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Thursday October 28th


Mixtape Round-Up: October 9-15

Not the most releases this week. One would even say it was slow. But I got some goodies for you.If you ride with the Chicago crowd, then you must be familiar with the Brainiac Society. Helmed by 1/2 of Kidz in the Hall, Naledge, Brainiac has showed some promise as a crew recently. One of the first real projects to come out is emcee Vic Spencer's Vic Magorium's Hip Hop Emporium. Presented by, in my opinion, the best website to hit for all things Chicago hip-hop, Fake Shore Drive, you know it has to be legit. It is, in fact, legit. Vic has a nice flow that complements the mostly original production. If you like that Kidz in the Hall sound, you'll be feeling this joint. What's Good?: "Brainiac Knights" Feat. Naledge, Vic Mensa and Fooch, "Victormized"Tracklist and Download link for Vic Magorium's Hip Hop EmporiumI got excited when I got/heard of this project. Conair is an aspiring emcee and producer out of the Atlanta who took it upon himself to "reimagine" some of his favorite theme songs from his youth. Child Hood is an EP, not a mixtape, and everything is done by Con himself, including a little bit of harmonizing. There is only 6 tracks but you can tell none of them are hastily put together. If you only check this out for one joint, well, you hae to listen to at least two, but the best display of lyricism is dropped on "Take My Word For It," where Con rhymes about the declining use of proper grammar in hip-hop over top Reading Rainbow. But the beat on "Sur La Lune" is wicked.What's Good?: "Take My Word For It," "Sur La Lune" Feat. Kelly Conarro (Tin-Tin Theme),Tracklist and Download link for Child Hood EPDon't know if you head about this or believed it if you did, but it is true that Bill Cosby has made a rap album. Cosby calls all his songs stories and they were all also conceptualized by the good doctor. I know he's not rapping about bitches and hoes and drugs and such, but I feel like this goes against the stands Dr. Cosby has made against hip-hop music in the past. It might be his way to bridge the gap and say, 'Hey, you can rap just make it not about skanks and booze," but it really seems a little late for that after pretty much discrediting the whole notion of hip-hop in the past. Even if it is the Cosnarati performing not so much Bill, it doesn't seem right. You can pick up your own copy on Nov. 24th, stream it until then.What's Good?: Hadn't tried it yet.Tracklist and Stream link for State of Emergency

Interesing CD Releases for Oct. 13

Quirky week at the record store this Tuesday. I've got three things to talk about, two that I'm pretty excited about and one very unfortunate Christmas album that's really boiling my holiday goose. In terms of the impact of a new record by The Flaming Lips on indie rock fans, the only real comparison I can come up with for mainstream people would be U2. Cultural events don't come any larger in the indie music community than the times when these very experimental and very theatrical rockers come out with a new opus. Embryonic is the latest. We just got it in the mail today, and I'm listening to it now for the first time. First impression is that it's a pretty glitchy affair, reliant on distorted and reverbed guitar that pervade everywhere, undulating with hypnotic rhythms. I'm excited to keep exploring it. For a full review check out this Thursday's Diversions section.Next up I've got something to scratch your itch for heavier stuff. Big, bold and monolithic, Baroness makes metal that, despite its volume, strides headlong with smooth, effortless momentum. The band's new album, simply dubbed Blue Record, has been sold to me as a pretty much pristine example of this, and as I listen to it now in a full, free stream on the band's MySpace, I'm having trouble not agreeing. Guitars tangle with vicious elegance, the vocals growl away with easily understandable angst, and rhythmic and melodic surprises abound, though they never come off as jarring. All in all it seems to be a strong, fairly accessible release that even non-diehard can get behind. Check back on the blog later this week, and I'll have a review for you guys.Let's get this straight. There are only two reasons I'm talking about this next record. One, if you do a record release round-up, it's pretty much impossible to ignore an album by Bob Dylan. Two, all the proceeds go to charity, and I don't like ignoring good intentions. Christmas in the Heart is the first Christmas album by America's very best (and still very Jewish) trouador. I've listened to two songs from the album so far, an unfortunately well-arranged and strangely impassioned version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and a seemingly self-pardodying original entitled "The Christmas Blues." I'd really rather not talk about the experience. It was pretty painful. Suffice it to say, if any Bob Dylan comes across my eardrums this Christmas it'll be some of his most raucous electric material. God knows I need something to blast this Hallmark bulls--t out of my head.There you have it. That's my take on this week's haul.

