Monday, December 31, 2007

Triangle Music's 2007 Readers' Poll Results

So here they are, the readers' poll results for the Best Albums of 2007. North Carolina's own Avett Brothers took the top spot. They had a big year with their album Emotionalism which included a sold out show at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh and an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Here's the readers' top 10.

1. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
2. Radiohead - In Rainbows
3. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
4. Jay Clifford - Driving Blind
5. Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight
6. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
7. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
8. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
9. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
10. The Everybodyfields - Nothing Is Okay

Friday, December 28, 2007

Circuit City goofs on "In Rainbows"

Radiohead's In Rainbows was undoubtedly one of the most talked about releases in music this year. But, as of yet, it's not available in stores. Unless you live in Cary.

The Circuit City at Crossroads had six copies of the album on the shelf this evening.

However, Circuit City's computers were smarter than the staff who put the album out in the first place and wouldn't let the clerk at customer service ring it up.

Better luck next time, I suppose. The CD will be officially released Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Independent's "The Triangle's best 35 songs of 2007"

This past Wednesday, The Independent released their picks for "The Triangle's best 35 songs of 2007." It's an interesting list as diverse as the music coming out of the Triangle. Here's the list in alphabetical order.

Alina Simone "Country of Two"
Birds of Avalon "A Horse Called Dust"
Bowerbirds "Dark Horse"
Bull City "Game"
Carolina Chocolate Drops "Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind"
The Cartridge Family "American West"
Dan Bryk "Discount Store"
DATAHATA "Cartesian Voices"
David Karsten Daniels "The Dream Before the Ring That Woke Me"
Day Action Band "Back of Your Car"
Des Ark "Lord of the Ring"
Double Negative "Retro Abortion"
Feltbattery "A House Finch"
Filthybird "The Gospel of Truth (As Judas Told It To Me)"
The Future Kings of Nowhere "I'm Still Waiting"
Hammer No More The Fingers "O.R.G.Y."
Hazerai "This Night"
Horseback "Blood Fountain"
I Was Totally Destroying It "Summer State"
Jeff Crawford "Never Set in Stone"
Little Brother "Good Clothes"
Megafaun "Lazy Suicide"
Midtown Dickens "A.M. Dial"
The Moaners "When You're Dead and Gone"
Nathan Oliver "State Lines Pt. 2"
The Nein " Attitude and Mirrors"
Patty Hurst Shifter "Mr. Soul"
Red Collar "Used Guitars"
The Rosebuds "Silja Line"
Schooner "Carrboro"
Snatches of Pink "Opposite of Horse"
Spider Bags "Waking Up Drunk"
Sweater Weather "The Pains of Relocation"
Tooth "Dogs of the Fight"
Two Dollar Pistols "Nothing Left of Me"

You can download mp3s of all 35 songs at The Independent's website (click here).

Don't forget to submit your votes for the Triangle Music Readers' Poll. Submissions will be accepted through December 26.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best of 2007 Readers' Poll [UPDATED]

The end of the year is quickly approaching and I'm sure many of you have noticed the barrage of best albums of 2007 lists out there. Well, we're going to join in on the fun. We want to know what our readers were digging over the last year, so send us your top 5 albums that were released in 2007. We'll add up submissions and let you know which albums came out on top and also let you know what our favorite albums of the year were.

You can send your submissions via email to or drop up a message or comment here or on our MySpace page (

[We'll accept submissions through December 26. If you haven't sent your picks in yet, get them in fast.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Merge snags Grammy nom

There was some celebrating in Chapel Hill this morning as the Arcade Fire snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. The group is on the Chapel Hill-based Merge Records.

The group is up against Lily Allen, Bjork, The Shins and The White Stripes in the category.

Another group with local ties also received several nominations, though I sort of cringe to even mention it.

Daughtry received five nominations, including Best Rock Album, Best Pop Performance for "Home," Best Rock Performance for "It's Not Over" and Best Rock Song for "It's Not Over" (which, notably, is a songwriters' award). The group's producer was also nominated as Producer of the Year for his work on the group's debut.

The list of nominees, which is available at, is essentially what you'd expect, with Kanye West and Amy Winehouse leading the pack. Here are a few nominations that got my attention...

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
  • Paul McCartney, "Dance Tonight"
  • John Mayer, "Belief" (shut up I love that song)
Best Pop Vocal Album
  • Paul McCartney, Memory Almost Full
Best Dance Recording
  • Mika, "Love Today"
Best Rock Performance, Group
  • Green Day, "Working Class Hero" (off the album Instant Karma)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tom Petty to play Super Bowl halftime

I didn't know it until I saw him absolutely rock at Walnut Creek last year, but it turns out that I'm a big Tom Petty fan.

