’s where it ends — much like I-40 does in Wilmington. And Charleston is not, as Brewer says, your “typical beach town.”
Run Dan Run
of Eastern North Carolina, several hours. And though I-40 hits Wilmington, the port city is the end of the line. Sitting as it does just inland of Cape Fear’s terminal headland, it’s not on the way to anywhere else — not by car, at least. Highway 17, the main north/ south route that runs through both states, can be slow going. It’s mostly a two-lane through small towns with 35-mph speed limits peppering its 500-odd mile length. It hugs the South Carolina coast when geography permits, wending through a sandy, rural depression on its way through Charleston, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, and eventually Wilmington. From there, 17 goes far enough inland to no longer be a dedicated coastal route until it crosses into Virginia through the appropriately named Great Dismal Swamp. . . . Kuehn’s small town of 2,000 or so sits some 25 miles off Highway 17 and, unsurprisingly, supports no venues. He has been able to
Shovels & Rope
There’s an old Southern feel from its long, early Colonial history. With the sea breeze, it’s not as hot as living inland, and it’s a decentsized town, which means there’s also some nightlife. But according to McCurry, most of the live music downtown caters to jazz or cover bands. The darkly melodramatic pop-rock he creates with Run Dan Run fits neither category. “There is definitely safe jazz and edgy jazz. It depends on where you go and who is playing,” McCurry says. The town is also home to the annual Spoleto Festival, though it’s more focused on “high art” than rock & roll, and does little to route bands to Charleston. With a 100-mile round trip from I-95 to Charleston, it makes little logistical sense for bands hitting major tour stops in Georgia and North Carolina to play the coastal city. Yet for bands with a regional focus, there are other roads. “Highway 17 ain’t too shabby either,” McCurry says. “It just depends on the markets you’re trying to target.”
Run Dan Run photo by Megan Elger Shovels & Rope photo courtesy of All Eyes Media
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. . . Myrtle Beach presents a baffling tangle of stoplights and speed traps to Highway 17 travelers — one that was unavoidable until the early aughts, when a bypass was built. The town gets lumped in with Gatlinburg, Tenn., Branson, Mo., and the king of all neon strips, Las Vegas, in the American subconscious when it comes to overdone, gimmick-driven tourist traps. But there are people who call Myrtle Beach home, too, living fairly normal lives despite the nearby glow of Ocean Boulevard. Some of them even make original music. “There are most certainly aspects of it that are like the ‘Redneck Riviera,’” says Nicole Davis of Shoplifter Booking, echoing the common epithet. “For every restaurant there is a tacky-ass beachwear store, but you have to remember: That’s how people make their money.” Davis books shows in Myrtle Beach venues while her partner, Wes Gilliam, does so in Greenville, S.C. Yet large-scale tourism — revenue stream that it is — leads to a seasonal, feast-orfamine economy. Many music rooms close in the cold months, when tourist money on the Grand Strand dries up. Some never reopen. “There is a local draw of about 50 to 75 loyal, die-hard music followers,” says drummer Darrin Cripe of Octopus Jones, a fever dream of a surf band based in Myrtle Beach. “At any given show you can expect to see about 40-plus of these familiar faces.” Yet he has seen plenty of cool rooms shut down, from The Clubhouse (back in ’08) to Drink (which transitioned to a sushi bar in a failed attempt to save itself) to the CBGB-esque The Basement. Octopus Jones played the latter’s opening (“in our underwear,” Cripe adds) and its final night in business. Yet Cripe says tourists are either spring breakers looking to get their dance on, or families headed to Broadway at the Beach, a sprawling tourist trap lousy with Elvis tributes, NASCAR memorabilia, and themed restaurants. He says there’s a tiny percentage of tourists who want to hear original music, but they and the core of dedicated locals aren’t enough. “This group of people cannot single-handedly keep a venue running,” Cripe says. And so venues have a hard time bringing people
Medieval Times. Yet Davis does what she can to bring bands to town. Often she and Gilliam will coordinate shows, giving a band one night in Greenville and one in Myrtle Beach. But with the neon heart of the Grand Strand an hour east of I-95, it largely suffers the same fate as Charleston and Wilmington. Like the others, Davis also mentions the alternate coastal-friendly route following Highway 17. “A lot of bands fail to recognize that you can totally do a tour that way. There are such fantastic venues along that way, and not to mention the scenery is to die for,” she says, hoping to make the coastal road a touring spur rather than a high-mileage detour from traditional routes. “Yet not many bands go for it. They tend to almost always opt for the bigger cities, which is unfortunate for all of us.” It’s not just traditional tourist traps, either, that suffer the coastal fate. Wilmington isn’t dominated by tourism the way Myrtle Beach is, though summer weekends still see I-40 frantic and crowded between inland urban centers and the port city, which is near family beaches like Oak Island, Holden Beach, and Topsail Island, not to mention Southport and Wrightsville. And Wilmington does have its share of tackiness and trashiness, says Corey Blackburn, who plays guitar in the avant-indie outfit Fractal Farm. He mentions Marines from Jacksonville, who come down every few weekends to raise drunken hell on their rare nights off. Museum Mouth’s Kuehn cites the film crews from Iron Man 3 and MTV’s Teen Mom 2, too, who come into the coffee shop where he works and seem to bitch about everything. There’s a lot of seasonal work, too, Blackburn concedes, but there are regular full-time jobs there, as well. And there’s UNC-Wilmington, where Kuehn’s bandmate bassist Kory Urban and 13,000 others are enrolled. Yet the school hasn’t yet translated into larger audiences for local music. “I think the only UNCW students I’ve seen at shows are the people I know through Kory,” says Kuehn. Still, the port city has made impressive contributions to regional music, from Foreign Exchange music-maker (and Dutch
Explorers Club in the door or giving decent payouts to touring bands. Many of the rooms weren’t built to be venues either, and it’s hard to get out proper publicity — especially in the shadow of multimillion-dollar entertainment complexes like Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage or
18 | coast music
Museum Mouth transplant) Nicolay and Onward, Soldiers’ slick alt-Americana to the Confederate gutter metal of ASG and Weedeater — not to mention southern sludge progenitors Buzzov*en, who have made the town their home since ’91. The main difficulty comes from the 130 tedious
