Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview

Queer Gothic Bluegrass Coming to The Pinhook This April

The goth-to-country pipeline is real, and the Laurel Hells Ramblers keep it well-fed with their signature “gothic bluegrass.”

This band’s distinct sound comes from the combined efforts of Clover-Lynn, a banjo player from Southwest Virginia, and Jade Louise, a fiddler who cut her teeth performing in the punk and metal scenes before returning to her Carolinian roots.

The Laurel Hell’s Ramblers are coming to Durham April 25th and performing at The Pinhook, one of the city’s most iconic venues.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Ramblers, here’s what you need to know:

Sounds from the Mountains

Laurel Hells Ramblers produces music imbued with a rich folk tradition and strong queer narrative, integrating classic bluegrass stylistics with stories of the experience of being a trans woman in Appalachia.

According to the band’s Spotify testimony, they “seek to show the world and Appalachia that not only are there queer people from the region, but that they are an active part of the culture.”

Cover for “Cripple Creek” by Laurel Hells Ramblers

The resurgence of folk music’s popularity in queer and alternative spaces is far from news. Folk is a rich and bustling genre that has influenced alternative music since the beginning.

Folk punk, a fusion genre of folk and punk rock, started as far back as the 1980s. “Gothic bluegrass” is only another iteration of folk’s impact on the alternative scene and a growing awareness of the staunch gothic energy of Appalachia (see: Y’allternative).


The Laurel Hells Ramblers released their debut single, “Cripple Creek,” January 1, 2023. The track is a solid minute of rustic instrumental featuring Clover-Lynn’s banjo and Jade Louise’s ebullient fiddle.

The band put out two more singles later that year, with “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” coming out June 25 and “Raleigh and Spencer” August 10. Both tracks are covers of classic bluegrass songs, with sprawling rhythms and smoke-tinged lyrics.

Cover for “Raleigh and Spencer” by Laurel Hells Ramblers

March 15, 2024, the band released “County Traditions,” a live LP recorded with Local Exposure Magazine. A shockingly vivid and borderline orchestral album, “County Traditions” is an excellent display of the band’s musical expertise.

Louise’s fiddle is absolutely heartwrenching as it flutters throughout each track, emerging and disappearing into a honey-smooth instrumental tapestry.

Final Thoughts

The Ramblers’ Pinhook performance starts at 8 p.m., with an opening act by Three Top Serenaders.

If their live LP — and the small, intimate atmosphere of the Pinhook — is anything to go by, this show will be mindmelting.

Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview

Unwound Returns to Cat’s Cradle After Over Two Decades

After over 20 years of stasis, post-hardcore band Unwound is back from the dead with a 2024 tour.

The band will touch down in Carrboro, North Carolina March 22 at the legendary Cat’s Cradle alongside noise rock band Cherubs.

Unwound went on indefinite hiatus after their 2001 release “Leaves Turn Inside You,” the “Unwound album that ended all Unwound albums.”

Cover for “Leaves Turn Inside You” by Unwound

The band announced their reunion in 2022 following the 2020 death of bassist Vern Rumsey. Jared Warren of Melvins, Karp and Big Business stepped in to take over Rumsey’s role.

In February 2023, the band played their first show in over two decades at Seattle’s Showbox.

In November of the same year, they announced a 2024 tour featuring five cities on the east coast.

The tour kicks off March 20 in Atlanta before stopping in Knoxville for the city’s annual Big Ears Festival March 21. Unwound will perform in Carrboro March 22 before moving on to D.C. and Jersey City.


“When we put Unwound on the shelf in 2002, we never thought we’d return to the project,” said drummer Sara Lund in a 2022 press release.

Following the announcement of Unwound’s 2023 reunion tour, demand for ticket sales was so high that the band added 10 additional dates.

“Starting over again is a rebellious act against our failure,” said founder Justin Trosper.

Cover for “You Bite My Tongue” by Unwound

Unwound emerged as a stylistic diversion from the band’s original project, Giant Henry, formed in 1988 while the members were still in high school.

“The first era of Giant Henry was sillier — making fun of grunge music, but we actually sounded grungy,” said Trosper in an interview with Tobi Vail. Unwound, Trosper explained, drew inspiration from Melvins, Black Flag, Nirvana and Flipper.

