Friday, August 28, 2015

Rapper B-U-D releases new video, CLT draws more attention nationally

Earlier this week posted a story about four Charlotte rappers giving national audiences reason to pay more attention to hip-hop from the Queen City (click here to read the article). Charlotte-based writer, David Turner, included Raleigh rapper King Mez along with Bankroll Bird, Rashaun Hampton, and Well$ due to Mez's credits on Dr. Dre's "Compton,"

This side of Greensboro, the rap scene seems to be healthier and more crowded than ever before. Deniro Farrar has received national attention, as did Mr. Invisible during its run. Mr. I's Justin Aswell's weekly hip-hop night at Snug Harbor has also helped attract some of the best national underground artists and influential veteran stars to Monday's Knocturnal parties.

Elevator Jay and Rapper Shane (under the name Stranger Day) released two of the best, widely accessible full-length albums in any genre in the past year (both are available for free download).

Charlotte rapper B-U-D is another act to consider. Last year he released a video focusing on the often ignored issue of missing people (those whose friends and families may not have the resources to search, for instance). With his new video "Face the Music," he's having a bit more fun (although maybe not in the intro). He's also got a unique visual take, donning superhero tights and elaborate makeup and creating a sort of space age discotheque. In another clip of him playing Tremont he waddles on stage in one of those inflatable fat suits. You get a sense his vision is something more than your average musician.

You can check out his latest video above.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Social Distortion/Nikki Lane/Drag the River
Friday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $43.58,   
Mike Ness and company return with a lineup that reflects his band’s country-punk aesthetic - Greenville, SC native, Nikki Lane, who captures classic country with a punky modern edge, and Fort Collins, Colorado’s Drag the River, which is the long running fringe-country side project from All vocalist Chad Price.

God Save the Queen City Day 2
Friday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $20,       
Night 2 of the fifth annual homegrown indie music fest features locals Bubonik Funk, Junior Astronomers, and Ancient Cities along with Mississippi’s Water Liars, and Nashville’s Pujol, Music Band, Kansas Bible Company, and Diarrhea Planet. Even if you aren’t familiar with the bands, GSTQC can be counted to deliver on ones to watch.

Darius Rucker
Saturday  7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $41.25-$66.20
Having proven that his foray into country wasn’t a passing fancy (as its been for some rockers), the Hootie frontman and “Wagon Wheel” hitmaker celebrated another No. 1 single this week. He returns to his old Hootie-stomping grounds following his fourth hit country album “Southern Style.” He’s joined by the Brothers Osborne, Brett Eldredge, and A Thousand Horses.

Motley Crue
Saturday  7 p.m., TWC Arena, 333 E. Trade St., $32.07-$118.38,       
The Crue makes what fans assume will be its final stop in Charlotte during its farewell tour, which guitarist Mick Mars reiterated recently on VH1’s “That Metal Show” has nothing to do with his health and, unlike most artists, is actually the last live run. Get there early to catch horror rock legend Alice Cooper’s signature theatrical set.

God Save the Queen City Finale
Saturday  7 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58,   
Dean Ween, the Alternative Champs, Benji Hughes, and Futurebirds close out the fest at the Fillmore while elsewhere around the Music Factory, Temperance League, Giant Squid Squad, Hungry Girl, the Sammies, Black Market, and Pullman Strike kick off the festivities Saturday afternoon at Small Bar, Bootlegger’s and VGBG.

Doug McCurry & the Verticals
Saturday  10 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $6,       
A veteran of the Charlotte music scene as a member of Big Brick Building, McCurry’s now on his third solo release and first with the Verticals (which includes BBB drummer William Earl) since his return to music. He makes classic pop-rock that echoes `80s alt-rock, early Elvis Costello, and power pop. With Hardcore Lounge and Lovesucker.

Mac McCaughan & the Non-Believers
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $10-$12,       
For his first solo album under his own name the Superchunk frontman channels `80s synth-pop and post new wave, which translates to the heavy longing of a John Hughes soundtrack with subtle nods to the era of the Cure, the Smiths, and Let’s Active. Not simply a nostalgic turn, it’s also a great listen which gets a guitar rock makeover live.

Here Come the Mummies
Thursday  8 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St., $20-$22,
Rumored to be Grammy winning musicians donning weathered bandages and armed with a pile of horns and guitars, the 10-piece band resurrected from its Tunis tomb create some of the best sexually-charged funk and Latin grooves since the genre’s `70s hey-day - all while wrapped head to toe like it’s Halloween.  