Explorers Club photo by Matthew Carter Museum Mouth photo by Gus Cooper
miles separating Wilmington from North Carolina’s de facto music capital, the Triangle. That kind of drive is hard to swing outside of a longer touring itinerary. And there’s nowhere to play north of Wilmington without comparable amounts of time behind the wheel. . . . But the coastal picture isn’t all negative. On North Carolina’s northern coast, tourism and unapologetically offbeat local music have found a strange and reckless common ground in Kill Devil Hills. “I really don’t know where to start,” John Saturley says about playing indie rock on the Outer Banks. Saturley is the guitarist and
“With that being the normal way, I had no plan of becoming part of any music scene around here,” he says. “Well, besides crazy house shows.” Yet somehow Zack Mexico has brought the house-show vibes to the island venues, and improbably, it’s clicked. Saturley says the initial plan was to show up at an open mic and “to play a few songs and tell everyone to ‘fuck off ’ when we got booed offstage.” Yet the audience had the opposite reaction. Not long after, he discovered like-minded bands playing crazy shows, and tourists and locals alike coming out, having fun, and going a bit wild. “I predict this summer to be one of the best summers in a long time for the music out here,” Saturley says. Zack Mexico has also been up to Norfolk and Virginia Beach several times to do shows, which is close to the coastal tour model Davis, McCurry and other coastal musicians say is possible. And Bodie Island — where Kill Devil Hills is — is no longer technically an island now that it attaches to the mainland north of the state line, not far from Virginia Beach. It’s still a long ways away, but it’s not as isolated as it once was. But Kill Devil Hills, like Southport, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, is still the end of the line for most of the roads that lead in. If these cities were inland and part of the I-95 or I-40 connective Octopus Jones touring tissue, they’d have a better shot at making their locals bigger regional names. But the beach is vocalist for Zack Mexico, which swings from demented surf-pop to where big roads end. And this, more than tourism, is probably what Cousteau-esque suicide-lounge. For years, he says there was nothing keeps a region rich with original bands from being the touring hub happening — at least, nothing beyond “Christian surfer and rock & roll hot spot it might otherwise be. sm tunes” or classic rock cover bands.
Zack Mexico photo by Nick Yelle Octopus Jones photo by Reuben Long Photography
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Good Compan T
he biggest band from Charleston, S.C. named Company — at least according to a Google search for the phrase “Company band Charleston” — is a nonet featuring two vocalists and a three-part horn section. According to their resume on Gig Masters, a website that enables one to secure “the life of the party,” The Company Band carries a $2 million event-insurance policy, can expand to a 12-piece lineup if the money is right, and can supply a medley of Sam Cooke, Outkast and Van Morrison, if the crowd is into that kind of thing. “The Company Band,” reads their biography, “is putting its own spin on the music industry by giving people a combination of music genres creating delectable sounds the ear can only imagine.” This bit of market research is symptomatic of the way Brian Hannon, the 26-year-old leader of an enthusiastic Charleston indie rock quartet also named Company (or Co. for short), feels about his adopted coastal city: Better known for tourist lures Fort Sumter and Rainbow Row than its legacy of indie rock, it’s not that Charleston is without its own musical past or present. From the blues to beach music, and from the indigenous sounds of the nearby Gullah people to the pervasive misbelief that Hootie & the Blowfish came from Charleston, the place often called the Southeast’s “Holy City” certainly has a tradition of sound. It’s just that most of it has nothing to do with how Hannon’s Company sounds. “Here in South Carolina, most people don’t know about music like that, while Chapel Hill has such a legacy of that. People are already inclined to it,” says Hannon, who moved to Charleston five years ago after a stunted stint at the University of South Carolina. “Some guys here are talented, but they don’t really know about indie rock. They wouldn’t really like to play music with me.” On its two LPs and debut EP, Company embraces the most affable bits of the core comprising what’s historically considered “indie rock.” Company can twinkle like The Go-Betweens and sprawl like My Morning Jacket, slink like Built to Spill and smile wide and wink narrow like The Shins. Their latest, Dear America, even ends with a requisitely brooding atmospheric tune called “Dreams.” Like exit music for a college radio segment, the six-minute song trusses images of isolation 20 | company
Photo by Brandon Fish
and anxiety to string-girded rises. “In dreams/ I’m right there with you/ In dreams/ I’m smiling at your doorway,” Hannon entreats at the song’s apogee, standing proudly not at a doorway but at a three-avenue intersection of Weezer, Explosions in the Sky and Red House Painters. In interviews (found, of course, after wading through a litany of pages about Charleston’s other Company), Hannon has long worn the classification of indie rock as a badge of honor, a strange distinction within a wide genre built and maintained mostly by musicians who regard such descriptors and tags as anathema. In 2010, however, Charleston City Paper ran a short story about Company ahead of a Friday night gig. Their debut EP was due soon on blues-and-buzzband syndicate Fat Possum. In less than 600 words, the piece used the adjective “indie” six times, punned on Guided by Voices with the photo caption, and gave Hannon room to ruminate on his band’s place in the wider cultural context of rock & roll: “I would still call my music indie rock. There’s definitely a distinguishing point between what indie rock technically means and how people use the term to define a sound.” Ahead of the release of Dear America, Company’s earnest and wide-eyed second LP for Brooklyn imprint Exit Stencil earlier this year, Shuffle’s Jordan Lawrence queried Hannon about the threads of indie rock that the album ties together. “Thank you so much!” he began the answer. “I’ve always been drawn to indie rock. It’s a lifelong obsession.” Hannon admits now that he might have overstated the length of his interest in indie rock. He actually studied jazz in his Greenville, S.C., high school, playing guitar alongside kids who were preparing to head to Berklee College of Music and The Juilliard School. He came to understand the language of composition and performance through his jazz studies, but he also to came realize that this wasn’t what he’d spend his life doing. The jazz and classical lifers, he found, were just too good and too devoted. Luckily, he did find indie rock. When Hannon was 17, he and a few friends took a road trip to Boston. He’d been spending time on Amazon. com, clicking from one band to another, trying to find a new sound. In Boston, he recognized a name on a concert bill from his research — Yo La Tengo, the indie rock co-architects, were in town from New Jersey
