Music News and Interviews

Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero

Colin Munroe’s new mixtape is a little different…well, maybe it’s a lot different.  It’s easy to see that crossing over between genres is the ish nowadays. Specimens like Yeezy’s 808’s and Heartbreak and Kid Cudi’s A Kid Named Cudi prove that hip hop artists are not afraid to flow over less traditional instrumentals. mixtape

Colin Munroe brings an alternative/electronic sound to his tracks while his guests, well known underground artists like Skyzoo, Saukrates, Wale and Black Milk, lend their lyrical skill. Munroe’s effort combines the best of both worlds, resulting in a different vibe. I guess it would be more suited for those in-betweeners and people who are into different genres of music. Probably not for the hard-core hip hop fans, but don’t be afraid to diversify your bonds!!

Music News and Interviews

Schoolkids Records Moving

Its no secret, the last Schoolkids left, the only one, the rarest of the surviving independent record stores is moving.  Thankfully, its just half a mile down the street from its current location.  And while this means I have to walk an extra 5 minutes (making it a total of 5.5 minutes for me now), at least its not moving away forever or to some distant land (say, like Chapel Hill or Durham).  The “Great Schoolkids Move” of 2009 will take place January 25th, and reopen January 26th. 

AND, not only are they moving, but they are marking this occasion with some really kickass shows.  The Annuals will be coming in on February 2nd (show starts at 6pm), and the Dexter Romweber Duo is performing on February 10th (also at 6pm).   The best thing, both these shows are FREE.

There are some good things about this move.  In addition to two free shows, I could possibly stand to burn some New Year Resolution calories hiking the extra distance, and I could stop at a number of the resturaunts along Hillsborough on the way home (or all of them) without feeling guilty.  I never understood the idea of positioning such a fantastic store between a NCSU staff parking lot, Fed-Ex Kinkos, and Gumby’s Pizza to begin with (bad luck I guess).  Its new address at 2114 Hillsborough St will get a bit more foot traffic in between Buddha’s Belly and Sadlack’s, and hopefully the rent is cheaper.

DJ Highlights

Gettin’ Religion

In the same vein as La Barba Rossa (because hey, I see the dude every week and it turns out we have similar wacky mindsets), I think it’s high time to get a look at (of all things) religion in Americana music.  It’s an undeniable element that in some way has some root in the creation of all these songs.  Whether it’s about getting religion, losing religion, changing religion, musing on religion, or losing your girl to religion (you think I’m joking)… one just cannot deny that the presence of a higher power is integral to American music.

One of the first and most obvious places to go looking for religion is in the heart of Americana: the Appalachians.  The European immigration to the Appalachia region was in itself from deeply religious stock – think Scottish, Irish, Scots-Irish, English, Welsh.  Add to this mix the relative isolation of living in a mountainous region in the 18th century, and you’ve got a class of people who are going to have a strong sense of culture and preservation.  History lesson aside, this is still a region where music and religion make their most explosive collide.  Take, for instance, the Stanley Brothers.  The most familiar example is the song “Angel Band,” though not every song of theirs is so optimistic.  There’s an element of darkness and haunting that lurks at the edges of these songs that makes this sort of music so unforgettable.

Angel Band – The Stanley Brothers

In the same vein, more modern artists in the mountain music tradition are bound to include at least one song or one reference to religion – usually through a filter of the harsh reality of mortality, or featuring the Americana artist’s other favorite otherworldly being: the Devil.  The Devil and Death are the prominent elements of religion that you’re going to find in these updated takes, such as this tune by Gillian Welch.

The Devil Had a Hold of Me – Gillian Welch

And then there’s the issue of losing one’s religion, and trust me, the Americana giants were doing it long before Michael Stipe was even born.  Sometimes we know why the singers of the songs lost their faith, and sometimes we’re plunked down into the middle of their particular crisis without a frame of reference.  In either case, the end result is something vaguely longing and wistful – there is a sense that something is missing even when there’s an outright refusal to go back to the old religion.  Johnny Cash, who was known best for shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, is no different.