The Movie Trail for Oct. 13

I had mercifully forgotten about the monstrosity that is “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” a sequel to the infamous 1992 Harvey Keitel corrupt-cop vehicle, until the new trailer for it popped up a few days ago. To be fair, the theatrical trailer here is much better than the rough one that came out several months back, but it still looks absolutely god-awful. The visuals are dated, the dialogue stilted, and Nicholas Cage is still in it. For some reason this is all directed by Werner Herzog, the eccentric German filmmaker who made “Grizzly Man” and “Rescue Dawn.”  Anyhow, for those of you excited about the prospect of Nicholas Cage doing drugs with Xzibit and hallucinating about iguanas, eat your hearts out.Click above to check out more trailers.

Seeing stars

Birds and Arrows - Local 506 - Oct. 10 Birds and Arrows played Local 506 Friday night to celebrate the release of their first full-length album, the stunning Starmaker. Fellow local acts Mt. Moriah and The Never opened in a fervor of drums, pianos, and haunting vocals, but it was Birds and Arrows that had the crowd in awe, weaving tender harmonies amidst a background of guitar, drums, pedal steel and cello. The Native American motif added a peculiar, if festive, ambiance to the normally dark venue. Andrea Connolly, half of Birds and Arrows, crafted the feathered headdresses herself, adding that the reason she got to wear her great-great-(great?)-grandmother's beaded purse was because she had proven that craftiness to her mother.If the music was any indication, the Connollys' creativity extends far beyond beading and feathers, and as the set at Local 506 proved, Birds and Arrows are masters at crafting music. Check out the slideshow above for photos of the band's set.

Movie Review: The Invention Of Lying

Let’s be honest – nothing can trump Ricky Gervais’s first comedic brainchild, “The Office.” “The Invention of Lying,” like Gervais’s sitcom, introduces audiences to a new and inventive style of comedy. It’s a new type of funny – and it works.Living in a bleak alternate reality in which people only tell the truth and relationships are forged on purely Darwinian principles, portly and unhandsome screenwriter Mark Bellison (Gervais) must deal with a life of self-effacement. Bellison is forced to hear the harsh judgments of his acquaintances, as women explain to him that he is an unattractive man with poor genetics. However, when Bellison discovers the art of “saying something that isn’t,” as he puts it, he exploits the naïveté of those around him in order to create his own, less truthful reality.The dialogue is the film’s true strength, fresh and eerie as characters divulge their unfiltered thoughts. For instance, a restaurant hostess remarks to Anna (Jennifer Garner), “I feel threatened by your looks, and will loathe seating you. How many are in your party?” Gervais cleverly portrays such exchanges as normal, which entertains and disconcerts the unsuspecting audience.Gervais’s typical stuttering victim-of-circumstance routine blends perfectly with the brutal straightforwardness of the rest of the cast. Their performances suggest a difference between their matter-of-fact observations and bitter insults, ingeniously camouflaging many of the punchlines.However, the film is trapped by its romantic comedy formula. Mostly caught up in trifles, the story soon abandons the frenzy of divulgences and depends on cinematic tradition for a feel-good wrap-up.Infused with sharp writing and unexpected cameos, Gervais’ bold comedic invention is a rare imagination exercise only intended for those who aren’t afraid to laugh at the truth. 

Screen Time for Oct. 9

I swear I don’t rig the cards, or pray for a similar forecast every week. It’s just the way things break. It’s predictable and boring, and I don’t like it any more than you do, but it’s life in the world of movies.Yup, you guessed it: another Screen Time means another shit-show of stupidity at the multiplex and another potentially kick-ass rock-fest at the art house. But I’m more confident in this prediction than I have been for a while, so if I turn out wrong then I’ll eat my own pretentious cinematic underwear."Couple’s Retreat" (Wide Release) I almost had a heart attack the first time I saw the trailer for this film, and I had miniature aneurysms every one of the million times I had to sit through it after that. Vince Vaughn, in a movie that looks this impotent? Oh God, Vince, how far you have fallen! I thought “Fred Claus” was bad, but this new monstrosity is actually a tropical sitcom about reconnecting with estranged lovers and spouses at a Tahitian-looking retreat. Are you kidding me? Can anyone doubt that almost every single (potentially) funny moment is featured in the trailer? Or that that only comprises part of the trailer in the first place? I can’t imagine that this would appeal to any one other than an estranged couple, perhaps one racked by infidelity or sexual under-activity like those couples in movie, which is itself a terribly sad statement about its comic appeal, and a farce on the very genre of the sitcom."It Might Get Loud" (The Chelsea) I also almost had a heart attack the first time I saw the trailer for this film, mostly because the high voltage of rock 'n' roll bliss went straight to my inmost muscular organ. Here’s the premise: three world-famous rock guitarists get together for a little chat about their favorite types of guitars, favorite styles of play, favorite effects peddles, favorite ways to bring down the house, etc, etc. There will probably be a brief rundown of the history of the guitar, some awesome concert footage, some posturing and posing, and mostly a lot of rocking. Who are the guitarists, you ask? None other than Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (The White Stripes). Just to put one last notch in the film’s belt, it’s directed by Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim is most famous for directing “An Inconvenient Truth,” the water-tight documentary about Al Gore’s efforts to publicize the threat of global climate change. As far as I’m concerned, that puts only one or two degrees of separation between Guggenheim and that Nobel Peace Prize that Al Gore won a few years back. So this is, like, a rockumentary directed by a Nobel Prize Laureate. What more do you want? A personal endorsement from Jesus?

