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Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Pinegrove

Something about Pinegrove stands out to me in a way that no other band does. For this reason, Pinegrove has become my most listened-to band in the past year.

Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall wants his listeners to think critically while they listen. Within the catchy, heartfelt songs and records are an entanglement of depth and meaning. As an avid climate activist, Hall uses his platform as a way to spread awareness about climate change and what we can do to stop it.

Drummer Zack Levine, guitarist Sam Skinner, guitarist Josh Marre, keyboardist Nandi Rose Plunkett, and bassist Megan Benavente make up the rest of the six-person ensemble. Each other these members help to create the flair that makes Pinegrove as special as it is.

Discography Highlights

If you’ve never listened to a Pinegrove record and want somewhere to start, “Cardinal” is what you’re looking for. In this record, I think they best exemplify their sound in its purest form. This album has Pinegrove’s most popular song and many of my favorites. It hits indie rock highs but is clearly rooted in Americana.

Pinegrove, "Cardinal" album cover
Pinegrove, “Cardinal” album cover

Starting with “Old Friends” and ending with “New Friends”, the message is clear: at its heart, “Cardinal” is about friendships, relationships and the movement through them. Evan’s down-to-earth and reflective lyrics are best put on display on this record.

“My steps keep splitting my grief / Through these solipsistic moods / I should call my parents when I think of them / I shoud tell my friends when I love them”

Pinegrove, “Old Friend” lyric

Released after “Cardinal”, “Skylight” is a great progression from that album. This record is less structured than their previous album but it shines because of it. The structure and instrumental progression become more free-form, allowing more room for the reflection that Pinegrove is famous for.

Pinegrove, "11:11" album art
Pinegrove, “11:11” album art

Their latest release, “11:11” is also excellent and provides a new flair that Pinegrove was in need of after “Marigold”. This album leans more into a country sound than anything else on their discography, clearly inspired by artists like the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Still full of the internal reflection they are famous for, Pinegrove also looks outward in “11:11”. This is their most politically charged album by far and focuses on many of the problems that our world faces.

“They’re trying to ignore it / We always knew they’d try / Today the sky is orange / And you and I know why”

Pinegrove, “Orange” lyric

Pinegrove Live

I have seen Pinegrove in concert twice. The first time I saw Pinegrove was back in October of 2021 at the Haw River Ballroom in Graham, NC.

This show was what got me hooked on Pinegrove. Evan Hall’s charisma and clear passion for the music he makes really did it for me. The entire band is so in-sync while playing and the highs and lows of every song hits extra hard live.

They had just released “Orange” for their new album and Hall, wearing a DSA shirt, took a moment to talk about the ongoing climate crisis and inform the audience of ways they could go about inciting change.

He took a similar break in his show a few months later in February at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, an understandably more packed venue. This show was soon after the release of “11:11” and they played through the entire album.

Hearing each song live provided more depth and gave me more appreciation for each one. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend going to see them live.

Conclusion

Pinegrove always shines a light where there could be darkness. Their songs touch on many things that in different contexts could seem hopeless but instead of basking in dread, they push forward.

Pinegrove has had a lot of personal significance to me in the past year. The hopefulness they inspire definitely helped me through some harder times. They are the first band that I ever saw in concert more than once for that reason.

Thematically and sonically, Pinegrove continues to grow and evolve. I can’t wait to hear whatever they do next.

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Band/Artist Profile Concert Review

Black Country, New Road at Hopscotch

I was sent by WKNC to cover the Hopscotch music festival. One of the main reasons I was excited to go was to see Black Country, New Road. But before we talk about the concert lets get into some background.

Black Country, New Road is a band from England and has gained a lot of popularity in the past couple of years. They dropped their debut album “For the First Time” in 2021 with critical acclaim and showed people they should be a band to look out for. Then in February of this year they dropped their second album “Ants From Up There” which created a large buzz due to the large amount of critical acclaim the album had.

