1. Piedmont Charisma--Red, Black & Khaki: From out of Asheville, that Wild West town long since ceded to the folkies and stoners, comes the summer's first new wave dance hit. Two parts Mark E. Smith sneer, one part Wire snap-and-crackle, three parts low-fi tweety synth-punk bleat; snotty verses, a breakdown that stops just short of breaking down completely, and then an unstoppable avalanche of chorus that's utterly unintelligible and stops way too soon. And you can download it for free, here: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/267/piedmont_charisma.html
2. The Durham Scene: This week marks my 10-year anniversary as a Triangle resident. For most of that time, Durham kept a low profile, indie-rock-wise, never admitting to more than a handful of bands and a single decent rock club at any given moment. All that has changed, though, in the past year. The relocation of Merge Records to downtown Durham may have just been a real-estate-driven coincidence, but that doesn't explain the sudden prominence of bands like The Sleepies, Malt Swagger (who've been hiding in plain sight in Durham for years), The Sames and Jett Rink; clubs like downtown's Ringside (a four-story extravaganza that often features simultaneous dance parties and indie-rock shows on separate levels) and Broad Street's Bully's Basement (the former Under the Street); and the finest record store in the Triangle, Radio Free Records.
3. Todd Morman: His longtime stint as co-host (with Bill Burton) of WXYC's Northern Hemisphere Live was a constant object lesson in creative devil's advocacy--Morman could stop on a dime, invert your argument--or Burton's, or his own--and by the end of the conversation you'd find yourself trying to talk him into taking the same position he'd started with. His Raleigh cable-access TV show, Monkeytime, runs the gamut from personal video-diary segments to gallery visits to serious political debate: In election season, in fact, you'll learn more about your local candidates from Monkeytime than from any of the local "news" stations. But it's with his "Metro Column" in The Spectator that Morman has really come into his own, proving by example that what the Triangle has needed for years was just a good old-fashioned muckraking newspaper columnist, the kind who reads every page of the paper (both his and the competition) and, via his commentary, makes you want to do the same.
4. The Barbecue Joint: Tucked away next to Bagels on the Hill, in an obscure little shopping center on Weaver Dairy Road in North Chapel Hill, is The Barbecue Joint, which is just that--a barbecue joint that'll happily sell you a divine $3 pulled-pork sandwich wrapped in butcher paper. Or, if you prefer, something from the special side of the chalkboard: a sweet tender spicy barbecue catfish sandwich with house-made pickles on the side; a smoked leg of duck served on a bed of Vietnamese-style rice, rich with carrot, cilantro and pork; a fried-eggplant muffaletta. Worth making the trip just for the smells coming from the kitchen. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
5. Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan: The only band currently active in the Triangle to truly deserve the appellation "supergroup." Jordan was in BeatlesS and the tragically short-lived Polycarp; Gomez co-founded Blue Green Gods and Special Agents of Her Majesty's Secret Cervix; Cantwell was the original powerhouse drummer for Raleigh space-rockers Analogue and currently generates the nastiest bass tone in the Triangle in Razzle. Together, they make a spazzy muscular free-jazz-influenced art-punk-rock that moves by fits and spurts and yet still manages to stop on a dime. Anne's blood-curdling "YEAH!" at the climax of their "Born to Run" cover is one of the seven greatest sounds I have ever heard.
Derek Powers: Cat's Cradle poohbah, avid cyclist and columnist for the Chapel Hill News
1. Ticks: My dog wonders why we don't run in the woods anymore. I tell him he's lucky he has Frontline. If they made it for me I'd bathe in the stuff. I fully embrace evolution over creationism, if only because no benevolent god would create a creature whose only goal was to suck my blood.
2. Lance Armstrong: When I met the man six years ago, he was recovering from testicular cancer and brain surgery. This summer he'll try to win his fourth straight Tour de France. That he's even alive defies the odds; that he is arguably the greatest endurance athlete alive defies logic.3. Superchunk: In my job I've seen bands rise and fall like Yahoo! stock. Superchunk has stayed the course and maintained their appeal. Their new stuff is great, and I can still listen to No Pocky For Kitty four times between here and Asheville.
4. Uncloggable Toilets: The toilets at the Cradle get stopped up more often than you'd like to know. Yours truly liberates them. What do I find? Tiny liquor bottles, mascara pens, combs, a can of Bean-o--you wouldn't believe what's down there sometimes. If we can put a man on the moon we can put a commode in the restroom that can handles the refuse generated by the Cradle concertgoers.
5. Shade: This is seasonal. If you'd asked me in December, I'd have said "sun."
David Cross: Standup wunderkind, movie star and Tenacious D collaborator
Cross took time from his busy schedule (and hangover recovery) to favor us with a list of his top five things while driving around sunny L.A. See what one half of the famous Mr. Show (who'll be in town Wednesday, May 15, at the Cat's Cradle) is into these days.
1. The True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey, is a really great book. It takes place in turn of the century Australia and is sort of a fictionalized autobiography that utilizes the real facts behind Australia's anti-hero, Ned Kelly.
2. Fugazi's "The Argument": I got in an argument last night, not really an argument, but just me going "What the fuck's wrong with you? How can you not love it?" with regard to Fugazi's "The Argument." I still can't stop listening to it.
3. www.buzzflash.com: I've become completely addicted to it. It's a homepage with links to worldwide news stories. It's progressive, alternative news written from angles you don't always get to hear. Very necessary and depressing at the same time.
4. New York City: I've been living there for a year and it's the greatest fucking place I've ever been in my life. I walk out of my door and I still get pumped up every day.
5. Women: I love all women.
K8 Erwin: Hip-hop critic for the Indy
As an American I have almost everything I should ever want. Love, nourishment, youth, shelter and good health. Ya, but this is about my favorite things, you know that song from "Das Hills of da Musik" ... HUH! So let's go head to toe.
1. I like my grandma's orange cashmere Kangol and my granddad's virgin wool Pendleton. Thanks.
2. I Like Music: I wish I could hear more dub (props to Jammyland.com).
3. The N.Y. Mets: I really like to watch the Mets. I also would like my Warriors jersey back (it was a gift c'mon!), whoever has it, I hope they don't know #4 in '94.
4. I like my Shure M 44-7's--the souped-up Caddy of needles. You can never be too sure with your sound.
5. ICE!: Ya know, the frozen form of water. It goes well on the swollen parts of your body and in drinks like a fresh Mohito from 1942 (a Spanish restaurant: 60 Clinton St. NYC, NY.)
And what do you do when you can't cop a dunk or a loafer because they don't have or make your size? You grab a pair of Butter Voxes from Force. Comfort and casual--this skate company is young and slick, pimping some hot shit! (www.4cefootwear.com.)
Peace must prevail, so please be kind to everyone, and know that there are people who are.