Wounded Messenger’s Top 12 Albums and Concerts of 2012

If I replace a top “ten” albums or concerts of the year list with a number corresponding to the year, by 2030 I won’t even have to decide anymore.

It’s dangerous and a bit cheesy, just like most popular music. But I will give in to the urge to not have to chop two more albums off this list and roll with my top 12 albums of 2012, in alphabetical order.

Ben Folds FiveThe Sound of the Life of the Mind
Choir of Young BelieversRhine Gold
Father John MistyFear Fun
Hiss Golden MessengerPoor Moon
Maps and AtlasesBeware and Be Grateful
Matthew E. WhiteBig Inner
The Mountain GoatsTranscendental Youth
Patterson HoodHeat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
Punch BrothersWho’s Feeling Young Now?
Sharon Van EttenTramp
Tame ImpalaLonerism

What’s that you say? Serve myself? OK, here are 5 honorable mentions, AKA albums 13 through 17….

First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
Jason LytleDept. of Dissappearance
Jimmy Herring BandSubject to Change Without Notice
Titus AndronicusLocal Business
WoodsBend Beyond

If you follow the Twitter, you know I saw a ton of shows in 2012. Here are my 12 favorites, in alphabetical order.

The Grandmothers of Invention – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
The Hold Steady – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Journey/Pat Benetar/Loverboy – Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Matthew E. White – Fletcher Opera Theater, Raleigh, NC
Puscifer – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Roger Waters – PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Superjam – Bonnaroo, Manchester, TN
Toon & The Real Laww – Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC
Warren Haynes Presents The Christmas Jam – Asheville, NC
White Denim/Maps and Atlases/Tiny Victories – The Lincoln Theater, Raleigh, NC
Victor Wooten Band/Jimmy Herring Band – Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

Look for live tweets from the 24th Warren Haynes Christmas Jam this weekend, and a review too. Happy Holidays!

Update: New Album Review and Two New Concert Reviews, Plus Photos

I’ve been stupid busy lately with shows. Thankfully I have a couple of weeks off until more great music rolls our way.

Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks:

Concert Review – White Denim, Maps and Atlases, Tiny Victories at Lincoln Theater, Raleigh, NC

Album Review – The Infamous Stringdusters, Silver Sky

Concert Review – Jimmy Herring Band & Victor Wooten Band, Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

Enjoy these shots from the shows!

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Photos: The Oatmeal Conspiracy, Raleigh,NC, August 20, 2011

The Oatmeal Conspiracy continues to evolve and improve, and their set at Raleigh, NC’s Pour House Music Hall served as a showcase for their expanding catalog.  As one of the most talented local bands on the circuit, the quartet’s unique instrumentation and boundless energy make them a joy to watch and hear.

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The Oatmeal Conspiracy is Brett Connor (drums), Chad Johnson (keys/guitar/vocals), Matt Levine (bass/vocals), and Mitch Morton (saxes/guitar/vocals)

Photos: Triple Wide, Raleigh, NC, August 5, 2011

The always fun Triple Wide put on a free show for First Friday at Raleigh’s downtown City Market and drew a large, diverse crowd.  Cranking out compelling originals and people-pleasing covers from the likes of Warren Zevon, The Staples Singers, and Jimi Hendrix, the quartet proved to be the perfect complement to a steamy Friday evening.  Mitch Morton of The Oatmeal Conspiracy also provided special sax accompaniment.

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Triple Wide is: Dale Bryce (bass), David Daniels(drums/vocals), Whitney Pearsall (vocals), and Steven Stewart (guitar/vocals)

Music Flows on St. Patricks Day at Raleigh’s Pour House Music Hall

At The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, Steve Mang embodies the phrase “he’s a regular”. The guy is second only to the employees when it comes to attendance, and he’s seen a ludicrous amount of music at the venue, so you know he won’t steer you wrong when vouching for music. “The Oatmeal Conspiracy is always good,” he said, heading into the venue for a St. Patrick’s Day triple-bill that featured them along with two more bands, Triple Wide and Waylandsphere.

Pearsall, Bryce, and Morton

Anyone that frequents the bar knows that those three names on a poster means one thing – a night of non-stop collaboration where three bands take on a group mindset. The difference on this night, though, was the deep, rich sound of two relatively new local bands turning the corner and heading toward bigger and better things. The Triple Wide foursome is coming up on two years together, and there’s been a pronounced increase in familiarity amongst the band since their inception. Their newfound confidence and tightness has greatly benefited every aspect of their music. The Oatmeal Conspiracy has been together for much longer, but recently unearthed an entirely new sound thanks to the addition of a full-time bassist. The two bands are playing better than they ever have right now, and the combination of the two groups on this holiday night only amplified that fact. Continue reading

Festival Update: High Sierra, Smilefest, and More

Now that things have cooled off from the intense, day-long Bonnaroo lineup announcement, let’s see how the rest of the fest world is doing, shall we?

