Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Limbeck combines 60's melodies and southern charm

What happens when you combine alt-country with 60's pop? You get the new self-titled album from California rock group Limbeck.

Limbeck has soaked up much of the music that southern California was known for in the 60s. The album is littered with catchy bits of melodies the are reminiscent of The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas and The Association. The backing vocals and harmonies also have a very 60's pop vibe.

What makes Limbeck unique is that they combine their 60's pop influences with alt-country. The tracks heavily resemble bands like The Old 97s and early Wilco.

The lead vocals fall somewhere between Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne). They're gritty yet a little nasal, sitting perfectly in the mix.

The records includes groovy upbeat tunes like "Wake Up" and "Let's Get Crazy" which mix a groove based verse with a jangly, hooky chorus. The rhythm section (bassist Justin Entsminger/drummer Jon Phillip) is tight with Entsminger and Phillip locking like a couple of seasoned session players.

The closing track, "Sunset Limited," is a charming mid-tempo song with a country groove. The song is complete with pedalsteel guitar and lyrics that evoke images of deserted deserts of the southwest.

On Limbeck's self-titled album, each song plays with the balance between pop and alt-country. Some are more one than the other which gives the album a great flow keeps the record from getting boring. This album is a solid effort and one you don't want to miss.


Limbeck will play at the Cat's Cradle on August 26 with The Format, Piebald, Steel Train and Reubens Accomplice. The band will play third. Doors are at 6:30pm and the show is at 7:30pm. Tickets are available via

Download Limbeck via iTunes
Limbeck - Limbeck

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Comas shoot video podcast for Spinner

The Comas recently shot a video podcast for AOL's "The Interface." They performed four songs from their latest album Spells. The podcast includes, "Red Microphones," "Come My Sunshine," "Now I'm A Spider" and "New Wolf." There is also a little interview at the end of the podcast with a very uncomfortable/awkward interviewer.

Check out the podcast via the Spinner page or via iTunes by clicking the iTunes logo below. - The Interface - Enhanced Feed

Download Spells via iTunes
The Comas - Spells

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cheers for Old Crow, Jeers for House of Blues

With little help from the rowdy, very typical Myrtle Beach crowd, Old Crow Medicine Show stormed the stage Sunday night at the House of Blues.

The band had just played the day before at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Mancheseter, Tenn. and energy was still high from the massive festival.

From song one, fiddler/harmonica player/singer Ketch Secor had an energy unlike any player in any string band I've ever seen. Donning an Austin City Limits t-shirt and a blue bandana, Ketch played the fiddle like it was the last time he'd ever get to play. His body moved and felt every note he played.

Old Crow played their first 45-minute set highlighted by the crowd favorite "Wagon Wheel" from the band's debut album, O.C.M.S. After a short break, the band came back with songs including "Tell It To Me," "Down Home Girl" and "Bobcat Tracks."

Even with a lengthy setlist including songs from both of the band's officially released albums, the highlight of the evening was the one-song encore. The band took the stage and played the classic Bob Dylan tune "Lay Lady Lay," from the 1969 album Nashville Skyline. It was an unique cover complete with bluegrass harmonies.

Old Crow Medicine Shows is definitely a band you don't want to miss. The band will play at An Appalachian Summer Festival in Boone on July 20.


Now, the negative. The House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach has to be one of the worst venues in the Carolinas. First, why does a $17.50 cost $22.00 when you buy it at the venue? House of Blues charges not only a service charge at their own box office, but they also charge a venue/facility charge. Maybe Ticketmaster is partly to blame, but the venue chooses to charge a facility charge.

Next, having been to the House of Blues many times in my life, I'm finally ready to say that House of Blues audiences are the rudest around. Maybe I'm spoiled by North Carolina's respect for bluegrass music, but the Myrtle Beach crowds don't ever show respect for acoustic music. I've seen both Nickel Creek and now Old Crow Medicine Show at the venue and both shows were practically drowned out by crowd chatter. It's really ridiculous.

