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***July Thirty First Two Thousand and Fourteen***


Tis the season for grilling, and that only means one thing - time to put on the formal sausages.  


Instagrams of the month:

Adoptable kittens.  Raleigh, NC.  

Garden results.  Cary, NC.

Self-bought birthday present.  Cary, NC.  

Monthly cat napping picture.  Cary, NC.  


Links of the month:

Thought this article about how france is changing, both demographically and politically, to be pretty interesting.  And
the way the article is written is especially interesting, the author traces the route of the Tour de France and reports on
the small towns he passes through.  

couple of skate vids -
Crocodile Done Deal - Fourstar tour vid through Australia.  Talent through the roof on that team, and Crailtap always
make clips that are fun to watch.  
Kevin Coakley - not only is the skating bad ass, but he skates to the Archers of Loaf.  That's just making smart life
decisions right there.  

Two photo journal entries, both a collection of randoms - one band photos and the other just nonsense.  

My lack of  Music reviews is nothing but laziness at this point.  I didn't realize how little I've done lately, mostly just
older seven inches (of which I only have a handful left).  I'll do better next month, or not...who really gives a shit right?  


Merge 25
Lambchop and Mount Moriah
Baldwin Auditorium

Finally, the 25th anniversary of Merge Records is upon us, and the music festival that goes with it.  I'd been looking
forward to this for months. 

I managed to hear about two minutes of William Tyler before entering Baldwin Auditorium...going to shows solo in
fancy seated venues mean you can find a spot up front even if you arrive late, because there are always a few single
empty seats here and there.  All of the bands were set up at the same time on the giant stage, so switching from one
act to the next took no time at all - I think it might have been five minutes between the end of Tyler and the start of
Mount Moriah, which is unheard of at a rock show. 

I've seen Mount Moriah numerous times in multiple rock clubs across the Triangle, and it was a little weird seeing
them on this giant auditorium stage in front of an extremely quiet crowd.  The band almost seemed unnerved by how
quiet it was, as they should have been - it was downright eerie, way too many well-behaved adults in one room.  The
great thing about these types of rooms are they sound great, and Baldwin Auditorium was no exception.  Yeah, I might
have turned the bass up a little bit in the mix, but Heather's vocals were fantastic and Jenks' guitar work as good as
I've ever seen it.  There were only a few older songs in the set, "Miracle Temple" and an epic, amazing version of
"Plane" being the standouts, and the rest were new songs for an album on which they are working.  If this was the
preview for that new record, count me excited to hear the final results once Merge releases it. 

Lambchop.  To paraphrase what I said elsewhere, to say Lambchop were awesome would be redundant because
there is never a time when Lambchop aren't awesome; therefore, a better description is to say Lambchop were
Lambchop.  This evening they were doing a rare performance of their classic 2000 album "Nixon" from start to finish,
which Merge recently issued on vinyl for the first time in the US as part of their 25th anniversary reissue series.  If there
is ever a perfect location to hear Lambchop, it's in a deathly silent auditorium where you can hear every faint guitar
pluck and muted horn and piano I'm hard pressed to think of ever attending a better sounding show
in my life.  "Nixon" made up the entirety of their set, with the band re-taking the stage after a brief standing ovation to
play a one song encore of Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love," a glorious end to a musically gorgeous evening.  


Merge 25
Superchunk, Reigning Sound, The Rock*A*Teens, and The Clientele
Cat's Cradle

Night two of Merge 25 was upon us, and after last night's cushy seated gig it was time for a long evening of standing
on the cement Cat's Cradle floors.  Let's do this. 

I got in the club just before the Clientele got started, and in my usual way wormed my way near the front amid a sea
of photographers and three videographers with serious professional rigs.  Why all three of them were basically filming
from the same angle is beyond me, but they're the pros and I'm sure they know what they're doing.  I wouldn't call my-
self a superfan, but this was one of the bands I was most excited about.  Why?  I couldn't say exactly, but probably
some combination of their somber jazz pop sounding really good to my ears these days, combined with the fact that
I've only seen the band a couple of times so there was a certain novelty to their performance as opposed to someone
like Superchunk who I've seen tons.  Is it weird that I think of them as a British Sea & Cake?  It's not an exact match,
but they're mining the same vein.  The band is both fantastically smooth and smoothly fantastic, and the only thing that
would have made it better is if they had played "Rain."  I picked up the recent reissue of their classic "Suburban Light"
when I left the club later that night. 

