Lately I have taken to night walks. Slow solemn steps through darkness I wander, dressed in black, emerging in street light and disappearing again into the shadow we call night. Always I am joined by the company of music. Headphones on, ambivalence tuned up, I make my way through the side streets of my sleepy neighborhood listening to a debut song by a new local artist. His name is Tre Charles. His song, “Stressin”, debuts on 4/26.
A soft melodic intro matches the pace of my strides as I ease into my ambling. The percussion enters and my feet fall into rhythm. Within a beat we are joined by a dulcet emotive voice. With a lyrical delivery focused on assonance, I allow myself to be carried by the sound of a resonant voice whose inflections tell me everything I need to know. There is sorrow here, longing, isolation, the tone of despair.
True to the genre of R&B, Tre’s debut song holds within it a meditative soul and emotive flow. Self-described as an embodiment of his “personal and social struggles,” this song is contemplative, emotional, and delivered by a voice embracing of its own vulnerability. It certainly pairs well with soul-searching shadowy night walks.
Listen to the song and check out its accompanying music video, now live across platforms.
Featured artwork by Cool Boy 36, courtesy of the artist and Raund Haus.
Long meandering walks have become a regular ritual for me. Many miles I have trod, headphones on, walking to the beat of some tune, sometimes new, sometimes old, but always relevant to mine ears. Today’s walk featured a different palette of “eclectic” than the usual shades of strange that color my daily strides. An advance copy of Raund Haus’ Year 5 compilation had arrived in my inbox shortly before I ventured out into the afternoon sun. So there I was, buttoned up in my usual hat and head-to-toe black, stepping into the light of day in the welcome company of old friends.
Now 5 years alive, the Durham-based collective celebrates its birthday with the release of RH – 101, a compilation of previously unreleased music from artists who have been featured on Raund Haus releases and stages throughout their tenure. Illuminated by artwork created by the co-founder and visual expressionist we know as Cool Boy 36, the 101 release spans a spectrum of sounds akin to a mixtape of early demos.
From the edge of noise to the sprawling influence of hip hop to the familiar dance-driven pastimes of house and techno, Raund Haus does it all. Filled out by a range of styles, including the pervading eccentricity of co-founder Trandle and the contemplative cadence of fellow co-founder Hubbble, our friends at Raund Haus have put forth a series of tracks which narrate the journey toward their present moment. And I daresay the dance-inspired vibrations of Footrocket, Treee City, and especially Ronnie Flash had me sliding and gliding down Durham side streets, much to the amusement of my neighbors.
The 101 release feels very much like a walk through time, like a visitation with the accomplishments made thus far. At the 5 year mark, Raund Haus has created a portfolio of releases that span the globe, as well as events and parties which endure in local folklore. I expect their future steps will stride with the same originality as we have thus far seen. Exemplifying the soundscape range of the beatmaking multiverse, Raund Haus is ever pioneering into unfound sounds. Look out for the release of RH – 101 on February 26th.
Being trapped in my house for the past 4 weeks, with minimal human interaction and too much homework to comprehend, has (almost) driven me to the brink of insanity. But I’ve found that new music makes quarantine a little more bearable. So, when my editor sent me a bunch of different links to musical artists across the Triangle, I couldn’t have been happier.
One of the links was for Flash Car, a modern psychedelic pop-rock group featuring the works of numerous composers. It contained two unreleased songs “Two Minutes ‘Til Midnight” and “Inchworm.” Both tunes play on my affinity for psychedelic sound and odd storytelling, so I was immediately hooked when I listened to them for the first time.
“Two Minutes ‘Til Midnight” begins with a slick rhythmic cavalcade of drums and guitar, which pulled me in and made me feel like I was at my first house party, intoxicated with the buzz of laughter, dancing and cheap liquor. Fast-paced instrumentals match the nervous excitement and elation I tend to feel at the beginning of a party. As the song progresses, the instrumentals slow, mimicking a warp in time–the lyrics “silhouettes slide off the wall” is repeated as the tone becomes somber. The song builds back up to its original pace swelling into a crescendo of sounds that feel like bright colors and fireworks. Each element of the track comes together to produce the highs and lows of one trying to make the most of the night before midnight strikes.
