Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Phive for Phuzz

This weekend's Phuzz Phest , in Winston-Salem, is loaded with local acts I've seen before, love, and will try to see again (in the rapid-fire, sensory-overload fashion that these festivals afford).  But this short "Phuzzy Phive" concentrates on a few Carolina acts I haven't seen yet and a couple of national ones, each of which I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing.

Quilla (Greensboro, NC)

Quilla (pictured above) made her name as a DJ, and by penning the massive dance-floor hit Walls a couple of years ago.  But she's also a multi-instrumentalist who plays beautiful piano and sings introspective songs that at some times have an almost cabaret feel, and at others, experimental. Bjork is a pretty obvious influence.  Her bio says she's a linguist and anthropologist who's half-Peruvian/half-French Canadian (born Anna Luisa Daigneault), and she's settled here in North Carolina.  That pedigree gives you an idea of the diversity and originality you can expect from her show.  Her new album, Beautiful Hybrid, is a wonderful, moody jaunt. (Friday, 8:15pm, Millenium Center)

Shadowgraphs (Charlotte, NC)

This Charlotte band treads confidently on psychedelic ground, with a very authentic 1960s feel that still sounds relevant.  It also overlaps with the kind of jazzy, bossa nova scene I'm a sucker for.  Moonchild makes you feel as though you've slipped into a backroom of the house from Peter Sellers' The Party, into a secret party-within-a-party to which even Claudine Longet didn't get invited.  That song's got female lead vocals, but the male-sung tunes evoke a similar time and place, if a little more rock'n'roll.  (Friday, 8:45pm, The Garage)

Sunflower Bean (Brooklyn, NY)

This is one of the bigger name acts of the festival, and I wasn't gonna include them because, well, everyone's talking about them (this show will probably be hard to get into).  But their recent album, Human Ceremony, is just perfectly infectious, breezy indie-pop...  another thing I'm a sucker for.  Nothing groundbreaking, but it hits all the right notes, and has just the right amounts of reverb and punk thrown in.  It's a simple recipe, but it's hard to cook it right.  Sunflower Bean make you want seconds. (Friday, 11:45pm, The Garage)

Shirlette Ammons (Durham, NC)

To say this is a local act I've never seen isn't entirely accurate.  I saw Ammons once years ago at Local Band-Local Beer in Raleigh, I think.  That was a good show, but if I recall, fairly straight-ahead rock/hip-hop.  Listening to her new album, Language Barrier, though, I think she's achieved something special.  Ammons' career has always spanned wide territory.  But that chameleon-like variety all seems to congeal on Language Barrier into a collection that's at once diverse and cohesive. Despite the poetry/hip hop background, this is basically a pop-rock album, with a healthy dose of noise and a stellar cast of guest stars:  Meshell Ndegeocello, Indigo Girls, Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso), Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah), Hiss Golden Messenger, and others.  But they all work towards Ammon's singular musical vision, in which she rails against xenophobia, homophobia, and other societal problems.  Many of the songs are paired couplets, with a "seque" followed by the "main song", starting with the driving Earth Intro Seque and Earth Intro (featuring Indigo Girls).  I LOVE the pair of Language Barrier Segue (ftg. German rapper Sookee) / Language Barrier even more.  That German rap is damn infectious... and oddly reminds me of Arabic rap I listened to a long time ago.  I hope this "segue/song"structure is used live, but either way, it promises to be a compelling performance.  (Saturday, 8:15pm, Millenium Center)

Linear Downfall (Nashville, TN)

The write-up on this experimental band promises a "seamless blend of psychotic noise and beautiful melodies" and an "intense and jarring" show.  Damn, ya got me.  Listening to their music, it's an apt description.  You never know where they're headed.  From song to song, they tend to swap back and forth between sometimes downright abrasive soundscapes and more typically structured and (unexpectedly) even gentle songs.  Some of their earlier material seemed to be more straightforward pop.  But they're best when the they mix the melodic and the caustic.  For sure, Bjork is hiding somewhere in this musical noise amalgamation, too. (Saturday, 9:30pm, Krankie's)

As for Ammons, Sunflower Bean, and Shadowgraphs, you'll have to ask THEM if Bjork was involved in any way at all! :)

Phuzz Phest is this weekend, April 15th-16th, in Winston-Salem, NC.  It's held at a variety of clubs and outdoors spaces throughout downtown, all within walking distance of each other.  Wristbands are relatively cheap compared to a larger festival like Hopscotch, although for quality, Phuzz really holds its own with its big brother.  See for details.  

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