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New Album Review

Double Barrel Benefit #8 Compilation CD

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 2/8/11, written by DJ Switch, WKNC deejay

You never think your kid’s ugly. Well, at least you never tell your kid you think they’re ugly. My parents never did. They did say I have a face for radio, but I never quite got what that meant. Either way, there’s no need to lie about the beauty of WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit compilation, because even though the student radio station put it together, it’s a handsome piece of local music by all objective accounts. Recorded mostly in Caldwell Hall, this album was passed out to the crowd at 88.1’s annual benefit concert as they watched those very same bands bring down the house.

Showing the diversity of Raleigh’s music scene right off the bat is rapper Inflowential’s “Wherever.” It has a cheerful rhythm that reminds of Sugar Ray. As soon as you’re swaying to that, he slips in nonchalantly and starts commanding a pitter-patter of rhymes. Inflowential has an easy mastery of words like Nas or Jay Z, but with none of the intimidating lyrics.

Kid Future has some seriously artful song lyrics, such as “you were born with no blood, wind in your veins,” and the Old Ceremony has that simple beauty that you used to only be able to find in Bob Dylan or James Taylor songs.

Luego are students of the Guthrie school of folk rock, but, like Blitzen Trapper, they bring their modern indie rock sensibilities to give it a modern twist. Don’t let the song title fool you, “California” is an ode to the good old North State, done right by a group of native musicians with true Carolina accents.

Cassis Orange easily became one of my new favorite bands with their contribution, “May, June, July.” Now, normally I don’t like dance music. I think this aversion stems from a childhood of getting rejected by girls at the middle school dances – and an adulthood of getting rejected by some of those same girls at college parties – but this track made me forget all that entirely. It’s sort of like a mellowed-out Madonna, but not so dancey that it loses its beautiful, trippy melody and its mature songwriting.

Yardwork makes order out of chaos with “Hot Balloons.” The guitar solos seem to climb around the impassioned vocals like ivy, wrapping over the pounding snares in an effort to quell this eminent crescendo of emotion. Bright Young Things is a sort of happy hodgepodge resembling something like Kula Shaker or maybe even an experimental-era Beatles.

Like their name, Hammer No More the Fingers is something both indescribable and obvious. You can’t pin down exactly what it is that works for this band, but you know that it works— and “Blanko Basnet” definitely works. The vocals are some of the most unique I’ve ever heard. They have a slight adolescent twill, but still retain the power and resonance to howl above the rich intensity of the song.

No lie, this compilation is beautiful. Me, on the other hand—that might be another story.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Friday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.

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Music News and Interviews

Double Barrel Benefit compilations available at Schoolkids, Bull CityRecords

There’s still time to get your own little piece of Double Barrel Benefit 8, while also supporting your local independent record store!

Compilations are $7, and are now available at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh and Bull City Records in Durham.

WKNC DBB 8 Compilation:
1. “Wherever” Inflowential
2. “Like a Camera” Kid Future
3. “Day That I Was Born” The Old Ceremony
4. “California” Luego
5. “May, June, July” Cassis Orange
6. “Hot Balloons” Yardwork
7. “King of Fools” Bright Young Things
8. “Blanko Basnet” Hammer No More the Fingers

Tracks 1-7 were engineered and mixed by WKNC staff, under the direction of WKNC Sessions Director Eric Scholz, in Caldwell Lounge on the campus of N.C. State University; track 8 was engineered and mixed by Pete Kimosh; all tracks were mastered by Kitchen Mastering in Carrboro, NC, and CD duplication was provided by Triangle Duplication Services in Raleigh, NC.

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Concert Preview

Announcing: Lineup for Night One of Double Barrel Benefit 8!

Since 2004, the Double Barrel Benefit has since served as the station’s primary fund raising event. As a department of a state university, NCSU Student Media consistently faces budgeting concerns (read: small budgets, which are made smaller each year). Similar fund raising efforts are absolutely integral to any non-commercial radio station, especially those that have very little in the way of guaranteed annual funding. Is that a shameless appeal? Not really, just part of the framework of the event.

What better way to secure some operating funds than to expose and promote local music? It’s unarguable that the Triangle area (conveniently covered in full by WKNC’s 25,000 watt transmitter atop D.H. Hill Library) is brimming with musical talent. WKNC has been a gracious actor within the local music scene for years, and helping local musicians reach their target audience (and beyond) is a major part of what we’re all about.

This year, local music fans who are generous (and indeed lucky) enough to attend the Double Barrel Benefit will receive something more than just two nights of great music and the knowledge that they helped the station keep the lights on for another year. All eight acts supplied a previously unreleased track to an eight-song compilation album; seven of the eight tracks were engineered and mixed right on the N.C. State campus. Kitchen Mastering, one of the South’s premier mastering facilities was responsible for the fantastic mastering work, and Triangle Duplication, located right in Raleigh, NC, provided duplication services; a free copy of this compilation is included in the $10 ticket price (buy a two night pass, get two compilations).

This year, Double Barrel Benefit 8 will take place on Friday and Saturday, February 4 and 5, at Kings in downtown Raleigh. Friday, February 4, will feature Cassis Orange, Luego, Bright Young Things and The Old Ceremony.