Charleston indie rockers try bucking national and coastal trends by Grayson Currin
to play a show at the Roxy with Superchunk side-project Portastatic. Hannon and his pals went: “After that, it felt special, like it was my music. I just knew that it was mine.” The lessons continued, and not long after moving to Charleston, Hannon traveled to England for an edition of the ultra-curated boutique music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties. That’s when he finally realized that this music meant more than a good record collection or online samples of MP3s; this stuff was within his reach. “There were lots of legendary bands playing there, but I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, there’s nothing here that anyone is doing that I’m not capable of doing,’” he explains, any amount of hubris accompanied by a genuine newcomer’s zeal. “I can do all of this shit, so I decided I’d just go do this in Charleston.” Finding others to come along for the trip in Charleston wasn’t as easy as it might have been back in Minehead. Hannon had moved east with his drummer and friend Kelly Grant, who he describes as less of an indie rock lifer and more a good pal who just wanted to play together. Just as Company started to gather momentum by recording its Fat Possum debut and doing short but strong tours, Grant, at the age of 24, died in December 2010. Hannon pressed on, but finding a backbone as strong as that which Grant provided wasn’t easy. He’s since gone through two drummers and three bassists and has, just now, landed on a lineup with the ability to tour and an understanding of what he wants to accomplish. Hannon now works at a venue and restaurant called The Tin Roof — “a hip West Ashley watering hole,” says Charleston City Paper — where he’s met more people who share his musical interests. “I think I finally found the right guys. The amount of musicians I meet and talk to regularly has gone way up, so now I have a lot of options,” says Hannon. Nearly 18 months later, he thinks he’s finally coming to terms with Grant’s death. He realizes that the past won’t fix itself. It’s up to him to push Company forward, just as Grant would have hoped. Company’s new drummer, Shawn Krauss, moved to Charleston in 2002. Nearly a decade older than Hannon, he says the city is finally getting some attention outside of its beach and blues music heritage. Tin Roof, where he works alongside Hannon, has served as a convenient hub
for the city’s young creative types. “Charleston is a cool town and has all the makings of the next Athens or Chapel Hill,” he says. “But it can be tough. I don’t think there are a lot of musicians here that know what we are doing now. There are a lot of bands into folk, folk-punk, Southern alt-country bands with every song about whiskey. But it seems like there isn’t a lot of rock down here. I dare use the word indie rock.” The isolation does have its benefits. Company doesn’t keep up with the microtrends of independent music at the moment, choosing to deal with the classic more than the cool or current. There’s not a warbling chillwave synthesizer or a direct electronic dance beat to be found on Dear America, a stable, staple indie rock album written by a bandleader who understands exactly what sort of music he wants to play. In fact, Hannon says he cares less about what a band sounds like than how they behave, reflecting a Southern gentility that has more to do with Charleston than any other element of Company. “If I meet them, and they’re nice,” he reckons, “that’s all that really matters.” And they have inspiration at the ready. A few years ago, an area father took a shine to Company and passed their record along to his son, Ben Bridwell, frontman for Band of Horses. After Band of Horses first started to gain attention, Bridwell relocated to the Charleston area, so he’d have an anchor between extended Band of Horses tours. Unlike most kids who get music recommendations from their parents, Bridwell actually paid attention, spun the record, and remembered it well enough to connect the dots when he bought a bagel from Hannon. They started talking about music, and a few months later, he e-mailed Hannon and asked Company to open a hometown Band of Horses show. They subsequently tagged along for a string of shows between Georgia, Texas and Colorado. In both Band of Horses and its predecessor, Carissa’s Wierd(sic) Bridwell and his crew had spent years toiling in relative obscurity. “They’ve paid all of their dues and were homeless and working shitty jobs, but they did it,” says Hannon. “When I feel so separate from everyone in Charleston, I constantly feel mired in doubt, like the dream is too far beyond, unfathomable. But here is Ben, who actually lived the dream. So, fuck, maybe it could happen.” sm shufflemag.com | 21
What a Beach Octopus Jones takes Shuffle on a tour of Myrtle Beach’s happening locales, proving it’s more than just a tourist trap By Jordan Lawrence
or most Shuffle readers, Myrtle Beach likely seems a mecca of the most undesirable entertainment imaginable. The area’s image is dominated by the sprawling shopping complexes of Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach, which contain mega-money venues like the House of Blues
Kilgor Trouts Music & More
and the Alabama Theater, as well as the exclusionary time capsule Legends In Concert, which plays host to celebrity fakes from Elvis to Cher. Add in the seemingly endless stretch of neon bedecked beachware shops that separate the two commercial titans, and you may feel that any homegrown Southern originality was bulldozed years ago. But despite the smothering glut of mainstream monotony, a few sprigs of creative energy have sprung up in Myrtle Beach — particularly in the area’s growing music scene. One especially fruitful blossom is Octopus Jones, a deliriously psyched-out rock band that’s equal parts manic glam and acidic surf rock. Though the quintet is quick to point out the faults in their hometown, they’re also equally excited to rep its hot spots. Bassist Clay Carlisle was kind enough to take Shuffle on a phone-bound tour of his favorite places to play and, well, play along the Carolinas’ most popular beach. “The scene has gotten better, like the local music scene,” Carlisle says. “It’s kind of growing. But as far as places to see live music, it’s just always been bad because no one can stay open. There’s a built-in scene for Myrtle Beach, we just need a place to do it all, harness it. We’ve seen a lot of venues come and go in our five years here.” He says the only two consistent live music venues right now are Island Bar, which sits just south of Myrtle Beach in Surfside, and The Sound Hole.