Music Review: Lonnie Walker

Lonnie WalkerThese Times Old TimesAmericana/Punk(Terpsikhore)Old times become new times as Lonnie Walker offers a colorful account of familiar life experiences. On its first full-length album the Raleigh band takes well-known themes of growing up, falling in and out of love and starting over, and breathes new life into them with clever lyrics and strong instrumentation.The lyrical composition is the lifeblood of the album. One moment frontman Brian Corum is wistfully musing about failed relationships and the next he’s rattling off humorous lines at breakneck speed, as in “Summertime,” where he sings, "It's a mighty fine nice head/And it's got mighty fine nice thoughts/And if my brain had legs/And it could walk around the block/Then it would wear a pair of sunglasses/And Coppertone Sunblock.”The frantic energy of the band is engaging and sucks you in to this well-controlled chaos. With “Compass Comforts,” Corum seems to be having a competition with himself to see how fast and how long he can say the words before he runs out of air. On “Back Home Inside You,” he takes the phrase “did you ever even really care,” and twists it and turns the order around with dizzying effect. But there is no sacrifice of content for fun; Corum doesn’t let his wordplay take away from delivering stories and messages that everyone can relate to.If Lonnie's lyrics are the blood, then the musical arrangements are the bones and muscle that hold the album together. Whether it’s the sinister touch of an organ, a retro-sounding chorus of croons or their trademark staccato rhythms, each song is infused with quirks that capture the attention of the listener. And yet the album flows together remarkably well, due in part to several well-placed  instrumental tracks.Lonnie Walker is a great example of how to make smart yet accessible songs that simultaneuously express both fun and sincerity. Much like the re-reading of a well-crafted book, These Times Old Times will have you hitting the replay button over and over again to catch something new.Lonnie Walker plays Cat's Cradle this Saturday night as part of I Was Totally Destroying It's CD release party. Show starts at 8:30 and costs $10.

5 Questions: Birds and Arrows

Ok, so marriage isn’t usually the fist thing that comes to mind when most people think of being in a band, but Chapel Hill's Birds and Arrows, comprised of husband-wife duo Pete and Andrea Connolly, prove that marital bliss and music go hand in hand. This week, Dive sat down to pick Andrea’s brain about inspiration, the local music scene, and bucking those pesky part-time jobs.Click above to check out the interview.

Sight vs. Sound: MSR4

It isn't often that musicians get recognized for branching out into other artistic genres, but this weekend, MSR4 is hoping to change that. The event opens on Friday at 7 p.m. at Wootini in Carr Mill Mall, and if the artists are any indication, the crowd will be full of local talent and enthusiasm. Before the big night, Dive decided to put together a sampling of what you'll see if you head to Carrboro for the gala and allow you to compare the art to the music. So go ahead and check out the visual and audi talents of the artists who play, paint, and carve right here in the Triangle.Laird Dixon - Art: "Royal Swine" | Music: "George's Train"Click above to check out more art and tunes.

Mixtape Round-Up: October 2-8

As slow as September proved to be with the utter lack of quality mixtapes, October started out very strong in its first full week. Basically this is my favorite release of the week because there is a bunch of dope emcees on the same joint. I gave you the NBA2K mixtape last week and this one trumps it something major. B.o.B.(Bobby Ray), Mickey Factz, 88-Keys, Colin Munroe, Pete Rock, Murs, David Banner and UNC’s own GQ (Quentin Thomas) all together is crazy. I didn’t even name everybody either. All these tracks are feature on the game which, was also released on Tuesday, and I’d like to see a line-up of videogame soundtracks, because this one has to be top 5. Did I mention there is song with Matt & Kim featuring De La Soul? No? Well there’s one of those too.What’s Good?: “Mind Got Blown” Feat. B.o.B. and Mickey Factz, “Ballin’” Feat. Murs, Jay Rock & KuruptTracklist and Download link for EA Sport NBA Live MixtapeClick above to read about more of this week's mixtapes.