I guess you really can't expect much from a venue stuck in the middle of the tourist-trap nightmare that is Myrtle Beach. It's the only venue I can remember going to that wasn't 10,000 capacity and up, yet uses metal detectors at entry. I'm sure the reason for that ties in with the rude crowds the venue draws.

With the unreasonable ticket fees and generally bad concert experiences to be had at the House of Blues, I won't be returning. I'd much rather drive to a more respectable venue that's a little further away than be ripped off then disappointed by another show at the House of Blues.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Claymates delusional? Never.

Some things are just a long time coming.

Playbill is reporting that Idol: The Musical, "based on the idol worship of former ‘American Idol’ contestant Clay Aiken," will debut Off-Broadway this summer.

According to a press release, the show is "a satirical musical comedy that focuses on the outrageous and delusional fan base of the hit television show."

In other words, it mocks the hell out of some Claymates.

The show will begin previews July 5, though no ticket information is currently available. As someone who is visiting New York in early August, I must find a way into this show.

Don't hold your breath for the touring production to swing by Memorial Auditorium. Raleigh just isn't ready for this. Something tells me this isn't what Clay's fans had in mind when they said he'd be perfect for Broadway.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ryan Adams cleans up, goes emo

Yesterday's New York Times featured an article on my second favorite Raleigh expat, Ryan Adams.

The story chronicles his recent battle with substance abuse and the writer also spent a bit of time hanging out in the studio as Adams recorded songs for Easy Tiger.

Here's one of my favorite snippets from the story, just for the mental image it provides.

"Mr. Adams stood at the microphone, played a blistering riff and screeched a placeholder vocal: “This is where the verse is gonna go/And it’s gonna be emo.”

“Obviously keeping up with him is a big part of the job,” said Jamie Candiloro, who produced the album.

Um, yeah, no kidding. You can hear all the non-emo-goodness yourself when Easy Tiger is out in stores on June 26.

Unforgettable Fire is completely forgettable

I've been told that I'm sometimes unnecessarily mean, so I'll try to keep my review of Unforgettable Fire, the U2 cover band that headlined this weekend's Raleigh Downtown Live, fairly brief.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've never been the World's Biggest U2 Fan. There are many songs of theirs that I enjoy, but the first actual U2 album I bought was 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, followed by the singles collection that was released last year.

But regardless, if you're going to be in a U2 cover band (or tribute band, whatever they call themselves), is it so hard to open with a freaking hit? Looking around the crowd during the first song, it seemed I wasn't the only one thinking "What the hell is this song?"

The band quickly corrected their error, playing "Vertigo," "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "New Year's Day" before I got bored and went home.

To the group's credit, their lead singer looked, and sounded, a hell of a lot like Bono. And it wasn't just his shades and slicked-back hair. Some of the other members tried to look the part (the guitarist wore a black skull cap, for example), but it just ended up looking silly.

The overall sound, however, just wasn't good. I don't know if it was the band that sucked or the people running the soundboard (maybe both? who knows), but from the near constant feedback issues to weak drum parts...even for a free show, I expected more.

On a completely unrelated note, did any of you catch the preacher at the corner of Blount and Hargett? As I was entering the park he was having a pretty heated debate with a drunk guy inside the fenced area about what was worse, abortion or the Iraq war. Yeah, I'm not touching that one, let's just say that drunks and evangelicals don't mix.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dear Duke students, stealing is bad

Looks like Duke is one of the latest campuses targeted by the RIAA for illegal file sharing.

28 lawsuits were filed yesterday against users of the Duke computer system.
"The industry previously warned Duke that it suspected 35 people were illegally downloading music files using the computer system. It asked Duke officials to provide the alleged violators with letters offering out-of-court settlements. Duke complied in all but about 12 cases, indicating some settlements were made.

The association in April sued 23 computer users at North Carolina State University after offering settlements to 37. The association said this week it sent out another group of letters warning of lawsuits, including 43 to North Carolina State." [WRAL]
Settlements have been going for about $3,000 per case, or those sued can take it up with the RIAA in court.