Similarly captivating, “Inchworm” turned out to be my favorite. On its surface, the track sounds like the backing for a circus act featuring acrobatic inchworms, but upon further inspection, reveals a tale of longing and wonderment for these elusive creatures. Each element of the song, from its lyrics to its trippy storybook melody, encapsulated me. I couldn’t help but make associations to Tim Burton’s old film school animations and Amanda Palmer’s Evelyn Evelyn. As the song progressed, I pictured a ringmaster, hued with old film grain, allowing a group of bright green inchworms to practice their acrobatic acts in the palm of his hand. As I listened to it over and over, I kept thinking, ‘I have to make an illustration,’ so I did just that. It’s not every day you hear a song that makes you think of so many niche things, but “Inchworm” did that for me. Even if you don’t associate Inchworm with Tim Burton, Amanda Palmer, or a circus, you’ll most likely paint a picture of your own while listening to this tune.
Flash Car did magnificent work. Each song feels like a gift, wrapped with a unique blend of psychedelic intrigue and individualism. Now that the songs are released, I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did. Also, Flash Car, if you’re reading, thank you for making quarantine a little more interesting.
Featured image is an original illustration by Jodie Londono. All rights reserved.
I had no idea this project was coming my way. But holy shit I am glad it did. I had asked The Editor to send me some music to write about. She responded by sending me all the information about The Muslims cover song contest and asked me to do in-the-moment reactionary writing to each of the songs submitted.
I need to make it very clear: I think The Muslims are incredible. The first time I listened to them, I was wowed by their originality. With razors edge delivery of sound and radical lyrical content, they make me believe people still like it hard!
Listening to new music makes me happy. Having opportunities to listen to bands I have never heard of playing covers of a band I love is a gift.
Covers are difficult. When you cover a song, you put yourself and your band in front of a firing squad of armchair critics. I am not in an armchair. I am an old fan of The Muslims looking to be a new fan of new bands.
Pro-Bitch sent a video that looks like they hiked with their gear into a wilderness cabin, plugged in a worklight and got down to business. I love it.
Their cover of “ISLAMARADO” begins with a confession: “We tried to learn ‘ISLAMARADO,’ but it was hard for us.” Well, I hope pushing through the learning curve was rewarding for Pro-Bitch, because they kill it.
The original is hard, staccato in your face, a “fuck off I did it” vibe. The Pro-Bitch version is softer in delivery, but with the vocals sitting way up front. It has an edge and an exposure to the lyrics that still convey The Muslims message loudly and clearly, reminding us that we need to listen, we need to act.
sister,brother’s cover brings to mind the feeling of wandering around a campus of storage units, trying to find out where the music is coming from. It’s faint, the vocals distant, lurking. The music, a guitar tuned just enough to be enjoyable and offsetting. The whole mix seems to create a barrier and an invitation. Find us, find the sound, find out what your missing. Around 1:20 into the song, the beats amplify, you’re closer and then…it’s over! Shit. Play it again.
The Muslims’ version shares similar dynamics, but the difference being the original is upon you like a rabid dog, a punch to the head at the start. No need to look for where the sound is coming from, the strings of the guitar seem like metal cables waiting to be cut and released.
Bruce Stevens adds almost 2 minutes to this song with the addition of a sound byte at the start. Fantastic addition. The speaking (interview) at the beginning is important and begs to be heard over the sounds in the background that threatens to swallow the words in one bite. I listened to just the beginning several times to catch everything being said.
The Muslims delivery of this, from the first chord, makes me want to start getting my knees high and circling up for a good old hardcore pit on the dance floor.
WHOAA! I am glad I can see the accompanying video of Emily playing all the parts. Inside a cloud of smoke, she blows this cover up. Emily pushes out a very cool 50’s, soulful vocal delivery, charmingly disarming, for sure.
The way Emily spits out the lyrics is like sitting with a friend who is pissed off and unloading the truth.
The instrumentation is tight as hell, which I know can be incredibly difficult when playing all the instruments, synching it all up, and maintaining a level of emotion that delivers a wallop.
The Muslims’ original version of this is quite similar as far as instrumentation. Their vocals sit back a little in the mix, rounder, less staccato punch at the end of each line.