Interesting CD Releases for Oct. 6

Lots of good stuff happening this week, so let's just dive right in.First up, Durham's own nationally acclaimed songwriter turns his fourth full-length in five years into brooding trip through biblical references. On The Life of the World to Come John Darnielle and his Mountain Goats delve into 12 slices of religious angst that are both named after and interact with specific verses from the Bible. Over eloquently melodic chamber pop, Darnielle picks apart the conflict  between Christian ideals and human imperfection, creating a product that broils with issues and emotions that affect most everyone.Indie rock stalwarts Built To Spill return this week with There Is No Enemy. I haven't heard a lot from this one, but from what I've read it's a sonically adventurous ride full of interesting guitar textures and invigorating arrangements. Built To Spill has always pushed the boundaries of so-called slacker rock into ambitious territory, so this really comes as no surprise. Suffice it to say, I'm probably going to be grabbing this one from CD Alley on my way home from the office.Also coming out this week is the self-titled debut release from British group The xx. This group has been garnering serious buzz for a brand of soulful, delicate pop rock that takes on sex without shying away form the details while also portraying it in a romantic light. From what I've heard, it straddles the line between hedonism and idealism with impressive dexterity. Along with catchy melodies and rhythms that at their best are nothing short of pure pop perfection, it's hard not to get caught up in the music the band is making.And though I won't write them up completely, there are two other records that should be worth checking out. The Raveonettes take Phil Spector's "wall of sound" back into the garage for another go round on In and Out of Control. If it's anywhere near as much fun as 2007's Lust Lust Lust, it'll be one heck of a good time. Also extremely talented shoegaze act A Place To Bury Strangers is back with Exploding Head. Alright that's all I've got. Get the headphones ready.

The Movie Trail for Oct. 6

Welcome to The Movie Trail where Dive rounds up the best hot new trailers for you every Tuesday.First up on this week’s trailer roundup is the brand-new trailer for the "A Nightmare on Elm Street remake," the latest horror classic to be pillaged by Hollywood. The trailer’s pretty much your standard horror fare- dark sets, jump cuts, screaming etc. We get one good look at Freddy’s face and plenty of shots of his famous gloves, but to be honest, I just don’t see Jackie Earle Haley being able to match Robert Englund’s iconic performances as Freddy.  There is one genuinely horrifying part in the trailer: “From Producer Michael Bay.”  Sends shivers down my spine.Click above to view more trailers.

Welcome to Oz

 Ghostface Killah - Cat's Cradle - Oct. 4 There was a lot going against Sunday night's Ghostface Killah show at Cat’s Cradle. Ghost was running late after missing his plane – we’ll excuse it because he was recording for the upcoming Ghost, Method Man and Raekwon project – Fashawn, the other billed artist, wasn’t attending the show and one of the fill-ins, Kooley High, was down one emcee. But after several hours of waiting, the show proved worth it to the packed house of hip-hop heads.Click above to read more about the show and view photos and video.

Mixtape Round-Up: Sep. 24 to 30

This week shaped up to be a pretty solid release wise.Wonder protégé Skyzoo dropped his anticipated debut, The Salvation, and Ghostface Killah made a porno with Ghostdini. A couple good mixtapes out there too.

5 Questions: WKNC

For those of you who don't know, N.C. State's excellent radio station 88.1 WKNC can be picked up in Chapel Hill. But that's not the only presence the station has had in Orange County this year. The first release party for Hear Here, a collection of local music made in collaboration with Terpsichore Records and Raleigh's Flying Tiger Sound recording studio, was held at Cat's Cradle in August. Adding this new pursuit and such events as a free local concert series on State's lawn to flourishing evens such as the annual Double Barrel benefit show, WKNC is pushing to be a physical as well as radio presence in the local community. Saturday the station will continue this push with the second release party for Hear Here as The Love Language, Inflowential and Motor Skills play Raleigh's Pour House. Earlier this week Diversions Editor Jordan Lawrence sat down with General Manager Mike Alston and Mikey Perros, a graduated DJ and the main catalyst behind the Hear Here effort, in the WKNC office for a talk about the station's ambitious pursuits. Click above to check out the interview.

Mountains of pain

Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Local 506 - Sep. 29  New York's emotional indie rockers The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart stopped by Local 506 for the second time this year on Tuesday, and this time they brought along excellent help. With The Depreciation Guild playing in addition to fellow N.Y.C. buzz band Cymbals Eat Guitars, the show was packed with talent. Check out Dive's photos and click above to check out video from Cymbals' set.

