Phon --the experimental noise duo of Dustin Dorsey and Drew Robertson formerly known as The Gaze --are duly thrilled about an upcoming chance to record in Chicago's SOMA Electronic Music Studio, owned and operated by John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake). The band will be heading to Chicago at the end of July and plan on booking a few shows along the way as their debut tour of sorts.
Phon played its best set yet last Friday night while opening for Strange, the exciting Raleigh five-piece sure to draw comparisons to The Cure and Spiritualized via a compelling synthesis of high-energy, noise-injected anthems. The band is almost done with its full-length debut, currently being made with Greg Elkins at Desolation Row Studios and due out in the fall on Pidgeon English Records . Vince Carmody, keyboardist and guitarist for Strange, describes it as "honestly, the best recorded stuff I have ever done with any band."
It's said that in today's music industry nothing counts like money. And, by and large, that's true: When it comes to guaranteeing deals--from an opening slot on a tour to a spot in a record store's listening booth--there is no currency as important as, well, currency.
For the past few years, though, the concert scene in Raleigh as marked by national indie acts that choose to make the capital city a date and stop on the back of their T-shirts has been in a persistently awkward and ponderous depression. An easy explanation, of course, would center on the fact that Raleigh--its clubs and its people--somehow have less money with which to bring in high-quality touring bands. Evidencing that claim, though, is almost as tough as proffering it with a semi-straight face. Clubs like The Lincoln Theatre bring large crowds every week for the hot jam bands on the circuit like Acoustic Syndicate and Leftover Salmon and for radio darlings from Hoobastank to Third Eye Blind. And before it made its abysmal turn into its nearly no-booking recession of the past few years, Disco Rodeo (when it was The Ritz ) brought in great bands with capacity crowds every few weeks throughout the entire year. The money, it would seem, is here.
For some reason clubs in Raleigh, however, have consistently had trouble establishing their indie credibility with outside bookers. The Lincoln Theatre is struggling with it, and Kings --a club with as much character as one is likely to find--still has a hard time convincing those same outsiders that there is something happening here. Booking agents, it seems, think people in Raleigh are much less prone to enjoy their "college rock stuff" than kids in Chapel Hill. In March, though, a Broken Social Scene show booked by the Cat's Cradle at Kings sold out weeks before it happened, and, night of, dozens stood outside of the sold-out concert hoping to ferret out a spot in the smoky room. Unless those people already in the show and in the ticketless throng standing outside appeared somehow out of ether, Raleigh certainly has people interested in indie music.
Furthermore, the band could have made more money that night by booking the show with The Lincoln Theatre and playing that club. But, of course, the folks at The Lincoln aren't into booking bands like Broken Social Scene, so that couldn't have happened, right?
It turns out, though, that Mark Thompson at The Lincoln Theatre tried to book the show for months, and the band's booking agent even told Thompson that his offer was higher than that of the Cat's Cradle. But he lost the bid because he was up against the reputation of the Cradle. Pat Dickenson, the other half of The Lincoln booking apparatus, recently lost a similar bid on The Shins show at the Cat's Cradle; though he had been trying to bring the tour to The Lincoln since November, his ultra-high 90 percent offer was turned down because, frankly, he wasn't the Cradle.
In Raleigh, no one pretends to be Chapel Hill. The lingering fuel left behind from the '90s indie rock explosion in Chapel Hill helps there but hasn't spill entirely into Raleigh.
But that's history. The scene in this town, though, is strong, fresh and creative. We have an ensemble cast of available opening bands that is superb, and the rooms that are open aren't generic. The Lincoln Theatre is the best-sounding room in the Triangle, and Kings is a top-rate, smaller rock club. Both are quite ready and willing for some risky "indie" bookings. So, when can we get some respect here?
Resonated Records has just released its first compilation disc, entitled Locally Respected: Vol. 1. The album was produced by the label's founder
ThaDVus1 and features 19 tracks from some of the Triangle's hottest names in hip-hop, including Kaze, Charlie Smarts, Mic Savvy and Kool Mack. To order to the album, stop by Schoolkids Records, The Record Exchange, Big Katt Records or CD Alley.
Corrosion of Conformity has contributed a new track to High Volume, a compilation recently released by High Times Records. Other bands appearing on the compilation include Clutch, Nebula and High on Fire. And how about that cover art?
For those who think Clay Aiken is a pretty sweet guy, local quirky folkster Kenny Shore has decided to follow up his success with "Chasing Clay" with a song about a subject as equally sweet: sugar, carbohydrates and the Atkins diet. "Carbs! Carbs! Carbs!" should hit local radio soon, and an animated version of the ditty can be seen at www.kennyshore.com.
Jamie Proctor, the general manager of WKNC 88.1 who is largely regarded as responsible for the station's turnaround, headed to New York earlier this week for a summer-long internship with Mute Records.
Please e-mail Grayson with your Raleigh news: firstname.lastname@example.org