Next up was the Rock*A*Teens.  I'm 98% certain I saw these cats a few times back in the late nineties, be it opening
for someone like Superchunk or at the old Kings or something along those lines.  They never really moved the needle
for me back then, and I was interested to see how I would react to them this go around.  The verdict: while still not my
favorite band in the world, I was definitely feeling it more than in the past.  They have a ramshackle, jangly garage pop
vibe to them, a little sloppy but I'm not sure that is particularly important to a band like this.  There were a number of
sound issues, most seemingly from the house and not the band, but the Rock*A*Teens plowed through without a care
in the world.  I might need to go back and revisit their old records now. 

Speaking of sound problems, Reigning Sound also seemed to have no shortage of them.  Greg broke a guitar string
early in the set and after changing it he just never seemed to get the guitar tuned back to his liking.  My musically stupid
ears couldn't hear anything wrong, but then again I thought the music sounded fine when he was just playing five strings
before he changed the broken one.  The band just released a new record called "Shattered" and played a number of
tracks off of it, as well as some classics like "Stop and Think It Over," "Debris," "I'll Cry," and probably the best song
they've ever written "Drowning."  Despite the difficulties I very much enjoyed the show, as I do with any Reigning Sound
show.  So stoked they're on Merge now.  

Superchunk closed out the night.  I had sorta hoped and/or expected them to play a "special" set in honor of the an-
niversary - a complete classic album or all requests or obscure b-sides or something unusual, but it was just a regular
Chunk show.  It might sound like I was disappointed, and maybe I was a tad, but you can't be that bummed out when
one of your all-time favorite bands is banging out classics like "Skip Steps 1 & 3" and "What Do I" and "Brand New
Love" and "Hyper Enough," paired with great new jams such as "Low F" and "Digging for Something" and "FOH."
At one point new bassist Jason Narducy got so spazzy he fell backwards into the drum kit and ended up with a trickle
of blood running from his head down his face and it wasn't until a couple of songs later when Jon Wurster told him that
he had any idea.  That's rock and/or roll right there!  So it was a fun show, regardless of "specialness," and a nice cap
on the second night. 


Merge 25
Destroyer, Wye Oak, The Mountain Goats, and David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s
Cat's Cradle

After stuffing myself silly at Carrburritos, I got into the Cradle right at the end of Imperial Teen's set and caught their
final two songs.  I've never been all that excited by these guys, but maybe I was in a good mood or the songs hit me
just right but I liked what I heard - tons of energy and the crowd seemed way into it, but as per usual I don't have any-
thing else to say about Imperial Teen. 

I got there a little early specifically because I didn't want to miss any of David Kilgour & the Heavy 8s.  To be com-
pletely honest I've not listened to his solo work all that much, but I love his band the Clean so much I felt it imperative
I see him perform live as much as possible, regardless of what songs he might be playing.  Even though I didn't know
any of the setlist, I thoroughly enjoyed the band's set - most notably Kilgour's excellent guitar playing, which held me
transfixed for much of the set.  His New Zealand accent was so thick he jokingly put on a fake British accent to be
understood, but you need no translator to understand good music.

I've never seen a Mountain Goats show that featured so little banter from frontman John Darnielle - I guess they took
their short time slot to heart and decided to power through as many songs as possible.  They played a lot of crowd
favorites like "San Bernardino," "Amy," "This Year," and what is probably the band's greatest song, one that had the
entire crowd singing along, "No Children."  There was also a cover of the American Music Club song "Who You Are,"
a track I had never before heard, but Darnielle and company really made it their own.  Knowing how rabid Mountain
Goats fans are, I'm betting there were folks who attended this show or even this festival specifically for them - I hope
they at least enjoyed the quality of their offerings since there was a lack of quantity, because the quality was high. 