Cassis Orange
(Nicole Kligerman, WKNC Local Music Director)

Cassis Orange has got to be one of my favorite bands to come out of the Triangle in the past year. The poppy sweet sound is addictive, and I’m so happy about all the love this band has been receiving after the release of their Cassis Orange EP. I’m even happier about their inclusion in our Double Barrel lineup for this year.

Cassis Orange is the project of Autumn Ehinger and friends, and it’s actually the name of a popular Japanese cocktail drink. Japan is quite a large source of Autumn’s inspiration for song writing as her songs are, directly or indirectly, about the time she lived in Tokyo teaching English.

When trying to describe the music of Cassis Orange, I am reminded of a trip to the candy shop or being surrounded by color on a sunny day. The music is full of lo-fi pop sounds coming from Autumn’s Casio keyboard and lyrics about love and the like. The video for “Listen Heartbeat” was even filmed with a Locopop making its way around Cameron Village. The songs have the perfect sound for any happy time, and Friday night’s DBB8 is sure to be just that.

Luego
(Adam Kincaid, host of The Local Beat)

To say Luego is a super-group is a bit of an understatement. Fronted by talented young troubadour Patrick Phelan, this band features an ever rotating cast of a who’s-who of the Triangle Music Scene, all friends and contemporaries of the ever expanding congregation under the tutelage of Jeff Crawford.  The likes of Peter Holsapple, William Moose, Mark Connor, Cameron Lee, Charles Cleaver, Rob DiMauro, Will Goodyear, Stuart Robinson, Brett Harris, Nick Jaeger, Caitlin Cary, James Wallace, and Dale Baker can all claim ties to Luego in one way or another. And yet despite this massive accumulation of local music demi-gods, it is Phelan who shines through with his vibrant stage presence and catchy lyrics layered on top of craftily set lo-fi blues rock that gets your feet moving while speaking to your heart.  The latest release, Ocho, was put out just a mere eight months following the debut release of Taped Together Stories setting a prolific trend that we hope can continue.

Bright Young Things

(Tommy Anderson, WKNC General Manager)

There are several ways one could take the now-infamous tongue-in-cheek description of the BYT as “the Beatles on a bad day,” but the fact remains that there is only one way to take their live show. Energetic, creative, playful, yet still down to earth, Raleigh’s Bright Young Things weave their way right into the audience’s consciousness. (“I feel like I’ve known this band my whole life, and I’ve been a fan the whole damn time.”)

Lead guitarist Cameron Lee’s searing guitar licks slide right in next to Matt Damron’s crooned hooks; smooth and in-step keys along with the driving, bolstering rhythm section round out this attractive and impossible to forget outfit. The BYT are unassuming, polite, and darn catchy.

The Old Ceremony
(Adam Kincaid)

Django Haskins formed The Old Ceremony back in 2004 as a “mini-orchestra” of sorts with the aspiration of creating music that could not be composed by typical rock bands. What resulted was one of the catchiest and most sought after North Carolina groups in recent memory. After the release of their self titled debut full length the band struck a chord in the heart of music critics with their most successful output in 2007’s Our One Mistake, which was listed as one of the top 100 albums of that year by Paste Magazine. Without hitting a slump the band has dropped two more sophisticated masterpieces, Walk On Thin Air and Tender Age, while continually building upon the legacy that their live shows have garnered. Behind Haskins on stage, Mark Simonsen, Daniel Hall, Gabriel Pelli, and Matt Brandau fill out the fitting pieces into an intimate yet high energy show that has yet to repeat a set-list or let an audience down. The Old Ceremony is certainly a legend in the making.

Categories
Concert Preview

The Pinhook’s Second Great Band Swap

This Thursday through Saturday, December 3-5, The Pinhook in Durham will be hosting The Great Band Swap—based on a 2007 concert.

The format: three nights, four local bands a night, and every artist must cover at least one song by one of the other three artists that night.

The Pinhook website (http://thepinhook.com/) provides the following line-ups and descriptions

Thursday, December 2 features the anthemic punk rock of Pink Flag, the soulful, old-school pop of Brett Harris, the classic-rock hooks of The Pneurotics, and the shambolic majesty of Dry Heathens. The WXDU deejay team.

Friday, December 3, local legend Billy Sugarfix leads the way with his whipsmart catalog of charming, confessional pop. Juan Huevos brings ebullient homemade hip-hop, and Durham duo Joy In Red squares off with Raleigh art-garage outfit Antibubbles. Deejay sets will be provided by WXYC.

Saturday, December 4 is the wildest bill, hitting most of the genre extremes in indie rock. Cassis Orange provides distilled electro-pop with a subtle Japanese edge. Mosadi Music is hard-edged, political hip-hop with searingly tight live instrumentation. HOG takes heavy-metal and stretches into psychedelic dirges and molten, fleet fingered hooks. And Embarrassing Fruitschannels the finest guitar rock of the past 20 years, mixed with lyrics about girls, partying, and small-town ennui. The WKNC crew will spin records.

