Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

When M.C. Taylor moved to North Carolina more than a dozen years ago now, Hiss Golden Messenger was his private enterprise, an outlet for the curious songs he composed quietly at his kitchen table in the country. But soon after Taylor and his budding family moved to a modest home nestled back from busy roads in the gentle Durham hills, he began building a network of local aces, all sympathetic to songs that documented his quest to be a better human being. Hiss Golden Messenger became and remain a community endeavor, an indelible part of North Carolina’s historic and contemporary musical fabric. The 15 songs of Forward, Children: A fundraiser for Durham Public Schools students are an instant illustration of that decade-long arc, a one-night snapshot of Hiss Golden Messenger’s metamorphosis from solitary songwriter fare to full-band jubilee.

Just days into 2020, the quintet—well-rested from a holiday respite after a busy 2019 that included some 60 shows across the United States and the release of the gripping Terms of Surrender—loaded into their home region’s legendary hub, Cat’s Cradle, for a two-night stand. For nearly 90 minutes, they smoke, sorting through the greatest hits of the Hiss Golden Messenger songbook with the intuition of a band that accepts these tunes as gospel but plays them with the verve of five folks delighted to be back on the same stage.

Lifted by trombone and organ, “Highland Grace” sounds here like a prayer for the salvation of love. Buttressed by bounding piano, “Saturday’s Song” feels like a relief anthem for these fraught times, a beaming reminder of celebration and communion. Drifting and then roaring, “When the Wall Comes Down” is an urgent reminder that catastrophe and humanity know no arbitrary borders, that we are all forever bound to one another. During “Jesus Shot Me in the Head,” they unravel into a cleansing 12-minute upheaval, the sound of self-doubt looking for the relief of resolution—and finding it, at last.

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The son of two teachers, Taylor taught for a spell at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, arguably the nation’s first public university, after finishing his graduate degree there, joining one of the country’s proudest educational lineages. His wife, Abby, is now an ESL instructor in Durham, and his children, Elijah and Ione, are in the fifth and first grades there, respectively. In mid-March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Durham Public Schools closed like most others nationwide, at least through mid-May. The necessary move means that many children throughout the school system don’t know where they’ll get their next meal, a profound failure of our social safety network but a profound opportunity for our collective help. All profits from Forward, Children will benefit the Durham Public Schools Foundation. “It’s my duty as a dad of students and the spouse of a teacher,” Taylor says, “to give what I can.”

Forward, Children is not just the sound of a great band at work, which it surely is. And it is not just the sound of the community that helped create Hiss Golden Messenger coming together to hear what it’s made in a homecoming of hundreds. It is, all told, the sound of communion, blessedly preserved to tape for times like these, when we need any communion we can get.

released March 27th, 2020

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If Winona Ryder’s Beetlejuice character Lydia Deetz formed a band, that band would be Secret Shame. The North Carolina-based group’s sophomore LP Dark Syntheticsdraws on ’80s goth and post-punk, but brings it into faster and brighter territory. Singer Lena Machina’s dramatically melancholy vocals roar over layers of reverb and swirling, slashing guitar riffs, creating a sonic vortex that swallows everything in its path.

“There’s a rage trembling under the group’s chiming post-punk, which winds itself around an ultimatum about self-preservation…” – The New York Times

Secret Shame channel both the tragic beauty and spooky ambience of a graveyard.” – Paste Magazine

Secret Shame’s new album Dark Synthetics is a seven-song tempest of guitar-driven dark post-punk in the vein of Skeletal Family, Rubella Ballet, and Look Back in Anger.” – post-punk.com

“The band thunder around Lena like a horde of bats…” – bandcamp.com

“I can’t get over the vocals – they soar high above many out there right now. Not only am I transfixed by the vocal tone, but also the driving and intense music that the whole band creates.” – CVLT Nation

Secret Shame make gloomy, melodic rock steeped in ’80s goth and post-punk.” – BrooklynVegan

Originally released September 6th, 2019

Lena – vocals, lyrics, synth
Matthew – bass, synth
Nathan – drums
Billie – guitar, synth
Ryynikki – guitar

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In another era, when the wallop of a supreme rock band and the wail of a powerful singer were as good as gold records, Reese McHenry might have been a superstar—a howling poet of the defiantly broken-hearted. But the 13 tracks of her gripping “No Dados”, a breakup album about fighting the urge to break down, are an unapologetic testament to the form’s real eternal power: to wrestle with our most primordial feelings, like lust or loss. One of rock’s most commanding current singers, she wrangles—or, rather, roars—these urges into a riot act of one.

