Wednesday, October 27, 2010
With sweeping narrations of the big sky American West and the socially removed yet complacent inhabitants surviving there, A Wolf in the Works is written and performed as an epic. Wonder filled plot lines and deeply drawn characters are thrashed about in a storm of reverberated electric guitar and washy drums producing a color pallet of imagery for places and times long forgotten by anyone except those who remain to gather the pieces of personal tragedies. Derived from a station wagon odyssey with his family across the sun drenched western plains as a teen, North Carolina native son Corbie Hill wrote the album not from personal experience, but as a near fiction biography of the ghosted personalities he either encountered or drove by in bewilderment of what life stretched between two mesas must feel like.
Track five "Isolation" most precisely embodies this intention as its forlorn victims lament "we don't check the mail any more, and I'm going to sell my guitar. It hasn't been played since nineteen eighty-seven." The lyrics alone are enough to send a knot to your throat but the truest emotion is derived from the tracks near mechanical, toothy, and hardened chord progressions which grind from start to end like the eternal specter of the song's subjects, caught between thought and action. The breadth of the track's range is as expansive as the time capsuled plains it sets stage in and echos the finality of a life spent in isolation. Track two "Missouri" is a run away favorite for its sheer story telling worth alone. The clouds are drawn and a foreboding shadow cast with the opening drama inducing lines while a simple two chord rhythm angrily simmers from Hill's guitar. So full of visual cues that you are cast into its dreamscape to experience first hand the punishment of both its villians and victims alike, so drugged with distortion bent guitar that you could just as easily glaze over and pretend evil only exists on the news. "Crossing the Missouri" deviates from the faded and reflective candor of the album in favor of a gritty and saturated blues rock riff stomping with enough attitude that Jack White might even take notice if it passed him by.
The album has the look and feel of lo-fi tempered recording, but the right pedal effects, drum fills, and backing instruments plugged in at all the right places prove that Where the Buffalo Roamed spared no effort in production. The writing is penetrating with no shortage of emotional moments and no loss for guitar licks to emphasize them. This is a true to form garage rock album built the way garage rock is supposed to look and heard the way its supposed to sound. --Carrboro Ninja
Where The Buffalo Roamed plays this Friday October, 29th 2010 at Sadlack's 2116 Hillsborough Street Street next to NC State campus along with Battlestar Canada and Once and Future Kings. Show time is 7 PM and free.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Motorco Music Hall, Durham
October 23, 2010
Having rounded down the breadth of a six week road heavy tour to Saturday night at the lovely new Motorco Music Hall in Durham, The Love Language appeared no worse for the wear. Easily returning smiles and laughs to an exuberant crowd, front man Stu McLamb stood in as fine a character as ever and lead the exudingly charismatic The Love Language through a fully throttled set before a home town crowd. Culminating years of experience perfecting his art and craft of Christmas light ornamental re-purposing, just before the first chord was strummed McLamb switched on his Battle of Anghiari, an eight foot tall hanging multicolored heart which was met with a collective "Ahhhhhh" from the audience. Looking bright as ever, Missy Thangs made grand use of the broad stage at Motorco, pushing her dual key board rig to the front of stage right engaging the audience with searing energy and fluid rhythm. The animated Thangs is a metaphor for the rest of the five piece who key together in the music like clothes being tossed about in a washing machine.
By the time The Love Language took stage, the 300 plus crowd was already keen on charisma having watched Justin Williams open with his stellar Twelve Thousand Armies. Long time confidant of the Love Language, Williams is a monolith of a human being at what must be six foot five, it may as well be ten feet as on stage his presence is Brobdingnagian. His spruce topped twelve string dreadnought guitar blends with Thor-like golden locks for larger than life poise. Backed by some of the most familiar faces in local rock, Williams delivered a Drug Horse proper sound, bouncy and hip lo-fi rhythms welded to lyrics describing extremes.