Wye Oak held down the penultimate leg of the evening.  I've said it elsewhere but they're really two different bands
these days, the former guitar-based Wye Oak versus the current bass heavy electro-pop Wye Oak.  I really like both
versions, though I might give a slight edge to the older, more rockin' version of the band because that is the one re-
sponsible for their best song "Holy Holy," which they thankfully played in their set this night.  Outside of that track and
a couple of other older ones, Jenn Wasner left her guitar in it's stand and focused on songs from their new record
"Shriek."  It's a little bit of a shame because she is such an excellent guitarist; but it's no surprise that on the new
songs, she dominates the bass just as well.  Oh, and that amazing voice, plus she's incredibly attractive.  Honestly
it wouldn't take much cajoling for me to quit my job and travel the world stalking her professionally (at a respectable
distance, of course - I'm no creep; well, only a slight creep).  It's an odd feeling, loving a band's new direction while
simultaneously missing their old sound...usually I hate when a group changes as drastically as Wye Oak have, but
in this rare case it works. 

Destroyer closed the night, and it was incredible.  The last time they rolled through town in support of "Kaputt," it was
like the whole band, especially frontman Dan Bejar, had downed a fistful of 'ludes before taking the stage.  By com-
parison this outing was downright ebullient!  Early in the set Bejar exclaimed "Gotta find my's gonna
be worth it," and I knew based on his mood it was going to be a good night.  Including Bejar the band was running at
eight members, including two full-time horn blowers and an organist.  Outside of a couple of new songs (which
sounded great), most of the setlist was made from the albums "Rubies and "Kaputt" - and the best songs off of those
albums to boot.  The list included "Savage Night of the Opera," "Chinatown," "European Oils," and the closer for the
night, the epic "Rubies."  There was still a little time until 2 AM and I was hoping the band would keep going until
closing, but like some crusty old Englishman once told me we can't always get what we want.  I'm pretty sure this gig
is going to lead me down a manic Destroyer listening party for the next few weeks.  I don't see that as a problem.


Merge 25
Neutral Milk Hotel, Caribou, Teenage Fanclub, Bob Mould, and Mikal Cronin
Cat's Cradle

I tried to prepare myself for a long day of standing in the hot Cat's Cradle parking lot by purchasing a chocolate milk-
shake, and this led to me arriving at the venue late and only seeing part of
Mikal Cronin and his super-catchy fuzz
pop.  This might lead the regular person to exclaim "damn you milkshake!" for making them late, but it wouldn't be
sincere on my part because the milkshake is the true love of my life.  Anyways, I believe all of the songs I did get to
hear were from his excellent Merge record "MCII," and since I didn't miss hearing one of the best pop songs of the
last few years, "Shout It Out," I can't get too mad about missing part of his set. 

I know this will possibly result in my "music fan" card being revoked, but I've never listened to much Bob Mould or
Husker Du.  And the thing is, every time I hear a song by either act I usually enjoy it...just never translated to any pro-
longed listening to his/their music.  Mould's backing band is the current rhythm section of Superchunk, Jason Narducy
and Jon Wurster, their second and third times playing the festival respectively.  Narducy managed not to make himself
bleed this time, but Wurster did still sweat a shirt shiny.  I didn't know most of what they played but I liked it - the only
song I did recognize was "I Don't Know You Anymore," and I'm told he played a couple of Husker Du tracks.  Also,
host Margaret Cho (oh yeah I forgot to mention she was the MC of the day's festivities) came onstage and sang a
couple of songs with the band - apparently she's a huge fan.  She didn't have a bad voice for a comedian, but maybe
not a great voice for a musician, ha.

Finally, what anyone with good taste had been waiting for, one of the greatest pop bands of all time, Teenage Fanclub
I was as giddy as one of those crazed One Direction preteen fans, minus the high-pitched shrieking.  I don't think I've
ever seen as many musicians watching another band as I did during this set - a large selection of most of the acts on
the day's bill were posted at the side of the stage taking it all in.  The band might be a little older but they haven't lost
a step musically - everything sounded gorgeous.  The set list, while short, sampled their entire catalog...sure, there
was a ton of things I would have loved to hear like "Star Sign" and "Radio," but getting three songs from their perfect
record "Songs from Northern Britain" takes the pain away.  And then there was the end of the set, when they amped
up the awesome exponentially - first with "The Concept," then "Sparky's Dream," and finally "Everything Flows."  It
might sound like an exaggeration but this set alone was worth the price of the entire four day pass; this kind of happy
doesn't come along that often. 