But just as they had reached the highest point they had been at and it seemed they were at the top of the experimental rock world the band announced that their lead singer Isaac Wood was leaving the group due to mental health reasons. The band however decided to continue without their lead singer and instead have other members substitute for vocals.

Now this leads us to now, the band has decided to go on tour and for the tour they have decided to create all new music without their lead singer as the vocalist. So none of the songs are on the albums and no one has heard them yet. This is the main reason I wanted to go was to hear this new music. And let me tell you it was incredible.

It’s hard to describe the songs especially since I can’t hear them again and that you have probably never heard them but I’ll try my best. The songs feel the same as their first two albums and they still have that distinct sound. They’re still using the large array of instruments like saxophone, violin, piano, accordion, flute and more. They also had three different people on main vocals for different songs which was their saxophonist Lewis Evans, bassist Tyler Hyde, and keyboardist May Kershaw.

Some specific moments I enjoyed was the third song in the set had this super catchy saxophone riff that I could listen to all day. The song right after had the group using harmonies and all singing some parts at once which sounded incredible. One of the songs sounded like a whimsical stroll through a field which one of my friends described as Keebler elf music. This was very accurate due to the lead singer saying when the next chapters were coming in which gave it a fairy tale feel. They also had a song where the keyboardist was singing main vocals, playing keyboard and playing accordion all at the same time which makes absolutely no sense but it worked.

Hearing the music live made me so excited for their next project and I cant wait to see where the band heads next. I feel they are just getting started and I hope they continue their streak of great music.

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Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

“Ouroboros” by Suave Punk Song Review

Suave Punk is a great representation of modern indie roots. Suave Punk is Justin Kim, a fella who decided to sit down in his bedroom with a borrowed guitar, amp, and laptop and make some mystic music.

Since 2018 he has released an array of singles and an EP. Suave Punk’s discography is filled with heavy guitar riffs, relaxed vocals, and elements of shoegaze, grungegaze, and dream pop.

His most popular single, “Heat Death” caught my ears in 2021, and since I have been keeping up with his releases.

This new single “Ouroboros” did not disappoint; however, didn’t necessarily provide any new elements to his musical arsenal. I love seeing growth through releases, and although there wasn’t much experimentation in this track it’s clear his musical confidence is blossoming.

I really appreciated his lyrics in this track. He has a great voice and a great tone for the genre pocket he is fitting into. In his past work he really veils over the vocals with heavy strings and drumming, but I’m glad to see more of his lovely voice poke through here.

“I’m an ouroboros
No matter which way I go
I’m always trying again”

This theme of incessant self judgement fits excellently with the musical beats. The backdrop is repetitive, active, and grows throughout the track. This track is unified, succinct, and bold.

“You’re not safe from what you’re building
You’re not safe from what you do”

This track is definitely one of my favorites from Suave Punk. It provides a glimpse into the mind of Justin Kim, who up until this release has been allusive and understated.

It is great to hear more confidence in his voice, sound, and themes– I am looking forward to the releases to come. I’ll be waiting for a full album, till then, keep rocking Suave Punk.

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Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Sprints

Sprints is a garage punk band from Dublin, Ireland. 

I first discovered this excellent band when creating my very first set for WKNC. As my right of passage into the WKNC realm, my DJ mentors assigned me to make a punk set. I had no idea where to start. Besides the classics, I didn’t listen to many punk bands I felt particularly passionate about.

When I started listening to Sprints that quickly changed. Punk quickly became one of my top genres and this band opened me up to many other female-lead punk bands.

Sprints is Karla Chubb, songwriter and lead vocalist, Colm O’Reilly on guitar, Jack Callan on drums and Sam McCann on bass. All of these musicians individually bring a lot of power.

Discography

Naturally, the first track I heard by Sprints is “Little Fix”, their most popular track, and rightfully so. This song has so much lyrical and vocal power.