Island Bar resides in a strip mall next to a Food Lion. Carlisle says that while it’s small, it books a steady slate of local shows and draws a decent crowd that likes to get wild. “There’s not much of a stage,” he explains. “They just kind of cordon off a corner of the room. It’s definitely raw. But it’s cool. They get a local crowd. They host good
in the area he finds worthwhile. He says the attentive staff and well-rounded selection of instruments, equipment and accessories make it the shop of choice. “There’s only two others, and one of them is Andy Owings in the mall,” he advises. “It’s just real pricey and a chain-type thing. The other one just opened up, but they don’t really have a good selection. Sound Systems is the way to go.” After all the shopping and partying, it’s time for a meal or at least a snack, and while over-priced seafood buffets may clog the city’s arteries, Carlisle suggests other sources of nourishment. He says the Indian buffet lunch special at Bangkok Palace is “pretty ballin’” and that the German restaurant Bobo’s pairs solid food with the occasional local band. But Carlisle speaks most highly of Habbis Cafe & Lebanese Market. “You can get Guatemalan coffee and tons of crazy things,” he says of the market end of the establishment. “The other side is a Lebanese grill, and they have gyros and stuff. You gotta try the gyro.” There you have it. Turns out there’s more to Myrtle Beach than surf shops and cheesy themed mini-golf. Next time you find yourself on the technicolor strip that runs along South Carolina’s premiere beach perhaps you won’t feel so grandly stranded as before. sm
local music, and they pay well. It is dirty though. It’s sweaty.” The Sound Hole, on the other hand, resides in what looks like a large, white house in the heart of Myrtle Beach. The building has been used as a venue on-and-off for the past few years, closing and then re-opening with new names and owners. “They have a pretty cool local scene too,” Carlisle says. “I haven’t really been there too much. But as far as sound quality, I think it’s better than Island Bar.” Of course for a music scene to grow, you need more than places to go see music. You also need a place to buy it. To that end, Carlisle suggests Kilgor Trouts Prowler at the Sound Hole Music & More, a mostly used record store that doubles as a head shop. Despite the largely second-hand selection, he says they maintain a consistent stock of local music and that the classic rock in the used bins is fine by him as well. “The owner is really cool,” he adds. “He’s let us play in there a few times.” To prep for such in-store gigs, Carlisle heads to Sound Systems, the only music shop
Kilgor Trouts photo courtesy of Kilgor Trouts Music & More Sound Hole and Prowler photos by Kenny Hitt
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Take One Presented by Shuffle Produced by Six Foot Kitten Shuffle has teamed up with the multimedia experts at Six Foot Kitten to create a special concert series that features artists from each issue in an intimate and unique setting. Each performance will then be broadcast at shufflemag.com and sixfootkitten.com. Stay tuned for an exclusive look at our second installment with:
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WINDING PATH BY HORSEBACK Jenks Miller’s ever-changing metal project refuses categorization — which is a good thing, since so many get it so wrong
n the lead-up to Half Blood, officially his third LP released under the Horseback moniker, Jenks Miller has done a lot of interviews. He’s chatted with underground metal blogs such as Invisible Oranges and MetalSucks and entertained probing questions from such national heavyweights as Pitchfork.com and NPR. In many of these articles and Q&As, a frustrating problem has lingered, clinging to Miller like the leaching Gollum suggested by his snarling black metal vocals: Very few writers get his story straight. A drone project that grew into an avant-metal band, which exploded into one of the most stylistically far-flung outfits in today’s musical landscape, Horseback is magnificently difficult to define. It’s a task made even harder without a complete understanding of the catalog. “If you’re following all the smaller releases and stuff, it makes more sense,” Miller says, enjoying the afternoon sun at Carrboro’s Weaver Street Market. “If you don’t know about those records, or if you’re not interested in those records, it would be really easy to say this project is just total wishy-washy bullshit.” Miller sports a black hoodie on top of flannel despite the temperate April weather. His answers are quiet but thorough, accompanied by attentive blue eyes whose insistent softness belies their ardent attentiveness. He seems somewhat on-edge, but not in
By Jordan Lawrence a way that suggests he’s coming unhinged. He has long battled an attention deficit disorder, though, and Horseback is his unorthodox therapy, giving his detail-needy brain a world it can control without restraint. Thus, his stylistic shifts are not a sign of chaos; rather, they are the expression of a mind that finds logic and order where others don’t. That broad but refined focus first drew serious national attention after metal mainstay Relapse Records reissued The Invisible Mountain in 2010. Originally released in 2009, that record refashioned Horseback’s central identity into that of a heavy-minded rock band, fusing the pastoral drones of Impale Golden Horn, the project’s 2007 debut, to the blackened abuse of 2009’s Milh Ihvh 7-inch. Lumbering riffs find the razor’s edge between soothing and scalding, rescuing finesse from within black metal’s serrated exterior, a foil to the fiery fills he shows off with the folk-rock outfit Mount Moriah. Half Blood follows similar paths, but it’s shaded with a broader palette, embedding a litany of new styles within its crusty finish. Understanding Horseback’s winding trajectory becomes more difficult when trusted outlets misrepresent the intricacies and origins of Miller’s aesthetic. In an April interview with Miller, NPR’s top metal writer claims that Half Blood is Horseback’s third full-length since 2009 and begins one of his questions, “Horseback has never totally been a solo joint, but Half Blood feels like a full band album.”
All photos courtesy of Relapse Records
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In each of these instances, the facts that he leans on are patently false. Horseback began as an extremely solitary project back in 2006, and since 2009 Miller has produced two “solo” Horseback LPs, three collaborative full-lengths (one under his own name) and one doubleCD reissue. Still, with positive-leaning pieces written by overworked music journalists, Miller mostly lets such errors slide, but there was one interview in which he couldn’t help but speak up. As part of their “Artist to Artist” interview series, the metal blog Cvlt Nation commissioned Locrian guitarist Andre Foisy to chat with Miller. Miller and Foisy are label mates for the second time with both bands signed to Relapse, and Locrian and Horseback released the collaborative album New Dominions last year. Yet despite their proximity, Foisy still managed to screw up many of the details in Miller’s convoluted sonic progression. “I did one of those where I was interviewing them for their last record, so Andre interviewed me,” Miller says of the chat. “He was getting it wrong, too. I was like, ‘OK, we have worked together. We have been friends. We need to sit down and make sure.’ So I wrote out a really brief little discography thing just in the context of that interview. He is somebody that I’ve worked with for a long time.”
