Concert Review

Show Review: Dr. Dog brings the heat on a cold Monday in Saxapahaw

Dr. Dog

It’s a firmly held belief for me that Haw River Ballroom is the finest venue in the state, and each show I attend at the gorgeous venue drives that point further and further home.  Between the fine gas station dining of the Saxapahaw General Store (it’s not at all what it sounds like, incredible food with a diverse menu!) and the breath taking aesthetics of the ballroom, there’s nothing to dislike about this place.  The crowd got surprisingly wild for a Monday night, but when you’ve got an incredible act like Dr. Dog on the bill the date is really irrelevant…it’s gonna be a party either way.  Throwing in old favorites and plenty of gems from their latest album Be The Void, Dr. Dog had a little bit of something for everyone on Monday night.

Cotton Jones

Cotton Jones was the opening act, and while the band put on a great performance they suffered from a heart breaking condition that has been sweeping the nation for decades, OBS, or Opening Band Syndrome.  When you’ve got an act like Dr. Dog headlining it takes a lot to maintain the attention of a packed crowd, an opening act has to be bursting with energy to become a memorable part of the evening when you’re opening for a powerhouse.  While Cotton Jones’ folk pop tunes from Maryland blend rustic goodness with vivid lyricism, they lacked the presence needed to be anything other than an opening act.  In any other setting their charm may have shone through brighter, with a one man brass section playing tuba and trombone, the band certainly had the potential to be an incredible opener.  However, once Dr. Dog took the stage Cotton Jones’ laid back folk songs took a backseat to the raucous live act.

Dr. Dog

Allow me to preface this by saying I’ve already had a failed attempt at seeing Dr. Dog this year when I was stuck in a traffic jam on I-40 on my way to see the band at Music on the Mountaintop back in August, so my excitement for this show was through the roof.  Haw River was the PERFECT venue for this band, with fantastic acoustics and a wide open room the ballroom perfectly housed the heart warming sounds of Dr. Dog.  From open to close, Dr. Dog lead the crowd in a joyous singalong with a fantastic career spanning set.  While the bulk of the set came from Be The Void, with tracks like “How Long Must I Wait”, “Lonesome”, and “That Old Black Hole” standing out amongst the crowd, the band scattered in personal favorites from Fate and Shame, Shame like  "The Breeze", “Shadow People”, and set closer, “Jackie Wants A Black Eye”.

The band’s harmonies lived up to all of the high expectations I’d set for them, lead vocalists Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken put on dazzling performances filled with passion and energy.  While there wasn’t much stage banter, the band did plenty of interacting with the crowd, like Leaman grabbing a camera bag from the front of the stage and using their cell phone to make a phone call mid-song.  The band’s lyrical depth can easily define their music in the studio, but their live performance breathes vivacity into otherwise low-key songs.  Dr. Dog is a band like no other, they perfectly blend elements of indie rock with psychedelic folk to make for an array of beautiful textures that are perfectly suited for their devastatingly brilliant lyrics.


Weekly Charts

Week of 8/9: Top Ten albums of Daytime Rock

Artist Album Label
#1 MYSTERY JETS Serotonin Rough Trade
#2 JAILL That’s How We Burn Sub Pop
#3 WAVVES King of the Beach Fat Possum
#4 MAPS AND ATLASES Perch Patchwork Barsuk
#5 DAN SARTAIN Dan Sartain Lives One Little Indian
#6 LIGHTS ON Here Comes the Ocean self-released
#7 STILL FLYIN’ A Party in Motion [EP] Ernest Jenning
#8 DARKER MY LOVE Alive as You Are Dangerbird
#9 ARCADE FIRE The Suburbs Merge
#10 COTTON JONES Tall Hours in the Glowstream Suicide Squeeze
DJ Highlights

WKNC’s picks for top albums of 2009, part one

It’s hard to believe 2009 is half over.

There have been tons of albums out in months one through six that our DJs have released over the airwaves, some of which resulted in countless requests and songs that got stuck in our heads for days on end. It’s hard to narrow them down, but a few of the WKNC music directors have made their picks for the top five albums of the year so far in their respective formats.

Local Music Director Adam Kincaid selected…

1. Bombadil: Tarpits & Canyonlands
2. Colossus: Drunk On Blood
3. The Love Language: The Love Language
4. Lonnie Walker: These Times Old Times
5. Embarrassing Fruits: Community/Exploitation

With honorable mentions for…

Americans in France: Pretzelvania
Hammer No More The Fingers: Looking For Bruce

Disagree with Adam’s picks? Send him an email and let him know which albums you would have chosen.

Daytime Music Director Jenna St. Pierre selected…

1. Cotton Jones: Paranoid Cocoon
2. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca
3. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion
4. Harlem Shakes: Technicolor Health
5. Screaming Females: Power Move

With honorable mentions for:

Akron/Family: Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Are there albums you think should have been on the list? Email Jenna to discuss.

Underground Music Director Damion Sledge chose…

Saigon and Statik Selektah: All in a Day’s Work

If you have Underground albums to add to the list, email Damion.

Stay tuned for the next six months of albums on WKNC, and we’ll see which ones come out on top in December!

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!