Which is why I was psyched to read today that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will play the halftime show at Super Bowl XLII (that's 42 for those of you who have forgotten your 3rd grade lesson on Roman numerals).

The 2008 Superbowl will be held Feb. 3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

But here's something to think about. Why has the Super Bowl been shunning female performers for the past few years? Could it be because of Janet Jackson's Nipplegate in 2004? Since then, only middle aged men have graced the stage — Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Prince.

So what gives? Is the Super Bowl committee being too uptight? And when they finally do invite a female performer back to the halftime show, who do you think would be worthy of the honor?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Van Halen will come to Triangle after all

The Van Halen reunion tour that kicked off in Charlotte and Greensboro earlier this year will finally stop in the Triangle. The band announced a new string of dates in 2008 which includes a stop at the RBC Center on March 7. Ticket info isn't available yet.

Now if we could only get The Police, we'd be set.

Tickets for Van Halen go on sale Saturday, December 8 at 10am. Tickets will be $125, $75 and $49.50.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree liven up Cat's Cradle

You can't say The Polyphonic Spree don't know how to open a show.

The 22-person group opened their show at Cat's Cradle Tuesday night in a particularly grand fashion. After raising a makeshift red curtain to block view of the stage during setup, frontman Tim DeLaughter made his first appearance to the audience by cutting a heart-shaped hole in the center of the "curtain"

The show was truly great from start to finish, though I’ll admit I didn’t enjoy it as much as my last Spree show, which I enjoyed from right near the stage. This time I avoided the crush and stood by the sound board and I must admit there’s something to be said for standing in the middle of a crowd as they go absolutely crazy, singing, dancing and flailing around.

A Polyphonic Spree show definitely qualifies not as a show but as a “concert experience,” with confetti cannons being shot off at random and a literal army of people on stage.

Songs like “Hanging Around the Day” and “Soldier Girl” truly came alive on stage, though I think the highlight of the evening (for me at least) was the band’s cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die.”

“We all reminisce,” DeLaughter said following the song. “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s downright scary.”

I’m guessing that when the Spree reminisce, it’s almost always good.

But The Polyphonic Spree wasn’t the only great band that evening. In a rare moment of concert greatness, I was actually looking forward to all three bands on the bill that night, and they didn’t disappoint.

The Redwalls opened the show with a bang with their late-60s inspired rock and roll. The group played a short set mainly containing material from their new album that seemed to make a fan of everyone in the room.

Fronted by brothers Logan and Justin Baren, The Redwalls combine the best of Brit pop and good old fashioned rock ‘n roll grit. It’s no wonder Liam Gallagher once said they’re the only new band he likes.

Rooney, in their second Cat's Cradle appearance since July, made all the girls scream with their poppy love songs and California hipster vibe.

Frontman Robert Schwartzman (full name Robert Coppola Schwartzman, and yes he’s related to all the people you think he is) definitely knows how to play to the group’s fan base, asking the crowd “How many of you are in school?” (about half the audience raised their hands) getting the audience to clap and sing along and making sure to tell them the names of all their songs.

Rooney seemed to have developed a, uh, playful relationship with the band and crew for Polyphonic Spree. About two-thirds through Rooney’s set, a crew member for the Spree approached the sound board and asked the engineer “So should I cook his ass with the spotlight for a while?” Schwartzman may have squinted a bit for the following three songs, but at least we could see him a little better!

Set Lists

The Polyphonic Spree

Section 22: Running Away
Hanging Around the Day
Section 23: Get Up and Go
It's the Sun
Section 12: Hold Me Now
Section 30: Watch Us Explode (Justify)
Live and Let Die
Section 29: Light to Follow
Section 24: The Fragile Army
Section 26: We Crawl
Section 32: The Championship
When the Fool Becomes a King
Soldier Girl

The Redwalls

Love Her
Put Us Down
Game of Love
They are Among Us
Build a Bridge
Been Done Before

Don't Come Around Again
Calling The World
Daisy Duke
Believe In Me
Tell me Soon
I'm a Terrible Person
Runaway (Del Shannon cover)
Are You Afraid of Me
I Should've Been After You
Our Love
All In Your Head
When Did Your Heart Go Missing

[all photos by Kevin Norris]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Search for the next great jackass

I'm all for open mic nights, battle of the bands contests and random ways for local bands to gain recognition, but when you're talking about fake bands I just can't support that.