“It’s a way of doing a little sight-seeing in the context of your own project” –Jenks Miller
As albums go, Half Blood is fairly forgiving to chronological misinterpretation. For instance, if you mistook last year’s The Gorgon Tongue as a regular studio release instead of the double-jointed reissue that it was, you’d still find tangents that directly connect it to Miller’s most recent work. Though they were actually recorded several years earlier, the two works it contains — Impale Golden Horn and the 2010 cassette release The Forbidden Planet — point to elements integral to
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Half Blood’s success. The Forbidden Planet re-imagines black metal as sci-fi horror, shimmery riffs twisted into an abrasive blur, shot through by tensile background noise and creepy sound effects. Similar ghosts in the machine crop up on Half Blood opener “Mithras.” A disturbing undercurrent of piercing organ and strung-out distortion transforms the song’s warm and spacious main riff into a terrifying void. That rich and inviting guitar tone points back to the hypnotic drones of Impale Golden Horn, which presents those brightly bleary tones without Half Blood’s darkened counterpoints. “All of this stuff comes from the same place, but by the time it gets expressed it feels like there’s a duality there,” Miller says of The Gorgon Tongue and the role it serves within his catalog. “It feels like there are these competing elements, and I wanted to have that represented very explicitly. If you are going to be into this thing, then you’re going to have to be able to deal with all this stuff. It allows me to keep it like a totally free project. I don’t want those definitional lines to encroach on my work too much. I want to keep it open. That means being able to do the softer stuff and the more abrasive stuff.” After Invisible Mountain, Miller suddenly had the resources to fully realize his creative ideal. With the newfound attention came droves of collaborators and boutique labels clamoring for Miller to work with them. Miller’s policy has always been to explore every artistic outlet open to him, so he spent the next two years recording almost constantly, releasing a steady stream of splits, singles and collaborations that pushed his aesthetic into unprecedented new realms. A Throne Without a King, his collaboration with Texas experimental collective Pyramids, is a frigid wash of electronic noise that trembles with a sense of subterranean blackness. The Horseback side of his 2010 split with the eminently harsh Voltigeurs twists “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”-style light-psych into a crusty conundrum where sparkling organ duels with sludgy guitar salvos. The Locrian collaboration New Dominions explores the haunting recesses within both bands’ roomy arrangements, filling them with gloomy feedback and the hollow croaks of lost souls. In each instance, Miller extends his reach without stepping outside Horseback’s identity, redefining what the endeavor can be in the process. Miller’s new facets are the key to Half Blood’s strength. Returning to the widescreen guitar lines and rumbling bass of The Invisible Mountain, Miller ascends to new peaks by filtering in elements from his stylistic walkabout. “Hallucigenia,” the three-part suite that closes the album, is the strongest proof. It’s a mercurial drone epic that begins as a beautifully ethereal mix of guitar and piercing noise but transitions into an otherworldly wall of distorted synthesizer and then a coldly precise dance pulse. It’s frightening, uplifting and utterly transfixing, a sublimely distilled mixture of Miller’s expanded store of ingredients. “It’s a way of doing a little sight-seeing in the context of your own project,” Miller says of his recent collaborations, expressing the exhilaration and anxiety of ceding precious control to an outside party. “You’re kind of tasked as an artist, you’re challenged to work that back into the narrative. This thing that you didn’t control, you’ve got to make sense of it. For me, that’s been a really good learning experience.” sm
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Designed by Warren McArthur | Manufactured by Warren McArthur Corporation | Sling Seat Lounge Chair, c. 1935 | Photo by Michael Koryta. The Art of Seating is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in collaboration with the Jacobsen Collection of American Art and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.
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NOW HEAR THIS
I Red Collar Welcome Home (Tiny Engines)
JKutchma and the Five Fifths Pastoral (Last Chance Records)
f you think there’s a more threadbare shibboleth in rock’s mythology than the rock & roll-as revolution ideal, just YouTube the Nike/ Beatles sneaker-revolution ad for a how-thingsreally-work reminder. Yet the idea refuses to burn out or fade away because every so often along comes some sonuvabitch — this time in spurs, no less — like Durham’s Jason Kutchma, punching the rock & roll clock and singing his goddamn guts out about falling in love with punk rock, being young and lost in America, and what family really means. Kutchma’s salt of the earth songs with both Red Collar and his new country rock project, JKutchma & the Five Fifths, remind us that revolutions begin at home, and that rock can still pack a transformative punch at the personal level. Yet until these new releases, RC’s sprawling 2009 debut Pilgrim (which reworked most of an earlier EP’s songs) and Kutchma’s two live solo EPs were the only recorded evidence of the songwriter’s two sides: the Fugazi-meets-E-Street Band barroom punk, and the twangy folk messenger whose lineage winds back through Nebraska and Bob Dylan to Dustbowl Ballads. Now, Welcome Home streamlines Red Collar’s anthemic declarations without sacrificing their punk power, and the Five Fifths’ Pastoral colors Kutchma’s sparse folk in breathtaking hues of big-sky Americana. The two records may be miles apart sonically, but they’re linked thematically and aesthetically — more proof that punk and country are a two-sided coin hammered in the same hard knocks foundry.