Martin Stephenson
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $10,       
A favorite of Ramseur Records’ Dolph Ramseur (who released a couple of the prolific songwriter’s albums), the founder and frontman of English `80s cult faves the Daintees makes a rare stateside run through the South with Helen McCookerybook (Chefs, Helen & the Horns). If you miss the Muse gig, they’re at Catawba Coffee in Mt. Holly Friday.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Amanda X
Friday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5,     
Longing for female-fronted `90s indie rock with delicate, but not wimpy harmonies and angular guitar heft?  This Philly trio rocks like Debbie Harry fronting Dinosaur Jr. as a girl group. It’s latest 7-inch, “Hundreds and Thousands,” is out on Charlotte’s Self Aware Records. PA’s Spirit of the Beehive, and the label’s founders in Late Bloomer and Faye also play.

20 Years of Divakar and 90 Minutes
Saturday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., Free,  
Members of Charlotte’s beloved `90s alt-country hopefuls Lu Fjord (aka Lou Ford), and well established locals ISH, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, the Waves, the Sammies, Tattermask, Radio Lola, Bums Lie, and Funky Geezer team up to honor 20 years of WEND 106.5 deejay Divakar and his Sunday night local music showcase “90 Minutes.” 

Henry River Honey
Saturday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $8,     
Charlotte singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Shealee Cousino and Tracy Horton trade off on vocals and fill out their acoustic sound with violin, mandolin, harmonica, foot percussion, and other textured instruments in this soulful folk duo who celebrates the release of its new EP - think a young Indigo Girls with a broader pallet.

Leisure Cruise
Wednesday  7 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $10-$15,  
This futuristic mix of club-ready space jams intended as the soundtrack to a interplanetary ride to the next human frontier combines `80s style longing synth pop with great hooks and sing-along choruses that imagine what Siouxsie Sioux and Prince might sound like singing for Phantogram and Fitz & the Tantrums as produced by Kraftwerk and Devo.

Melanie Martinez
Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Amos, 1423 S. Tryon St., $15-$18,     
On her impressive debut full-length, “Cry Baby,” “The Voice” grad (Team Adam, Season 3) builds on the  colorful world of youthful dramedy she created in videos and 2014’s “Dollhouse” EP by putting an adult spin on childlike imagery. It’s a sign pop music is getting smarter when there’s deeper meanings behind girly fairytales.

Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58,    
On her sixth album, “Love Life,” the R&B singer and longtime wife of NBA player Grant Hill muses on monogamy, pleasing and teasing her partner, building trust and intimacy while showcasing subtle production and tempered vocals - especially for this powerhouse singer - that fit with the mature material.

God Save the Queen City Kick-off
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N.Davidson St., $14-$20,     
This annual indie music festival, eases into its expanded fifth year with Ravenna Colt (My Morning Jacket co-founder Johnny Quaid, who left MMJ in 2004), Mississippi’s Water Liars and Amigo and Justin Fedor before moving GSTQC to the Chop Shop Friday and Music Factory Saturday.

Jon Stickley Trio
Thursday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $7,      
The idea of mixing elements of bluegrass, gypsy jazz and hip-hop may seem as foreign as combining peanut butter and chocolate once did. There are many more flavors on the adventurous Asheville trio’s upcoming album “Lost at Last” (October). It boasts innovation with former Town Mountain, Atmosphere, and Futureman members.

Friday, August 14, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Florida Georgia Line/Thomas Rhett
Friday, 7 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $30.75-$60.50,    
Expect arena-ready genre hopping from the Anything Goes Tour, which reflects increasingly blurrier genre divisions indicative of today’s tattooed, open-minded generation of country fans. For his part Rhett promises a sophomore album reflective of the diverse FM radio he grew up on in September 25th’s “Tangled Up.”

Pride Festival
Saturday and Sunday  12:20 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Wells Fargo Stage, on S. Tryon St. between Trade and Stonewall, Free, 
Pride Week ends with a boom with two days of free entertainment uptown. R&B diva Estelle headlines Saturday. The Reason You Stayed, Henry River Honey, Christy Snow, Dust & Ashes, Shadina, and Messenger Down also play. Billy Gilman, who courageously came out despite his conservative country genre in November, shares headlining status with Trinity K Bonet and Yara Sofia from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on Sunday.

Nashville Pussy/Valient Thorr
Saturday  8:30 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $12-$15,  
If it’s old fashion Southern groove-metal you’re after, these two deliver on heavy rock n’ roll swagger, ripping guitar solos, and gallons of sweaty fun. Thorr, who play some of the biggest hard rock festivals in Europe, are arguably the most underrated hard rock band in the Carolinas, boast an incredibly kicking, intensely energetic live show. 

Lindi Ortega
Saturday  9 p.m., Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave., $12-$15,   
The wide umbrella of Americana is blessed with a stellar group of young feisty country-rock singer-songwriters that buck convention with smart, relatable songs with a progressive feminist slant. Ortega - along with Lydia Loveless and Lilly Hiatt - top that list. Ortega’s fourth album, “Faded Gloryville” was released last week  With Charlie King. 