The local Fox affiliate is promoting a contest "Search for the Next Great Air Band" to go along with the network's "The Next Great American Band." I think someone's been playing a bit too much Guitar Hero.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is film yourself lip syncing to a song or playing air guitar and you, yes you!, could be flown to Los Angeles for the show's finale.

This right here is why the AMPTP needs to get back to the table and agree to pay the WGA for all the fabulous work they do. Reality TV is not your friend!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lifehouse to play free show this weekend

While I am in no way a fan of the band I am about to mention, I feel it is my duty to inform people of free shows in the area, so here it goes.

Lifehouse will perform a half hour set at the lighting ceremony for NBC 17's Tree of Lights this Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Streets of Southpoint. The show will take place at 6:45 p.m. and the lighting will occur around 8:50. The tree is located in front of the movie theatre and Urban Outfitters.

You can even enter for a chance to meet Lifehouse by visitin the NBC 17 tree blog.

The lighting will be televised on NBC 17 from 7:30 to 9:30, but the concert will not be part of the broadcast.

Smashing Pumpkins disappoint in Greensboro

After Thursday night's Smashing Pumpkins show in Greensboro, it's obvious that Billy Corgan should have left the Pumpkins legacy alone.

The Pumpkins took the stage at War Memorial Auditorium opening with "Where Boys Fear To Tread" from Mellon Collie. It was obvious from the beginning that it was going to be a long night. The sound in the auditorium was awful and the band's loud, super-fuzz guitars sounded like a blurred wash of sound all night. "Where Boys" and the second song, Siamese Dream's "Cherub Rock" were both disappointing. The songs were sloppily played and unimpressive.

Throughout the night when they pulled out the "hits," Corgan sang them with such disdain, it made them hard to enjoy. He slurred the words on "Today" and "Tonight, Tonight" like he really was playing them out of total obligation and with no emotion at all. "Tonight, Tonight" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" among other old songs were played way too fast. "Tonight" was so fast it just wasn't enjoyable.

Corgan actually seemed to put forth an effort on the new songs from Zeitgeist. Unfortunately, most of those songs are just an awful attempt to recapture the Pumpkins heyday. The first single, "Tarantula," and "Bring the Light" were tolerable, but the other songs were painful. Fortunately the set only included four new songs, but, unfortunately the dreadfully repetitive ten-minute-plus song "United States" was among them. Corgan actually played "The Star Spangled Banner" towards the end of the song making it even more atrocious. I guess he thinks he's Hendrix.

Corgan played two songs solo in the middle of the set including "For God and Country." The lyrics are trite, repeating "For God and country, I'll fight, for God and country, I'll die." I don't know what Corgan was going for when he was writing that song, but it didn't work. He followed the song with the uber-crowd pleaser "1979." It got the crowd's lighters and cell phones in the air. The solo version of the Mellon Collie hit was respectable.

The band's set list choices seemed to bore and annoy many fans that night. Numerous people complained that "Zero" wasn't played and a lot the crowd sat through a large portion of the set. It's not surprising that the crowd didn't take to the set, but some of the more obscure songs made for the best songs of the set.

"Hummer" from Siamese Dream, "Stand Inside Your Love" from Machina/The Machines of God and the old obscure song "Drown" were the highlights of the show. The obscure "1979" b-side "Set the Ray To Jerry" was also a nice addition to the set.

Even though the Pumpkins played a few well-played obscure songs in the set, they managed to pull a Titanic at end of the set. The last two songs of the main set were "United States," mentioned above, and "Heavy Metal Machine" from Machina/The Machines of God. Just when you think the show can't get any worse, the band drug the song out for at least 15 minutes including a string of covers in the end. R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" was first up. It wasn't awful, but it did not suit Pumpkins. Next came an unidentified blues song and then the biggest travesty of the night. The played The Arrows tune "I Love Rock N' Roll" made famous by Joan Jett. Corgan made a fool of himself getting people to sing along to the lyrics. "Open your hearts," he said. "I'm up here in some pirate clothes, you gotta sing." He did look ridiculous in his aqua blue outfit (see an picture of the outfit from the Boston show). I find it odd that he seems to think fans expect him to dress like a jackass.

The band left the stage for about 5 minutes before coming out to play the an anticlimactic one-song encore. They played the song "Starla" from the 1994 b-sides album Pices Iscariot. The song wasn't particularly impressive and left the crowd, myself included, a little puzzled when that was it. Much of the crowd grumbled while making their way out of the venue and many seemed a bit confused. The encore was certainly was the icing on top of the very crappy cake that was the show.

