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The Daily Tar Heel

Threads of Local Music

Release Party Defines LP's Diverse Nature.

The singer and guitarist of the Chapel Hill-based band Cold Sides was performing on a bill that featured three other groups, and most of the 107 paying patrons huddled in front of the stage weren't typical Cold Sides fans.

"It was a completely different audience than we're used to playing for," Graves said moments after the show. "The crowd was much younger."

With three other groups sharing the bill, such a new audience hardly came as a surprise.

The acts that night were connected not by shared musical styles but by Patchwork, a new compilation CD featuring the four bands plus 10 other local and national groups. The concert, and another multi-act show like it Saturday, served as a release party for the CD.

A couple of hours after Cold Sides finished their set, Matt Tomich took the Go! stage afraid that the same crowd wouldn't respond well to his band, The Scaries, whose pop-punk tunes were a far cry from Cold Sides' indie-rock.

But by the time the bassist left the stage, he was thrilled about reaching a new audience.

"The cross-pollination of fan bases can be disastrous, but this time it really worked," Tomich said. "It was one of my favorite local shows ever."

If Friday night's show was any indication, the CD is already a success.

Patchwork is the brainchild of Jason Arthurs and the product of nearly a year of work by Arthurs and fellow UNC senior Cam Carrithers.

Arthurs and Carrithers said the album is designed to help local bands reach a wider audience by grouping their music together on a single work that will appeal to fans of all 14 bands.

"Chapel Hill has a reputation of going downhill as far as indie-rock goes, but there's still lots of good bands playing good music," Arthurs said. "It's presumptuous to say this CD will be the jump-start those bands need, but hopefully it will."

Thanks to the addition of a few tracks by nationally known acts, the CD has a great chance of meeting this goal, said several musicians featured on the album.

The CD features an unreleased live recording of "Low Branches" by Chapel Hill natives and indie-rock legends Superchunk.

"There are Superchunk compilationists all over the country who will want that recording because it's unreleased," said Tomich, who also plays in Sorry About Dresden, another band featured on the album. "There're people who will pick up this record -- and hear our band -- nationwide."

Securing the rights to the track proved no easy feat. It wasn't until Arthurs ran into Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan at a local bar late last summer -- just one week before the album's other tracks were scheduled to be mastered -- that he got permission to use the live recording.

But Patchwork is notable for more than its big names.

Musicians featured on the album said the record boasts better production and smoother sequencing than most other independently produced compilations.

"We've been on comps before that we weren't really interested in," said Charlie Estes, bassist for the Winston Salem-based group Disband. "Usually you just buy one for the big names and skip through the rest, but this one sounds very consistent from start to finish."

Arthurs said the album's 14 tracks were professionally mastered by Roger Seibel to minimize the disparity of the original recordings -- some of which were done in basements or bedrooms.

Mitch Rothrock, singer and guitarist for Chapel Hill band The Dynamite Brothers, said such work made a marked improvement on his band's contributing track.

"The remastered version is really nice," Rothrock said. "It's got a bigger sound -- a better sound."

In contrast, Estes said, the "herky-jerky" quality of most local compilation CDs reduced the demand for such albums after a slew of compilations was released several years ago.

But Graves said that although the lack of recent compilations does not reflect the quality of the local music scene, it has made it more difficult for bands to get play on college radio.

"Comps are especially good for college radio, where they will only play one song by a band," Graves said. "The DJ can pick and choose among the 12 to 14 bands on one disc."

Arthurs said there are now 1,500 copies of Patchwork pressed and ready for nationwide distribution by Choke Distribution, Initial Records, Interpunk and Revelation Records.

And whether music fans from the Shenendoah Valley to Silicon Valley purchase the CD or merely browse through its contents, Tomich said the album will help his bands reach a brand new fan base.

"Even if they don't hear the song, they'll learn the (band's) name," Tomich said. "The next time we play a show in their town, those people and their friends might be in the audience."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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