Mans’ Jam Fundraiser with Balsam Range
Sunday  3 p.m., Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St., $25,  
The 2014 International Bluegrass Music Awards’ Entertainer and Vocal Group of the year received numerous nominations when the IBMAs were announced this week. It headlines this benefit in honor of Charlotte banker Williams “Mans” McLeod, who died from a brain tumor in 2012. The 3rd annual fundraiser benefits the National Brain Tumor Society and also features Chuck Johnson & Charlyhorse and the John Gaar Trio.

Trevor Hall
Sunday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $17-$20,      
Six days before his new album “Kala” drops, the Hilton Head-native circles home to the Carolinas to share his largely positive, spiritually enlightened reggae and world music-tinged acoustic rock. “Kala” is the final chapter in a trilogy of releases that follows the prolific songwriter’s global spiritual and physical journey.

Highly Suspect
Monday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18,    
Taking pages from the thick stoner blues-metal of Royal Blood, the soulful vocals and heavier side of Kings of Leon, and grunge and post-grunge `90s rock, this Brooklyn trio’s debut “Mister Asylum” looks like a 2015 breakout with accolades from Rolling Stone and the single, “Lydia,” scaling the rock charts.

Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
Wednesday  7:30 p.m., Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St., $20-$74.50/VIP $99.50,
While rumors spread that he’s working on a new album for 2016 - his first since 2012’s “Release Me” which saw him part ways with notorious longtime label Curb Records (who’ve had less than amicable splits with Hank III and Tim McGraw) - the modern day Texas songwriting legend brings his 13 piece band for this “evening with.”

Lilly Hiatt
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St., $8-$10,   
John Hiatt’s singer-songwriter daughter injects her inspired roots rock with the kind of indie-rock inspiration and inventiveness that comes from listening to bands like the Breeders and Liz Phair as a kid in the `90s. On her album “Royal Blue” she tells sometimes funny, heartbreaking stories with a soft spot for ironic honesty.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

NYC duo "unveil" new video (and themselves), play Shiprocked! tonight

Making a living as a band can be an arduous task for an independent outfit like Brooklyn-based Israeli duo Hank & Cupcakes, who put on one of the most genuine intensely fun live shows around and play Snug Harbor tonight. But in the internet era of DIY, it's truly amazing what someone with vision and adaptability can create in their hotel room shower.

Enter Hanks & Cupcakes' new video for "Shut Up" - the fourth clip from the album "Ca$h 4 Gold." The married couple filmed the music video in their hotel shower while touring through Tulsa, Oklahoma. That statement may conjure up a number of assumptions or questions. Is this a reenactment of "Psycho?" Does it depict a dingy heroine-chic car crash? Is it super risque? Downright homemade looking? How interesting could something filmed in a tiny shower be?

If you know anything about H&C, then you can trust it'll be visually compelling, but you wouldn't be wrong to wonder in what way? Check out the above clip, which is groundbreaking in its simplicity, yet sophisticated and visually compelling like a Herb Ritts photo meets avant garde art pop or pop-art. The song's lovely too. The pair are nude, but the video is carefully edited as to disguise all the naughty bits beneath strategically placed hands and steam. And it's actually not really sexual at all. It's in fact quite beautiful.

You can catch Hank & Cupcakes live tonight at Snug Harbor during Shiprocked's Pride week blow-out featuring gay rap icon Cazwell, Hank & Cupcakes, one man band/puppet master Your Fuzzy Friends, and drag diva Bethann Phetamine.

If you're heading out to Snug you may want to get there early or purchase a ticket online beforehand. Shiprocked is a hugely popular weekly fixture in Plaza-Midwood and with this Pride lineup, should sell out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Killers' frontman cancels NC shows

The Brandon Flowers' concerts set for Charlotte and Raleigh Thursday and Friday, respectively, have been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances according to an annoucement from LiveNation late Wednesday afternoon.

The Killers' frontman was scheduled to play the Fillmore Thursday to promote his second solo album "The Desired Effect."

In a press release from LiveNation, Flowers offered his apologies to the fans. The news likely comes as a disappointment to Killers' fans because the Las Vegas rock act has never played Charlotte. I saw them in Asheville a few years ago, but that pre-album release club gig at the Orange Peel sold out quickly leaving many fans without their Killers' fix.

Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

Flowers played the National in Richmond Tuesday (the set included a handful of Killers' songs and acoustic renditions). He's scheduled to play the Norva in Norfolk Saturday.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

This week's hot concerts

Lady Antebellum
Friday  7:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $30.75-$60.50,    
Country’s answer to Fleetwood Mac, minus the soapy backstage drama (we think), continues its six year reign at the top of the charts and the awards’ circuit. Hunter Hayes, who was inducted into his home state of Louisiana’s Music Hall of Fame at only 23, and writer-turned-top-selling pop country singer Sam Hunt are along for the ride.