The Smashing Pumpkins either need to leave the past in the past and focus on the evolution of the band's sound or embrace the past and play the old hits with as much conviction as the new tunes. They seem to want it both ways and it doesn't work.

Here's the full setlist.

Where Boys Fear To Tread
Cherub Rock
Bring the Light
Tonight, Tonight
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
For God and Country (Corgan solo)
1979 (Corgan solo)
To Sheila
Set the Ray To Jerry
Stand Inside Your Love
United States
Heavy Metal Machine
[The One I Love]
[blues song]
[I Love Rock N' Roll]

Here's a video of "Hummer," a highlight of the set.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Band of Horses packs a crowd at Lincoln Theatre

Well, it’s official. Charleston may very well have the best music scene in the southeast.

This view was only solidified by Band of Horses’ show at Lincoln Theatre last Thursday.

Now, Raleigh doesn’t exactly have the hip reputation of Chapel Hill or Carrboro. Even so, the typically modern rock club was packed to the gills with fans of the Mt. Pleasant, SC, -based group, which is currently enjoying an “it band” status.

Wearing an Iron and Wine shirt, lead singer Ben Bridwell joked with the crowd throughout the set.

“I’d like to announce this is the beginning of the boring part of the set if anyone would like to use the bathroom,” Bridwell said before playing “Marry Song.”

The “boring part” did not last long, however. After playing “No One’s Gonna Love You,” a song Bridwell declared a “pain in [his] ass,” the group played an absolutely mind blowing cover of Them Two’s “Am I a Good Man.” (Check this YouTube video for just a sample of that night’s action.)

Here’s the set list from the show.
The General Specific
Wicked Gil
Ode to LRC
Marry Song
No One's Gonna Love You
Am I a Good Man (Them Two cover)
Is There a Ghost
The Great Salt Lake
The Funeral
Our Swords
Part One
Showdown (ELO cover)

Opening the show were Ashville musician Tyler Ramsey and Australian band The Drones.

“We’ve got a wide variety of music tonight,” Ramsey said. “From the subtle acoustic tones of me, to The Drones who will rock your face off and Band of Horses who will also rock your face off. So if you leave with a face you’re one of the lucky ones I guess.”

Ramsey is a talented soloist, but unfortunately, much of the crowd was too chatty to hear him well.

But they were all silenced once The Drones took the stage, a wall of sound emitting from the speakers.

Lead singer Gareth Liddiard didn’t talk much from the stage between the group’s apocalyptic psych-rock songs. He did take a moment to introduce one song, though.

“This one’s called ‘She Had an Abortion and She Made Me Pay for It.’ I won’t tell you what it’s about,” Liddiard said.

(all photos by Kevin Norris)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Decemberists cancel U.S. tour

Sad news for fans of the Decemberists. After just two shows the group has cancelled the remainder of their U.S. tour, including two dates at Winston-Salem's Millennium Center Nov. 6 and 7.

Here's the band's official statement.

With much regret the Decemberists have cancelled the remainder of 'The Long and Short of It' tour.

"One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows, though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

"It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally hatched.

"Our deepest apologies but at this time no plans are being made to reschedule the dates. Ticket holders should seek refunds at point of purchase."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have a Holly Raleigh Christmas CD release party

Today may be a day for ghosts and ghouls, but make no mistake that the holiday season pretty much starts tomorrow.

If you're itching to get into the Christmas spirit, head on down to Amra's on Glenwood South for the official release part for Have a Holly Raleigh Christmas. For the second year, the Raleigh Greater Merchants Association and local bands have teamed up for the album, which benefits the Community Music School.

Many of the bands will be at Amra's from 7-9 p.m. to hang out and perform some of the songs on the album. The album will be available in select area stores Nov. 5. Check here for a list of locations.

Here's the track list:
1. Last Month of the Year — The Capitol City Five
2. Carol of the Bells — PCB Trio
3. Under the Mistletoe — Vaughan Penn
4. Wintercolors — Bill Leslie
5. Big Red Guitar — The Rare Grooves
6. Golden Cradle — Winterbourne
7. Silent Night — Stephen Ineson & Karen Delahunty
8. Breaking Up Christmas — Martin & Johnson
9. Away In a Manger — David Dyer & the Crooked Smile Band
10. Frosty the Snowman's Trip to Kerry — Rob Sharer
11. Christmas Noise — The Feargall Family
12. To Believe — Anthony Neff
13. Holiday — The Magic Babies
14. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem — Nixon, Blevins & Gage

Shout Out Louds heat up Cradle crowd

On a cold Tuesday night in Carrboro, about 250 people warmed up to the Swedish pop stylings of Shout Out Louds.