After Fanclub I knew I was kinda going to be ruined for any other live music, but there were still two bands to go.  I went
inside the Cradle to have a drink, cool off out of the sun, and try to get my brain screwed back on straight.  When I
wandered back outside, Caribou was partially through their set.  I had always thought that this band was just one guy
manipulating shit on his computer, and maybe that is the case on the recordings - but live it was an actual four piece
band with an exceptionally bad ass drummer.  There's nothing I can tell you about this band or show that you can't
read elsewhere with more details, but I will say if you are like me and wrote these guys off as boring knob twiddlers,
that definitely isn't the case. 

Neutral Milk Hotel were the closer for the night, and for the festival.  After plenty of admonishment not to take any
photos or videos or recordings or to look Jeff Mangum in the eye (that last part may or may not be true), Mangum took
the stage by himself to perform "I Will Bury You in Time," and was shortly joined by the rest of the band (which could
be anywhere from five to seven members depending on the song they were playing at the time).  There was a couple
of horn players (hornsmen?  horners?), each of them with a ton of different instruments from trombones to french horns
to trumpets to...I think a euphonium?  Also, at least one of those hornsmen was the human embodiment of Papa Smurf,
in case you were wondering.  There is really no reason to go into what songs the band played, because it was ob-
viously their two albums they released over 15 years ago.  As much as I love their recorded material, the live show
was a bit ramshackle.  Maybe it was the mix, maybe it was the musicians, maybe it was the poor acoustics of an
outside show, but whatever it was, the gig wasn't as good as I had hoped.  Not bad by any means, just...okay I guess. 
In fact the best material of the night were the handful of tracks that Mangum played by himself, his voice clear and
unmuddled by the cacophony of sounds coming from the stage.  That was how Neutral Milk Hotel ended the show,
the same as how they started - just the iconic singer and his guitar, closing out a great four days of music.


with Modern Hut and Lonnie Walker
Nice Price Books and Records

I finally made it to Nice Price for one of their rock shows.  Yeah, I popped and caught a band at a matinee gig while
I was out and about a month or two ago, but after telling myself I would show up for multiple gigs, I finally followed

Lonnie Walker was the first act of the night...or at least part of Lonnie Walker - singer Brian, Nathan of DiggUp Tapes
on bass, and a drum machine.  I guess the rest of the band wasn't available and Brian wanted to do something other
than a solo show, but who knows.  The set list was a lot of the usual subjects, "Compass Comforts" and "Summertime"
and their cover of Art Lord & the Self Portraits "Bouncing Away" which I honestly always thought was a Lonnie Walker
song.  There was also a new song (or at least new to me) at the end of the set that sounded a shitload like Modest
Mouse's "Dramamine," only further cementing in my head the comparison between the two acts.  The band members
might change but a Lonnie Walker show hasn't much changed in five years, and I'm not complaining because I always
enjoy seeing them. 
Modern Hut had the middle slot.  The band was a two piece, a dude who handled most of the vocals and Marissa
from Screaming Females on backing vocals - both were also playing electric guitars.  I knew Marissa was going to be
in the final band Noun (this was a major part of the motivation to get off the couch and to this show), but had no idea
she was involved with this act.  The music was earnest and the vocals spoken almost as much as they were sung - the
closest quick comparison I could come up with is the Silver Jews or more broadly, music you would have expected to
be released on Shrimper in the mid-nineties.  I wasn't nuts for the music to be perfectly honest, but it was decent and
it seemed like a lot of the kids in the crowd were digging it.  Oh yeah, the crowd was super young...that's almost not
worth my mentioning anymore, because I'm clearly the outlier in these scenes. 

As mentioned earlier, Noun aka Marissa from Screaming Females finished the evening.  It was just her, her guitar
and her wicked vibrato voice.  The crowd piled in close around her and made it tough for me to take photos (which
was already tough due to the extreme lack of light), but somehow I survived the whole ordeal.  I'd never heard any of
this solo material, and honestly to me it just sounded like Screaming Females songs minus the rest of the band.  The
songs were maybe a little less rocking and her guitar playing a little less shredding, but Marissa's voice is so unique
it would be difficult not to compare this solo act to her main gig.  She was great though - if you've seen Screaming
Females you know she puts on a great live act, and even a slightly mellower version of her is still a win. 


Museum Mouth
with Ghostt Bllonde

As frequently seems to be the case, the older I get the less likely I am to go out and see the new young bands that
are always popping up.  No matter what my age is, there is always a pack of dudes in their early twenties ready to
take on the world with their rock and/or roll. 

