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Big House Radio
Big House Radio, “Daylight”
Winner of the popular Last Band Standing contest in Asheville, N.C., Big House Radio has been gaining fans well before all the recent hype and their 2010 Bele Chere Festival appearance.
A rock-jam band composed of a crew of multi-talented musicians, with varying styles and influences, Big House Radio members have been involved in the Western North Carolina music scene for many years in an assortment of groups. Now they are finding major success with their rock-infused debut album “Daylight.”
The band grooves along throughout all the tracks on “Daylight.” With a feel not unlike local faves Jupiter Coyote, the band’s guitar sound closely resembles the early days of Blues Traveler, minus the big guy with the harmonica. Based out of Waynesville, N.C., the band’s influences range from soul, blues, rock, and fusion-jazz. Members Tommy Dennison (lead guitar), Jeremy Hyatt (lead vocals), Aaron Platenberg (guitar), Josh Mason (drums), and Jeff Redman (bass) create an energy that is wildly enjoyable at their live shows. Hyatt with his commanding stage presence and powerful vocals allows room for the other members of Big House Radio to shine on songs like “Wasted” and “Freight Train,” which have quickly become fan favorites. Big House Radio is well on its way to finding its place in the ever-expanding Western Carolina music scene.
Justin Townes Earle, “Harlem River Blues”
Long has New York City enthused and created countless artists, musicians, and performers, many of which have either succumbed or survived its inescapable and largely unexplainable energy and mystique. As the long-standing tradition goes, artists pay their dues at the onset then their respects as success follows, allowing themselves to become a part of the ethereal muse which caused Thomas Wolfe to lament: “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
The city that can make you can also rear its most unpleasant side too. The dark underbelly of such beauty has entranced many with unfortunate outcomes.
However, Bloodshot Records recording artist Justin Townes Earle’s outcome is anything but unfortunate. Earle has penned an exceptional new album, “Harlem River Blues” as an inspired Southern gentleman, a Tennessean living in New York.
Earle is an extremely tall fellow with an impressive aura about him, full of style and swagger. He carries himself with a presence that may precede his ability. It’s entirely unlikely, but the unspoken question remains: is all this fuss rightfully earned or is this a case of riding coattails?
It is only three years into his recording career and the answer is clear and evident to anyone listening, Earle is a promising artist just beginning a promising career as a songwriter. Son to the legendary Steve Earle, Justin embraces the classic folk tradition that you could imagine on AM radios in the 30’s and 40’s. Tones of Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, and even “Strangers Almanac”-era Ryan Adams can be heard and felt as he swings with songs of love, heartache, and distraction on the new album.
It could be due to the Dust Bowl era folk songs, or just timeless songwriting, regardless of genre, but Earle is able to pick his way from Nashville through Appalachia with authentic intentions and still find a way to rise above the countless hordes of alt-country troubadours that have hardly half the inherited pedigree to which Earle lays claim.
“Harlem River Blues” is one of 2010’s best roots album, and arguably the finest bit of songwriting Earle has released. Accented with guest spots from the talented Jason Isbell (of Drive By Truckers fame) and Calexico’s Paul Niehaus, the album is simplistic with its production, which is perhaps another reason the record possesses such poised gracefulness that is steps beyond his first two albums.
Despite his personal problems with addiction and run-ins with the law, Earle has steadily increased his popularity not with his name but on his own accord with three stellar albums that are more enduring with each release. The impending forecast is a good one if Earle can keep himself out of the headlines for matters unrelated to his greatest talent—his music.
Now You See Them, “Things Can Change In a Day”
The folk trio that has made a name for itself with original instrumentation and catchy indie-pop songs has continued on its path with its first studio released EP, “Things Can Change In a Day.” Agreeing to record a batch of older songs that have long been in their repertoire, Now You See Them’s EP is an honest reflection of what their live shows are like—minimal overdubs, no additional instruments or musicians, just killer melodies and poignant lyrics.
On the shimmering “It’s Worth It,” Dulci Ellenberger sings: “Even if those memories hurt\it still would be completely worth it\for memories like these.” With their vocals simply arranged, sans auto-tune and other non-essential effects, Shane Conerty and Ellenberger trade off lead vocals with equal appeal. Percussionist Jason Mercer’s beats are timed perfectly, yet not overpowering the songs, fully complimenting the intricate chord changes and melodic interludes with precision.
Overflowing with potential, Now You See Them creates an addictive sound with its pop origins and indie-cool flair, something that can only come from an honest desire to create great music. With their sights set on their next project, a full-length album of new material and new arrangements, Now You See Them plans to return to the studio in 2011 and continue their ambitious pursuit of carving out a name for themselves in Western North Carolina and beyond.