Nico Vega, from LA, started the show. Unfortunately, I only caught the last song of their set. That one song though was a high energy showstopper. Lead singer Aja strutted around stage in a leotard and tights while Rich, the guitarist, wore a leather vest with no shirt. Oh yeah, they're definitely an LA band.

Two-piece band Johnossi took the stage next. Like Shout Out Louds, Johnossi also hail from Sweden. The band played with just guitar and drums (ala White Stripes and Black Keys) but with a twist. Guitarist/singer John Engelbert played acoustic guitar all night, but processed like an electric guitar. There were echo effects, distortion, the whole gambit. The odd thing is that it worked.

John and drummer Ossi Bonde played high energy pop songs for about 30 minutes, mostly from their self-titled debut album. The set included "Santa Monica Bay," "There's a Lot of Things To Do Before You Die" and "18 Carat Gold," a new song.

While the set was good, the band were a little confused about where they were. John at one point said, "it's good to be in North, um, South Carolina. Right?" The crowd didn't seem to mind the confusion, but it was a bit embarassing considering John also tripped while walking on to the stage at the beginning of the set, falling behind the drums.

Shout Out Louds took the stage and launched into a set that pulled from the band's two albums. After opening with "Time Left For Love," the band played "The Comeback" which seemed to loosen up the crowd. By the fourth song, "Impossible," the crowd was dancing and having a good time.

The rest of the main set included "Shut Your Eyes," "Normandie," "Please Please Please," and the high energy set closer "Tonight I Have To Leave It."

The band left the stage briefly and then returned to play a 3-song encore. The band played "Hard Rain" and was then joined by Ivan from The Rosebuds for "Go Sadness." Ivan sang back-up on the song.

Fellow Rosebud Kelly and sometimes Rosebuds drummer Matt McCaughan joined Shout Out Louds for the show closer "Very Loud." The stage turned into a big party with everybody playing tambourines and various percussion while bouncing around the stage. It was a great end to a stunning set of pop songs from the band.

Shout Out Louds prove that clever Swedish pop didn't die out with Abba. The melodies are smart and catchy and arrangements are sparse but effective. Since the band is on Merge Records, we can expect to see the band back in the Triangle with more frequency. Don't miss them next time.

(all photos by Kevin Norris)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Graham Colton dumbs it down on "Here Right Now"

When someone tours on their album for a year and a half, dates Kelly Clarkson and then all but disappears from the scene for a solid two years, it’s sort of hard to get a handle on what their next release might sound like.

Unfortunately for Graham Colton, his adventures in pop rock have not proven beneficial to his music.

Sure, Colton’s sophomore release Here Right Now, out today, sounds more professional than his previous work. It’s more polished and definitely has that pop sheen thanks to producer John Fields (Rooney, Switchfoot, Semisonic), but is that actually a good thing?

Even more than in the past, Colton’s work is fitting for the One Tree Hill crowd. Lyrics about love and loss read sometimes like a teenager’s journal with rhymes that actually prove distracting to the music itself.

I’m not saying it’s easy to write song lyrics, but at least make it sound like you didn’t do it with a rhyming dictionary by your side.

Strangely, though, some of the album’s most simplistic songs are my favorites. “Always In Love” has a definite hook in its fast dance beat and The Cure-inspired guitar solo.

Colton says the album’s songs are based on relationships he’s had, with Kelly Clarkson and others, so one wonders if it was on purpose that on “If Love Was Enough” Rachel Yamagata’s backing vocals sound stunningly like Clarkson herself.

Colton’s album will no doubt sell more copies than his last, especially with some prime TV or film placements. (Psst, he’s got the free song on iTunes this week, too.) But much like a good cotton candy high, in the end this album will leave you with nothing but a toothache.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stars shine in Carrboro

It's not often that a show truly blows me away, but Stars' show at Cat's Cradle Friday night beat the odds.

As Norwegian singer-songwriter Magnet (aka Even Johansen) took the stage to open the show, the Cradle was already at about half capacity. Magnet's short set was full of folky, soulful tunes accompanied by samples and a lot of reverb. The solo set sounded very different than the full band arrangements on his albums. The highlight of the set was the song "Lonely No More" from Magnet's latest album, The Simple Life. Stars frontman Torquil Campbell watched a portion of the set from the sound board and really was into the set. It's good to see members of a headlining band truly enjoying their opening acts' set.