Shaggy and Friends
Friday  10:30 p.m., Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 35th St., $35-$55,  Twenty years after what could’ve been a one-hit wonder - the smash pop crossover “Boombastic” - the Grammy winning Jamaican-American reggae singer (who also gave us “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me”) continues to juggle dance music, reggae, and pop. He headlines the Carolina Summer Jam. 

Miami Dice
Saturday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, 
Originally an outlet for Cement Stars’ Shaun Olsen, this smooth electro soul-pop outfit flourished into a full band with Babyshaker’s Scott Weaver and fellow Cement Star Josh Foggart. The reinvigorated group had HRVRD’s Jesse Clasen remaster 2014’s “Premium Cut” and beefed it up with more tracks and remixes. The trio celebrates its rerelease. 

Incubus/Deftones/Death From Above 1979
Sunday  6:15 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $33.85-$119.94,   Two acts who emerged during the rap rock and nu-metal-obsessed `90s, cut a swathe through those trends with consistency, invention and evolution. Death From Above, who are enjoying the biggest album of its career and hot, young L.A. brother duo Bots round out the strong rock lineup.

Sofia Talvik
Tuesday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $5, 
Having spent a lot of time in recent years touring the US, the nomadic Swedish folk singer-songwriter takes more of a Americana approach on her latest album “Big Sky Country” with a voice that combines elements and phrasing of Joni Mitchell and Neko Case and textured instrumentation that paints a broader picture than the word “folk" implies.

J. Cole
Wednesday  6:30 p.m., PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd., $39-$100.40,  
NC’s Cole brings a relatable level of intimacy to his latest album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” recounting how he adapted to changes and struggles, leaving NC for NYC and growing up in the house that gives the album and tour with Big Sean, YG, and Jeremih its name. He also repurchased that old house and transformed it into a home for single moms.

Good Old War
Wednesday  8 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18,     
The Philadelphia duo’s new album “Broken Into Better Shape” shifts between soft-spoken alternative pop (think Toad the Wet Sprocket), harmony-driven folk-pop, and stomping acoustic rock. Its music video for the track “Tell Me What You Want From Me” is gaining mileage with its eyebrow raising twist on killer clowns.

Brandon Flowers
Thursday  8 p.m., The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., $33.58,      
The Killers’ frontman’s second solo album, “The Desired Effect,” has achieved the goal lined out in its title by focusing on layered vocals and spiking Flowers’ previous sound with pop-soul. Mexico’s acclaimed Rey Pila, who is garnering early attention for September’s infectious new wave throwback “The Future Sugar,” opens.  

Cazwell/Hank & Cupcakes
Thursday  10 p.m., Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St., $12-$15, 
Shiprocked! kicks off Pride week as only Shiprocked! can - in glorious gay fashion with the provocative rapper Cazwell (a bona fide star in the LGBT world), NYC-based Israeli duo Hank & Cupcakes, who create sugary blasts of electro-pop, danceable rock, and soul-tinged club bangers with unbridled energy. Bethan Phetamine and Your Fuzzy Friends also perform.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Charlotte indie rock band debuts new single, new label

Charlotte's Junior Astronomers premiered its new single this morning on It's also the first single from the band's new label imprint Fancy Talkers. Check out the song, "6 Weeks in India," here.  The track is unmistakable Junior Astronomers, who have carved out it's own signature post-punk, indie rock sound over the past seven years as a band.

Charlotte's Self Aware Records will release the band's next 7-inch single "Thank You."

Singer Terrence Richard promises that Fancy Talkers isn't just another label in name only. Fancy Talkers will be putting out singles by other artists in the future as well.

Junior Astronomers is currently writing for its upcoming album, the follow-up to the 2013 full-length "Dead Nostalgia," and will perform at Chop Shop during the God Save the Queen City Festival on August 28.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Charlotte's Benji Hughes signs with NC's Merge Records

Charlotte songwriter and Plaza Midwood staple, Benji Hughes will release two seven inch singles on Chapel Hill's Merge Records in October followed by a full-length album next year. Merge, which is home to bands like Arcade Fire, the Mountain Goats, She & Him, and label founders Superchunk, made the announcement today.

Hughes released a critically acclaimed double album, "A Love Extreme," for New West Records in 2008. He performed live especially close to home, but didn't release anything else until unleashing four self-released albums in 2014.

The October singles will consist of "Freaky Feedback Blues" and "Jazz X 10" on one record with "Shark Attack" paired with "Mama, I'm A Zombie" on the other. Both are set for October 9. Details on the full-length record are forthcoming.

Hughes plays Chapel Hill, Wilmington, and Carolina Beach this weekend.