Local Song of the Week: "Corner"

Products of their environment don't come any more fully formed than Embarrassing Fruits. Taking the muscular indie rock of such local legends as Polvo and Archers Of Loaf and stripping them back to a quieter, more insistently nostalgic package, the Chapel Hill trio writes songs about its hometown and the experience of growing up in it. There is no better example of this than "Corner." Over a brisk stroll of acoustic guitar and bass, Joe Norkus relates cute but emotionally bruised memories of growing up on street corners as a triumphant horn punctuates the bittersweet feelings. It's a wonderfully relaxed remembrance that communicates without being forceful. So take a listen, download it and go out to Local 506 this Friday when the Fruits open up for San Diego's Wavves.Download "Corner" here.

Music Review: The Clean

For the past three decades a band from New Zealand has tested the water on new genres and been an underlying influence for many of today’s popular indite, punk, and new-wave groups. That band is The Clean, and if you don’t already know them, you should. With the release its new album, Mister Pop, The Clean have set forth on a new journey, stretching outside the confines of a single genre.The Clean has taken an album with few distinct lyrics and focused the majority of its uniqueness on an instrumental sound that establishes a relationship with the listener far closer than any lyrics could accomplish. Filling the bucket with shooting build ups of fuzzy static and overlapping melodic noises the band takes the listener on a walk down memory lane that is shaped by the way the instruments feed off one another.Opener “Loog” is nothing short of a psychedelic-surf anthem with an anxiously repetitive organ overriding the echoing background vocals. Its instrumental build up is shared with songs such as “Moonjumper” where the raw emotion can still be heard screaming in the distance in the form of caterwauling violin.The opening builds a slope for the band to ride down and show its multifaceted sound, as each track sews its own stitch into the. “In the Dream life You Need a Rubber Soul,” is a development of a sound nearly opposite sound from the opening tracks, ass a steady, easygoing melody accompanied by call and response-strumming guitars fill out its structure.The meat and potatoes of the album can be found in "Moonjumper.” With a symphonic buildup of the organ, violins, and spacey acoustics, it sounds more like an old Doors song than anything else on the record. But that’s just what the album is, a kind of beautiful mess of dissimilarities. There are few songs with words that stand out more than the music backing them.Mister Pop’s vast diversity builds a mental playground for the listener to swing, run, and climb on. It does for the listener what a conversation with an old childhood friend does, as each song finds a way to remind the listener of what it felt like to be careless and untamed, and that’s something that can communicate with someone who was 20 when the band first came around as well as it can with one who turned that age yesterday.

Cymbas Eat Guitars: Mountains of Uncertainty

With a meteoric start thanks to the good graces of powerful Internet buzz, Long Island's Cymbals Eat Guitars has become one of the most talked about up-and-coming bands to come out this year. Sporting a sound that throws a grab bag of devices that range from horns to hazy distortion at a wall of insistent grungy rock angst, the band also has the goods to back it up. In advance of the group's show tonight at Local 506 with fellow New York buzz band The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Diversions Editor caught up with lead singer Joseph D'Agostino to talk about the inspiration behind his fearful, yet wondrous songwriting.

Taking flight

Kaze - The Library - Sep. 25 There are few things more enjoyable to me than hip-hop supplemented with live instruments. So when Chapel Hill emcee Kaze was performing at The Library Friday night with Wilmington hip-hop/jazz/funk ensemble Organix, I was happy. Teaming up for the mixtape release party of Kaze’s First in Flight, the group’s dynamic helped bring an energy that is often devoid from hip-hop shows. After watching Kaze, however, I realized he would have been just fine without the band. With guest Mr. Mohalyn helping on the hooks, Kaze was back and forth across the small corner stage faster than he could move onto his next bar. For as lyrical as Kaze is, it’s amazing how animate and committed to displaying every emotion in his songs the rapper is as he performs. It’s part of what makes the backing band so essential for Kaze’s set. The rich soulful sound coming from the bass, keys and live percussion added that extra umph with each of Kaze’s Tiger Woods-esque fist digs. Organix emcee Fuzz Jackson also took a break from vibing in the crowd to hop on stage to drop lines on a couple tracks. Speaking of the crowd, Kaze had a constituency on the dance floor, singing along to the hooks and requesting quite loudly that he should perform “Fresh” off his mixtape. The show’s attendees were treated when “Fresh” proved to be the highlight of the set, though it was tough to out perform “A Day in the Life,” “Blowing in the Wind” and “919 Fashion.” Kaze also gave a newbie some time to shine as Fluent opened the show with a several song set and numerous forays into the crowd as he rapped.Click above for video from the performance.