Saturday, September 29, 2012

Leon Russell at the Neighborhood Theatre tonight (9/29/2012)

Posted By on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Seeing Leon Russell’s name gracing a marquee some time ago, I facetiously commented to my younger companion, “I didn’t know Leon Russell was still alive.” “Who’s Leon Russell?” she countered. It’s an enigma how Russell, who bestrode the ’70s music scene like a colossus, faded so completely. The Tulsa piano prodigy with the endearingly slurry drawl has always been a polymath. As musical director, he launched Joe Cocker’s career with the legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, and was de facto majordomo for George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh band. Solo, Russell broke new ground with his swampy fusion of rock, delta soul, rustic country and R&B, in the process creating the template for modern genre-jumping pop. His Americana album from 1978 presaged an entire musical genre, and he has influenced artists as varied as The Black Keys and former protégé Elton John. The Union, John’s 2010 collaboration with Russell, launched his commercial rehabilitation and criminally belated induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Still, titles like “legend” and “icon” don’t do the man justice. Rediscovering Russell is like finding the headwaters of the Nile. With Jamie McLean Band. $25-$40. Sept. 29, 8 p.m. Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. 704-358-9298.

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9th Wonder at Re:Public tonight (9/29/2012)

Posted By on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Few people understand the Notorious B.I.G.’s sentiment on “Juicy” — “you never thought that hip-hop would take it this far” — like Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder. But the Winston-Salem native has watched his studious love for the culture take him all the way to the Ivy League, where he’s currently in a year-long residency at Harvard. Along with his influential work on North Carolina’s hip-hop scene — as a member of Durham’s Little Brother, founder of It’s A Wonderful World Music Group as well as his indie imprint Jamla Records — he’s continued to perform as a DJ, where his sets take fans on musical journeys through the Golden Era and into present-day hip-hop, building on his encyclopedic knowledge of the music and an ear to flip it on its head. He’s still a very sought-after producer, with legendary MCs like Nas earlier this year naming 9th as one of the people he’d most like to work with. Don’t miss this one. $15. Sept. 29, 10 p.m. RE:Public, 314 N. College St. For more information, visit

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Robert Randolph & The Family Band tonight at the Whitewater Center (9/28/2012)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM

Perhaps it’s a vestige of his Pentecostal roots, but when Robert Randolph gets to rocking, it’s no surprise that audiences catch the spirit. The pedal-steel guitarist and his band put on a high-powered show that practically (and sometimes literally) demands you get off your tail and shake it. And who can resist, with funk grooves like “I Need More Love” and “Thrill of It” thumping along? Randolph was named by Rolling Stone as one of the “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time,” and during a hot performance he’s been known to kick over his chair and let the band go while he dances across the stage. The Family’s proclivity to jam is one of their hallmarks, and Friday’s show is name-your-own-price, so there’s no excuse for crying the paycheck blues. Get baptized in the funk; you won’t regret it. With T-Bird & the Breaks. Name your price. Sept. 28, 8 p.m. U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy. 704-391-3900.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Live review: Fiona Apple, The Fillmore (9/26/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Fiona Apple
The Fillmore
Sept. 26, 2012

It's always profoundly sad to watch a troubled artist melt down onstage. We’ve seen it with Scott Weiland, Courtney Love and Axl Rose, and we saw it Wednesday night when Fiona Apple's performance at the Fillmore in Charlotte turned into a train wreck of tragic and frustrating proportions. It’s not the first time Apple has gone off the rails on stage. Even at her most lucid, she’s an eccentric — and that eccentricity is part of the reason we love her and her music.

But when Apple appeared in the spotlight just after 9 p.m., more gaunt than ever, her face pasty and hair a dull reddish-brown, things went awry from the get-go. She warbled her words, couldn’t reach the high notes, couldn’t stay on the beat. She squirmed at her piano seat during the once-majestic and nuanced “Shadowboxer,” the third song of the night, as her voice totally blew out on the vulnerable line, “You have no reverence for my concern.”

The audience ate it up. People sang to all the words. They helped pick her up when she was clearly so very down.

Continue reading »

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Ben Sollee at Stage Door Theater tonight (9/27/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 9:02 AM

This week finds not one, but two folk-rock instrumental virtuosos in town. Kentucky cellist Sollee and Illinois violinist Andrew Bird (see lead music story) have toured together, and their classical training informs their pop music. Both also make full use of their instruments by exploiting their melodic and percussive attributes, and both play other instruments. But the results are distinct. Sollee wears his folk, blues, country and soul roots — especially his vocal phrasing and the accompanying horn sections on 2010’s Inclusions — more openly (not to mention his emotions and pro-environmental politics). He offsets those on occasion by venturing into atonal territory, but his folk-pop comes off rather run-of-the-mill and not particularly memorable. Sollee’s at his most effective when he taps into the expressive timbre of the cello alone, à la Arthur Russell, or blends in those Stax soul blues. He’s got a new record, Half-Made Man, set to drop and funded through Let’s hope the latter elements inform this release more. With Luke Henry. $15. Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. Stage Door Theater, Corner of 5th and College streets. 704-372-1000.

