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DJ Highlights

Lately, All I Want Is Local Music

I haven’t had the chance to do much music buying lately, as my bank account’s been slightly restricting as of late. However, my birthday is this coming weekend (Valentine’s day, a blessing and a curse) and I’m using that as an excuse to head over to Schoolkids and buy me some new jams. What kind of jams? Well, there’s only three non-local records that are on my list right now (new ones from Animal Collective, Antony & The Johnsons, and Bon Iver). There are several local records, however, that I really want. First off, there’s Hymns For A Dark Horse and Bury The Square, the debut records by Bowerbirds and Megafaun, respectively (Megafaun have a new one on the way and if the new songs they played the Cat’s Cradle show I caught recently are any indication, this one will be just as great as the first). I’m headed up to Boone this coming weekend and both bands’ take on folk (Bowerbirds’ being dark and haunting, Megafaun abstract and rambling, both reflective) would serve as an excellent soundtrack to a weekend driving around the mountains. Then there’s the new debut from The Love Language, with their excellent lo-fi take on 50’s pop. Lonnie Walker, with their rambling folk rock, are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands, and I’m holding my breath waiting for the release of their debut record, as well as the new one Schooner is working on.

One of my favorite releases of the past decade was Hotel Lights’ self-titled debut, full of melancholy and beautiful folk-pop gems. I’ve spun their new one, Firecracker People, on my show a few times, but have yet to pick the record up This must change, as everything I have heard off the record has been excellent. I’ve managed to catch EAR PWR’s dance party live show three times within the past couple months, and am dying to pick up some of their records. Same goes for Greenville ex-pats Future Islands (who also have some great new songs). There are great new records from David Karsten Daniels and Gray Young.

My record collection is calling out for the wonderful, Cat Power-like musings of Alina Simone. New ones from I Was Totally Destroying It and The ExMonkeys are on their way. The fact of the matter is, out of all the new records coming out, for the most part, the best ones seem to be coming either from acts right here in North Carolina or NC ex-pats. And that’s saying something. Time to go buy me some records

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Music News and Interviews

John Darnielle, Bon Iver, & Alina Simone In USAToday Top 100

Perhaps its time to stop placing Bon Iver and Alina Simone in the Local category, but its not time to stop giving them any attention.   And hey, we can still call John Darnielle our own right?  All three cracked the top 100 of USATodays Pop Candy 2008 People of the Year poll, compiled by Whitney Matheson.

The purpose of USAToday’s Pop Candy is to “unwrap pop culture’s hip and hidden secrets."  No secret to us or our listeners though, these three can all claim some citizenship to WKNC and the Triangle.

Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) comes from DeYarmond Edison, transplanted band from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Vernon left the band a year after moving to Raleigh, and Megafaun was born of the remaining members (Brad and Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund).  We are still thanking Justin for that, and also for his latest release For Emma, Forever Ago which has scorched the airwaves all over America in the past year (I still listen to "Blindsided” about once a day).  Matheson put the band at #88 on her list with the kind words:

“The band, led by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, transfixed fans of all ages with a winning debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, and must-see live performances. ”

Look for Bon Iver’s Blood Bank EP to hit the shelves January 20th (if you havnt already gotten an illegal copy that seems to have found its way to every wanna-be pirate website on the net- just google it).

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Alina Simone claims to preside in Brooklyn, but we in North Carolina know better.  Her unique brand of alternative folk/indie/ukrainish-punk (whatever it is) can be heard many times live throughout the Triangle during any given year.  Lets all convince her to just move down permanently.  Matheson made her #83 on the list saying:

“It’s true that I can’t decipher what Simone sings on her latest record, Everyone is Crying Out to Me Beware. But the singer’s emotions come through on this powerful tribute to Russian punk/folk musician Yanka Dyagileva. ”

Not familiar with John Darnielle?  How about the Mountain Goats?  Thats what I thought.  Darnielle concieved the Durham based band in 1991 while in college in California.  Interestingly enough, he didn’t make Matheson’s list for his music, but rather for his book Master of Reality.  He is #79 on the list:

“While he’s best known for his band, The Mountain Goats, this year the musician grabbed my attention with his book about Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. Instead of delivering a dry history of the record for Continuum’s 33 1/3 series, he penned a moving, fictional account of a metal-loving teen trapped in a mental hospital. By the end, readers get a sense of why the music matters – and feel an overwhelming urge to spin some Sabbath.”

Matheson forgot to mention that Darnielle used to work as a psychiatric nurse.

As of today, there are still 50 more spots to go, and while I normally disregard polls such as this, its always nice to find those North Carolina gems getting some hard earned recgonition.  So congrats!