Sunday Morning Coming Down – Johnny Cash

Of course, if nothing else, sometimes the entire point of this music is to almost create a new type of religion.  In the end many times it’s the songs that’ll change you – why else do you think there are always people who reverently speak of a song that changed their lives or at least gave them some sense of meaning?  Americana naturally has this same power.  In his biography of Gram Parsons (titled Hickory Wind), Ben Fong-Torres spoke of the times that Gram would sing hallelujah, and if you didn’t have religion before, you were bound to have it after.  When a genre has such deeply spiritual origins, it’s not so hard to believe that sentiment.

She – Gram Parsons

Concert Preview

Cotton Jones Debut “Paranoid Cocoon”

In the spring of last year, one of my friends peer pressured me into heading out to the Local 506 with her to see a couple of bands I had never heard of before. My expectations for the evening were not especially high. That night, to my pleasant surprise, Cotton Jones absolutely stole my heart. Originally formed as a side project to the now defunct Page France, Cotton Jones makes some of the most gorgeous and timeless music I’ve heard in a long while.

“Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw have hearts – huge, questioning hearts- full of music that mixes elements of soul, rock and gospel into a gauzy cocoon of small-town sound.” –

Since that fateful night, Cotton Jones has released an EP and teased me via their MySpace blog with promises of a full lengh. After more than six months of waiting, their debut full length Paranoid Cocoon will be officially released January 27th on Suicide Squeeze Records. An advance copy arrived at WKNC earlier in the week, and I was beyond excited to find it in the mail. For the past three days, I have hardly listened to anything else. It is a very relaxed and completely beautiful record from start to finish, the transitions from each track to the next are perfectly seamless.

“There’s no intentional theme behind these songs. Cocoon didn’t span a lengthy duration of time, so headspace and moods tend to remain threadlike throughout. I believe there’s a familiar mood from start to finish…they lyrics work like visuals of such moods.” -Michael Nau

Paranoid Cocoon is not a rock-your-face-off record. It’s not too loud, but it’s not too quiet. It’s not too fast, but it’s not too slow. Combining elements of bluesy folk and gospel with acoustic alt-country and pop, this album is just right.

You can catch Cotton Jones at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill on March 22nd!

Concert Review

The Sign of Evil Existence

Rotting Christ

Rotting Christ is one of my all time favorite bands in the metal world. I have been to all of their Lucifer Over America tours, which have been their only American tours as well as own all of their cds. I have guitar picks from both shows as well as autographs and photos from all of the band members. I got to both shows about 3-4 hours early.  Needless to say, I am a fanboy of Rotting Christ. However these guys are one of the purest and truest metal bands in the scene. They put so much emotion into both their studio work as well as their live shows. The band members treat all their fans like they were truly brothers and sisters. I have been honored to sit down and talk with Sakis, the lead vocalist, rythmn guitarist, and founder of the band.  He is one of the nicest guys I have had the chance to meet in the metal world. The show, at Volume 11, was top notch. I didn’t much care for the opening bands, even though I was excited to see thr opening band Epicurean, they disappointed vocal wise. Their singer couldn’t seem to hit the notes that he sang on the album, he was very badly off key. Mantic Ritual I had never heard going into the show, but they played some good old fashioned thrash metal. However none of these guys mattered because I was front and center for the band I had been waiting since they announced they would be touring here again, Rotting Christ. If you are a true metal head, you need to experience this band live. They are truly masters of their craft writing such beautiful music and heavy lyrics. They played with so much energy that the crowd was acting just as crazy as they were. They played a multitude of tracks from many albums, though most of their tracks came off the recently released Theogonia. They played, what I considered their single and probably best track, “King of a Stellar War”. They also touched on my favorite all time album of theirs, Thy Mighty Contract, and played “Turn All Sufferings Into Plauges” and “Sign of Evil Existence”. Truly this show was a sign of evil existence as we were shown metal in it’s purest form. Anyone should go see Rotting Christ just because they are one of the greatest metal bands out there.