“So tell me, doctor, how do you fix / A problem they don’t seem to think it really exists? / Should a stupid little girl / Ride backseat of a car / Wearing shame like a shawl and her body like a scar”

They have such a weighty sound. Karla Chubb provides such authentic rusticity and grunge to their music. 

This band is also relatively new, forming in 2019. Although they have released some of their best music in 2022. Including their newest single, “Literary Mind”.

“Literary Mind” single cover art

In 2021 they release the EP “Manifesto”. This EP was filled to the brim with rusticity. Particularly in the opening track “Drones”, I loved their use of guitar in the backing track. Their is a rich exploration of noise making within “Manifesto”.

The track “Swimming” off of “Manifesto” is my favorite compositionally. The opening strings are simply zesty. The vocals are really stripped to compliment the more rigid backing. This is a track I would love to hear live in the middle of a pit.

They have yet to release a full album, but I am sincerely hoping 2022 or 2023 is the year. This band certainly has a lot on their horizons.

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Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Jerry, at the Beach

Self-proclaimed “fastest band in the world”, Jerry, at the Beach is a ball of fire blasting you away with every track. High-energy and raucous, singer Josh Russell and drummer Ethan Flynn create a sound that can only be thought of as “surf emo.”

I discovered these guys at the beginning of the summer and I have not stopped listening to them since. Upon each listen, I find something new that keeps bringing me back. Within their discography, there are consistent themes of youth, death and love captured with as much angst as you can expect from an emo band.

Jerry currently has two albums: “Jagerbomb” released in January 2021 and “Ketamine” released in June 2022. They also have an EP titled “Jerry, at the Beach” released in 2020 available on their Bandcamp.

Cranberry Run and Before

Jerry, at the Beach, “Jagerbomb” album art

Their self-titled EP is a very different sound than anything released since. Much slower and more melancholic, this release is clearly a very personal piece of art, coming with a 32-page booklet. The laid-back instrumentals and vocals with jazz influence are reflective of a sad summer night.

“I sail / I sail everyday into the dawn”

Jerry, at the Beach, “Jerry, at the Beach” lyric

While different in sound, their following release, “Jagerbomb” maintains many of the reflective themes expressed in their eponymous EP. This album is a whiplash of tracks that mix slow and fast pacing, building slowly before crashing back down in an explosion of sound.

And crash this album does, with constant allusions to cars, violence, and death. The two-track lineup “I Am Not Responsible” into “Cranberry Run” highlight the uniqueness of the LP.

The Basement Floor

Jerry, at the Beach, “Ketamine”

Their latest release, “Ketamine”, builds perfectly on the sound created in “Jagerbomb” with the intensity turned up to 11. In this LP, Jerry, at the Beach isn’t only a ball of fire, they are the sun.

“One look at the basement floor / Tells you everything you need / To know / Don’t go”

Jerry, at the Beach, “I’m Hurting” lyric

Starting off explosively, “I’m Hurting” has been stuck in my head for at least three months. The song perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album with allusions to unreturned love, youth and pain. The second track, “I Love You”, slows the tempo before exploding into “Ketamine”, the titular track.

Each song on this 40-minute album provides something new while maintaining the sound that makes listening to Jerry so enjoyable. This album is a great starting point for Jerry, at the Beach and perfect for a listen while it’s still summer. Each song flows directly into the next, inviting you to continue listening until it’s done.

Beyond the Year 2022

The powerful sound created by Josh and Ethan over the past three years is very inspiring. Heartfelt and emotional, I am excited to see what Jerry, at the Beach does next.

On their Spotify page, they say, “Jerry, at the Beach has lots of music coming out throughout the year 2022. Beyond the year 2022 they will also have lots more music coming out.”

I hope that they continue building on their sound, increasing the intensity to 12 on their next project and continuing their legacy as “the fastest band in the world”.

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Band/Artist Profile Blog

Artist of the Week: Andy Shauf

Andy Shauf is a Canadian indie folk musician that has become of my favorites this past year.