Country legend Porter Wagoner dies

Country legend Porter Wagoner, 80, died Sunday night in a hospice in Nashville. He was hospitalized earlier this month and at that time it was disclosed that he had lung cancer.

Wagoner had just released a new album, Wagonmaster, in June. The album was produced by Marty Stuart and who also played on the album and wrote/co-wrote some of the songs. Wagoner and Stuart were scheduled to perform in Raleigh at Meymandi Hall on January 10. As soon as we know if the show will be canceled or if Stuart will still play the show, we'll let you know.

Porter Wagoner was a true country legend who stuck to his guns and never sold out. In his memory, we leave you with a video of Wagoner and the Willis Bros. performing "I'll Fly Away."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Robbers On High Street and Great Northern kick off tour at Local 506

Robbers On High Street and Great Northern have hit the road for a month of shows together that kicked off Tuesday night at Chapel Hill's Local 506.

The Shaky Hands from Portland opened the show. First, singer and guitarist Nick Deiffs gets points for having the guts to wear cutoff jean shorts on stage. The Shaky Hands played a set of clever pop songs with an underlying jam quality to them.

Great Northern took the stage next and played a 40-minute set of dreamy tunes from their album Trading Twilight For Daylight. The band added red lamps to the stage and had fake crows perched atop their gear to help evoke the cinematic mood the band's songs convey. The set was as as grand and vivid as the album. The band was incredibly tight as usual and Solon Bixler and Rachel Stolte's vocals were emotional and intense. Here's the set list.

City of Sleep
Telling Lies (video at bottom)
Just A Dream
A Sun A Sound
Low Is A Height
The Middle
Into the Sun

Robbers On High Street took the stage last and played a 14-song set that excited the small crowd. The band pulled songs from both their albums as well as their EPs. The set included crowd favorites "Married Young" and "Spanish Teeth" as well as some well placed covers. The band played an incredible version of The Kinks' "Dead End Street." The show-stopper came at the end of the set when guitarist and background vocalist Steve Mercado took the lead for Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now."

"This will clear the room," lead singer Benjamin Troken commented before the song. Mercado's stage presence is fairly subdued when he plays guitar, but when he took the lead, he had the swagger of Mick Jagger. At the end of the song, Mercado asked the crowd "Are you still here? Go home." It was a fun ending to a fun night. Here's the set list (it may be a song short).

Kick 'em In the Shins
Married Young
Major Minor
Spanish Teeth (video at bottom)
Crown Victoria
Beneath the Trees
Across You Knee
Dead End Street (The Kinks)
Opal Ann
The Fatalist
Love Underground
Don't Stop Me Now (Queen) (video at bottom)

The only downside to the night was the lazy sound engineering of the club guy. Usually, the sound is pretty good at the 506, but Tuesday night the sound guy was too busy surfing the web to notice that the bands would switch instruments or if their was a bad hiss in the system. The bands overcame and put on a great show, but come on, if you're getting paid to run sound, at least pay attention. That's my rant for today.

(all photos by Kevin Norris)

Robbers On High Street "Spanish Teeth" (clip)

Robbers On High Street "Don't Stop Me Now"

Great Northern "Telling Lies"

Jimmy Eat World meet & greet at Schoolkids

Jimmy Eat World will stop by Schoolkids Records in Raleigh Sunday for a meet and greet at 3 p.m. The band will sign autographs and meet fans before their show later that night at Disco Rodeo. For those who don't know, Schoolkids Records is at 2712 Hillsborough St (next to Kinkos).

Jimmy Eat World are touring in support of their new album, Chase This Light, which was released last week. Tickets are still available for the Disco Rodeo show via Viva Voce will open the show.

Annuals and Manchester Orchestra team up

Annuals' co-headlining tour with the Manchester Orchestra isn't just any old tour. The two groups have created a limited edition 7" that is available only at shows.

The record is a mutual admiration project of sorts; the bands cover each other's songs. Take a listen to these mp3s for a taste.

Annuals covering "Where Have You Been" [MP3]

Manchester Orchestra covering "Brother" [MP3]

The tour will make a stop at Cat's Cradle this Saturday, Oct. 27, with The Never opening the show.

UPDATE: Here's a song from The Never from their Daytrotter session.

