Encore Music Reviews

Young Blood Breeds Raw Rock:
Solid State’s bands fit the bill at the Soapbox

By: Jessica Acuna

For all of you punk rockers with a taste for music outside the mainstream, you’ll be pleased to know about the Young Blood Tour hitting Wilmington this December. Solid State Records, a division of Seattle-based Tooth & Nail Records, formed just a few years ago to support and promote burgeoning indie rock bands. Their impressive roster of heavy rock bands covers every genre from metal to hardcore to screamo, and includes such new sensations as Norma Jean and Underoath. Solid State bands are taking the nation by storm with aggressive touring, evolving and maturing into the indie label. You can catch a few of these rising talents at the Soapbox on December 4th, where Showbread, He Is Legend, The Chariot, As Cities Burn and Far-less will perform.

For a band that coined the phrase “raw rock” for their campaign, the seven-man rock outfit Showbread knows the value of pandemonium. Making a name for themselves from their explosive live shows, the group, hailing from Savannah, Georgia, just released their 13-track album, No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical. Matt Davis (lead guitar), Mike Jensen (guitar), Ivory Mobley (vocals), Patrick Porter (bass), Josh Dies (vocals), Marvin Reily (drums) and John Giddens (keytar) comprise this ambitious band whose boisterous brand of rock covers every topic, from art and religion to the literature of Franz Kafka.
Four years ago five North Carolina natives, Schuylar Croom (vocals), McKenzie Bell (guitar), Adam Tanbouz (guitar), Steven Bache (drums) and Matt Williams (bass), formed the dirt-rock outfit He Is Legend. This summer the band released their debut EP, 90125. You can catch these tunes at Saturday night’s show, along with new material from their November release, “I Am Hollywood.” Their sassy style of rock combines southern charm with solid rhythms, all while tackling complicated subjects like the hypocrisy of Hollywood and the grim future of rock ‘n’ roll.

For a chaotic performance of hardcore rock and stage acrobatics, you would not want to miss The Chariot, darlings of the latest buzz in indie music circles. Josh Scogin (vocals), Keller Harbin (guitar), Jeff Carter (drums), Josh Beiser (bass) and Tony Medina (guitar) hail from Douglasville, Georgia, and recently released their 10-song debut, Everything Is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead and Nothing is Bleeding. Besides being fond of really long titles, the young rockers—led by talented vocalist and former Norma Jean frontman, Scogin—are confident that their energetic set will amaze and astound.

The Christian hard rock outfit As Cities Burn formed just two years ago and are ready to reveal all their tricks and treats this holiday season. The collaboration of a few fragmented Louisiana bands, Colin Kimble (guitar), Cody Bonnette (guitar), Pascal Barone (bass), Aaron Lunsford (drums) and TJ Bonnette (vocals) have grown through positive word of mouth in the Baton Rouge music scene. After giving up college, jobs and girlfriends for a life on the road, these hardcore Christian rockers can be found on tour all over the nation this fall.

Brandon Welch (vocals), Ray Felts (drums), Joseph Powers (bass), Mark Karsten (guitar) and Jordan Powers (guitar, vocals) comprise Far-Less, a band that combines rock, metal and pop in a blistering live show. On the tails of two successful EPs (2001’s Emerge and 2002’s Apossibility), the Virginia fivesome recorded their first full-length album, Broken Hearts Unite, at the nearby Basement Studios in Winston-Salem, in the spring of 2003. With a varied sound sure to appeal to any music lover, Far-Less delivers honest songwriting fueled with an adrenaline-pumped performance.
So, for a night of headbanging, moshing and potential crowd-surfing, head to the Soapbox on the 4th. The evening of sublime indie rock revelry begins at 7pm..

Someone’s Sister Releases Debut C

By: Lindsey D’Emilio

I may not be a fan of folk rock, girl rock, or acoustic music in general, but I decided to give Someone’s Sister a chance when I found out that they were from Greenville, NC (where I went to college), and all of the proceeds from the sales of their new cd, Hand Me Downs, were being donated to the prevention of child abuse (a cause with which I have volunteered for the last three years).

The duo of Georgia Winfree (New York/ Virginia) and Katherine Jones (Raleigh, NC) are said to be like “a cool glass of iced tea after a hot summer’s day.” The two women come from very different walks of life and bring diversity, on a common ground, to their music. Georgia reveals years of emotional expression in her lyrics and allows listeners to peek into her own pain, survival and dedication. Katherine brings a positive, yet realistic, life perspective to the duo. The two very different women joined forces in 2002 and haven’t looked back since.