The first aspect that gravitated me towards his music was his ability to story-tell.

He is able to capture scenes, personalities, and characters throughout his entire discography– some of which that reappear time and time again.

With each new release I find myself invested on what story he will tell next, what will happen to these characters this time?

Discography Highlights

One of my favorite albums is his 2016 release, “The Party”, which as the title implies, describes one night at a party. It explores the array of heartbreak that can take place in one moment.

Andy Shauf, “The Party” cover art

There are many tracks I simply adored in this particular album, but “Early to the Party” and “To You” were ones that really struck me.

Both take on a really mellow, relaxed tone but describe very awkward social situations many of us face at one time or another in our lives:

“Early to the party / You’re the first one there / Overdressed and under prepared / Standing in the kitchen / Stressing out the host / Pulling teeth ’til anyone arrives.”

Andy has a magnificent way of putting us into multiple characters’ perspectives which I hadn’t seen before in such quantity in other artists.

Due to his array of characters and personas, each of his albums sound and feel very distinct. His 2020 album release, “The Neon Skyline”, describes the nightlife of a group of friends and provides a very upbeat, charming sound to his discography.

My top track on this release was certainly “Thirteen Hours”, which implements some excellent woodwinds and percussion. I had the opportunity to see Andy Shauf in concert last February at Cat’s Cradle, and hearing “Thirteen Hours” live really amplifed my love for this track.

Andy Shauf, “The Neon Skyline” cover art

“Who’s Judy?”

While on the subject, Andy Shauf was fantastic live. It was by far the chillest concert I have ever been to.

In between songs Andy would ask for questions from the crowd– perhaps the most intriguing question that arose was, “Who’s Judy?”.

The character Judy is very apparent all across his works and is often portrayed as a love interest as seen in tracks, “Where are you Judy”, “Jaywalker”, “Judy”, “The Moon”, “Jeremy’s Wedding”, and many others.

In response to this question, Andy simply stated, “Me”, then proceeded to the next song.

In his most recent album, “Wilds”, he takes a more personal approach to his storytelling. Most of the tracks are from his perspective and revolve around Judy.

His simple response at the concert greatly shaped the way I approached “Wilds” and brought a new depth to his lyrics. This album was no longer about a struggling romantic relationship, but an internalized struggle centered around loss.

Conclusion

Andy Shauf provides such a unique form of storytelling to the musical world. He has established such a gentle tone and sound. I’m looking forward to his more recent explorations into a darker tone within his 2022 singles, “Satan” and “Jacob Rose”.

His music has given me a lot of joy these past few months. His music has been a great example of the variety of sound within indie folk.

I’m looking to discovering more artists like Andy in the near future. I hope you all enjoy.

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Band/Artist Profile

Unabashed Love Songs by The Mountain Goats

Some people enjoy The Mountain Goats for their lofi work, some listen for the shameless anger of tracks like “Foreign Object” and some are fans who are there for it all. I like a lot of what The Mountain Goats put out, but their love songs are especially potent to me. Let’s explore some of my favorites.

“Love Love Love”

The message at the core of the song also happens to be my favorite iteration of the song’s chorus: “Some things you do for money and some you do for fun / But the things you do for love are gonna come back to you one by one.” A hopeful song that serves as a bright spot on the emotionally-intense “The Sunset Tree,” “Love Love Love” is a beautiful testament to the grandiose and minute ways that love shows itself to us in everyday life.

“Animal Mask”

A wonderfully tender and intimate song, “Animal Mask” paints a picture of doing anything to protect your loved ones. John Darnielle almost-whispers “Some things you will remember/ Some things stay sweet forever” in the chorus. The song could be a lullaby if stripped down to just the guitar.