The first band I saw tonight was Ghostt Bllonde - yes, the misspellings in their name are apparently intentional.  I
often comment how young the crowd is, but this time I suspect many got into Kings via fake IDs.  I had 15 years on
almost every person there who wasn't actually working in the club...including the band.  They were a lively bunch
though, crowd and band alike, very upbeat and dancey and having themselves a fine Friday night party.  The music
was sort of a combination of jangly pop ala Lonnie Walker mixed with a little dance pop upbeat catchiness.  It was
sometimes a little sloppy, but everyone seemed to be having fun so who cares right?  I would see them again, and
look forward to seeing what these young lads grow into. 

Despite being from Wilmington, this was apparently the album release party for the new Museum Mouth record
"Alex I Am Nothing."  Maybe they also had a release party in their hometown and just wanted to have more parties,
who knows.  Either way I'd been hearing about these kids for a little while and then heard one of their tracks on the
local NCSU college radio station WKNC and felt it imperative I see what they were all about live.  They are a three-
piece with the unusual characteristic of a singing drummer - like our very own local Phil Collins or something!  I'd put
their sound firmly in the pop-punk camp, but we're talking more Jawbreaker and Husker Du and Archers of Loaf than
Blink 182.  On some of the mellower numbers there was also a bit of Connor Oberst maybe.  It was a fairly quick set,
and I dug it enough to buy the record at the end of the night.  


with J. Roddy Walston & the Business
Red Hat Amphitheater

Some local radio station was putting on a free show, I didn't have shit else going on, so why not hit the town?  I'd never
been to Red Hat or seen any of the bands, so it seemed like an entertaining enough way to spend the evening. 

As always, free shows bring out weird crowds - lots of very young kids, random old people, stoners, wookies, folks
that are likely homeless, and rejects from the filming of "Spring Breakers."  The line was all the way around the block
so my idea of catching most of J. Roddy Walston & the Business was out the window - I did get to hear most of
the set though, and we finally got inside in time to take in the last three or so songs.  I've had friends for ages saying
they are must-see live, and even though this was probably the wrong venue I could see what they were getting at. 
The band, especially J. Roddy, were very exciteable and enthusiastic on stage, playing their piano-led southern bar
rock with a great deal of zest and - dare I say it - pizazz.  They were somewhere in the spectrum between the Hold
Steady and Kings of Leon, with a little Ben Folds mixed in.  The crowd seemed into it, much more so than I expected.

The middle band - Foals - was the main draw for the evening (we didn't even stick around for headliners Cage the
Elephant).  Where the band is from in England they apparently sell out eleven thousand seat venues in a matter of
minutes, but in Raleigh they're the middle act of a free gig.  Amazing the difference an ocean can make sometimes. 
The band has put out four full lengths, the first two were even on Sub Pop, but somehow I missed all of this.  Anyways,
yadda yadda yadda, the band basically plays a modern, updated version of that Brit pop sound we've all known and
loved for ages now.  It's a tough sound to precisely describe, but we all know it when we hear it.  They put on a good
stage show, had a lot of fancy lights happening, and the crowd ate it up.  I'm not sure they were a band I'd seek out for
a regular paying gig, but for a free show?  They were well worth it. 


I'm allergic to sushi. Every time I eat more than 80 sushis, I barf. "

Hey here's a bunch of Belle & Sebastian b-sides.  Looking forward to seeing them in a couple of months in Miami.  
If you're looking for me I'll be the one in the crowd in the thong.  
A Century Of Fakers
Dog On Wheels
I'm Waking Up To Us
Jonathan David
Lazy Line Painter Jane
The Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner

Camera Obscura - Fifth In Line To The Throne.  Why not follow up B&S with a band that always gets compared
to B&S?
New Year's Resolution
This Is Love (Feels Alright)

Light Pines - Climbing Towards You.  Great local band that broke up way too soon.  They released all of their
recordings on Bandcamp for free.  
Come With Us

Mojave 3 - Sarah.  It might get me labelled a pariah but I vastly prefer Mojave 3 to Slowdive.  
Where Is The Love

Every once in a while I remember that there are a lot of rad early REM songs.  
Ages Of You
Burning Down
Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars)
Crazy (Pylon cover)


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