For those unfamiliar with Unwound’s sound, it’s best described as the impact point between smoky atmosphere and punk angst. The virile edge of Black Flag meets the cigarette-tinged vapor of Nirvana.

Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview

All-Female Japanese Punk Band Coming to Cat’s Cradle

Named after an Osaka love hotel, Otoboke Beaver is an exuberant four-piece punk band from Kyoto, Japan.

The band kicked off their 2024 North American tour back in February, and will perform at Carrboro’s legendary Cat’s Cradle March 26.

If you’re not familiar with Otoboke Beaver (a crime, honestly), there’s still time. This totally rocking band will make for an unforgettable concert experience.

Wild Garage Rock

Self-described as a “Japanese girls ‘knock out or pound cake’ band,” Otoboke Beaver formed in 2009 after the members met at a college music society.

They released their first demo album in 2011 and a live album in 2012, both of which gained traction among Japanese audiences.

Otoboke Beaver began touring internationally in 2016, and have since garnered critical acclaim from numerous sources, including Dave Grohl, Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, Tom Moreno, and numerous others.

Cover for “SUPER CHAMPON ス​ー​パ​ー​チ​ャ​ン​ポ​ン” by Otoboke Beaver

Otoboke Beaver’s garage punk style regularly flirts with madness. However, amid discordant arrangements of guitar and vocals, there’s a perceptible grand design.

Spontaneity is controlled and masterfully cultivated to create a pervading sense of unity among the band’s members.

The band’s description of “knock out or pound cake” is surprisingly apt; their sound constantly alternates between vicious, unbridled energy and idyllic ebullience.

Cover for “Love Is Short” by Otoboke Beaver

Subject matter comes directly from the band members themselves, drawing from romantic misadventures, grievances with chauvinism, sexual desire and the monotony of the daily grind.

I have no time to spend for you
seeking for a one-night stand, old fart has come
abso-f–king-lutely you’re out of question
so full-of-yourself old dirty fart

shut up
shut up
shut up and Don’t look down on me!

“Dirty old fart is waiting for my reaction” – Otoboke Beaver
Cover for “‘yobantoite mojo​’​/​’don’t call me MOJO'” by Otoboke Beaver

While the band doesn’t consider themselves to be distinctly feminist, a group of Japanese women loudly and irreverently declaring their desires in a white and male-dominated genre is nothing short of groundbreaking.

Otoboke Beaver’s latest album, “Super Champon,” came out in 2022, and all I have to say is this: if the band’s setlist draws at all from this release, audiences are in for a riotous time.

Song Highlights

Concert Preview Local Music

March and April Live Music in the Triangle

Hello all. As the new year is slowly settling into place, I wanted to take a minute and assure you, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area has all around tons of music all around us for these next few months.

Here’s a little preview of some shows you can see and where you can see them…


Starting with this upcoming week (March 3 – 9), there are a bunch of opportunities to witness amazing live music at The Pour House like Goetia, Pathogenesis and Noctomb playing some metal on March 3. Also, there’s a bluegrass performance on March 7 with ShadowGrass. On March 29 there’s a grunge cover night with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden cover bands. All this and more is on The Pour House’s website.

Slims also has tons of metal oriented and head banging bands playing throughout these next couple of months, like Auroras Hope playing on April 5 and a plethora of bands playing April 25.

At Kings there’s awesome bands like Weymouth, Frost Children and Small Crush peppering their calendar.

So just in the Raleigh area, we have tons of access to musical greatness.


Durham has tons of wonderful venues like the Pinhook, which is featuring one of my favorite Philly bands, Washer, on March 11 followed by Cowgirl Clue on March 12. That’s two amazing nights of completely different tunes.

Also in Durham is The Fruit with a great head-banging lineup for March 29. A few of the bands performing will be Sevyrnce, Spunge and Lil Space Cat.

The one performance I wish I’d seen coming sooner at Motorco Music Hall is Mannequin Pussy and Soul Glo playing together on April 7, but unfortunately tickets are sold out on the website. They’ve also got tons of varying genres popping in and out throughout these next few months.

Chapel Hill

Good ol’ Chapel Hill has metal and thrashing central at Local 506. There’s a boatload of beautiful sounding band names filling my eyes as I peer through the never ending list. Most notable is Teen Mortgage on April 6, Sarah and the Sundays (not metal fyi) on April 12 and Spew on March 13.

