Get Your Summer On With Chasing Pedestrians

A little slice of summer with the Charlotte-area’s homegrown entourage, Chasing Pedestrians.

I’ve been holding onto this blog post for awhile waiting for summer to arrive…and after an awesome weekend with great friends, I feel like a kid ready to break out of school for the year.  Unfortunately, I’m an adult with a full-time job and playing hookey for the summer probably wouldn’t go over so well.

That, however, did not stop me from immediately digging on Chasing Pedestrians, a band from Huntersville, North Carolina, when they opened for my loves Sequoyah Prep School a few months back.  I managed to catch about two minutes of their set at Strawberry Festival, too.  These kids are just plain summer fun.  Think Nelly Furtado meets the Cranberries meets Reel Big Fish – it’s not ska, it’s not rock, and it’s not rap, but it’s got the best parts of all three genres. This young act is quite the ensemble – complete with a horn section. Lead singer Michaela Amato, who also plays keys, sells this band – she is adorable, spunky, and has a voice that is to-die-for!   It’s modern day beach music that is sure to please your ears.

You can pick up their EP, Suddenly, We’re Older, on their Bandcamp page for the bargain-basement price of $0 – that’s right, kids, FREE.  “Brighter Day” is MADE for pool days (and Caribbean sailing, but that’s going to have to wait until February for me), and I absolutely ADORE “Tambourine Song,” a little bit of a slower song with tinges of The Cranberries.  While you’re downloading though, you should also pick up their self-titled 2010 EP on iTunes. “Can’t Tie Me Down,” “Anthropology” and “Summer Song” will inspire epic dance parties – I promise.

Here’s a little video I found on YouTube of their Strawberry Festival performance of “Tanked Outside” off Suddenly, We’re Older.  Thanks to WestArt for posting. Dig it, then go study up on Chasing Pedestrians.

More Chasing Pedestrians:  Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

Charlotte Tour Stop for The Well Reds!

Very excited to tell you all that about-to-break Atlanta artist Jeremy Ezell and The Well Reds are making a pit stop in Charlotte on Thursday, August 25th at my new 3rd favorite spot in town, Crown Station Pub. If you like serious piano and huge vocals with your rock n’ roll, this is a band that you simply must hear – and hearing it now in this micro-sized venue will be cooler than cool when these guys hit it big.

I first blogged about these guys back in March, and I gotta tell you, their EP has gotten heavy play over the past four months. Balcony TV Atlanta recently had two of the guys on to perform a little acoustic number, and it’s something magical when you can watch an artist perform and have the vocals sound as big and clean live as they do in recording. And the HARMONIES…so smooth! Talented little bunch, these Well Reds.

Check out this little promo video of their single, “Violet” (my favorite part, it should be no surprise, is the break that starts at 1:48 – CLAPPING!) then come on out to Crown Station in two weeks to catch ’em live!

P.S.  There’s a bunch of other videos on their YouTube page, so I highly recommend making a visit to see some of their acoustic stuff, too!

More of The Well Reds: Website | Facebook | Twitter | iTunes | YouTube

Queen City Gets Some Saints

Mark your calendars, Charlotte. Monday, July 25, a lil’ five-star musical morsel is descending upon the Queen City.

Saints of Valory is coming to our town.

*insert excited squeal*

First they are doing an End Session over at 106.5 at 2:30 PM.  You can enter to get an exclusive invite to the End Session over at 1065.com.

Then, they’ll be playing a set at Crown Station Pub on Elizabeth that evening.  For $5.  It’s highway robbery, really, but take ’em up on it. Get out and support an incredible, fresh new act.  I promise you a full on rock show that will leave your ears smoking and your face melted.

More Saints of Valory: Web | Twitter | Facebook | Bandcamp

Why aren’t you listening to this band?

Sometimes, I feel like there’s this very distinct divide in the music world – between “pop” music and the experimental, indie stuff. Between what the masses listen to and what the “cool kids” and critics are listening to. I love reading the magazines, articles and blogs that talk about the music that falls on the latter side of the line (for example, RSL, which is one of the best music blogs out there), but I consistently fall on the pop side. I totally don’t get the “outside the box” stuff. Maybe this is just representative of my limited mental capacity; perhaps I really know nothing about music at all. For example, I’m totally not ashamed to admit that I just don’t hear what everyone else loves about The Arcade Fire (bring on the critics!). Not one single thing about them appeals to me. Here’s a confession: There’s something about music with melodies that get stuck in your head and lyrics that you can sing along and relate to that grabs me. Pop, ladies and gentleman, is NOT a dirty word to me.