As listed, after the performances local college radio stations WXDU (Duke University), WXYC (The University of North Carolina), and, of course, WKNC (North Carolina State University) will provide the music by deejaying.  I will be representing the station with my co-host and valiant General Manager of WKNC 88.1. It should prove to be a most interesting and entertaining local happening each night and overall, and may earn a status as an annual event.

Categories
Concert Review

Troika Saturday

This past Saturday marked the the last night of the local music festival Troika in downtown Durham. Despite the cold weather, Anastassia and I, AndyQ, had a glorious time running around from venue to venue listening to the Triangle’s finest local music. This is our collaborative blog on our experience.

The first place we went to was at the new Motorco Music Hall, which had a nice upscale warehouse lounge vibe going on.

Filthybird started the evening out nicely with some mellow music. It was fun to watch the lead singer with her short stature play such a huge guitar.

After Filthybird, some men in snazzy suits and well manicured beards came to the stage. With their four-part harmonies and fancy finger work on the fiddle, Chatham County Line managed to crank out some good ole bluegrass reminiscent of classic Avett Brothers.

It wasn’t surprising when we looked back at the crowd and saw that they had packed the house filled with swooning listeners.

We were in for a surprise when we headed over to The Casbah.

Gray Young completely changed the atmosphere of the evening with their garage rock cords that were evocative of Explosions in the Sky. With their awesome stage presence and edgy music, it was impossible to stand still. Seeing Gray Young right after a nice folksy band like Chatham was an eye opening experience to the wide range of local music in the Triangle, and both of us really appreciated that.

Then, we saw  The Loom from Brooklyn, who were well worth the walk to the Trotter Building, which was decorated nicely with lovely lanterns. I liked the band’s ability to start off with a mellow opening, only to build up to a crescendo of high energy horns, banjo, and drums. The “Middle Distance,” showcased their driving beats that backed haunting vocals. The sweet raspiness of the female vocalist accompanied by the male lead’s voice was very enjoyable.

Next, we ran back to The Motorco for Cassis Orange. This girly, but rough band was really fun to watch, with the singer dancing and jumping around. Their use of different and sometimes odd instruments came especially handy when a flutist joined them to cover Ke$ha’s “Tik-tok”. That was probably the best cover that I have heard, hands down.

Finally, after almost five hours of shows, the best was saved for last with Hammer No More the Finger. We had heard of them, but didn’t really know what to expect, and they definitely did not disappoint. It was obvious even from the beginning that they had a solid fan base in Durham. The venue was packed and a sort of mosh pit was forming. No one stood still because the guitar riffs and catchy songs were too good to not dance to.

In general, the festival not only presented some great local music, but it showcased the noteworthiness of downtown Durham, helping to disprove some people’s sentiments that Durham is Raleigh’s ghetto. We were very disappointed that there was not enough time in the night to listen to all the bands that performed.  We also went with fellow DJ Godrik, who would like to add “beer should have been cheaper”.

Categories
Concert Preview Local Music

Local Beer Local Band Sept. 23rd

Come down to Tir Na nOg and WKNC’s Local Band Local Beer night on Thursday 9/23 to see Veelee, Motor Skills, and Cassis Orange! As always there will be delicious local beer on tap. BY THE WAY the pub just recently got Big Boss’s famous pumpkin ale, Harvest Time on tap… Yum yum yumm! The show is FREE and starts at 10 p.m. Ages 21+.

Veelee

“To put it plainly: Three Sides, the debut EP from Chapel Hill duo Veelee, joins Wood Ear’s The Hard Way and Bowerbirds’ Danger at Sea as recent short, self-made Triangle debuts that are alarmingly, stop-what-you’re-doing-and-memorize-this good.” – Grayson Currin, The Independent

My favorite local duo.  Matt and Ginger are the two sweetest musicians I know. If you didn’t catch them at Hopscotch or at our LBLB day party last Friday, here is your chance! The hottest Raleigh sensation!

Motor Skills

“Motor Skills debuted last year with “Right as Hell,” one of several stunning surprises on the excellent North Carolina compilation, Hear Here: The Triangle. Pitting a skittering electronic beat reminiscent of late Radiohead against a steely-eyed, dark-lined anthem as addictive as anything Interpol has ever written, “Right as Hell” put Motor Skills high atop the must-watch list.” – HopscotchMusicFest.com

With the addition of two new band mates, this poppy, electronic-ish group is sounding better than ever. Three cheers for these guys.

Cassis Orange

“The result of Cassis Orange’s ode to loneliness was a keyboard-laden four-track self-titled indie pop E.P., which upon being released onto an unsuspecting Internet, became a blogosphere sensation, garnering glowing reviews…” – The Fayetteville Feed

This is one of my new favorties in local music. Not sure where exactly these guys came from, felt like nowhere! But apparently they hail from Carborro, NC. This band does feature a member of Motor Skills but they both have their own unique songs. Check out Cassis Orange’s track “Listen Heartbeat” on their myspace page. Awesome song, I hope they play it this Thursday!

I’ll also be having Cassis Orange and Motor Skills at the station this Thursday for live interview.  Some music will be played… perhaps some giveaways?  Tune in 7-8 p.m. before you head out to the pub!