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Crystal Castles at the Fillmore tonight (9/27/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Though 8-bit synth wizard/noise-monger Ethan Kath claims that all of Crystal Castles’ music “is really sad and bleak,” the duo is an invigorating adrenaline hypo to the heart. The Toronto distorto-synth-punk act’s moniker comes from ’80s cartoon She-Ra, and not the vintage video game soundtrack of the same name, but low-res Atari squelch figures heavily in their songs. Chaotic, mechanical, icy and oddly emotional, the duo’s sound builds on the hooky noise-pop pioneered by The Jesus and Mary Chain. Except that here, overdriven guitar squall is traded for divinely crappy synths. Calling card single “Alice Practice” is just that, a dry-run temp track that went viral. Firing a fistful of synapses, it’s this generation’s take on Eno’s and Phil Manzanera’s shared guitar solo on John Cale’s splintered “Gun.” Notorious for stage diving and whirling like a dervish, vocalist Alice Glass is all over the map. An over-modulated punk yowler on “Alice,” she coos like a kitten on the New Order-ish “Suffocation.” For a duo that claims to hate dance music, these two master the disco floor, folding, spindling and mutilating it in the process. $25. Sept. 27, 8 p.m. The Fillmore, 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. 704-549-5555.

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Stars at Visulite Theatre tonight (9/27/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 8:38 AM

On paper, this long-running Canadian group would seem to fit into the latest disposable retro trend reviving ’80s dance-pop — synth-heavy, beats-first pop sung by pretty voices signifying nothing. But that’s what keeps music eternally fresh. The band Stars uses those same elements to craft classic pop songs and blends indie elements with soul and pop, sounding instead like a mix of New Order, Richard Hawley and Marvin Gaye. Led by singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan (and with songwriting help from keyboardist Chris Seligman), Stars began life in Toronto in the same fertile petri dish that birthed Broken Social Scene, Metric, Apostle of Hustle, et al. They share those bands’ communal vibe and kitchen-sink aesthetic, as well as their knack for sharp, inventive songwriting and lyrics that carry actual heft by digging into human affairs in an adult manner. Stars relocated to New York in the early aughts, only to quickly bounce north of the border again, this time landing in Montreal. The group’s sixth and latest, North, looks at its native Canada with a wistful warmness and sharp, sometimes funny cultural eye (see “Do You Want to Die Together?”). If the Mekons had grown up a decade later in Canada and not Leeds ... well, they might’ve sounded like this. With Diamond Rings and California Wives. $21-$24. Sept. 27, 8 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. 704-358-9200.

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Nachzehrer at the Milestone tonight (9/27/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 8:16 AM

From beerhall ska-punk to bruiser hardcore like Death Before Dishonor, Boston’s hard-edged bands have a respectable tradition of raucous, take-no-prisoners pummel-and-shout. Nachzehrer applies the aggression historically associated with this northeastern city to black metal — peeling the genre’s increasingly transcendental elements back to reveal a dark, furious heart. Broken-glass vocals rasp and grate in a stew of blast beats and guitars that swing from punk-metal chug to the downtuned, pagan palette of Norwegian originators. Nachzehrer is a band of respectable endurance, too: these cuts may have the speed and fury of Northeastern hardcore, but they’re at least twice as long. These marathons of godless fury, then, are supposed to wear you down — reducing you to a moshing ball of nihilism and burned-out synapses. To some of us, this sounds like a good time! With Martyrvore, Death Shroud, and Admiron Sphere. $7-$12. Sept. 27, 9 p.m. The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Road. 704-398-0472.

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Serfs at Tremont Music Hall tonight (9/27/2012)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 7:52 AM

Local “garage-gaze” quartet Serfs (formerly Palm Trees) are gearing up for a busy winter. Having released two digital singles in the last year, they’ll soon be recording their first EP this winter with producer Rick Contes. The four songs the band has been floating around online range from fuzzed out, driving surf rock to melancholy pop-rock doused with reverb, calling to mind The Strokes and Real Estate, respectively. Serfs’ playing is tight and confident, a reflection of the band’s comfort with each other (singer/guitarist Phil Pucci, guitarist David Scanlon and bassist Patrick Doherty are longtime collaborators). Recently added drummer Olivia Neal fits right in, rounding out the sound of a young band with a promising future. With My Secret Other Girlfriend, Homewrecker, Dave & The Strange. $7. Sept. 27, 9 p.m. Tremont Music Hall, 400 W. Tremont Ave. 704-343-9494.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fiona Apple at the Fillmore tonight (9/26/2012)

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Fiona Apple’s 1996 debut Tidal hit like a comet — people couldn’t get enough as the album went on to sell nearly 3 million copies. Much like a comet, the awe burned out fast and her fans wondered if the glow would ever return. Her sophomore album, When the Pawn..., was a critical success but was known more for its lengthy poem-of-a-title than for any hits. A third album was shelved by Sony executives before finally seeing the light of day, thanks to the demands of fans. Now, Apple has finally released a fourth album, The Idler Wheel..., and another lengthy, poetic title, and her introspective music continues to break ground, with critics calling it another leap forward. Apple often finds the perfect balance in pop sensibility, while flirting with hints of rock and jazz. How it all comes together live remains to be seen, but so far it looks like the light is shining a little brighter once again. $56. Sept. 26, 8 p.m. The Fillmore, 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. 704-916-8970.

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