The Sign of Prime Creation
Kervanos Kivernitos
Athanatoi Este
Enuma Elish
King of a Stellar War
The Sign of Evil Existence
Transform A Suffering Into Plagues
The Fifth Illusion
In Domine Sathani
Phobos Synagogue

Non Serviam


DJ Highlights

Top Electronic Albums of 2008 (plus a rant if that’s your thing)

It’s that time again: at the beginning of the year, every year, everybody offers their opinions about the music/books/movies/events of the past year.  Personally, I love reading other people’s opinions about the best music of the past year.   However, I also think that it’s a fairly ridiculous practice.  Ultimately, it’s just an opinion, and nobody really cares about anybody else’s opinion anyway.  Even the biggest award show in music, the Grammy Awards, is full of shit, and pretty much everybody knows it.  So, in order to avoid putting together yet another meaningless top-10 list, I’m going to parody those stupid awards by giving you 10 top-1 lists.  Yes, the commentary you are about to read is satirical (I’m only putting this under the assumption that if I don’t, moronic fanboys will be upset that I trashed their favorite album of 2008), but the albums I’ve chosen are actually some of my favorites (except for whichever section of commentary offends you most – that one’s serious) of 2008.

Best album nobody put into their top-5/1o/20/25/50/100 list of 2008:  Radio Retaliation by Thievery Corporation – personally, I think that this was a great album.  The first half is a world-tour of incorporating the music of various cultures into an upbeat-downtempo format that Thievery Corporation is known for, and the second half is a bit more reminiscent of their previous work.  That sounds basically like they put out yet another album of the same shit you’ve heard before, and it is.  (Also, this album wins 2 more awards: best packaging and worst packaging for the cardboard sleeve and poster liner notes – it’s catchy and environmentally friendly, but you’ll never be able to actually use it to package the album once you open it).  Actually, I don’t think it was a great album.

Best “more-hipster-than-thou” album of 2008: Crystal Castles by Crystal Castles – another album I greatly enjoyed (if only we could have kept it in the studio for more than 48 hours), this award is somewhat pointless because everybody already knew that this was the hipster album of the year (Passion Pit’s Chunk of Change E.P. being a close second).  Which is oddly appropriate, seeing as how pointless this album was.  The best song on here was “Courtship Dating”, which is basically a dance song with repetitive lyrics (which are screamed, by the way) that don’t make a whole lot of sense, as if we’ve never heard that.

Best album put out by a band from Australia of 2008: In Silico by Pendulum – it seems like Australia puts out a good album about once a year.  Last year, we were blessed with the “albums” known as Attack Decay Sustain Release by Simian Mobile Disco and Guns Babes Lemonade by Muscles (and maybe a few others as well, but who knows).  This year, we in the US got Pendulum’s sophmore effort.  Is it just me, or are they actually trying to make music for video games?  The first time I heard them was when I heard their song (from their first album Hold Your Colour) on Dance Dance Revolution, and several songs here sound like extras you could buy for Rock Band or Guitar Hero (though none of them are good enough to be included, and you’d be better off saving the money anyway).  Sophmore slump much?

Best album of 2008 by a bald vegan in his 40s that has long lost all cultural relevance: Last Night by Moby – to be honest, I kind of feel like this album was like Play-lite(to the point where the title seems a bit unintentionally ironic), but it’s still a fun album overall with a few songs that actually approach being listenable.  I like to joke with a few of my friends who are also avid fans of electronic music that I enjoy listening to “American techno”.  And we (my friends and I) laugh about it because American techno (that is, good electronic music from this side of the Atlantic) doesn’t exist, and this CD proves it.

Best album of 2008  that proves Americans are uncultured: Mardulce by Bajofondo – pencil this band in under “artist/band with the most commonly mispronounced name” (next to Björk).  This is also the only band (on this list, or possibly anywhere) that features a member that plays the … bandoneon.  Now, I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t consider myself to be a stupid individual, but I don’t even know how to pronounce that instrument, let alone what it actually is.  Judging from the album, something that sounds like an accordion.  God damn, that doesn’t even need a punch line…