The Royal Burgundy, “Payday”
Imagine Tom Waits letting it all hang out: delivered with gruff voice that sounds like it was honed by a bottle of whiskey and an ashtray full of smokes. Delicious!
I really enjoy some of the lo-fi sounds. If you know Daniel Johnson’s work you will hear it in The Royal Burgundy cover.
The Royal Burgundy slows this song down. The sludgy, Melvins-like approach enhances the raw honesty of the lyrics. Clarity shines through the ripped vocal chords of the singer.
The Royal Burgundy deliver a perfectly packaged cover staying true to the emotions while lending a different voice and vibe.
The Muslims’ version of “Payday” has such a true punk delivery that it seems to pay homage to early-to-mid eighties punk. In a way, paying homage is like a cover, hard to do right, risky, with either punishment or reward. The Muslims go for reward.
The Muskids, “Muslims at the Mall”
I am so glad this submission came in. These rockers bring the true feel and flavor of punk to the forefront of my mind. Say hello, hit the strings and keys and go for it.
The Muskids look like and sound like veterans. They bring a bit of the rainbow unicorn vibe. Well done.
The Muslims’ version is a quick build, the wick lit on a stick of dynamite, then, AT THE MALL!
Both versions make me smile.
I am glad that I do not have to make the decision about this contest. Every person and band involved brought something great to the songs.
Thanks to all the bands that submitted. I enjoyed it all and will be coming to see you play soon. Who knows, we might even play a show together!
Editor’s Note: On December 14th, The Muslims announced the winners of this contest. That information can be found on their website. I wanted to take a moment to say we at Durham Beat were also inspired by this contest. We are grateful for the creative wave it brought to so many local artists, ourselves included. It’s fucking disgusting and we love you. See you at The Pinhook in January.
Featured image is an original Durham Beat photograph by contributor Larry Jones, Jr.
Our next installment from Premiere Local features another single from Joe MacPhail‘s solo project SunSp·t. “By Your Side,” the second single from his upcoming album artAttack, is a glittery, feel-good tune, apt for a romantic summer night. Stream Joe’s single directly on Durham Beat! Stay tuned next month for another Premiere Local release!
This is an unusual album review for Durham Beat because it is not local. I wrote this piece in an abrupt and spontaneous whirl of inspiration, like an impassioned quickie in a punk show bathroom. That’s what I felt like I was doing while listening to Sea Moss’s new album, Bidet Dreaming. This album is dirty, riotous sex.
Lately, I have been listening to a lot of loud music. I have been hungry for it. I love noise. To satiate this lust for loudness, I put out a call to my friends via Instagram stories to “please send more noise” and received a great many links to metal albums. However, one person seemed to know exactly what I was looking for when he sent me a few “hot tips” to explore, including Sea Moss, who he said would be playing this Wednesday at Nightlight with a couple of local noise makers. I went to their bandcamp page and started listening from the top to the Portland, Oregon duo’s May 2019 release.
Much like spontaneous heated passion, Sea Moss wastes no time getting to the crux of things with their title-track opener. It’s pandemonium, y’all.
By the time I get to track four, “Appease the peas, please” I am steeped in gritty, glorious chaos. What unadulterated lust this song is. A teasing, noisy and percussive opening soon erupts into sex in the middle of the dance floor.
I can’t wait to dance at this show.
Speaking of teasing, let’s talk about “Fancy Shit,” the sixth track on the album. The drums come in first, deliberately stumbling into a beat over the course of many timed pauses, staggering the build up with coy precision. A great tease will tell you that timing is everything. And when the song finally comes crashing in, they hold nothing back.
All together this album reads like James Joyce’s Dirty Love Letters to his wife. Highly recommended reading.
Sea Moss will be joining two local acts, sister,brother and Distributed Systems, at Nightlight on Wednesday. I have a feeling it’s going to be a hell of a night. I will certainly be there to find out for myself.
Featured image is the cover of “Bidet Dreaming” by Sea Moss.
Durham Beat is proud to present our inaugural Premiere Local series: collaborations with local artists to debut original work. Our first installment of Premiere Local features local musician Joe MacPhail, member of eight local music groups (including The Oblations, XOXOK, and dreamRoot) and author of a solo project called SunSp·t. A full-time working musician and multi-instrumentalist, Joe wrote, recorded, engineered, and mixed the entirety of his new and upcoming album artAttack, which is due out in September. Today, June 25th, we at Durham Beat are delighted to host the debut of the first single from this record, “Wash Over Me,” which you can stream below. We wish you happy listening!