F The dB’s Falling Off the Sky (Bar/None)
Jon Lindsay Summer Wilderness Program (Bear Hearts Fox)
Lilac Shadows A Shallow Madness (Diggup Tapes)
ace it: music isn’t timeless. The so-called classics are so called because they’re avatars of an era, not because they transcend it. That’s why nostalgia’s such a feeble crutch, why reunion tours and Greatest Hits cash grabs deserve a jaundiced eye, and why the new dB’s record isn’t all that great. Falling Off The Sky is the first dB’s record in more than 25 years, and the first to feature the band’s original quartet — co-frontmen Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby — in more than 30. Upon their formation in 1978, The dB’s already carried an impressive members-of list. Holsapple and Stamey played together in Rittenhouse Square, and Stamey and Rigby in The Sneakers. (Both bands also featured Mitch Easter, who helped produce and lent additional guitar to Falling.) As active members of an American power-pop vanguard, The dB’s and their peers helped forge the template for indie rock in the late-80s and 90s. They’re part of a scene cited as influential for R.E.M. (with whom Holsapple frequently toured) and Superchunk. The dB’s legacy is cemented. The band’s four studio albums (only two of which feature Stamey) stand up as keepsakes of the time. Jangling through strong hooks and wry lyrical twists, their classics have aged well, even as they’ve become more important for what they were than for what they are. Falling doesn’t have that luxury. What it does
28 | now hear this
Three years in the making, Welcome Home tells a band-as-family story with all the luggage that entails. When Pilgrim came out, the members of Red Collar — including guitarist Mike Jackson, Kutchma’s bassist wife Beth and drummer Jonathan Truesdale — left their jobs to tour America. But life intervened, from marriage and parenthood down to broken bones and home repairs. Momentum stalled. So Kutchma hit the road on his own. It was out there, he’s said, that he learned that the search for connection begins at home. No wonder then that Welcome Home’s 10-song arc begins with a searing anthem of middle-age angst called “Orphanage” and ends with the redemptive title cut, a guitarsblazing ballad of familiar home-town signposts and acceptance. In between — in smoldering songs about leaving, seething songs about music as a way out, and desperate songs about not fading away — are the buzz-saw guitar chords, staccato counterpoints, hard-charging rhythms and shoutalong choruses that define Red Collar. But the focus here is sharper than Pilgrim, the songs generally tighter and shorter. A lot of bad shit still goes down — fathers abandon families, workers get laid off, relationships go bust and fear waits to quash your dreams at every turn — yet Red Collar’s response is direct and defiant. Seize each moment before it’s gone for good. “Why do you take pictures and not live in the moment of the image you capture?” Kutchma pleads on the thrumming rocker “Dodge K.” Survival depends on turning into the headwinds and using whatever’s at hand to forge
forward anyway. Done with conviction and zeal, as it is here, it turns out rock & roll can still fill that bill. Survival has been country’s purview from the get-go, which Pastoral reminds us: Sing your troubles out loud to take some of the bite from their sting. Charging country rocker “Teenage DMZ” links these two records with a tale of young-man angst that flowers into rockabilly redemption. Kutchma and his new band — comprised of members of Maple Stave, Some Army and Rat Jackson — deliver the other eight songs in an impressive variety of Americana shades. There’s the shuffling resignation of the harmonica-fueled “The End of the World” to contrast with the sinister, organ-fired blues of “I’ll Survive,” where Kutchma roars against the gods and injustice; the pedal steel balladry of “Don’t It Figure Better” playing off the glistening Louvins gospel of “There’s A Light On,” another affirmation of home and family. Pastoral closes with “I Will Not Be Broken (Nor Will I Be Denied),” a final declaration of defiance lifted aloft on lap steel and soaring harmonies. “I heard, ‘Stay down, don’t get up, boy,’” Kutchma cries, his reason the corner man to the stubborn fighter who, against all the odds and haymakers, will get up again and again until that final count. The decision, of course, will go against Kutchma and his music-making friends, just as it does for everyone in the end. But to know you gave it everything you had? Well, thats’ still a revolutionary idea. —John Schacht
have is chemistry. Stamey, Holsapple, Holder and Rigby grew up together in Winston-Salem, and despite only periodically crossing musical paths in their hiatus, the quartet recorded a tight set full of unassuming complements. Holsapple and Stamey swap the mic seamlessly. And studio embellishments — the horns on “The Wonder of Love,” for example — take a permanent backseat to the compact precision of The dB’s pop craft. Still, nothing rises beyond the level of accomplishment the band achieved decades ago; no song dares a bold new move beyond the chiming, heavily harmonic mid-tempo. It’s telling that Stamey has said of Falling, “In some ways, this feels like the record that we could have made between our first and second albums.” Falling is most remarkable in how much it sounds as if the quarter-century interval between albums never happened. It did, though, and as time marched forward, so did a new generation of musicians who mutated the pop-rock template to their own more contemporary impulses. One needn’t look beyond N.C. for proof. Sam Logan, a Durham 20-something, spent his collegiate years at the helm of The Huguenots, whose power-pop re-enactment gig was bound to be remembered for its novelty, no matter how compelling its craft became. Upon that band’s dissolution last year, though, Logan eased up on the retromania for his new outfit, Lilac Shadows.
On their proper debut, the eight-song A Shallow Madness EP, Logan doesn’t shed the crisp, buttonedup pop of his former band, but infuses the jangling guitars and warm melodies with shadows of shoegaze and light-psych, and a slight electronic gloss that is purely early-aughts, even as it takes cues from a long line of shimmering pop. As Lilac Shadows started marking its maturity with a more nuanced manipulation of moods, Charlotte’s Jon Lindsay turned his years of playing in other people’s bands (Benji Hughes and Nicole Atkins among them) into a successful solo career. The 31-year-old singer/songwriter’s second fulllength, Summer Wilderness Program, is a slave to its hooks, following the timeless pop practice of using immediacy as an express route to staying power. It also builds from the strummy pop precedent of 2010’s Escape From Plaza-Midwood to encompass a bolder textural palette and a broader embrace of influences on both sides of The dB’s timeline. Here, the classic pop of the Beatles and Big Star mingles with Lemonheads alt-rock, Elliott Smith brooding and glossy blog-era indie-pop. Meanwhile, in their true-to-form comeback, the dB’s offer solid surplus for an already storied catalog; old dogs proud to replay the same old tricks. Youth isn’t always wasted on the young. —Bryan C. Reed
