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Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan



"I hate repeating things a lot of times. I'm not saying no one should do it. But I can't and won't." Anne Gomez of Chapel Hill-Durham group Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan is explaining her theory on breaking songs into disparate parts and styles. The trio is celebrating the release of their brilliant self-titled debut with a big party at the Carolina Theatre in Chapel Hill on Friday, March 28, with Protean Spook, to be followed by a screening of the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense.

In one C.G. and J. tune, you might hear a punk burst of guitar and shouts, then a strut of slower-tempo melody, then a free jazz-influenced passage with saxophone. Dodging the trappings of verse-chorus-verse song structures, this threesome move into territory that is dangerous and beautiful. Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan, half-jokingly named as if they were a law firm (Gomez in fact has a law degree), cleverly graft together different styles as if they were so many severed limbs. Once the operation is over, however, there's quite a joyful noise. "Context is everything--parts of songs only make sense or have any impact in relation to other parts of songs," Gomez explains of her band's philosophy of music. "It's like being a DJ. You could play one set of jazz, one set of country music, one set of reggae, etc., or you could play a jazz song, then a country song, then a reggae song, and the result would be totally different. The former radio show would sound static and boring. The latter radio show might sound jarring at times, but it wouldn't be boring."

One thing the trio's self-titled full-length is not is boring. The group provides vital doses of oomph-rock power, tries new maneuvers along the way, and keeps a sense of humor about it all. How else could they have done a series of shows in which their sets consisted of pulverized versions of Billy Joel songs? Maybe their sardonic gaze at the TV eye plays a part as well. "Many a C.G. and J. practice has been delayed or canceled because of Law & Order," says Cantwell.

Protean Spook, a one-man project of local music vet (Family Dollar Pharaohs) Randy Ward opens. His EP from last year is a fantastic collection of synthesizer rock and robotic tales, and this show features the debut of his sound-generating contraption, a home-built digital and analog music machine. And don't miss David Byrne in oversized suit in Jonathan Demme's 1984 concert film of the Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense.

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