Doors have officially open now for two weeks, however, Motorco debuted to many last night. Half way into the Des Moines, IA opening act Chases Rivers, the line to enter extended to the street, mostly from first timers getting a new membership card to lose...present company included. Once inside, Motorco's expansive shiny and blackened atmosphere is impressive. Its dark ceiling is bolstered with beam lights aimed at the stage like a battery of cannons on the under belly of a spaceship and the sound system is thick and penetrating at volumes still at ear level. With all the thought and effort placed on the room being a state of the art performance venue, its easy to over look one of the venue's more supple feature, a long, wide and very accessible bar busy with the most chipper and quick to serve bar staff you'll find anywhere. More eyes will be opened to Motorco in coming weeks. A couple to look out for; The Pneurotics play with the touring Thrift Store Cowboys on Wednesday October 27th and Troika books three days the first weekend in November. --Carrboro Ninja
The Love Language
Stu and Jordan McLamb's great uncle killing it old school
Twelve Thousand Armies
Motorco has a nice wide front sidewalk which serves as a patio landing for after show gatherings. Hi-jinks ensued at 2 AM. If anyone knows this girl, please tell her she is crazy.
wait, she has a trick. here is the cigarette...
here comes the kazoo....wait for it....
...and there is it, smoke through the kazoo. nicely done.
Friday, October 22, 2010
WKNC & Tir Na Nog's Local Beer, Local Band, Raleigh
Oct 21, 2010
Mein auto is beginning to represent the character featured in Aaron Tippon's classic country song about the junker car that was worth keeping for the merits of the radio. ...indeed "more than once it's left me on the side of the road" and "the older it gets, the slower we go." I would also offer that the vents no longer vent and the defrost no longer defrosts. I feel a parting of ways in the air so I'm treading lightly and remembering the good times most of which involve its one redeeming quality, "there aa-iiin't nothing wrong with the raa-aa-dio." GM got one thing right, their radios are brilliant. Volume and seek controls in the steering wheel, speed compensated volume (gets louder the faster you go...fucking brilliant) self learning eq settings per radio station, but the best is its LCD which smartly scrolls artist and song name across the display when dialed to a station that can broadcast it and WKNC 88.1 does a keen job in flowing that out on to the airwaves along with the jams. WKNC is a juggernaut for launching new music to the local indy populace and when I'm dialed in cruising to or fro and something fantastic comes on I train to the read out and watch my new favorite a song be revealed one letter at a time. Thanks to 88.1 and and its clever merging with my radio I've recently become hip to The Generationals, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, and Edward Sharpe (of whom I purchased the album, listened to it non stop for three months, and saw the show at Cat's Cradle. Now just listen to them when they come on a Ford or NFL commercial.) Never before however, has a band pulled my attention from steering between the lines to staring at my radio more than once, Mount Moriah in fact has on three occasions with three different songs.
The first head turn was a couple months ago when "Lament" started to play just as I pulled into a parking space and went for the seat belt (click-it or ticket suckers.) The angular guitar pattern and eerily crisp vocals were an immediate hook and I pulled back for a moment, watching and listening. I was surprised as the word MORIAH began to scroll after MOUNT...I was familiar with Mount Moriah having even seen them live as an opener for a Nightlight show a few months back and while I left the show with a good feeling about them, the "wow" impression happened after hearing "Lament" on the car speakers. Deja Vue a few weeks later with "Reckoning", a low-fi string sliding Americana rhythm telling its fractured tale with constrained emotion and deeply reflected melancholy. By the end of that track I had pretty much decided I wouldn't miss another of their local shows. By the time "Telling The Hour" drifted through the speakers a couple weeks ago I was already pretty well tuned into their style but glanced at the LCD anyway, just to be sure I was sure. And I'm sure.