Of course there’s the beloved Cat’s Cradle venue too, which is hosting: Guster on March 20, Unwound on March 22, Otoboke Beaver on March 26, The Postal Service & Death Cab for Cutie on April 27 at Coastal Credit Union and finally Black Country, New Road also on April 27 but at the cat’s Cradle Venue.

I hope you all find some bands or some resources to go out and support beautiful artists touring our neck of the woods in these next few months.

Concert Preview New Album Review

DBB 20: Saphron’s Album “Ecce Homo”

Welcome all ye listeners to the weird and strange and the normal and the everything else under the umbrella of all music. There’s this little thing WKNC does every year to raise money. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not. WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit is in its twentieth year of existence and there are many amazing bands and artists coming out to King’s on February 16th and 17th to help us raise money to keep doing what we’re doing (all things music).

This year’s Friday headliner, Saphron, is the main objective of this article. While I don’t have much info about the members of the band, I’ve been sinking further and further into the depths of their sounds. 

Saphron is an emo punk band from the wondrous city of Raleigh, NC (we love a good ol’ local band). The members include Zoe Hardee (Composition, Production, Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer), Ian Waddill (Production, Arrangement, Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals) and Ari Moore (Sound Engineering, Arrangement, Drums, Backing Vocals). All of these credits are for their most recently released album, “Ecce Homo”, which was given unto us on October 14, 2022.

Saphron’s sounds swirl in my head. The moving lyrics and lead vocals of Zoe Hardee jolt me and console me all at once. Little whispers telling me to feel something explode into screaming fits. This band’s unique noises continue to pop in my ears at the most random times of day. Saphron tends to the fields of addicting noise that I can’t quit. 

Ecce Homo

I, as per usual in my album reviews, will stick to highlighting my favorite tracks on this release. Please excuse my abundant adoration of Saphron’s sounds. They’re quite bewitching to me, and I still can’t figure out why.

Pity Stunts

Bass beats and drum thumps echo through the empty rooms in my head. This track fills silence better than any conversation. It’s a cry for love and why we have to give everything we can to smother that feeling. I keep trying to figure out what music scenes I belong to. This song reminds me no one cares, just dance.


This song is my favorite on the album. I keep going into the addictiveness of this music. I can’t stop alluding to it. How does a band do this to my head? What else am I supposed to say to get you all to listen to this? There’s probably some weird formulation of words that make everyone’s head scream at them to listen to a writer, but I don’t have those words at my disposal. Just listen to the song. 

Perfect Love

Both this song and the previous perfectly blend all the band’s talents to create a smoky atmosphere of beauty and pain. There are more explosions off in the distance as the world burns. How am I supposed to care when there’s only my floating consciousness trying to exist when this song plays?


With a synth opening that’s about as addictive as any sweet candy, this song is the reason I can’t stop returning to Saphron’s music. Hardee’s intoxicating vocals are like a stab to the gut. You don’t really want to be hurt, but the pain is freeing in some odd f***** up way. 

Conclusions of a Sort:

I can’t sum up a band. There’s never any real expectation to, but I feel like it helps people who skim articles or even myself come to a final conclusion about sounds produced in the world. Saphron’s music doesn’t need a summary because it’s here in the world to stay and exist in the moments we want to listen. “Ecce Homo” is a great first full length release for this band (obviously an understatement from my point of view) and as this band continues to age, experience life through music and create more heavenly sounds, I will be here listening to anything they can give us. 

Saphron will be headlining WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit on Friday, February 16th. Be there to support this band but also the other wondrous local musicians offering their talents to our ears.

Concert Preview

Concert Preview: Blonde Redhead

Alternative rock band Blonde Redhead is coming to North Carolina this month. The beloved three-piece band will perform at Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw Feb 21.

Named after the third track on DNA’s 1981 album “A Taste of DNA,” Blonde Redhead formed in 1993 when Kazu Makino met twins Amedeo and Simone Pace in New York City.

The band’s first album, “Blonde Redhead,” debuted in 1995. My introduction to the band came from this album, namely the track “Girl Boy.

The track Illustrates a vivid and sensory dichotomy between femininity and masculinity, furthered only by Makino’s beautiful — and heartwrenching — vocals.

Cover for “Sit Down for Dinner” by Blonde Redhead

Following “Blonde Redhead,” the band produced nine more albums. The most recent: “Sit Down for Dinner,” released Sept 2023.