“Riches and Wonders”

The lyrics to this track read like a love letter or a manifesto. For the Mountain Goats, love is finding home in another person in “Riches and Wonders.” Nothing could be more romantic than having a dream life with everything you want and more alongside the person you love most: “We are filled with riches and wonders / Our love keeps the things it finds.”

“Twin Human Highway Flares”

This song paints a singular scene of driving to a motel with a lover. It describes an all-consuming and explosive kind of love. A passionate, fleeting, loud and large kind of love. A kind of love that makes all other loves feel small and pointless. The song closes with the profound statement: “On the day that I forget you / I hope my heart explodes.”


John Darnielle knows how to tap into all kinds of love. He wrote the single greatest lyric of all time in “Hair Match” (a song that I wouldn’t even consider romantic): “I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like.” These are just four of my favorites, but trust that for every The Mountain Goats song that makes you want to fight your lifelong enemy, there’s a song that will make you want to hold your loved ones close.

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Band/Artist Profile

Weston Estate – Band Profile

Weston Estate has marked themselves as “ya aunties favorite boyband.” 

Named after a neighborhood in Cary, NC the band is made up of five members. Marco Gomez, Tanmay Joshi, and Manas Panchavati are the vocalists while Srikar Nanduri is their guitarist and Abhi Manhass is in charge of production: ne of which is part of the Wolfpack– Srikar.

Locally, we have a lot of indie-rock and indie-pop bands but we don’t have too many R&B-centered indie bands, which is what I find so refreshing about them. A lot of their discography is upbeat yet has this mellow vibe to it. Their songs span a whole variety of genres but still maintain their signature sound.

I find Weston Estate’s music style very reminiscent of Hojean and Dhruv.

Their first single, “Cotton Candy” and it has garnered over 10 million listens in the past three years. The intro with the acoustic guitar and the subtle introduction of the 808 makes the melody melt in your ear, like how cotton candy melts in your mouth.

I had this song on repeat for three months straight. It’s an amazing song and it’s their most listened to song for a reason. It’s so ingrained in my mind that whenever I see a light pink and blue sunset I instantly think of it.

One of my favorite songs by them is “Close The Door”. More specifically the harmonizing of vocals. It’s subtle but adds a flair to the song that stands out to me compared to other tracks.

They released their first EP earlier this year in February titled “Maggie Valley”.  It was a six-track EP with original songs such as “Sixty” and “Daisies” along with known singles like “Pears” and “Stoked”. 

Out of all the tracks on “Maggie Valley”, “Sixty” has to be my favorite. It has a heavy jazz influence with trumpets along with the acoustic guitar, piano, and bass. A combination I’ve never heard done before. It incorporates that same harmonizing from a couple of their other songs that I love.

Usually, when I am a fan of a band there’s one aspect that typically stands out to me. Whether it’s the drums, guitar, or vocals. However, with Weston Estate each member is talented in their own ways and that’s what makes each of their pieces sound cohesive.

“So Good” is their newest single and is quite different from what we’ve seen from them in the past. It sounds similar to bossa nova beats with more focus on percussion.

Like the title of the song it really is so good. It stays true to their lo-fi vibe yet the electric guitar riffs add a touch of je ne sais quoi. Whether it’s the instrumentals, lyricism, vocals, or production, there is nowhere they lack.

I love when artists try out new styles of music or allow themselves to have more creative freedom. With Weston Estate you never know what to expect from their new releases – it’s a pleasant surprise each time. 

You can find them on Instagram and check out their discography on Spotify.

Check out their entire discography here!

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Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

Her’s – A Band That Could Have Been

The UK indie-rock band, Her’s, was made up of two musicians Audun Laading and Stephen Fitzpatrick. Stephen was the lead singer and guitarist while Audun played the bass and sang background vocals. 

They debuted with their first single “Dorothy” in 2016 and eventually in 2018 they released their debut album, “Invitation to Her’s”

You may have heard their song “What Once Was”.