Last night at Tir Na Nog for Local Beer Local Band (sponsored by WKNC, is that irony?) was my follow up to the Nightlight show where I was introduced to Mount Moriah, but this time with the appreciation of having been blown away by their recorded works for the past month and a half. These songs that I had been digging into on the radio emerged on stage last night with deep seated and primal emotion. Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller tag teamed with a pair of extremely hot guitars and lead the crowd through a forty minute long energy field of Americana seared rock and roll. Mount Moriah is in style with the vintage folk/country rock sector of the broader indy music genre and based on crowd reaction last night they have found the right way to wear it. Judged also by the excited chirps from the audience as Heather picked up the tambourine, the wild swaying during and the deafening cheers ending, "Lament" is a stone cold hit and one that shouldn't wait to get on the road. Mount Moriah begins a dozen stops up and down the East beginning Sunday in Alexandria, VA and finishing up roughly a month from now in Baltimore. Here's to hoping that the newest "most exciting" local band turns a few heads on tour. --Carrboro Ninja
Friday, October 15, 2010
I'll make the argument that The Strokes are the reason I just listened to Cut Loose by Chapel Hill's The Tomahawks, stay with me... In 2001 I was the guy who would get a late night call from friends asking to solve an argument on who is singing the song currently blasting on the speakers at the bar that they were getting wasted at. "That's Thin Lizzy," and the response in the receiver would sound like a a truck load of money was just dropped on a crowd. Yes, I was a classic rock junkie, completely addicted to gas station compilations and obscure dollar-album record store buys and had comfortably given up on any new rock being made to rival the glory of the seventies, a stubbornness that resulted in missing out on the root of indy in the nineties. But then came Is This It with its visceral guitar work and emotionally drenched lyrics to shake me out of the classic rock cradle and drop head first into a world of indy rock. Now I'll bring it full circle. A few years later on the road back from Music Midtown our van load of exhausted festival trippers collectively decided that if we were game for jetting all the way to Atlanta for indy, we should be taking in the local fare on a regular basis too. Over the course of the next few years I would create yet another polarizing addiction, this time for local rock. Voila...The Strokes got me to indy, indy got me to local, local got me to The Tomahawks.
A stretch yes indeed but this story held relevance for me because in listening to Cut Loose I found a unique parallel in the projections of The Tomahawks front man Nick Jaeger and one of the most defining members of the Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr. I'm not going to draw a similarity in sound, I am going to cite a commonality in the paths they have both walked however. Both lent their skill as lead guitarist for brilliant establishments prior to their solo work, Hammond Jr of course The Strokes, Jaeger the locally famous MAX Indian. And each were able to take the best parts of their formers and make something truly brilliant of their own. In 06' when The Strokes were talking break-up I was down and out until the release of Yours to Keep, Hammond Jr's first solo album. Like a shot with a diamond bullet right through the forehead I suddenly realized what about The Strokes that pulled me so hard, it was Hammond Jr's guitar arrangements which were so dazzling on his solo work that I remarked "this is the missing Strokes album." My first listens to Cut Loose with its rollicking back beat and bouncy spirit hit me just as precisely. Instantly feeling the same luster and energy present in MAX Indian, it was like re-articulating my memory and associating Jaeger more closely with the genes that made his former so wonderful.
Found in Cut Loose are nostalgia evoking AM radio appointments that can carry your thoughts between surf rock and southern hospitality in the same track. Bouncy chompy piano keys and drifting harmonies hurry to announce the album as upbeat and winsome while sure footed electric guitar work firmly label it rock. Jaeger being a principal architect of fret board arrangement and design, there is no shortage of licks and hitches, more so like a life savings worth poured out and evenly shaken across the album falling into every crack and crevice in the rhythm where a ditty could stick. Reminding me of the softer side of Ween, and the best sides of Wilco, the vocal character on Cut Loose is a smooth respiring candor intent on accounting for an unraveling story of affection which uses all ten tracks to tell, but any given one of them to feel. Hammond Jr. made a momentary departure from comfortable establishment to create something unique and personal, Cut Loose finds our own Nick Jaeger answering the same call with the same passion. --Carrboro Ninja
The Tomahawks release Cut Loose with a performance at Local 506 in their home town Chapel Hill today October 15th, 2010. Show time is 9:30 PM and tickets are seven dollars at the door. Floating Action and Josh Moore open.