Quincy, California’s High Sierra Music Festival has announced their lineup, and they’re keeping things relatively low-key this year, playing to their built in audience with acts like The Avett Brothers, Ozomatli, Femi Kuti and Positive Force, Railroad Earth, Bela Fleck with Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain, Dr. Dog, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Cornmeal, Blitzen Trapper, the New Mastersounds, The Slip, The Infamous Stringdusters, Telepath, Zach Deputy, and more. It’s a modest but high-quality lineup befitting the event’s history.

The rejuvenated Smilefest has a slightly improved lineup, as Michael Franti and Spearhead, Jeff Coffin Mu’tet, Josh Phillips Folk Festival and Barefoot Manner (acoustic) have joined Acoustic Syndicate, Keller Williams, and a number of local artists. 1990’s-era jamband Quiver will also perform a reunion show at the event.

The Joshua Tree Music Festival keeps quietly adding new acts, such as New Orleans brass stunners Bonerama and mor eCalifornia talent such as The Heavy Guilt and Evaros.

February 19th will bring more news from the Nateva Festival, and March should be full of announcements from Mile High, Lollapalooza, All Good, Pitchfork, and maybe even some early leaks from Austin City Limits, along with “round 2” of Bonnaroo.

Festival Update: Rothbury, 10K Lakes Dark for 2010, Wakarusa Announced

It’s unfortunate that our first reporting about two of the Midwest’s best events – Rothbury and 10,000 Lake Festival – is that they aren’t happening this year. The 10K Lakes website makes no bones about the fact that finances are the issue, while Rothbury is more vague, stating that the performance and recording schedules of their desired artists have derailed their efforts to put on a “cutting edge” event this year. In other news, I have a nice mountaintop residence in Kansas I would love to sell to anyone who is interested.

Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas will again host the Wakarusa festival the weekend of June 3-6, 2010. Their first wave of artists includes Sound Tribe Sector Nine, The Disco Biscuits, Zappa Plays Zappa, Slightly Stoopid, John Butler Trio, Lotus, Blues Traveler, Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green, ALO, Mofro, The Machine, Bassnectar, Boombox, Split Lip Rayfield, Ivan neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Trampled By Turtles, and many more.

Joshua Tree Music Festival continues to add to their ever-esoteric lineup, and the latest participants include Mexican Institute of Sound, Radio Devi, and D Numbers.

DelFest has added The Gibson Brothers, Uncle Earl, The Bridge, and Trampled by Turtles.

Our beloved Bonnaroo clue givers have been busy, and so far it looks like the solid lineup answers include Ingrid Michaelson, John Prine, Tinariwen, Dan Deacon, and Deadmau5, along with the other highly rumored acts.

Album Review: Garage a Trois – Power Patriot

The track “Purgatory,” which comes a little more than halfway through Garage a Trois’ Power Patriot, bears the mark of Marco Benevento. The core of the band – sax madman Skerik, thunderous drummer Stanton Moore, and vibraphone master Mike Dillon – have never shied away from heavy fuzz and boiling drums, and the addition of Benevento introduces another lover of noise to the mix. But that’s not what makes “Purgatory” so reminiscent of Benevento’s style – it’s the spacey, ambient twinkling that bookends the fuzzy noise.

Some may say that adding another composing, performing powder keg of virtuosity to this band’s already volatile mix is overdoing it, but Power Patriot proves otherwise. There is an astounding amount of music to be made from the combination of these musicians. Granted, Garage a Trois isn’t going to take over the world as long as Stanton Moore has Galactic going, but they’re more than deserving of attention from instrumental music lovers, and Power Patriot is a big lovin’ slice of dark-edged mysteryfunk (to cop a word from the band).

The mystery of their funk lies in the Zappa-like compositional feats and melodic workmanship that occurs every time these guys gather in a room. Also, there’s the matter of Skerik’s fascination with jarring effects and noise, Dillon’s barely-controlled genius behind the vibes, and Moore’s ability to manage any rhythmic need. With Benevento adding even more note-grinding insanity into the mix, Skerik is allowed to blast away at will, and within his bleating, distorted sax work lies the reason that Power Patriot works: it never gets too out of hand.

“Rescue Spreaders” is a bit of a jarring opener, but the album quickly gets into a groove. “Fragile” is as representative a track as these guys could have recorded, full of unthinkable melodic ideas and noisy outbursts that never overstay their welcome. “Dory’s Day Out” is driven by Dillon, and the song has the feel of Tortoise circa turn of the millennium: gliding melodies, dramatic tonal flourishes, and drums that nudge instead of push. “Electric Door Bell Machine” puts more weight behind Moore’s drums, showcasing the band’s endless dynamic range and letting some funk action enter into the proceedings.

The title track alone is worth seeking out. “Power Patriot” is a playful tune that lives up to its name with stomping sax-metal hooks and delightful interplay. Each track of this album impresses more than the previous, and by the time the monstrous closer “Computer Crimes” graces your speakers, you’ll be ready to go again.

Rating: 8.7 out of 10