It’s a song that I get emotional listening to know the tragedy that hit the band. The song is about the passing of a family member with the lyrics. “My friends put on their bravest faces | Their tails between their legs, something is out of place”

The fact that these lyrics apply to the band themselves and were written by them without knowing what was coming in the future is what hurts me, as a fan, the most.  

With the releases of their singles and eventually a compilation album titled “Songs of Her’s”, the band grew a strong following and decided It was time to tour the States with their debut album. 

It was during their U.S tour that disaster struck. 

They had finished playing in Phoenix, Arizona – the third to last stop on the tour – and were on the highway driving up to California when their car got hit by a drunk driver.

The drunk truck driver was in the wrong lane and drove straight into them, causing both cars to go up in flames. Both members of Her’s along with their manager who was driving their car passed away. March 27, 2019.

Though it’s a little past the three-year anniversary of their passing, I thought it was important to highlight their work as artists and continue sharing their music with a new audience. 

While their discography is short, you can hear their passion in each song. 

The three songs I would recommend as an introduction to the band are “What Once Was”, “Speed Racer” and “Cool With You”. 

All three of these songs are dream-pop and indie rock. “Speed Racer” sounds like it’s straight out of the 50s with the rock and roll sound but still maintains that distinct indie sound. “Cool With You” is more lo-fi and has a heavier bass to it that’s perfect for daydreaming. “What Once Was” is a bittersweet bedroom-pop track that balances the syncopation of the bass with electric guitar chords and drums.

They have a total of 23 songs, so if you want to become a Her’s fan it’s not difficult to get consumed. 

If they had made it to 2022, I have no doubt they would have been one of the most popular indie bands of the decade.

You can check out Her’s discography on Spotify or YouTube.

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Band/Artist Profile

What Makes The Mountain Goats Special?

I’m currently working my way through listening to the entirety of The Mountain Goats’ album discography. Why? There are several reasons. 

My dear friend (and former WKNC DJ, Deethony Jaythony) is a big fan of The Mountain Goats, as so is one of my favorite writers, John Green. They both speak so highly of The Mountain Goats, I’ve been a casual fan for a while and I’ve been needing something to keep my mind occupied on these long summer days.

The Mountain Goats are a California created but currently Durham-based band that have been making music since the mid 90s. John Darnielle, the band’s creator and front-man, is the life blood of The Mountain Goats and has, at times, been the only member.

“Love Love Love” from their 2005 album “The Sunset Tree” was my first introduction to The Mountain Goats back in 2019, and it’s been one of my favorite songs since. 

Since then, I had collected casual interest in some of their bigger songs like “No Children,” “This Year,” and “Going to Georgia.”

Throughout this project of listening to their discography, I’ve wondered: what is it that keeps their dedicated fanbase so hooked?

It could be several things, like John Darnielle’s crafty lyricism, or their genre-spanning sound or the continuity of themes and tropes throughout their discography.

But 11 albums in, I’ve found the quality of their music that keeps me hooked. John Darnielle’s ability to intertwine love and anger so closely; The Mountain Goats have written some of the most romantic songs and some of the most fury-inducing songs I’ve ever listened to.

The man who wrote “I am drowning / There is no sign of land / You are coming down with me / Hand in unlovable hand / And I hope you die / I hope we both die” in “No Children” also wrote “I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like” in “Hair Match.”

Darnielle illustrates the tender moments of love so wonderfully: “You felt shelter somewhere in me / I find great comfort in you / And I keep you safe from harm / You hold me in your arms” he writes in “Riches and Wonders.”

He also taps into a primal anger at times. In “Foreign Object” he sings “Sink my teeth into your scalp, take a nice big bite / Save nothing for the cameras, play the angles all night / One of these days my legs will both snap like twigs / If you can’t beat ’em make ’em bleed like pigs.” 

The Mountain Goats are a beast of their own kind, and I look forward to listening to the rest of their (rather lengthy) discography and finding where the hard exterior gives way to the tenderness.