Monday, March 31, 2008

Punch Brothers kill in Clayton

Punch Brothers, Chris Thile's new band, brought their unique style of bluegrass to Clayton of all places Saturday night.

After listening to Punch last month, I didn't expect a lot from the band's live show, but the band really delivered.

The show opened with "Watch 'at Breakdown," a jaunty, upbeat instrumental tune from Thile's last album, How To Grow A Woman From the Ground." The band continued through the set playing "Punch Bowl" and "How To Grow and Woman From the Ground" before launching into Movements 1 & 2 of "The Blind Leaving the Blind."

The interplay between the band during "The Blind Leaving the Blind" is amazing, but after the first movement, I found myself spacing out during the long instrumental passages. They only played the first two movements during the first set, saving the last two for the second set.

Many of the crowd favorites throughout the night were songs that Thile didn't write. The band's versions of Gillian Welch's "Wayside (Back in Time)," The Strokes' "Heart In A Cage" and The White Stripes' "Dead Leaves On the Dirty Ground" were amazing.

Other highlights included a few older Thile tunes. "This Is All Real" from Thile's 2004 album Deceiver. The crowd cheered when he announced the song, which led Thile to reply "everyone who bought that album is here tonight." Deceiver was a departure for Thile because it was more of a rock album than a bluegrass album. It was not accepted widely by fans, but I think it's his best album to date.

For the band's encore, Punch Brothers pulled out Thile's oldest tune of the set, "Song For a Young Queen." The track is from Thile's 2001 album, Not All Who Wander Are Lost. The band ended the night with a great cover of The Beatles song "Baby's In Black."

The crowd at the Clayton Center seemed to be mostly season ticket holders and older people. I didn't know how they'd react to Thile's music and humor, but they seemed to love the music though the didn't get a lot of the jokes.

Throughout the show the band sounded great. It's amazing Thile managed to find a group of musicians that can play on his level. Though the show was good, I couldn't help thinking as I was leaving the Clayton Center that if they hadn't played the 42-minute piece "The Blind Leaving the Blind," that the band could've played 8 to 10 more songs. Next time around, I hope they leave the opus out of the set.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Annuals song "Sore"

Here's a new tune from Raleigh superstars Annuals. The song is "Sore" from the EP Wet Zoo, out on Tuesday, April 1.

The EP will feature 3 new songs by Annuals as well as 2 songs by Sunfold. Sunfold is fronted by Kenny Florence (Annuals' lead guitarist) and features other Annuals members.

Wet Zoo is also Annuals' first release for Canvasback Music, a Sony Music imprint. Annuals plan to release a new full-length record in the fall.

Here's the track list for Wet Zoo:
1. "Sore" (Annuals)
2. "Around Your Neck" (Annuals)
3. "Just Stay In" (Annuals)
4. "Between the Worlds" (Sunfold)
5. "Watering Pail" (Sunfold)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Emmylou Harris to play NCMA + Walnut Creek update

Outdoor shows keep rolling out in the area and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh just added a new show to their concert schedule. Folk/country troubadour and former UNCG student Emmylou Harris will play the museum's outdoor amphitheatre on June 25 (according to Pollstar). Harris released Songbird: Rare and Forgotten Gems in September, a 4-disc set of some of her favorite songs from 1970 to 2006.

Here's the North Carolina Museum of Art's concert schedule so far:

June 21 - Cindy Cashdollar, Elana James
June 25 - Emmylou Harris
July 12 - BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet
August 1 - Carolina Chocolate Drops


In other news, Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick have joined forces for a summer tour that will stop by the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek on August 10. Also, Avril Lavigne will join up with Jonas Brothers at the Creek on July 30.

We still have no word yet on R.E.M. tickets, though tickets for their European tour are on sale up to three months after the Raleigh date. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

iTunes Single of the Week: Lady Antebellum, "Love Don't Live Here"

We're back to the cheesy "country" with this week's song of the week. Lady Antebellum, which I never would have thought would be a country group, share their sugary pop country with America with "Love Don't Live Here."

The song sounds like a cross between Bon Jovi's recent country escapades, the deep vocals of Edwin McCain and the hordes of faux country coming out of Nashville in recent years. The song couldn't be less exciting.

Say no to this watered down Nashville dreg. Go buy Tift Merritt's new album instead.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Counting Crows' Saturday Nights best on shuffle

I have to say I'm a little puzzled by Counting Crows' new album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, out today on Geffen Records.