Reese McHenry (Dirty Little Heaters) sings, plays guitar and writes catchy, heavy rock and roll songs. Releasing album No Dados on April 12th through Suah Sounds, McHenry has been touring with members of Drag Sounds.

Band Members
Reese McHenry, Thomas McNeely, Mike Wallace, Mark Conner, Kaitlin Grady

“All Mirrors” is the type of record Patsy Cline would have made if she had access to synthesizers. It’s a dazzling tour de force, a record that centers on Olsen’s alternately pleading and commanding voice, surrounding it with lush, rococo swells of strings and electronics. That Olsen was always a great singer was not the question, but never has her prowess shone as brightly as it does in these stately, turbulent songs.

Angel Olsen’s second release, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, was a collection of her early work, where the production was dark-folk sparse. But for “All Mirrors”, she returned to the lush tapestry audiences first experienced on 2016’s My Woman, and the resulting recording is a taut, mesmerizing forty-nine minutes of sonic poetry. While there’s a bevy of modern elements at play—Stereolab-style space grooves on “Too Easy,” warm analog synth lines on “New Love Cassette,” a bouncy electronic twang on “What It Is”—the music here shimmers with a timeless patina. These songs are portraits of heartbreak, triumph, and love that could have been penned fifty years ago, yesterday, or a century from now. So despite its electronic flourishes, All Mirrors feels simultaneously of the moment and firmly embedded in the American songbook.

Olsen is a virtuoso vocalist, and across eleven tracks, she whispers as much as she wails, the oscillation of her instrument intoxicating. Opening track “Lark” sets the tone and finds her in the midst of a romantic detonation, offering up lines like, “This  city’s changed, it’s not what it was / Back  when you loved me.” By the wash of the strings on “Tonight,” where Olsen’s voice is husky, tired, and confessing that while her love remains, she’s better off alone, listeners are firmly in her grip. With its Spaghetti-Western guitar strum, “Summer” is another poignant peak, where Olsen radiates the kind of strength you only get from going through hell and coming out the other side. The closer, “Chance,” balances her extraordinary voice along with her silence against a sentiment that every lover knows but hates to hear: “Hard to say forever, love.” It’s a perfect punctuation for the album’s emotional odyssey, and it’ll make you want to experience it all over again.

On the title track she compares a lover’s smile to being “buried alive,” and on the bleak, ghostly “Impasse,” she icily sings, “Go on, on ahead / tell your friends I was wrong / Take it all out on me.” All of the album’s potential energy exploded in the live setting, where it became something else entirely—grand, gothy, doomy, and spectacular. All Mirrors is a tornado in an antique teacup: elegant craftsmanship and detailing, containing a powerful storm.

Angel Olsen  “All Mirrors”, her fourth and quite possibly most anticipated release to date. Described by Angel as a record about, “owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love and trusting change”,

“Lark” Clocking in at over six minutes, and featuring an 11-piece string section, could easily be mistaken for Angel at her most bombastic and impersonal, yet there’s another side to Lark hiding beneath the dense arrangements. “Hiding out inside my head, it’s me again, it’s no surprise, I’m on my own now”for all the grandeur, this is Angel at her most personal and insular. It’s a track that almost feels like being trapped in your own head, there’s a claustrophobia to the strings and the repetitive pounding drums, yet at the centre of it all is a singular voice, whether accompanied by John Barry-like strings or a meditative Velvet Underground-like pulse, it’s always that voice, above all else, that demands your attention. It may lack the instant sugary thrills of Shut Up Kiss Me or the raw angsty charms of Hi-Five, yet as Lark slowly worms into your brain, it already feels like Angel’s finest work to date.

From her very earliest recordings, Angel Olsen has mined drama from her relationships with physically present but psychologically absent partners. Across her often-brilliant catalog, the Asheville singer/songwriter has sung candidly about staying with these partners despite recognizing their awful qualities.

“All Mirrors” is out October 4th via Jagjaguwar Records.

“Lark” by Angel Olsen from ‘All Mirrors’ out October 4th on Jagjaguwar Records.

John Darnielle has written almost 600 songs now, and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends, hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail because he is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true stories about his own life.