The album is solid. It’s smooth, subtly romantic and interesting. While there was a clear “vibe” pervading throughout the album, each track had a distinct enough sound to maintain my attention.

Some of my favorite tracks from the album include “Kiss Her Kiss Her,” “I Thought You Should Know,” and “Via Savona.”

While there (probably) won’t be any moshing at this show, it’s en excellent opportunity to unwind and lose yourself in beautiful, emotional music at a gorgeous venue.

Concert Preview

Concert Preview: Citizen with Narrow Head and Modern Color

There’s no better time to go to a show and listen to moody, angst-filled music than mid-to-late November, that sweet spot nestled right between midterms and finals where reality is at its most existentially crushing.

Cat’s Cradle, one of my favorite venues for its ease of parking *cough cough* Raleigh needs to do better *cough cough*, will be hosting a trio of excellent bands on Wednesday, November 15.

With a lineup consisting of Citizen, Narrow head and Modern Color, the night will be a sepia explosion of wrenching post-hardcore and shoegaze ballads.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to slap on your used Carhartt jacket and favorite knitted beanie, this might be the perfect opportunity for you.


Michigan-based punk-rock-emo band Citizen has been hard at work, having released their most recent LP back in early October.

In celebration of this release, the band the US with Narrow Head and Modern Color (and will tour the EU with Drug Church) and will stop in North Carolina on the 15th.

If you’re not familiar with Citizen, they’ve got a classic summery sound that leans more in the direction of emo than punk and with distinct post-hardcore roots.

Cover for “Calling the Dogs” by Citizen

While I wouldn’t consider the music “moshable” per se, it’s definitely good music to nod your head to.

“Calling the Dogs,” Citizen’s latest LP, is a contemporary take on shoegaze and indie rock.

Consistently upbeat and occasionally beachy, the album is exactly the kind of music I’d imagine coastal hipsters drink IPAs to at bonfire get-togethers.

While the album only gives me subtle shoegaze or emo vibes, it’s an interesting representation of the band’s stylistic development since their early 2012 album “Split.”

Some of the LP’s tracks, like “Dogs,” take on a gritty post-punk slant akin to Viagra Boys. Others, like “If You’re Lonely,” lean more towards indie rock.

Narrow Head

Where Citizen’s music is fast and upbeat, Narrow Head traverses swirling rivers of molasses.

Slow, grungy and riddled with distortion, the music of Texas-based Narrow Head is an echo of the 90s in some places and a glimpse into an unseen future in others.

Cover for “Far Removed” by Narrow Head

With their most recent albums and LPs all having been released in the same year, 2020, it’s unclear where the band will be sourcing their setlist materials.

All that’s guaranteed is that the music will be perfectly smokelike, its hard rock edge blunted by the ambience of the concert hall.

Modern Color

I’ve mentioned Modern Color on this platform before.

Of the three performers at this show, I can guarantee Modern Color will be the moodiest.

Cover for “From the Leaves of Your Garden” by Modern Color

If their setlist pulls at all from their 2021 EP “Now, Life is Living You,” the audience will be transported by a swell of pure emotion — yearning, melancholy and other abstract feelings — as soon as the first song starts.

Based in California, Modern Color defines itself as alternative rock, post-hardcore and punk. While I see their discography as more post-punk than punk, there’s a strong post-hardcore influence throughout.

Of the three bands, I think Modern Color will bring the most raw energy to the stage and audience.

Concert Preview Local Music

November & December Local Shows

Hey y’all. Hope you’ve been keeping up with local shows in your neighborhoods wherever you’re from, and if you’re a part of the Triangle area, then I know there’s been a lot of great performances out here lately.

A couple months ago I made a post about shows in September in the area and I want to return to that style of post to update anyone that cares about interesting shows in the Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill area.

Chapel Hill:

  • Local 506 has a large number of upcoming shows including an “Emo(ish)” cover show on November 4th, Satan’s Satyrs w/ Magick Potion and The Magpie (a local band I’ve talked about before) opening for them on November 14th and Bask w/ Wailin’ Storms (a local band) on December 15th.
  • Cat’s Cradle (another indie music staple in the Triangle area) has Nation of Language performing on November 9th, Slaughter Beach, Dog plays on November 14th, Angel Olsen is making an appearance on December 9th and the first annual Holiday Hootenanny featuring Callous Daoboys, 68 and Johnny Booth on December 16th.