The concept itself is simple enough. Half the album is electric (Saturday Nights) and half acoustic (Sunday Mornings). But it's in the execution where things get a little bumbled.

The album opens with the heart-pumping "1492." The tempo keeps up through the next five tracks, ending with "Cowboys" and its brain-splitting chorus before mellowing out with "Washington Square."

In interviews, Adam Duritz talks about the two halves as if they are two separate albums entirely. And maybe it would have been better off that way. While I appreciate the concept, as a listener I feel it's better to have a little ebb and flow with the pacing of songs versus two chunks of one or the other.

Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings has plenty of songs that I enjoy. "Hanging Tree," "Los Angeles" and "Insignificant" off the "Saturday Nights" half of the album are all well-written pop songs that could easily stand alone, as well as "Washington Square" and "Anyone But You" off "Sunday Mornings." But the album hits a wall near the album's end with "Le Ballet d'Or" and "On a Tuesday in Amsterdam Long Ago" which, frankly, bored me.

Of the album and its concept, Duritz said, “We make good albums. I don’t know that we’re a great 'singles' band. Now with the whole world going byte-sized, we felt, and still feel, like it’s more important than ever NOT to cooperate with all of that.”

Maybe they need a second take on this one.

Counting Crows will be at Walnut Creek with Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles on July 29. Tickets go on sale April 4.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Album review: Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

I'll take some crap for this one, but Fuck Buttons new album Street Horrrsing is just annoying.

The duo conjured up six tracks for their debut full-length. The average track length is over 8 minutes. My biggest problem with the album is the monotony. The songs never go anywhere. They occasionally get louder or denser, but lack movement or dynamics.

I equate this record to modern art. It's all subjective and I happen to find this one not worth the 49 minutes it took to listen to it.

For those who disagree or are just curious about the duo, they'll open for Caribou at the Cat's Cradle on April Fool's Day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Liam Finn at the The Pour House

I'm usually not a fan of looping live instruments, but Liam Finn really makes it work.

Finn played The Pour House Tuesday night to play songs from his debut solo album, I'll Be Lightning. His friend EJ Barnes contributed backing vocals, percussion and autoharp during the set.

Finn jumped from guitar to drums throughout the night and even played a theremin-like instrument during one song. The energy that he puts into his set added a whole new dimension to his songs.

At the end of a number of songs, Finn would loop a series of guitar, "bass" (guitar with an octave pedal) and vocal parts and then hop on the drums. He's a bit of a spastic drummer, but he's quite good. He played most of the instruments on his album.

Liam Finn definitely has his father's sense of melody and musicality (his dad is Neil Finn, by the way, frontman of Crowded House and a solo artist). Liam is certainly not recreating the music of his father or trying to use his name to garner attention. During an interview with Nic Harcourt at KCRW, Finn said that hearing Nirvana was one of the landmark moments of his formative years. Finn has a 3-year work visa and plans to build a fanbase from the ground up in the US.

From his performance at The Pour House, it doesn't seem like it'll take Liam Finn three years to make a name for himself in the states. He has the personality, energy and most importantly, the songs and musicality to go far, and we'll hopefully see more of him in the area in the not-so-distant future.

[all photos by Kevin Norris]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

iTunes Single of the Week: The Kills, "Cheap and Cheerful"

This week's free song, "Cheap and Cheerful," comes from The Kills.

"Cheap and Cheerful" is a electro dance rocker with a driving beat and a pumping bass line. Alison Mosshart's vocals are sharp and full of attitude. The hooky chorus melody compliments the cheeky vocals.

I want you to be crazy
'Cause you're boring baby when you're straight
I want you to be crazy
'Cause you're stupid baby when you're sane

Check out "Cheap and Cheerful" from the new album Midnight Boom, which was released today via Domino Records.

The Roots, Eve 6 to play (separately) in the Triangle

It's barely spring but dates are popping up across the area that will take us well into the sweltering days of summer.

The Roots will play a free show at Duke University on Wednesday, April 23, for the university's "last day of class" party. In our experience, there's no sort of ID check to keep these shows students only, so by all means head out there.

In a move proving once and for all that they are totally out of touch, Downtown Live organizers have booked Eve 6 to play in Moore Square on Aug. 23. What should be a really cool event is instead a parade of past-their-peak rock bands. My hope of redemption lives on, but I'm guessing it will quickly fade as each new show is announced.

State Fair organizers are also already hard and work and have booked Jason Aldean, TobyMac and Joe Nichols for their weeklong Christian 'n Country extravaganza. This year's fair will be held Oct. 17-26.