EDITORS’ PICKS Sight & Sound fulfills a long-overdue function in the Chatham County Line catalog: It documents the group’s staggering live show, four friends unplugged around an area mic playing raw, energetic bluegrass bolstered by irresistible pop hooks. This CD/LP/DVD release is packed with such highlights: The fiddle on “Wildwood” slashes with white-hot twang; “Nowhere to Sleep” is a manic assault of high-speed pickin’. Still, it isn’t as exciting Chatham County Line as CCL originally hinted. Last winter, they indicated it Sight & Sound would include selections from the electric half of their (Yep Roc) annual Christmas tour. These strident acoustic numbers offer no such probing of bluegrass tradition. Unfulfilled promise aside, Sight & Sound is still a sparkling collection that finds CCL solidly in their element. —JL
Diali Cissokho & Kairaba! The Resonance (self-released)
David Daniell & Doug McCombs Versions (Thrill Jockey)
Diali Cisshokho packed his kora and left Senegal for love. He joined his wife, a Pittsboro, N.C. native, stateside, but carried with him a long line of griot tradition. Upon finding a quartet of American musicians — guitarist John Westmoreland, bassist Jonathan Henderson (also of Midtown Dickens), and percussionists Austin McCall and Will Ridenour — Cissokho founded Kairaba!, whose name translates, tellingly, to “peace and love.” The CD’s liner notes shrink the language barrier, offering exposition of Cissokho’s calls for positive change. The music, though, needs no translation. Cissokho plays his kora with rocklike exuberance, well complemented by Westmoreland’s crisp guitar work and the polyrhythmic funk the rhythm section provides. —BR New Asheville denizen and guitar alchemist David Daniell, together with Chicago post-rock veteran Doug McCombs (on electric and lap steel here), release another set of improvs generated from the same 7-hour sessions that birthed the duo’s first set, 2009’s Sycamore. With producer wiz Bundy K. Brown (ex-Tortoise) as conductor/director, this time the results are even better. Ten-minute-plus tracks “Rialto” and “Burn After Reading” sculpt their guitar lines into giant monoliths, chipped away by electronics and occasional percussion until all that remains are ethereal textures. The skittering beats and guitar delay that open “Key Lines”’ sounds like a Four Tet/Sonic Youth mashup, but it morphs into a dubby psychedelic trip on the back half. A second LP of two live performances shows how improv differs in-studio and onstage, and how good at both this collaborative is. —JS
This Charleston quartet calls its big fuzzy barre chords, carnival synths and stagger-friendly tempos “trash pop,” an accurate enough anchor. But guitarist/singer Edward Burroughs’ slacker/crooner vocals and lyrics (think Jarvis Cocker) add a tinge of sensuous danger, cajoling the songs from the trashcan (or mosh pit) into the bedroom. “Wake me before I dream/I fall in love with everything,” Burroughs sings on the slinky “I Wouldn’t Want to Wake Up,” the Deerhunter-meets-The Strokes vibe seducing the Forest Tourist listener into soporific acquiescence. Most impressive is Pop Reject (EP) the eight-minute “Trash Party,” a thrumming Buzzcocks(self-released) like rocker that keeps its stamina up throughout. Oh, to be young, buzzed and in love with everything again. —JS
Ryan Monroe A Painting of a Painting on Fire (RCMP)
Like Sloan or Let’s Active! before him, Ryan Monroe realizes that power-pop can be more than sterile hooks and knee-jerk melody. THe solo debut from the Band of Horses side man, is a purposefully polychromatic collection that ranges all over the pop canon but still manages to sound unified. The title track and “Shadow in the Shade” revive Elton John’s piano-powered stadium jams with witty wordplay and sweeping choruses. Fuzzblasted rocker “On The Beach” injects rhythmic keys into Blue Album-era Weezer, pushing the pace even as its distortion slacks back. Monroe’s passionate vocals reign in the stylistic diversity, making “A Painting a cohesive collection rich with promise for the future. —JL
For a full list of this issue’s Editors’ Picks, go to www.shufflemag.com
Columbia duo Storms OV Jupiter debuted earlier this year with the two-song, 30-minute Dying Screams of an Exploding Star, less than three months before unleashing this sprawling hour-plus platter. The consistency is remarkable; both records are effective mood-makers, imbuing the early-synth workouts Louis and Bebe Barron used to score the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet with tense horror-movie scores of composers like John Storms OV Jupiter Carpenter and Italo-prog scaremongers Goblin. Cosmic Cosmic Apocalypse Apocalypse ups the ante. Taut, repetitious phrases create (Post-Echo) an ominous atmosphere, while synth oscillations and theremin warbles graft an extra dimension of captivating weirdness. Here, Storms OV Jupiter give a fresh pulse to the retro-futurist soundscape. The sprawling suite crosses an hour in only five songs, each playing like its own vignette. It’s a shame there isn’t a film to match. —BR
Torch Runner Committed to the Ground (To Live A Lie/ Communitas)
Torch Runner has been steadily honing its tactics over a series of short-form releases, leading to this comparatively lengthy 23-minute platter. The A-side is Torch Runner as they’ve always been, fast and feral, sprinting through dense, dark hardcore pitted by blastbeats and caked in heavy distortion. At its heaviest, the band starts to hulk up into burly grind a la Brutal Truth. This record, though, finds the band stretching its limbs — particularly on the relatively spacious B-side. Exploring Grave-worthy grime with charred smears of ringing guitar chords, half-time throbs, even some slithering solos, Committed to the Ground catches Torch Runner at the top of its game. —BR
The 2012 edition of June 2009 is concise; some would say more concise than it should be. While the original CD-R given that name spanned 16 tracks, the new version features only 10. Brevity is rarely the boon of reissues, and this tight collection will likely rub many completists the wrong way. But these 10 songs represent a quick, enlightening and enjoyable blast into Toro Y Moi’s not-so-distant past. Lively but insular, the album finds central member Chaz Bundick Toro Y Moi in bedroom recording mode, cobbling together fuzzy June 2009 soul with sensual bass lines and impassioned lyrics about (Carpark) appealingly trivial love affairs. Still, there are moments — like the lush Prince-isms of “Drive South” — that predict the polish of Toro’s present. —JL “Unfocused” is not usually utilized as a positive in record reviews. But for Carrboro’s T0W3RS their lack of focus is among their greatest strengths. Their full-length debut takes the “see what sticks” approach, excitedly reappropriating anything that has seen success in the indie realm in the last half-decade. “Swimmin’” is a solo, slapbacked guitar ballad that’s equal parts Conor Oberst and M. Ward. “eee!” is a crack-catchy slice of jangling popT0W3RS rock that Best Coast fans will adore. More impressive is the If All We Have is Time way T0W3RS blend their disparate songs together. The (Diggup Tapes) transition from “Scout/” to “The Cardinal/The Finch” is breathtaking, building reverb-drenched piano balladry into a Beach Boys-style pocket symphony with nary a bump along the way. —JL Wood Ear’s catchy slice of organ-fueled barroom pop, the Attractions-meet-the-Replacements cut “Leave My Walls,” may be the obvious single off this Durham outfit’s 30-minute EP, but it’s hardly the only highlight. The strength of the record is Nate Tarr’s knack for filtering a largely anti-Southern Rock sound and aesthetic — indie rock — through distinctly Southern filters. The epic title track sounds like Jay Farrar fronting Built to Spill; Wood Ear “Wasteland” is J Mascis through Southern Rock riffage; the Steeple Vultures minor chords on “Leghold” recall Fables-era R.E.M., and (Churchkey) so on. This is the first music from Wood Ear in six years — here’s hoping the next lull is much shorter. —JS