Despite my tendency to love the pop crack…on occasion, there’s an unusual band that grabs me from the very first note I hear them play.

Flagship is one of these bands.

These kids are flipping amazing. The first time I saw them live, they played a late show after one of my favorite little rock singers. I stuck around, more to hang out with my friends than to hear the late show band. But damn. Pull out the old-school microphone a la Robert Smith, and you’re gonna get my attention, no matter WHAT kind of music you’re playing. Add to that that this band that I’d NEVER EVEN HEARD OF before packed out The Evening Muse, and you can color me intrigued.

So I started listening. Closely.

I don’t have the music education background to talk in “lingo” about what this band does that appeals to me. I can’t tell you what time they’re playing in. Couldn’t tell you for the life of me what kind of guitar tones they pull out of their instruments or why it’s cool that Drake plays a Rickenbacker. I just know that it is. And that that I love their music. And that I want to play it. All the time.

Flagship bridges the very divide that I think exists in music. They’re creative and experimental, but their music is totally relatable for me. They’ve got those “earworm” type lyrics – the kind that you find yourself singing all throughout the day – layered on top of really complex melodies and flipping brilliant instrumentation. It’s “indie” music sans pretentiousness. One minute, they’re playing songs that are reminiscent of 80s new age, the next minute they’re channeling classic rockers like Tom Petty, and then to completely throw you for a loop, they play a song that sounds like it’s straight out of Americana. It’s incredible.

And I don’t know if I’m more impressed with lead singer Drake Margolnick with his cut-through-you wailing and haunting refrains or Logan Fincher’s little bursts of disgustingly creative guitar parts. It KILLS me that these kids are so young and they’re playing at this level.

Okay, and I might love, just a little bit that Drake pulls in a little Springsteen “Tunnel of Love,” whether he knows it or not, in their song “Enemies of the State” when he sings “Na na na na, hey…”

Tonight, I watched them play to a crowd of about fifty indie kids at a small bar in Charlotte – the kind of kids that wear Activision t-shirts when they’re too young to know what it was, and dresses and flowers in their hair when the venue attire is obviously jeans and t-shirt fare – and the only thing that kept running through my head was what Samantha from Sex in the City said, when she was talking to Smith about his career as an actor.

“First the girls, then the gays, then everyone else will follow.”

Their fans LOVE them. Rabid, Jersey Shore fist-pumping love them. You look around the crowd and everyone is singing along. People are filling in the parts from the recorded versions of the songs that don’t make it to the live show – hand claps, background vocals, the works. It’s kind of inspiring to see a crowd of young people be this stoked about music (and how old am I that I’m referring to a crowd at a live show as “young people?”).

Another way I know this band has “it” – whatever that “it” is? I was inspired to come home and write this blog. I haven’t been inspired to write much of anything lately, but their show left me buzzing. I’m talking punch-drunk, toe tapping, want to bring all of my friends to their next show buzz.

Glad I’m catching Flagship on the way up. Why aren’t you listening to them already?

Flagship online: Twitter | Facebook | MySpace

3/5 of Flagship

3/5 of Flagship

New Sounds in Charlotte: Campbell the Band

Suddenly, there are a few new and exciting young music acts coming out of Charlotte.  First, Flagship…now, Campbell the Band.

Hailing from Charlotte/Concord (the same small town that spawned indie music darlings The Avett Brothers), this quintet has a sound that will make any 70s-bear-my-soul-songwriter lover happy.  Absolutely stunning vocals. Their layered harmonies stand out against a stark backdrop of simple guitars and piano. The lyrics are smart and honest, questioning and hopeful, and at times a bit sad.

Their EP Bear With Us is a pleasure to listen to.  Stand out tracks include “This Family,” a heartbreaking number that is the clearest expression of emotions laid bare in family turmoil I’ve ever heard, and “We Are Free.”  But really, they’re all quite wonderful. This is the perfect quiet Sunday afternoon music.

I usually don’t make assessments of a band until seeing them live, but there’s so much promise in Campbell the Band’s music, I think it’s safe to say they’re going to impress me…Check them out, see if you agree.

Campbell the Band:  Facebook | MySpace | Twitter | iTunes