Hit play. Listen. Pause. I need to see a visual of the person singing. What a voice! So, I look up XOXOK and find a video of XOXOK playing in a room with just his guitar.
Hang on… let’s back up. When I hit play, I was stunned by the voice I heard, but there was a voice in my head was saying, “This isn’t what you usually like!” Well, I made that little voice shut up and opened my mind to the music.
What I soon discovered was the enormous amount
of talent and passion XOXOK has and puts so effectively into his music. His
voice is rich and textured. A blend of modern R&B with a strong and
powerful throwback to 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s soul.
The backing vocals pick up his voice and
compliment it rather than drown it out or compete with it.
When the first track, “Nancy” starts,
it strikes me as straight up radio pop, then moves, slides and slithers its way
into an “in the pocket” grove that builds and climaxes with the guitar
XOXOK can play the hell out of a guitar. The
dynamics are incredible. You think you are being seduced and lulled, and then
he hits you with noise, reverb so dripping and eloquent. It is this dynamic
that shows his depth of talent.
want to hear this song in a film. I would love to see a Tarantino film or a
film of that genre take “Flaws” and use it to drive a scene. It is a beautiful
song that took me for a trip through the eras of influence XOXOK must explore.
Keenan Jenkins is XOXOK. Let that be known. He
may hold a Ph.D from UNC, but his calling is truly vocal master and translator
of guitar legends throughout time.
At last, Moogfest 2019 is upon us. Like with our Freebies & Local Fun staff picks, the Durham Beat staff put together our general must-see picks. Here’s what each of us had to say:
is a Digital Picnic & Visualizing Sound with Code & Digital Making Playground; Please Program the Flowers;
I don’t really know what any of these workshops are actually about, but I have spent a lot of time in the NCSU libraries and they’re always inventing new trippy ways to display information, so I’m sure it will be cool. Whatever it is. In one of them you make virtual reality floral arrangements.
Building the Sounds that Break Down Walls
At first, I thought the title of this workshop
was a sly hint about like, liberal multiculturalism but no, they mean literal walls. You get to build something called the Death by Audio Doomsday Oscillator.
5:15-6:45PM @ ATC
Federal Funding for Emerging Artists.
This sound like a great workshop for those looking to enter the Long Game and make a living and lifestyle as an artist. I wish these workshops were available when I started playing touring and scribbling.
Leon and Jimmy Destri from Blondie
The production and musicianship on Blondie albums are world class. Their recordings shaped so many artists and recording engineers and probably some of your favorite music.
Thomas Dolby!!! This will be a nerd and freak fest!! He is pretty mind blowing. If you have never heard him get your freak flag out and wave it with pride!
Hopefully he plays “Submarine”.
QuestLove… Drummer/Dj/Curator of musical culture transitioning well beyond “just” hip hop. This guy’s crates move through it all. He’s also the DJ that Prince showed Finding Nemo over… See, Storyville #2 Questlove vs Prince for reference. There’s a free one Sat afternoon and a late show at the Fruit. I’m planning on free by day.
Vorticity (Installation) Same here. Bell Labs… Audio and Visual immersion based on a sliding bubble? The nerd in me needs this.
15-Minute Songwriting 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019
I’ve recently started dabbling in songwriting, and find myself constantly creating lines, and melodies in my head while I’m out and about with no way to capture it. I’d love to attend this workshop to see how to remedy that so I don’t lose good ideas.
8:30 PM – 9:30 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
I’d be lying if I said electronic/techno was my favorite kind of music, unless we’re talking about LCD Soundsystem, which is really electronic light if we’re being honest. But if I’m going to listen to electronic, I’m down to pair it with an artist with an amazing and unique voice like Matthew Dear.
Craig Leon and Jimmy Destri of Blondie in conversation 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019
Honestly, I love a good conversation. I like listening to people talk about interesting things (for clarity, I like this live, podcasts and talk radio bore me). Craig Leon has produced some amazing bands, and Jimmy Destri is from Blondie, so c’mon. Blondie!