Riders on the Form
few years before my tenure as a talent buyer, I couldn’t have told you the difference between Black Flag and the Black Eyed Peas, or 7 Seconds and 7 Mary 3. I’m not ashamed of this at all — I have no hipster cachet-story of listening to Slayer in the comforting clasp of the uterine wall, no street cred to precede me. The market for baseball cards had recently gone to shit and the hair below had come in nicely; rock & roll was just the natural progression of things. I met Neal “MF” Harper, the future owner of the Milestone, at the first of a couple of DIY spots that would eventually snowball into the re-opening of Charlotte’s venerable Milestone in 2004. Living by my personal mantra of seat of the pants/skin of the teeth/eye of the tiger, I was obliged to accept the position of Talent Buyer when it was rendered by process of elimination. I vowed to bring in folks who would get Civil War-drunk seven nights a week in a musky, windowless building established in the Year of Our Dark Lord 1969 and held together by band stickers and liquor fumes. Now, the transition from what I had known in the DIY world of sharing shitty pizzas and signs of the horns to becoming a “commercial promoter” was tumultuous. One of the first shows we had in our Milestone salad days was a country-core band from Harrisonburg, VA called Lex Vegas. Ray, their guitarist/ vocalist, was also a promoter, and if you let them stay over at your house they would clean it or mow your lawn in addition to cooking a meal for you. Cool, no? Well, this experience was the polar opposite of my introduction to the concert rider: Against Me! — “This RIDER is hereby considered an integral part of the CONTRACT and if not met 100% is in VIOLATION.” I got them the 12 tennis balls. I’m not sure what they did with them, but they left them on the floor of the beer storage room… I mean, green room. Disposable Ben-Wa Balls? Mike Doughty — I had to Google “Kombucha” to see if it was an African drum of some sort. Had it been an African drum I would have had an easier time acquiring it over the fizzy mulch-juice; they didn’t even sell it in my forsaken Gaston County. Doughty was cool though and even had a stalker come to the show who gave him a note with a Starbucks gift card (which was some kind of inside joke, I reckon). He discarded it immediately and shortly thereafter I tried Starbucks for the first time. Anal Cunt — Ray of Lex Vegas had them booked one snowy day in Harrisonburg. He said they refused to play until they had six cans of Sprite. At the Milestone they unleashed all kinds of bigotry onstage, maybe because we had Sierra Mist. However, there is redemption in both of these anecdotes; at Ray’s show someone hit the singer in the pecker with a snowball from 40 feet. He drank his last Sprite as a mortal not long after the Milestone show. Comeuppance can be a bitch!
make up excuses as to why they wouldn’t be performing, decided to mic check and dick around for a couple of hours and then declared that there wasn’t enough PA. The Destruction message board told a different story the next day: “We legends of metal do not play der shithole club.” Your band is named Destruction, you should have been thrilled to play the Ghetto Fortress, which was okay enough for everyone from R.E.M. to Nirvana (or whomever you wanna add here) before you. Maybe the tour manager got a whiff of the men’s restroom and decided it would give their song “Sentence of Death” an unwanted new meaning. Inspectah Deck — Two hours into the night’s lineup, I finally got their manager on the phone. They demanded a large sum of cash on arrival or they wouldn’t perform. I went to the ATM. They asked why there were so many white people in attendance. I made $17 off the door that night, but the bonus was we got the untouched $300 in fish, chicken leg quarters, Heineken, rare flavors of Vitamin Water, etc., as they refused to touch it. We had been ridden. PRO TIP: Don’t pre-emptively agree to allow the artist to spend the night at your house until after the set. Eugene Robinson — He was doing a book release tour for Fight. Our Friday night show had a miserable 25-person turnout. I listened to the prolific writer, Oxbow vocalist, and legendary MMA fighter tell stories of mass bloodletting and face-checking. If you aren’t familiar, he’s an enormous black man who brandishes a swastika and a couple pentagram tattoos, and makes any military
“Don’t pre-emptively agree to allow the artist to spend the night at your house until after the set.” — Philip Shive school “scared-straight” fella look like Dudley Do-Right. He’s a heavy sleeper and building up the chutzpah to physically wake him didn’t strike me till I was already an hour late for work. Go see him when you can and look into the eyes of Satan. I’m a fan.
Sometimes, things went awry from the get-go.
Lest ye mistake me for a“negative nabob,” I had a great time. I made some Myspace friends, a couple of bucks, made out with some scandalous women, and made my way back to finishing college. These days I promote shows independently and also have a small roster of bands I book. Feel free to contact me if your band needs a champagne-tasting on a hot-air balloon. I’d be happy to pass the gas while pouring Andre from my buttcheeks, but only because you’re a superstar.
Destruction — The German thrash innovators arrived for an early load-in and never departed the tour bus. Their tour manager, who obviously was trying to
Philip Shive is a butcher, a booker, and a video-maker. He was the talent buyer for the Milestone from 2004-2010. You can keep up with his current travesties at voiceofpizza.com.
30 | the insider
Photo by James Sielaff
RECORD & ART CO-OP
930 South Chapman Street Greensboro, NC 27403 336.446.9194 Open Monday-Saturday 1-8pm
Charlestonâ€™s Company to anchor Shuffle release shows in Greensboro, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte Supporting Company will be a selection of locals representing the Carolinas.
Come by, say hello, and crack a beverage with us. 06.21 @ CFGB, Greensboro Estrangers, Company, TBA
06.22 @ Local 506, Chapel Hill T0W3RS, Company, Estrangers
07.07 @ Visulite Theatre, Charlotte Company and special guests TBA
Shuffle is also proud to present the following shows:
06.28 @ Visulite Theatre, Charlotte Lost In The Trees, Daytona
07.25 @ Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte A Place To Bury Strangers with Hunters, Little Bull Lee, and Xoanon Make sure to hit our Facebook page for your chance to win tickets. Also, find more details at: www.shuffflemag.com