Best album of 2008 that relates drugs to electronic music: Fucked Up Friends by Tobacco – Not only is the artist’s name an addictive substance, but the album title is a suggestion for both how and with whom you should listen to the album (for the dumbfucks out there, you should listened to it while you’re fucked up with your friends).  Not only that, but the album itself, from the time you see it, is addictive.  It comes with a crazy cover that looks like a broadcast of Tobacco himself getting electrocuted, as viewed through a malfunctioning cheap TV built in the 70s.  Also on the packaging front, the tray for the CD itself isn’t the usual black, white, or clear – Tobacco or whoever packaged this aural version of herion opted for a very subtle hot pink instead.  The music itself sounds like something god-awful from the 80s, using only analog tape devices and synthesizers (along with the equivalent of a First Act talk box), that’s been cut one too many times with bleach and cement mix.  This album actually wins several other awards, such as: Best album of 2008 for which I’ll require rehab, Best album of 2008 for which I’ll require therapy, Best album of 2008 for which I’ll require medication, and Best album of 2008 for which I’ll be pleading temporary insanity.

Best Album of 2008 which could have and probably should have been made in the 80s: In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy – The best band whose name consists of actions you can take in Microsoft Word (even though they got things kind of backwards – if you cut, you don’t have anything to copy, so you should probably copy before cutting, but that’s getting a bit technical) released this tribute to yuppies and disco this year that’s been getting a lot of acclaim.  Frankly, I don’t see why this whole “80’s” thing has been a trend for the past couple of years – is our creativity as a culture really that bankrupt?  If this is all we had to go on, the answer would undoubtably be a most-emphatic “yes”.

Best Album of 2008 that used only screechy guitar riffs and various noises that sound like animals growling and snarling: LP3 by Ratatat – this is the sort of sound that Ratatat has been cultivating for their entire musical career, and even I have to admit that it’s really come into its own on their third crime against humani… err, album.  On the other hand, being the best in the world at creating “music” that consists of what sounds like a 5’5" hipster wearing Converses and girl pants savagely beating squirrels into his amplifier with a Fender Squire is a bit like … well, it’s not really like anything else, which is the only reason why Ratatat will win anything this year (assuming they’ll win anything, which is dicey to begin with).

Album with the Best Bullshit Story behind their sound on their one-sheet in 2008: Never Trust the Chinese by Mr. Meeble – Basically, the fabrication here is that this band was hired by a French cosmonaut to create this album for him or her to listen to while in space.  I wouldn’t really call this the best bullshit story in the sense that it was the most plausible or the most entertaining (although it’s up there for the latter), but it’s certainly the best bullshit story in terms of how ludicrously ridiculous it is.  A French Cosmonaut?  Do the French even have a space program?  According to the wikipedia category “French Astronauts”, there have been 9 French astronauts who are noteworthy.  This compares to 362 noteworthy “American Astronauts”.  Now, if we compare the populations of France and America relative to the number of noteworthy French and American astronauts there are on Wikipedia, we find that American astronauts are about 8.5 times more common than French astronauts.  Now, let me ask you something: how many astronauts do you know?  That’s what I thought; the answer’s a big fat zero isn’t it?  Now that means that you’re 8.5 less likely to come across a French Astronaut, thus proving that French Astronauts do not exist and making this story officially impossible.  Oh, and did I mention the offensive album title?  Seriously, I could go on and on about this thing.

Best album of 2008 that’s electronic but tries to bill itself as so-called “instrumental hip-hop”: Magic Monday by Michna – C’mon, this album was produced by a god damn trombone player for Christ’s sake.  I’ll be up-front about it; I don’t know anything about hip-hop, and even I know that nobody plays trombone in hip-hop.  Hell, people haven’t played trombone in popular music since at least the 50’s.  Even then, did anybody anywhere ever front a band as a trombone player?  I honestly have no idea, but my instincts tell me “probably not.  probably fucking not.”

So that’s it, my ten top-1 lists for 2008.  I hope that the swearing and what not didn’t offend people (I only do it because the FCC doesn’t want me to).  So, before I conclude this post, I’d just like to add a few honorable mentions of 2008 (for which I primarily didn’t have any jokes):

Brightwhitelight by Sounds from the Ground

Thought So… by Nightmares on Wax

Hercules and Love Affair by Hercules and Love Affair

Saturdays=Youth by M83

Apocalypso by the Presets


UPDATE: This blog took forever to get posted because it took me a long time to come up with the material I used for it.  That and Caid took forever approving this blog (something about providing links to the artists – it’s all really murky to be completely honest).