The Never - "When You're Gone" [MP3]

Will Hoge rocks out for Joe College

Will Hoge and his band played at Duke University on Saturday as a part of Joe College Day. Hoge was part of a line-up that included Gov't Mule, Grace Potter and others. We only dropped by to catch Will's set.

Hoge played a number of songs from his new album Draw the Curtains including "Sex, Lies & Money," "When I Can Afford To Lose" and "Silver or Gold." The set also included songs from his previous albums including "Pocket Full of Change," "Woman Be Strong," and a new slower version of "King of Grey."

Hoge played to a small yet enthusiastic audience that grew throughout his set. Towards the end of the show, he encouraged the students to get off their blankets and come closer to the stage. "No one's gonna steal your blanket, you're at Duke University," he said. "You pay a lot to go here so you may as well enjoy it."

Will Hoge will play at the Cat's Cradle on November 29 with Hoots & Hellmouth opening. Hoge will also co-headline a show with Jason Isbell at Lincoln Theatre on December 30. Tickets for the Cradle are on sale now via The Lincoln show goes on sale tomorrow, October 26, also via

Here's a short clip of "Sex, Lies & Money"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jay Clifford's triumphant return

Jay Clifford’s performance at Lincoln Theatre last week wasn’t just a show for a lot of people, it was an event.

The show marked Jay’s first tour with a band since Jump, Little Children dissolved in late 2005.

Of course, Jay’s old friends weren’t far away. Jump bassist Jonathan Gray joined the backing band along with members of the Charleston-based group Slow Runner. But we’llget to them later.

Jay’s tour also celebrates the release of his first solo album, Driving Blind. He played literally every song on the album that night, though about halfway through the set some fans began to get antsy to hear old favorites, shouting requests between songs.

“We’ll get to that,” Jay laughed. “We might even take a request or two.”

“Oh, shit,” muttered Jonny, who hadn’t played many of the older songs live in some time. “I don’t do well on pop quizzes.”

Of course they sidestepped taking requests, but Jay and Jonny did oblige the crowd by playing a trio of songs without the backing band, “No God, No Country,” a song by Rosebud, a side project the two were in, and Jump songs “Where She Lies” and “Cathedrals.”

In a way, playing older songs only showed how much Jay has changed in his songwriting, from a song as old as “Where She Lies” to the new album material, which is much moodier and even symphonic while still retaining the stunning melodies and other qualities that have made fans (like me) stick around for the long haul.

Opening band Slow Runner has its own new album out. Shiv! is a wonderful collection of dreamy pop rock songs that deserves the group and songwriter Michael Flynn far more recognition than they currently receive.

The night as a whole was just one of great songwriters and performers that, for my tastes, doesn’t happen often enough.

(all photos by Kevin Norris)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great Northern releases new video

Just in time to kick off a new tour in our backyard, Great Northern has released its latest video for “Low is a Height.”

Great Northern will kick off their tour TONIGHT with Robbers on High Street at Local 506. Tickets are only $10, so come check it out!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Get your zzz's while you can

Looking at the calendar for this week, I get the feeling I won't be getting a lot of sleep. But that's OK because there's a great run of shows coming through the area in the next six days.

Robbers on High Street and Great Northern are playing Local 506 Tuesday, The Broken West will be there Thursday, Stars and Magnet are playing Cat's Cradle on Friday (while Guster and Avett Brothers are over on NCSU's campus — and trust me that was a tough call), and finally, Annuals, The Never and Manchester Orchestra will play Cat's Cradle Saturday while Matt Pond PA is down the road at Local 506 (still haven't made up my mind on that one).

Seriously. That's a lot of great shows in a short period of time. So join me by getting out of the house this week and enjoying some great music and the magnificent fall weather that only seems to appear once the sun has set!

So I've told you my plans — what show are you going to this week?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Great bands overcome weird concert atmosphere

Nothing like going to a rock show with upbeat, dancey music and everyone’s sitting on the floor.

Uh, what? Sounds weird, but that’s exactly what happened last Saturday at Duke Coffeehouse.

Maybe the sofa, chairs and floor-sitting was appropriate for opening band The Tourist who played laid back, melodic pop songs, but once Office took the stage it just felt plain wrong.

But on to the actual music.

Office played songs off their album A Night at the Ritz, which was recently released on James Iha’s own label, Scratchie Records.

I picked up their album after the show and would highly recommend it. Songs like “Oh My,” “Q&A” and “The Ritz” are perfect for the drive home after work on a particularly long day when you need a bit of a pick-me-up.

Headlining the evening was Earlimart and finally, the a large group of people stood near the stage.