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The Mountain Goats have digitally released their “Welcome to Passaic 7″ which has “Passaic 1975″ from this year’s In League With Dragons on the A-side and the awesomely-titled “Get High and Listen to The Cure” — an unreleased song from the sessions for 2017’s Goths — on the flip

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Rainbow Kitten Surprise and all five of its members hail from the mountains of Boone, North Carolina. With chilling harmonies, dynamic instrumentation, and introspective lyrics, their genre-defying sound takes influence from artists like Modest Mouse and Kings of Leon as much as Frank Ocean and Schoolboy Q. Independently, they have over 75 million streams across digital platforms, and notched over 45 sold out shows on their first U.S. headline tour. Their engaging and distinct live performances have led to stand out sets at festivals such as Bonnaroo, Firefly, Shaky Knees, Hangout, Sasquatch, and Austin City Limits among others. The band worked with GRAMMY award-winning producer Jay Joyce (Cage The Elephant, Sleeper Agent) on their Elektra debut, How to: Friend, Love, Freefall, available everywhere now.

Available now are two old songs we hold near and dear to us. You may have heard us play many different versions of Heart and No Vacancy through the years at our live shows. Written before many of the songs you now know by RKS, these tracks never made it on our original EPs “Mary” or “Seven” for various reasons, but today is the day. May we present: Mary (B-Sides).

Band Members:
Sam Melo – Lead Vocals
Ethan Goodpaster – Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals
Darrick “Bozzy” Keller – Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals
Charlie Holt – Bass and Backing Vocals
Jess Haney – Drums

from the Mary (b-sides) out now: http://lnk.to/marybsides

Maybe this Raleigh four-piece fits more squarely in the indie rock category, but there are enough post-punk rhythms and tones to justify its place here. Truth Club’s debut album Not An Exit is full of propulsive movement, but Travis Harrington’s earnest voice and tender lyrics are firmly tethered to the ground. Their guitars pump, twinkle and echo, but never remain static for too long.

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On “Student Housing,” the guitars cascade with precision, on “No Planned Sequel,” they rumble with grit, and on “Luminescence” they hum with subtlety. In addition to their guitar mystique, Not An Exit is more poetic than most indie or post-punk records. Harrington writes with mature poignancy about topics like entrapment, belonging, purpose, desire and anxiety. “Path Render” is an affecting view of one’s life from the ether, and on “Tethering,” Harrington poses a question that will leave you in silence for a while: “If everyone’s supposed to leave their own mark on everything / At what point does the world just seem too worn out?”

Band Members
Travis + Elise + Kam + Yvonne

Truth Club “Not An Exit” out May 3rd 2019 on Tiny Engines

The Mountain Goats new release “In League With Dragons”. Singer-songwriter, author, and podcaster John Darnielle started The Mountain Goats in the ‘90s with just an acoustic guitar and a boombox, but over the years he expanded the band’s sound and lineup, and now — backed by Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas — he’s supporting this new album which is a far cry from his earliest material.

In League With Dragons, a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired record featuring fantasy settings and characters. It’s also an album, according to a conversation on the I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats podcast, about getting older.

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Released April 26th, 2019

The Band:
Jon Wurster – drums & percussion
Peter Hughes – bass
Matt Douglas – woodwinds, guitars, vocals
John Darnielle – guitars, vocals
Thom Gill – guitars
Johnny Spence – organ, Memorymoog, piano, Wurlitzer, synth
Bram Gielen – guitars, piano, synth
Owen Pallett – piano, organ, guitar

Dan Dugmore – pedal steel on “In League with Dragons”

Vocal arrangements on “Younger,” “In League with Dragons,” “Waylon Jennings Live!” and “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” by Robert Bailey, performed by Robert Bailey, Everett Drake, Jason Eskridge, and Michael Mishaw

Strings arranged by Owen Pallett,

Hey, everybody. There are two new Hiss Golden Messenger songs out today: “Everybody Needs Somebody” and “Watching the Wires.”

2018 was a hard year–for myself and, as it turns out, most people that I know–and I was thinking a lot at that time about how to cope with what felt like an unnameable existential crisis: Run for the hills, or hug the nearest stranger? As it turns, I’ve been doing a bit of both. Singing these songs has been helpful to me.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to them. Maybe they’ll speak to you.

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The single, “Watching the Wires” is out now on Merge Records.