DJ Highlights

Skip the AV Geek on Mystery Roach 1/17/09

What do you do when bombs fall from the sky?  Who do you call in an emergency?  How should you act in the lunchroom?  All these questions and more have been answered in educational films: the movies you (and your parents) watched on whirring projectors in darkened junior high classrooms and gymnasiums.

Skip Elsheimer (known to some as Skip the AV Geek) has gained notoriety with his huge collection of educational and industrial films from decades gone by.  If you’ve ever been to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on First Friday to see the Natural Horror Picture Show, Skip is the guy who runs it. This week on Mystery Roach, we will be talking about the music and history of these films and playing music from audio and video compilations he has put together.

Skip Elsheimer founded and maintains the A/V Geeks Educational Film Archive, an archive of over 22,000 educational and industrial films which he screens for audiences across the country. He curates film programs and presents them at such venues at the American Museum of the Moving Image, Coolidge Corner Cinema, Anthology Film Archives, Aurora Picture Show and Chicago Filmmakers. Recently, Skip co-wrote an article with film professor Marsha Orgeron entitled “Something Different In Science Films – The Moody Institute of Science and the Canned Missionary Movement” which was published in The Moving Image – Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. He has released several DVD compilations based on his collection through Fantoma Films and Alpha Video and makes many of his available for viewing online at the Internet Archive and at his website,

So listen to Mystery Roach this Saturday, January 17th from 8-10 am, where we’ll be talking with Skip and listening to his clips and music for the full two hours.  We will also be doing some giveaways.

Talk to you then.

-La Barba Rossa

UPDATE (1/17/09):  Skip has provided links to a lot of the films discussed on today’s show.  (Some of the films aren’t online.)  Thanks to all the callers.  I’m glad you enjoyed the show.  Thanks again to Skip for coming on and for the links below.

Duck And Cover (Department of Civil Defense)

Crash, Bang, Boom

Drugs Are Like That

Malapakadoo Skip Two



Shake Hands With Danger

Live and unplugged version of “Shake Hands with Danger” by the song’s composer, Jim Stringer

Clip of “Shake Hands with Danger” singer, Charles Oldfather, on “The Day After”

Jim Stringer’s website

VD is for Everybody

Lines Are Fun

Magnificent Major

Teeth (ADA)

Skip’s Site (A/V Geeks)

NASA/Space Program site

Skip’s NASA fan site

Local Music Music News and Interviews

Brett Harris Interview Today at 12:20


Today at 12:20, Local Lunch will have its first interview of 2009 with Durham based singer/song writer, Brett Harris.

Brett Harris will be playing at WKNC & Tir Na Nog’s Local Beer, Local Band Night tonight starting at 10pm with The Jackets and members of Bright Young Things.

For information about more great shows, check out the WKNC Rock Report.

Local Music Music News and Interviews

Red Collar Featured in Yes! Weekly

If you haven’t heard Red Collar, this article by Yes! Weekly will give you a solid idea of who they are and what they are about. If you have seen them before you should know exactly what the author, Gus Lubin, means when he says “In fact, a lot of situations involve going hardcore”.

Keep a lookout for Red Collar on the WKNC Rock Report so that you can see for yourself what this Local Lunch favorite is all about.

Music News and Interviews

New Music from Peter Bjorn and John

Hard as it may be to believe, it has actually been nearly 2 years since swedish trio Peter Bjorn & John invaded our collective ears with the infectious whistle hook of their hit track ‘Young Folks.’  The follow up to their 2007 breakthrough album Writer’s Block will be released on March 31st.  The new album is entitled Living Thing and the band is offering a free download of the song “Lay it Down” in exchange for an email address.

Oddly enough, Kanye West actually broke some of the band’s new material first via his blog about a week ago. Commenting on the track “Nothing to Worry About,” we here at WKNC tend to share Kanye’s sentiments  that “SHIT IS DOPE!!”

Living Thing tracklist:

01 The Feeling
02 It Don’t Move Me
03 Just the Past
04 Nothing to Worry About
05 I’m Losing My Mind
06 Living Thing
07 I Want You!
08 Lay It Down
09 Stay This Way
10 Blue Period Picasso
11 4 out of 5
12 Last Night

PB & J’s video for ‘Lay it Down’