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Spider Bags (Country Garage from NC)BANDCAMP
Shark Week (New Bmore/ DC Rock and roll)FACEBOOK
Gross Ghost (NC Garage/Pop)
Presented by U+N
Shake My Head
People tend to obsess over North Carolina’s Spider Bags, a nominally identified garage rock band that sputters into broken-down country and spirals into high-flying psychedelics from a firm base of petulant, propulsive, and fun three-minute rock tunes. To wit, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles used to perpetually call them the greatest band in the world. Some years ago, when a DJ friend who’d moved several states away returned to the Carolinas for a weekend, she learned that the Bags were performing at a nearby haunt and canceled all of her impending plans. In her mind, at least, the best local band ever— the one with the shout-out-loud anthem called “Waking Up Drunk” and the frontman, Dan McGee, who sang about his demons with a conviction that made them the crowd’s demons, too— were playing, and she simply had to be there. And as colleague Marc Masters recently quipped online about the band’s compulsive tunes, “And now to listen to Spider Bags & Apache Dropout constantly, even when I’m not listening to them.” As their name implies, when Spider Bags hook into you, it’s hard to shake the hold.
The first two Spider Bags full-lengths depended on diversity. 2007’s A Celebration of Hunger creeped through country turns that had more to do with Townes Van Zandt than whatever Little Steven plays on his show (“Lonely Man” is the band’s secret stunner) and occasionally climbed into the alt-country molds of Drive-By Truckers. The blistering rock’n’roll tracks were only part of the picture. They were more prominent on 2009’s Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, but there was still much more to be heard than fuzzy, frenzied barnstormers— banjo songs, Crazy Horse-sized epics, sad-eyed duets and baby-please pleas
Shake My Head, the band’s third album and their first for North Carolina imprint Odessa Records, is their most stylistically cohesive to date. Rolling through 10 tracks in less than 35 minutes, it delivers would-be rock hit after hit, shifting away from that template only for the record’s closing third. That’s not to say that Shake My Head is stylistically stripped at all; rather, those variations are woven into the charging songs rather than separated from them.
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DOUBLE NEGATIVE (killer hardcore from NC, No Way/ Sorry State Records… FACEBOOK)
MURDER (local rock punk, LP release… FACEBOOK)
TRIAC (punishing grindcore… FACEBOOK )
WARGAMES (new SXE Hardcore… mem. Ruiner, Deep Sleep The Pist, Oak)
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It takes a pretty savvy band to steer allusions toward hardcore legends like Negative FX and Negative Approach in both name and sound. It also takes a developed sense of wit to reference sectors of academia in both mathematical and linguistic fields at once. But what kind of band can pull off both of the above simultaneously? I could tell you, but it might blow your mind.
From the deep, dirty southern locale of Raleigh, North Carolina, Double Negative is right at home with “Golden Age Hardcore” retrofitters like Government Warning and Wasted Time. There must be something about that cosseted corner of the South Atlantic that spawns inch-thick forehead veins that pop out from hardcore singers’ buzzed heads like earthworms in the rain. Whatever it is that’s to blame for this head-bursting rage is also to thank for inspiring the current surge of grubby, early `80s-styled hardcore rattling off influences from Minor Threat to the Adolescents to Jerry’s Kids and Poison Idea. Double Negative’s style of punk is snotty but not whiny, thrashy but not thrash, and fast but not fastcore. That is to say, Double Negative is old-fashioned hardcore in the purest of terms. [full review… HERE]
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Whatever Brains (NC, TUMBLR)
Frustrations (X records, Detroit, SOUNDCLOUD)
Friend Collector (FACEBOOK)
Balls to the Wall
at Emerald City, in the Copycat Annex
Bands are getting noisier. It’s either lo-fi or it’s loud, it’s hazy or “experimental,” and overall, yeah, it’s noisy. But sometimes all that dissonance can sound downright disaffected. That’s why it’s been hard for me to contain my excitement over the three tracks that make up Whatever Brains’ addictive new 7”, “Mt. Whatever”. However regrettable the moniker may be, these strident, Raleigh, North Carolina, thrash-brats are plugging into an inspiriting boisterousness that’s been too often lost in all the feedback.
The single’s “Summer Jammin’” is one of the few existing Whatever Brains’ songs that doesn’t surrender to the panicked, paranoid histrionics they seem so fond of, running at half-speed and indulging in that waltzy guitar jangle that got people so excited about Black Lips a few years ago. Singer Rich Ivey seems inspired by Trail of Dead’s Conrad Keely, able to soar above the dredge and manic attention deficit to attain something positively emotive and melodic. “Jammin’” is certainly a little deranged and a little bleary-eyed (let’s just say that if Travis Bickle ever decided to start a garage band, the Brains would be out of a job), but by the time that tidal-wave of a chorus kicks in, you’d be hard pressed to find a soul in the joint unable to throw his arms up in testimony.