There seems to be a lot of confusion about "Scene & Heard" and local music coverage in general. One "concerned musician" wrote in--without signing his/her name--and said the column should be called "Angie's Clique" because it's only people that I (music editor Angie Carlson, for those who don't read bylines) know. I like the idea, but Scene & Heard now has what they call "brand recognition," or something like that; I'll have to pass. But it is true that as a gigging musician from '84 through the mid-'90s I've met or played with plenty of peeps from those eras, and yes, both my ex (Mitch Easter) and longtime squeeze (Superchunk's Jon Wurster) play or work with bands that people have heard about. While this is no secret and there's no agenda on my part, it would obviously be impossible for me to cover the "scene" and not write about people I know.
If you think your band deserves more press, ask yourself: Do we have a photo and does the paper have access to it? (I've stolen photos off Ross Grady--a good sport--in order to give props to local bands.)
Is your band doing something "newsworthy"--signing a deal, going into the studio, heading out on a tour, playing in gold body paint with lit sparklers protruding from every orifice?
Now pick the correct answer: The press will hear about what my band is doing through A: jungle drums; B: smoke signals; C: Everyone is talking about us, man; D: We, the band, either wrote, called, e-mailed or dropped off information for the press (as in recorded music, a bio or stats, a link to a Web site and/or an image, real or digital); E: Our singer goes fuckin' crazy!
If you answered with the letter "D," you WIN! Now go forth and reap the rewards of your promotional diligence.
Proving that comedy can work in a rock club setting, i.e. the Cat's Cradle, actor-comedian David Cross of the HBO cult hit Mr. Show (as well as a ton of TV and movie spots) did almost two hours of standup aimed at a fan base that buys indie-rock records and has never set foot in a comedy club. He slayed 'em--it was better than Rickles in Atlantic City. The show, which was being filmed for inclusion in an independent documentary on Cross, was noteworthy for the fact that Cross' real-life sister--a Wilson, N.C. resident who sells "Newport mentholatums" at a Pantry convenience store and gets uneasy with her bro's cussin' and hilarious rants on organized religion--was in attendance. Of course, he worked her into the act. Cross and crew later showed up after 1 a.m. for a drink at Carrboro's Orange County Social Club, where he proved to be just as cool offscreen as on.
Feelgood Hit(s) of the Summer
There are more local artist releases coming out right now than you can shake a stick at. Raleigh-based Bifocal Media recently put out another CD by indie math-rockers The Ladderback titled Introductions to Departure, and they've got a release by lanky, local alternative hip-hop guru L in Japanese in the works.
Glory Fountain, featuring Tres Chica Lynn Blakey and John Chumbris, have a self-released Mitch Easter-produced disc, The Beauty of 23, coming out June 4. Their music recalls the glory days of N.C. guitar pop with just a dash of alt-country flavor, and the duo's harmonies are like butter.
Meanwhile, Wilmington-based Eskimo Kiss Records has a brand new release, Dollar Movie, by power popsters Goner (ex-Boy Wonder Jinx). It's an ambitiously crafted record (thanks to producer Greg Elkins) that employs piano and accordion, toy instruments, drum loops and more. In the works: a disc by the recently reformed Gerty.
Also in June: Lost Highway Records is gearing up to push Tift Merritt's full-length debut, Bramble Rose, a fairly slick, Ethan Johns-produced alt-country album with a glamour shot of our own jukebox girl on the cover. Considering the industry buzz on Merritt and that she's got a headlining tour in the works, this record could break our songbird nationwide.
Raleigh's The Cherry Valence, actually home for a brief spell, have a 12-inch single out this month on San Diego's Flapping Jet Records. Called the Revival EP, the tracks were recorded by Bandway guitar god Bo Taylor at his studio, Creation Space 2. Also this month, look for a split 7-inch (also recorded with Taylor) featuring TCV and garage-soulsters The Bell-Rays on a Spanish label, Holy Cobra Society. The band's second Estrus Records release, Riffin', will be out this July and was recorded with Tim Green at Louder Studio in San Francisco. Green, besides recording his own band, the Fucking Champs, has worked with everyone from Sleater-Kinney to The Melvins and Drunk Horse. Expect great things.
The British are Coming
Reps from new English label Five Six Nine flew in last weekend to check out The Comas' show at Chapel Hill's Local 506. Although only Nicole Gehweiler and Andy Herod remain from the original lineup--songwriter/frontman Herod admits, "I went crazy and fired the band because I am an asshole egomaniac with delusions of grandeur"--the "new" Comas seemed to have all gone to rock school during their hiatus. The show was focused and rock-steady--stay tuned on whether it snags them an impressive deal.