Besides playing for the pure love of music, Someone’s Sister hopes to connect and help others through their music, and there is no doubt they have accomplished just that with Hand Me Downs.
Producer/ Engineer Karen Kane says, “These women have gorgeous voices, separately and together—you need to hear these voices.” When the album’s first track (“I’ll Be There”) began, I couldn’t have agreed more. Whatever hesitations I had about folk rock disappeared.
“I’m Still Here” is a beautiful song about staying strong through tough times. The melody is calm and soothing, but still invokes feelings of power and triumph.

“Nothing Without Love” perfectly portrays being in love and living in the deep South. I can see the old diesel truck driving fast past a billboard that’s advertising a cheap hotel, while the driver drinks gas station coffee out of a Styrofoam cup on her way to see the one she loves. What could make a country girl happier then drivin’ a truck to see her man? Well, maybe singin’ and pickin’ her guitar, which these two do beautifully.

“Another Rainy Day” is a captivating tribute to 9/11. Many popular country singers, like Alan Jackson and Toby Keith, also expressed their feelings about September 11th in radio hit singles. However, there is something about hearing the innocence of a woman’s voice sing about saying good-bye for the last time— it hits your heart in a deeper place.

The album’s last track “New Shoes” is like taking a leisurely look back on your life and the act of unconsciously growing up. It’s that song that everyone can somehow relate to and truly reflect upon. It is the perfect song on which to end.

Although I would never normally look twice at an album that had the word “folk” in the description, Someone’s Sister has undeniable talent for writing and playing music that is truly timeless. I would not be surprised to see them receive mainstream recognition one day, so enjoy them while you have them here in Wilmington. Someone’s Sister will be holding their cd release party December 4th at The Soapbox, with “guitar guru” Laura McLean opening at 9pm. .

Tennessee Sounds of Sojorn

By: Alan Maready

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Sojorn consists of Kevin Mabin on drums, J.T. Poe on percussion, Kevin Plant on bass and Scott Metzger on guitar. The songs are all written by Hunter Williams, who presumably does most of the vocals and some of the drum programming. Williams began playing piano and drums at the age of 10 and has written over 100 songs (which sounds suspicious to me, considering the fact that there are only five songs on this CD). Also, recently added to their live show lineup is Jennifer Morrison, who provides some pretty strong backup vocals.

Their sound is sort of an eclectic blend of dance, hip-hop, and drum and bass. They are often compared to the likes of Groove Armada and Basement Jaxx. They use drum machines, synthesizers and bass to create dreamy soundscapes. However, to me, Sojorn sounds mostly like mediocre house music, and they remind me of a more down-tempo Milli Vanilli. While some of the drum programming and instrumentation is fairly decent, I just could not get into the vocals at all. In every song of their five-song CD, Williams combines singing with a sort-of spoken-word style rapping. His voice isn’t that bad when he is singing, but when he starts the rapping bits, his Tennessee accent emerges heavily, which clashes with the dreamy, ambient atmosphere created by the music.

One of the more notable tracks on the CD is “Hairspray Nights.” The only reason I say that it is notable is because the intro sounds like a remix of the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” theme song. I would swear that it’s the exact same beat. Anyway, it’s a very simple song.

Laid over the top of the beat are some minimalist, composer-esque synth work and some straightforward guitar riffs. The vocals are sparse and consist chiefly of one verse repeated over and over again. Jennifer Morrison provides some “oohs,” “ahhs” and “yeah yeahs” in the background.
Another track worthy of mention is “Now That I Found You.” I feel that this song has some of the cleverest drum programming on the CD. Once again, synth riffs provide an almost ethereal atmosphere, while a simple two-note bass line establishes a solid base on which the song rests. Unfortunately, Williams decided to do a lot of his spoken-word rapping on this song, which killed it for me. Every time he says the word “rearrange,” his accent, yet again, rages out of control, making it sound like “rearriiinge.”

Sojorn will be playing at The Soapbox on December 10 with John Cheshire, whom I have never heard of, nor do I know what he does. I tried to do a Google search for John Cheshire and the first result was for Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire, presumably of the RAF. It would be awesome if it were going to be that guy. Unfortunately, December 10th is also the day that I take the GRE, so I will likely be unable to attend the show. Darn.