The band played songs off their own new album, Mentor Tormentor, which came out in August. They weren’t quite as upbeat as Office, maybe a little moodier, but with beautifully constructed songs and melodies.

[photos by Kevin Norris]

Office — “Oh My”

Earlimart — “Gonna Break Into Your Heart”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aiken to star on Broadway

Raleigh lost one of its shining stars to the bright lights of Broadway today.

Clay Aiken will make his Broadway debut in Monty Python's Spamalot as Sir Robin from January 18 to May 4, 2008.

Because, you know, New York doesn't have enough fanny pack-toting tourists already.

The character of Sir Robin, who was originally played by David Hyde Pierce, is described as "a cowardly knight well versed in the world of musical theatre."

Well, I guess that sounds about right.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hoge mellows out but keeps the energy on "Draw the Curtains"

I still remember my first time seeing Nashvillian Will Hoge live. Probably because it was the only time I have seen him. The first three or four songs melted into each other like a well crafted medley, the energy was high throughout the set and I told myself I was looking at one of those musicians who wanted to give the audience a show worth every penny they paid to enter the Soapbox in Wilmington that night.

I was hooked, if on nothing else but the energy. I’m a sucker for a fun show, an intense show — even if the songs are mediocre. But they aren't. The songs were good, well crafted rock ‘n’ roll songs that seemed almost reminiscent of Waylon Jennings with a touch of Led Zeppelin.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Leslie brings rock 'n' roll to Raleigh

I can't seem to catch a full Leslie show in Raleigh. Last time they were at Slim's in Raleigh I had to leave early. This time I got there late, but the Charleston, SC three-piece still put on a hell of a show.

Leslie has to be one of the most intense bands on the scene right now. They play every song like it's the last they'll ever play. Singer/guitarist Sadler Vaden's stage presence combines Pete Townshend windmills, knee drops and walking off the stage at random getting right in audience members' faces.

During the last half of the set Thursday night, the band played "Back Door," "You're A Liar," "Guns Loaded," and "You Can't Take My Silver." One song that really got the crowd excited was a cover of Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me." During the song, one audience member said "for some reason I feel like drinking whiskey right now." It was a spot on version of the song that would have made Willie and Zeppelin proud.

The band hadn't planned to play an encore, but came back to play one more song for the crowd even though Sadler had a broken guitar string and drummer Jonathan Carmen had a broken kick drum pedal. Towards the end of the song, Sadler and bassist Jason Fox simultaneously walked off stage and continued to play in the crowd. Jason even hopped up on a bar stool and managed to maintain his balance to play for about thirty seconds. It was a sight to see.

The band left no one in the crowd unimpressed Thursday night. Leslie will definitely be a band to watch in the next year. Leslie's next North Carolina show is in Jacksonville on Oct. 24 at Hooligan's Music Hall with 12 Stones and Adema. Don't worry, they don't sound like either of those bands. They play old school rock 'n' roll that you need to check out.

Friday, October 05, 2007

HopeFest raises money, voices for Africa

I swear I’m not being disingenuous when I say I’ve never quite enjoyed an outdoor festival as much as I did HopeFest last weekend.

The annual event was held Sunday afternoon at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary.

HopeFest, in its third year, raises money for Beacon of Hope, a group based out of Nairobi, Kenya, that helps women and girls affected by AIDS learn skills that allow them to make money and support themselves and their families.

Last year’s HopeFest raised $25,000, enough for Beacon of Hope to build a new health clinic. I’m not sure how much this year’s festival raised, but one of the organizers told me that before gates even opened for the day, they had about $12,000 to send over to Beacon.

But of course, HopeFest isn’t just about the cause. Okay, well it is, but there’s some great music, too.

Mavuno, a group from Kenya, performed a lively set early in the evening that had most of the crowd on their feet and dancing. Local native turned Nashvillian Thad Cockrell followed, playing songs off his brand new EP, To Be Loved.

This year’s concert was headlined by Glen Phillips, someone everyone’s heard of though his past work with Toad the Wet Sprocket. Phillips played some of his bigger songs from that band (“All I Want,” “Walk on the Ocean”) but he also played some of his more recent material, including two songs (“Windmills,” “Come a Time”) off an album he recorded as the Mutual Admiration Society with Nickel Creek and two freshly-penned songs Phillips said will appear on a forthcoming album.

The crowd was small but mighty, and Phillips treated the faithful by coming out for a special encore. Standing on the steps of the stage Phillips played handful of songs as the crowd stood close and sang along. Undoubtedly the perfect ending to a perfect day.