Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Live Music: Burnt Books, BoomBox, Mandolin Orange, Christopher Bell

Live music to check out this week

Posted by Devender Sellars on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Avantgardecore | Burnt Books
w/ Whores and Mountains of Earth
Fri. Jan. 25
8 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

Is there a place for banjo in the metal world? That's a question that perhaps was first asked when Mastodon released their breakthrough album Crack the Skye in 2009. But the question was never adequately answered. After all, the weapon of choice for music-making hillbillies was only featured on one song on Skye, and it was a tossed-off intro and nothing more. But now, we have an answer, and that answer is yes, thanks to Columbia-based band Burnt Books and their lead singer and banjo player Zoe Lollis. "Zoe has been writing and performing solo songs with her banjo for many years," Burnt Books drummer Troy Thames says. "We were all fans of hers before she joined the band. When we started writing the songs for the record, we all agreed to put a couple of Zoe's song on the record." While Lollis' songs, "Liar" and "Materialist Conspiracy Theorist," veer toward the bare-bones roots-rock side of the musical spectrum, the rest of the LP is packed with riff-heavy acrobatics and time-change whiplashers, thanks in part to the studio skills of Kylesa guitarist Phillip Cope. Thames, for one, doesn't see the band changing its ways just yet. "It's hard to say what the future plans are for songs. We just write what comes to us," he says. "It probably goes back to having a lot of members with different interests that makes the music feel like it is swerving all over the place." —Chris Haire FRIDAY

Afro-Disco Jam | BoomBox
Sat. Jan. 26
8 p.m./doors open
$15/advance, $18/door
Music Farm

BoomBox singer/guitarist Zion Godchaux is the son of Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux, and the acorn hasn't fallen far from the tree. The Alabama duo of Godchaux and DJ Russ Randolph fashion epic, groove-laden numbers, while their electro-funk fusion recalls the spirit of Galactic refracted through a folk-songwriter aesthetic and a more club-friendly thump. The duo formed in '04 and followed the next year with Visions of Backbeat, a disc packed with techno-fied soul grooves, spacey afro-disco rhythms, and acid-jazz roots. They got caught up in their heavy tour schedule, taking five years to follow-up with 2010's downriverelectric. Dance and pop strains bubble more to the surface as the band explores the confines of their sound. What it lacks in immediacy compared to the debut is made up by the richer, more nuanced production. The duo's been working hard in their respective studios, trading tracks for an upcoming third album. This new arrangement affords them greater flexibility, and they're excited by the promise, with the hope that they'll be able to release their next disc later this year. —Chris Parker SATURDAY

Country Folk Duo | Mandolin Orange
w/ The Train Wrecks, Marbin, and Les Racquet
Wed. Jan. 30
6 p.m.
$5/donation
Awendaw Green

Mandolin Orange's name suggests a colorful sunset, and, indeed, there's a sweet pastoral quality to the duo's country-folk songs. Guitarist Andrew Marlin plays guitar, vacillating between acoustic and electric while suggesting an appreciation for Neil Young's quieter, more somber moments. Though the music is quite pretty, it's steeped in foreboding darkness, landing somewhere between a bluegrass murder ballad and the parched dread of Will Oldham. Marlin's the principal singer and songwriter, but he'd be far less without his partner (musically and romantically), fiddler Emily Frantz. Her trilling vocals are a tender harmonic counterpart to his earthy baritone, while her fiddle provides rich texture and amplifies the music's shadowy overtones. The pair met in 2009 and followed the next year with their full-length debut, Quiet Little Room. They released the twin album set Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger late in 2011. The first album explores their folk-rock influences, and the second is a twangier, acoustic country-inflected affair. The duo is currently in the final stages of recording a follow-up, so expect a handful of new songs. —Chris Parker WEDNESDAY

Cello Looper | Christopher Bell
w/ Sequoyah
Mon. Jan. 28
10 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

If you need to know one thing about Christopher Bell, it's this: He plays the cello. Oh, and he's a veritable one-man band thanks to his love of loop pedals. And as much as you might think Bell would get tired of reporters asking him about the two main weapons in his arsenal, he doesn't. "I love telling people about looping and the cello. It's not something you see every day. I used to worry classical musicians would hate what I do, but I've found they have the most questions," Bell says. "Hopefully, people will see what I do and try something even weirder or do it even better." With that in mind, it's worth noting that Bell's most recent release, From Here to There, is one of the more diverse pop LPs out there, thanks to the New York-based singer's genre-bending style. On the album, Bell bounces from flip-flop rock, to some good ole Simon and Garfunkel-style folkers, to a Wild Western rocker ("I Want to be Loved"), and a whole heap of ballads. "I like variety in an album," Bell says. "Songs are like food. Pizza's good, but after eating it for five days straight you want something different. Same with music." Hear hear. —Chris Haire MONDAY

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