  • In Durham’s The Fruit, there are a number of musical and non-musical events happening like a monthly flea market on November 5th and December 3rd; there’s a 90’s Rave on November 18th; also, there’s Auntie Boy and Jooselord will be present on the same night (not sure how that works), but Jooselord is a local talent with tons of hype and fun.
  • The Pinhook also has many exciting musical talents and non-musical events like a Queer Movie Night featuring “Beetlejuice” and “To Wong Fu” on November 7th. Performing the next night is a Queer Country lineup with karaoke, line dancing and live music. Also, Rosie Tucker performs on November 13th.


  • And in Raleigh we have a few cool venues too. At The Ritz The Front Bottoms play on November 7th.
  • At Raleigh’s Pour House we have Crawford & Power (a lil’ country for ya) on November 12th, Late Notice and a slew of opening bands on November 16th and axelone w/ Max Gowan and Cor De Lux on November 27th.

Hope this light list of interesting performances can pique your interest. There are many bands and artists I’ve failed to mention, but these seemed the most interesting to me. Enjoy my bias.

Concert Preview

Screaming Females: Concert Preview 10/27

My excitement is immeasurable, and it’s all because I get to see one of my favorite bands of this year next week. Screaming Females will be in Durham on October 27 playing at Motorco Music Hall. They’ll be joined by Lip Critic as the opener.

Screaming Females hails from New Brunswick, NJ and they’ve been releasing music since their first album, “Baby Teeth“, in 2006. I think I started seriously listening to this band two years ago when I was making a funky, crunchy DJ set, and I haven’t been able to get enough of their sounds since.

Earlier this year, Screaming Females released their newest album “Desire Pathway“, which I have enjoyed so much over the past few months. The album’s well produced and now contains some of my favorite tracks they’ve made.

It opens with “Brass Bell“, a magnetic track featuring the lead singer’s, Marissa Paternoster, amazing voice and some of their most addictive guitar sounds from Paternoster as well.

Lately I’ve been listening to “Let Me Into Your Heart” on constant loop. It starts a little slower, but pucks up the pace, transforming into a rock n’ roll giant wall of sound.

I don’t know too much about Lip Critic, but their EP, “Kill Lip Critic“, is noisy and will be a perfect thing to get hot and sweaty to. The opening track destructs and builds momentum beautifully.

While y’all can probably see I’m brimming with excitement her, that doesn’t mean you can’t be too. As of writing this, there are tickets available to purchase for the show in Durham, which is only the first stop of a long Fall tour.

Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview

Concert Preview: Xiu Xiu

October is proving to be a great month for live shows.

In the aftermath of midterms week, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the local musical happenings. The latter half of this month promises an awesome assortment of live shows, some of which I may attend myself.

Among them is an upcoming performance by Xiu Xiu on October 19 at Kings.

What is Xiu Xiu?

Named after the 1998 Chinese drama film “Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl“, Xiu Xiu is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart.

Xiu Xiu band member Jamie Stewart in Aarhus Denmark 2017, uploaded by Hreinn Gudlaugsson, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0

The band’s sound is esoteric and bleak, unspooling into sprawls of distortion. There’s a heavy air of pessimism and melancholy throughout, though with a more industrial (think Throbbing Gristle) than gothic slant.

Xiu Xiu hit the airwaves in 2002 with the release of “Knife Play,” an 11-track album of experimental desolation.

Stewart’s vocals are consistently plaintive, his lyrics blunt and sobering. The instrumental arrangement oscillates between rhythmically restrained — receding into the background amid simple drum beats — and wholly unleashed.

Jamie Stewart de Xiu Xiu, Adventures in Modern Music 2004, uploaded by Seth Tisue, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Xiu Xiu’s second album, the 2003 release “A Promise,” also contributed to the band’s acclaim.

Produced in the aftermath of the death of Stewart’s father, “A Promise” can be interpreted as a depiction of personal despair.

Xiu Xiu went on to release 11 more studio albums as well as three cover albums, two compilations and two EPs.

Their most recent release, the 2023 album “Ignore Grief,” will likely feature in their upcoming performance.

While I haven’t had the chance to peruse the entire album, what I’ve listened to thus far has been nothing short of chilling.

There’s a dark, borderline obsessive cynicism in this album; an ice-cold horror slant that rings perfect for the bittersweetness of October.