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Thursday March 30th

Locals SAD Rock Out; White Turns Out Strange, Southern Album

Jim White

No Such Place

4 Stars

Sometimes artists try to be bizarre simply so they stick out from the crowd. Other times artists are truly bizarre. Such is Jim White.

To roughly approximate his sound, try mixing Beck's rambling, mumbling lyrics, Neil Young's passionate folk influence and an upbringing in the rural South. Then do acid.

There is no effective way of describing White's sophomore effort without accompanying audio samples, but his poetically descriptive lyrics might serve as an introduction to No Such Place:

"God was drunk when he made me, but that's OK/ 'Cause I forgive him," he sings in one song.

"You got no choice but to learn to glean solace from pain/ Or you'll end up cynical or dead," he warbles in another.

"My Trans-Am is missing/ I guess no more kissing the girl who loved my car."

If one were to attempt to categorize the music of Jim White, it would be something like gospel-influenced, Southern country rock. This description doesn't take into account, however, the bundle of contradictions that make White so interesting. This includes combining White's rural lyrics with modern British production, and the fact that White is obviously strongly influenced by Southern gospel despite the fact that he appears to distrust God.

White's first album, Wrong-Eyed Jesus, met with critical confusion. Some proclaimed it strangely beautiful while others simply felt it was strange. No Such Place continues in the same vein, with the additional help of a host of contributors that are almost as unexpected as White himself. They include producers from such varied acts as trip-hop veterans Morcheeba, R&B chanteuse Sade and a member of the Japanese underground country group World Standard.

Although the beats of the first and fifth tracks are obviously the result of Morcheeba's influence, White personalizes each song with narratives about missing Trans-Ams and gas-station attendants. He shows a talent for creating vivid scenes of the rural South with his words on tracks such as "Christmas Day" and "Covair." Unfortunately, the majority of the scenes he creates are vividly depressing.

But though many of White's songs describe depressing situations, the underlying message is often one of success when you least expect it. This message ends up being an apt description of No Such Place.

Trafton Drew

Sorry About Dresden

How the Cold War Began

4 Stars

Somewhere amid the songwriting and recording process exists a small window of time when a song's newness spurs intense excitement that spills from the individual and creates an electric force. Rarely do bands capitalize on that explosiveness in the studio, as endless repetition makes songs lose their potency.

Enter Sorry About Dresden.

The latest EP by this local four-piece, How the Cold War Began, captures that raw passion most bands squander all too quickly. And boy, is it a beautiful thing.

The opening track is an acoustic song with dual vocals. Warm keyboards and a recorded thunderstorm make a perfect prelude to the dynamic rock that strikes like lightning on the next track.

"The Cults of the Famous and the Dead" begins with a quiet, anticipating intro that quickly burgeons into an all-out rock assault. The sometimes-shouting and always-straining vocals are, well, odd. But not odd in a "turn this off" way, but an "mmm ... tell me more" way.

The chorus does just that, as SAD breaks into a perfectly crafted bridge to an infectious refrain that almost surely results in head-bobbing from live audiences. And the curious "tell me more" turns to a demanding "give me more."

The EP continues to overflow with personality and sincerity, as SAD colors outside the lines, serving up rock songs that flaunt creativity in a manner reminiscent of the late Archers of Loaf. Its uniqueness makes this EP a little hard to swallow at first, especially considering SAD's tendency to pour out a song and throw away the mold.

Although track three is another full-on distortion rock song, the second half of the EP is more experimental. Only for a few rough minutes do the endeavors give way to dissonant improv noise sessions. But even the mellower "The Store You Deserve" and "The Mayor Will Abdicate" have build-ups that rock out Dresden style.

Armed with hyperactive drumming, rebellious pop vocals and snazzy lead guitars, these Chapel Hill rockers have taken it upon themselves to carry a torch that has been dimming ever since the last regime of local indie legends called it quits. And while that flame still needs a lot of fanning, this EP is gas on the fire.

Jason Arthurs

Regatta Sixty9


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