JOSHUA ESTOCK – FOCAL MONITORS Focal Presents: Hear Your Music, Not Your Monitors. 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019 Full Frame Theatre | Conversations
When I first started recording, I found out very quickly that it’s much harder than I thought. I hope they have tricks for getting rid of that incessant buzzing.
MADAM GANDHI Own Your Voice: Electronic Music Making as a Source of Personal Liberation w/ Madame Gandhi 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
All I can say is YES. I’m tired of going to shows that have no onstage diversity, and I know the fear of performing in a cis-white-guy dominated space. This is on both Friday and Saturday, so there’s 2 chances to catch it.
So many awesome musicians in one room! I’m excited for this on so many levels.
VIVEK BORAYwith Vivek Boray, Abhi MeerCreativity,
Technology and Democracy in the Global South
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Carolina Theater – Cinema 2 | Conversations
This sounds super informative and relevant toour here and now.
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Carolina Theater – Fletcher Hall | Performance
A legend. A pioneer. Almost certainly the oldest artist on the lineup, Gleeson played with Herbie Hancock back in the 70s and has had a career that spans over 5 decades, starting back in the 1960s. Wicked jazz head.
THE FLOOR B2B SHOWCASE
10:00 PM – 3:00 AM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Fruit – Basement | Performance
The Floor is a local collective and they’ve got a few sets lined up at The Fruit. DON’T MISS OUT.
11:30 PM – 1:00 AM | Thursday, April 25, 2019
The Armory | Performance
German DJ likely to lift you from the ground with his cutting-edge tunes. Put another way: you will be compelled to DANCE, y’all.
MADAM GANDHI Own Your Voice: Electronic Music Making as a Source of Personal Liberation w/ Madame Gandhi 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Friday, April 26, 2019 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Saturday, April 27, 2019
Really looking forward to this. Madam Gandhi performed at last year’s Moogfest and returns this year for a few talks on empowerment and identity in making music.
Last year, when Durham Beat was little more than a month old, we got press access to Moogfest. I was elated. All full of fire about it. We spent the four days of the festival covering all of the locals. Long hours and hoards of fun. We are proud of the work we created from that experience. I am excited to be doing Moogfest again this year. It’s almost ceremonious. We did just celebrate our first birthday last weekend! I think I’m still a little bubbly about it. And now here we are… our second Moogfest.
We have prepared a little sampling for you, a taster tray of free and local stuff. I asked my fellow staffers to send their picks and this is exactly what they said:
Party Illegal is a fun queer dance party series! They’re into
weird shit and are really invested in building up a grungy local EDM
I second on the
the Papis. Fun, energetic DJs. Will certainly play some Wu-Tang if you have
that look on your face.
Haus: get local & support the Bull City!
Free tip. Go into any local restaurant and bike shop
(Bulls Eye). Bulls Eye sells beer, so you can stand in the shop and hang with
musicians. Ask who plays in a band. Get the names of these bands go
home and listen to them. This is free and will help you explore the Bull City
soundscape. Enjoy local food and meet artists before they get too big to
meet in person.
If you have never been on a cruiser ride call Bulls Eye bikes. Thursday,
free bike ride around town. Meet locals get tips.
Challenge…take pictures with you and a local artist and send
them to the Durham Beat.
I’m all in for this one. I’m a fan of the Roots, but I’ve never seen Questlove solo before.
3. PARTY ILLEGAL 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Thursday, April 25, 2019 Quarterhorse | Free Programming
dance! Dance! DANCE!
Why WOULDN’T you want to see Questlove?
Especially for free! He’s a creative genius, and you get a chance to see him
for free? Yes, please.
Ok, this may seem like a boring pick, because of course people
are going to stop by there. But last year, there was some amazing vinyl booths.
My husband and I scored an original pressing of Pinkerton by Weezer and an
original pressing of Pleased to Meet Me by the Replacements. My vinyl
collection is super excited to see what’s in store this year. My wallet? Not so
MOOG STORE BY GUITAR CENTER I mentioned that I recently started dabbling in songwriting. A few years ago, I picked up a guitar for the first time (well, first time with the intention of playing it) and have been hooked ever since. Now, one of my favorite pastimes is looking at guitars. I just can’t help it.