In another Van Halen update, the show has now been re-rescheduled for May 5. We're not holding our breath.

And for those of you who are, like us, wondering when the hell R.E.M. tickets will go on sale for their June 10 show at Walnut Creek, we have no idea. But you'll be the first to know when we do find out!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photos: James Dunn at The Pour House

Here's a few photos from James Dunn's CD release party at The Pour House last Saturday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ryan Adams returns to blogging

After taking a siesta from the internet, Ryan Adams is back and this time he's got a Tumblog. And yes, he's already started posting random songs.

[UPDATE] Ryan got a little camera shy and took down the video we embedded earlier, but there's still plenty of wacky goodness over at

Ryan, we love you. Stay classy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

iTunes Single of the Week: Duffy, "Mercy"

This week's free single, "Mercy," comes from British newcomer, Duffy.

The song definitely similar to Amy Winehouse. It's a mix of old school R&B and sharp pop melodies. "Mercy" lacks the edge of Winehouse, but that's what makes her unique. Duffy's voice is higher and the vocals have more diction.

One of the song's hooks is the upright bass riff that is repetitive yet not annoying. The groove of the song is steady and the electric piano supplies another hook. Add the catchy chorus melody and you've got a song full of hooks.

This song proves once again that the Brits are producing far superior pop music than anyone in the U.S.

Duffy's debut album, Rockferry, will be out in the U.S. on May 13.

Chatham County Line celebrate the release of "IV"

“This is just a dream come true for us,” Chatham County Line frontman Dave Wilson told the crowd at Cat’s Cradle Friday night.

The group played their first sold out Cradle show in celebration of the release of their new album, IV, out last week on Yep Roc Records.

The group mostly played songs off of IV but also delved further back into their catalogue for songs like “Lonesome in Caroline” and “Route 23.”

For most of the show it was quite a task to tune out the chatty roar of the noisy crowd and actually listen to the music, but the group did its best to shine through the chatter. The biggest cheers from the crowd came on the acoustic numbers where band members, especially banjo player Chandler Holt, could show off their chops.

The Everybodyfields from Johnson City, Tenn. opened the show with songs from their album “Nothing Is Okay.” While the crowd had been chattering wildly before the lights dimmed, you could have a pin drop as Jill Andrews’ voice cut through the chaos.

Andrews and Sam Quinn, the group’s co-lead singer, came back on stage near the end of the night to join Chatham County Line for an amazing rendition of “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground.

Chatham County Line ended the evening with a trio of songs performed un-miced from the center of the audience.

The band is off to Austin for SXSW this week, but what a send off they got from the hometown crowd.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dave Matthews Band summer shows announced

In the biggest shock yet this concert season, Dave Matthews Band will play the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek (damn, that's a mouthful) on Wednesday, July 2. Opening this year's show is Michael Franti and Spearhead.

Dave Matthews Band was the no. 8 top selling tour in the summer of 2007 with an average ticket price of $138, according to StubHub.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dr. Dog pack Local 506

Last night may have been stormy, but Dr. Dog's lo-fi, retro pop still drew a big crowd at Local 506.

From the first notes of "Ain't It Strange," the set opener, the energy never subsided through Dr. Dog's set. The band bounced around all night, rarely missing a note.

Singers Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman swapped lead vocal duties throughout the night. Leaman howled and sang with intensity and conviction all night. McMicken's style is more understated yet incredibly effective. The rest of the band played as intensely and sounded as tight as their leaders.

While the crowd seemed to love every minute of every song, they seemed to favor the older songs from the 2004 album Easy Beat like "The World May Never Know," "Oh No," "Easy Beat," and "Fools Life." A highlight of the set was the song "From," which McMicken said the band had just recorded (the band is working on a new album expected out later this year).

After the band finished their encore, McMicken briefly returned to the stage to ask if anyone knew the Democratic primary results for the night, expressing his support for Barack Obama.

[photos by Kevin Norris]


On a side note, Park the Van (Dr. Dog's record label) just released a collection of old 4 and 8-track recordings called Passed Away, Vol. 1. It is only available via digital. Download via iTunes here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lou Reed, Spoon come to Durham

Couple of new shows to tell you guys about at Carolina Theatre in Durham.

First up, Spoon, The Walkmen and White Rabbits will hit the venue on Sunday, April 13. Tickets are $32 and $26 and go on sale March 7 at 11 a.m. at the Carolina Theatre Box Office (919-560-3030 or charge by phone at 888-241-8162).