So anyone know someone who's been sued? We want stories!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Review: The Stills at Lincoln Theatre

Hobbling is not very rock 'n roll. Yet, Dave Hamelin of The Stills made it cool Tuesday night when the Montreal-based group played Lincoln Theatre.

Hamelin, as he tells it, injured his left heel after hopping a fence while "running from the police" in Norfolk, Va. recently. He played and sang perched on a stool, representing three-fifths of the band that was seated including the drummer and keyboard player.

"That's pretty rock and roll," said lead singer Tim Fletcher.

The Stills played to a crowd of about 150 — not too shabby for their first trip to Raleigh on a Wednesday night.

Opening with the first two tracks off their debut album, Logic Will Break Your Heart, before diving into a 90 minute set of material off that album and the more recent Without Feathers.

The Stills, with their 80s tinged alt rock groove, are proof that bands can sound just as good live, if not better, as on their recordings without the assistance of prerecorded loops and backing tracks, something that is all too prevalent lately.

Opening the show were Stratocruiser (from Chapel Hill) and Tiger Thief (formerly Iconic, from Raleigh). While neither left me running for the door, both groups paled in comparison once The Stills took the stage.

The members of Stratocruiser (none of whom played Fenders, for what it's worth), while musically competent, left much to be desired when it came to their formula songwriting. The highlight of their set was a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender" (which was even a little sullied when the guitarist paused to awkwardly toss a t-shirt into the crowd near the bridge).

Tiger Thief wins my personal award for Most Improved Band in the Triangle. It had been a while since I'd seen the group, and had I been blindfolded tonight I wouldn't have recognized them. While their newly progressive sound is much more appealing than their formerly bland rock, the band appears to still be mid-transition as their songs were sometimes an awkward mix of punk rock (a la The Clash) and New York Cool (such as The Strokes). I won't write these guys off yet, though. There's definite promise if they could focus their songwriting and cut out some of the shtick.

[all photos by Kevin Norris]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Putting things to rest

It turns out that Taylor Hicks cancelled his Cary show due to an actual scheduling conflict after all.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing out that Hicks is scheduled to play Six Flags Over Georgia, just west of Atlanta, on June 28. He was initially slated to appear at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary until the show was cancelled a few weeks ago.

That being said, I'm still not convinced that tickets were flying out of the box office in Cary. After all, his bookers probably saw a bigger draw at Six Flags. (Their summer concert series features other performers such as Teddy Geiger and Ryan Cabrera.)

This, God willing, concludes our American Idol coverage. Moving on...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Carolina Music Festival tickets on sale soon

Tickets go on sale this Saturday for the Carolina Music Festival, a three day jazz, R&B and soul event at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary.

The festival kicks off Friday, August 24, with Michael McDonald. Saturday's show features Anthony David, Mike Phillips, Con Funk Shun, Tyrese and Erykah Badu. Sunday with close the festival with Marcus Johnson, Michael Manson, Joe Sample, Randy Crawford, Michael Franks and Boney James.

Tickets to Michael McDonald are $35/62.50/72.50. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $40/62.50. A two-day lawn pass for Saturday and Sunday is also available for $70. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the amphitheatre's box office.

Personally, I'd bet Michael McDonald doesn't even know what the Carolina Music Festival is, it's just convenient for the promoter to use his name as a headliner and the dates matched up right. But to each his own. I'll rest my case if anyone can tell me how he's related to jazz, R&B, or especially soul music.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Explorers Club sign with Dead Oceans

Congratulations to Charleston's psychedelic pop group The Explorers Club for signing a record deal with Dead Oceans.

The group will release a single this fall with a full album coming in early 2008.

Here's what Dead Oceans had to say about their new friends.

"About halfway through the first song, we knew we were witnessing something special. Already having been charmed by the Explorers Club’s self-released recordings, seeing this band live was a head-over-heels moment. It was love at first sight."

We agree! Congratulations again to the band.

And as a gift from Dead Oceans, check out this free download of "Last Kiss," mixed by Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, White Stripes, Cat Power). The song originally appeared on the group's UK 7 inch.

The Explorers Club - "Last Kiss" [mp3]