In even bigger news, Lou Reed will play with Melt Banana Monday, April 28. Tickets are a whopping $55.50, but it's Lou Reed!! Those will go on sale March 17, 11 a.m. also through the Carolina Theatre Box Office.

iTunes Single of the Week: Ana Laan, "Paradise"

This week's free song, "Paradise," comes to us from Ana Serrano van der Laan. Now that's a mouthful.

The Spanish-born and Sweedish-bred Laan combines playful melodies with bossa nova beats to create a sound all her own. While I'll admit this is usually something I would usually breeze past while browsing the aisles at Schoolkids, Laan's music is fun and definitely worth a listen. "Paradise" is the perfect track to ease out of winter doldrums and into spring.

For more of Ana's music, check out her album Chocolate and Roses, which was released last summer.

Matt Pond PA, Lost In The Trees at Cat's Cradle

Matt Pond PA rolled through Carrboro last night and brought their melancholy pop songs with them.

The band played a nice set that featured songs from quite a few of their albums but focused on their latest album, Last Light. The band opened with "Last Song" from their 2004 album Emblems and rolled on through their set. Highlights of the night included "People Have A Way," "Last Light," and "Lily Two." The band were set to play "Snow Day" from the EP Winter Songs, but Pond said that you can't play songs about snow where their is no snow. After the main set, the band returned to play a short encore of "Wild Girl" and "Taught To Look Away."

The band's set was good, but failed to reach great status due to the shitty sound. From the moment the band took the stage, the vocals sounded hollow and ringy and it seemed that the snare, vocals and guitar were all fighting over the same frequency range. The bass was barely audible throughout the night and the drums sounded weak. Nothing in the entire mix was clear. The mix was mush and made the show hard to enjoy. The band's performance was the saving grace of the set. You can tell when bad sound ruins a good show when the crowd never seems to connect with the music and that was the case last night. A small pocket of the crowd didn't seem to notice though because there were numerous displays of bad white dancing.

Moving on, Lost In The Trees started the night. The 12-piece ensemble is led by former member of The Never, Ari Picker. The band sounded phenomenal. Picker's lush, symphonic pop songs were delivered expertly by the group which included members of The Never, Auxiliary House and other Trekky bands. Lost In The Trees nearly stole the show last night.

Now the refuse of the night. A Clerestory from Raleigh played second and was awful from the first note. They had the nerve to open with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which led into one of their own songs. The band sounded like a cheap knock of of The Fray (yeah, it was that bad). The songs were weak and their was too much going on with two guitars and keys. This is one local band that isn't currently worth your time.


Lost In The Trees

Monday, March 03, 2008

Van Halen show at RBC Center postponed

Friday night's Van Halen reunion show at the RBC Center has been postponed. The official statement released says that Eddie Van Halen is undergoing medical tests. That could be true, or the breakdown that many expected to happen a long time ago could be finally coming to pass.

Billboard reports that the Raleigh show has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 13. Raleigh is one of four shows that are postponed as of today. Apparently the tour is not canceled and will continue in Charlottesville next Tuesday.

Tom Petty documentary on the big screen

The excellent feature-length documentary, Runnin' Down A Dream, will be shown tonight on the big screen in Raleigh. The documentary chronicles Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 30+ year career as a band, from Petty's discovery of Elvis Presley to the 30th Anniversary tour that happened two years ago. The film was directed by acclaimed director Peter Bogdanovich.

The film will be showing at 7PM tonight (Monday, March 3) at Carmike 15 in Raleigh at 5501 Atlantic Springs Road. Advance tickets can be purchased here.

Film trailer

Walnut Creek gets a new sponsor

Just in time for the new season to begin, Walnut Creek has inked a deal with Time Warner Cable for sponsorship.

This doesn't actually effect concertgoers, except that now after you buy your tickets at the Hardees Thickburger Box Office (not a joke) and sit on the John Deere Lawn (also not joking), you can enjoy for $5 beer and $7 shitty nachos in the Time Warner Cable Superfast Roadrunner High Speed Internet Gold Circle Concession Area.

The agreement made between Time Warner, LiveNation and the City of Raleigh lasts 5 years with a 2 year renewal option.

As part of the agreement, Time Warner customers will gain "exclusive perks" in the future, such as advance ticket sales. The TV giant will also record select shows to later broadcast on their Carolina On Demand Channel.