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Stream and/or download a song from each of the bands performing today at Troika, plus read the day's Artist Spotlight for The Love Language

Troika Music Festival: Saturday, Nov. 7 


Why you should go + Thursday's schedule + Friday's schedule


Trotter Building: Rock, Paper, Scissors Day Party

12:30 P.M. THREE DAYS IN VEGAS: Durham shoegazers Three Days in Vegas borrow heavily from UK pop-rock of the mid-'80s—Echo & the Bunnymen and U2 in particular—to create scenes of cinematic grandeur. Download "Hotel Lights." —SG

1:30 P.M. TIN STAR: Even on its most forward, charging tune to date, "Socially Distressed," there's a constant distance to the Britpop of Durham quartet Tin Star: Frontwoman Jamie Miyares moves from some liminal place, her voice—chased by traces of echoes—always at the border of melancholy and resolve. And whether by effects or note selection, guitarist Louis Botta bends his lines away from the obvious, pushing these would-be anthems toward the band's own private escape. Download "Bettie Lane." —GC

click to enlarge Mount Moriah - PHOTO BY D.L. ANDERSON

2:30 P.M. MOUNT MORIAH: There is buzz aplenty about the latest collaboration between Horseback's Jenks Miller and Bellefea's Heather McEntire, and the addition of Max Indian's rhythm section has only increased the anticipation. McEntire and Miller played together in the more pop-oriented Un Deux Trois but had also been periodically writing two-guitar front-porch songs. Now, after playing out more frequently and showcasing their Mount Moriah fare this year, the band has an album of these elegant, slow shufflers in the works. The outfit may have named itself after the Chapel Hill road that leads to Wal-Mart, but these rustic folk songs provide a more valid route to the "real America." Download "Old Gowns." —JS

[This show is free and features a market of art and goods from local artists and designers.]

Durham Skate Park

12-2 P.M. This free show features DJs, live music and skate demos in celebration of the new Durham Skate Park.

West End Wine Bar

7 P.M. SEQUOYA: Grooving bass and easygoing banjo counterpoint acoustic guitar with this Durham twosome. A little folk, a little rock, the sound builds as female vocals discover strength in confession. Download "Weary."AR

7:45 P.M. JASMÉ KELLY: Jasmé Kelly's deep, velvety vocals venture into R&B territory. Indeed, despite the singer-songwriter atmosphere furthered by Kelly's picked acoustic guitar, this music is for celebration—or baby makin'. Download "Brighter Side of Things."AR

click to enlarge The Tender Fruit
  • The Tender Fruit

8:30 P.M. THE TENDER FRUIT: In "Polar Bear," Christy Smith ponders being reincarnated as the titular arctic creature, or even as an empty ocean, after her lover mistakenly snaps her neck. Being both lighthearted and melancholy, serious but not overly so, is what The Tender Fruit does best. As Smith sings and plays guitar, Staci Sawyer grounds the music with shambling drum beats and wandering keys. Sawyer's vocal harmonies support and reassure Smith, who sounds lonesome like an old-time country crooner.

Sparsely furbished, many of these songs hinge on Smith's veteran singing. Prior to The Tender Fruit, she sang heartfelt, country-inspired songs with the band Nola. Smith recently backed Megafaun on "The Longest Day," a highlight from their latest release. She's also recorded with Bon Iver. But this duo stands apart, with a country-tinged aesthetic built on the comfortable interplay of instruments and Smith's quietly confident voice. Download "Middle State."AR

[This show is free and part of the Troika Evenings series.]

Marvell Event Center

8:15 P.M. SEA COW: Making major-chord, contemporary folk-rock, Sea Cow strives for classic coed songwriting that splits the difference between The Eagles and a more laconic New Pornographers. Occasionally, they smear the sharp edges into psychedelic shapes. Download "Misery Becomes Me." —GC

9 P.M. BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS: There's a lot to love about the lovely, vibrant pop music of Bright Young Things: sharp guitar lines, big choruses, a Beach Boys outro, and, hey, they're not afraid of a horn or two, either. Download "Telephone."—BB

9:45 P.M. LUD: Fronted by Carrboro Citizen founder Kirk Ross, the veteran Orange County rock band Lud glides effortlessly through the stations of rock, from blues to Kraut. Download "Those Stupid Bastards Poisoned the Town." —BH

10:30 P.M. LUEGO: You can find Patrick Phelan's Luego at the kudzu-covered power pop junction where Big Star and The dB's meet—hell, Peter Holsapple's even in the band. Download "Leave On." —JS

The Pinhook

9:30 P.M. VERONIQUE DIABOLIQUE: This minimalist, cabaret-tinged dark-wave party is led by Dominique Diabolique and her smoky croon, but it's buoyed by strong melodies that lurk in the shadows. Download "Spleen." —CP

10:15 P.M. CITIFIED: This Greensboro quartet doesn't hide its fondness for shoegaze, though they tilt more Slowdive than Swervedriver in the urgency department. But in coating their songs in warm layers of reverb and vibrato, and throwing in the occasional guitar jangle for contrast, Citified manages to avoid pure nostalgia. Download "Landlocked." —JS

11 P.M. GRAY YOUNG: Like blown glass, Gray Young's crystalline post-rock shimmers as if reflecting light from sharp edges. It fills space amorphously, though, without drawing attention to any one side of the trio more than another. U2 and Explosions in the Sky fans, take note: These guys have your number. Download "Across the Loft." —BR

Duke Coffeehouse

click to enlarge D-Town Brass
  • D-Town Brass

8:45 P.M. D-TOWN BRASS: In person, the music of D-Town Brass swells, thanks to its size 14 stage footprint. Eight members play brass instruments, so their name holds true. But this is not the traditional brass band of yore, playing marching songs or mutations of line band music like Durham's own Scene of the Crime Rovers. Nor do they play jazz per se, with improvisations or multiple solos. D-Town Brass is an amalgam of all these things, with a singular knack for picking up on the music's cinematic qualities.

Andy Magowan followed these types of tunes in his head with his band Malt Swagger, and the urge apparently has not left him. In "Zombie Rag," the suspenseful instrumentation leans toward skullduggery or, worse, murder. For music writ so large, the band stays incredibly nimble, and on some numbers it surges into skronk explosions above the guiding metronome undergirding the songs.

That's all to say that D-Town Brass appreciates visually evocative instrumental music, like David Lynch partnering with Angelo Badalamenti to realize the multihued dreams haunting him. And this is just one tone being explored in their nascent career. Download "Zombie Rag." —CT

click to enlarge Veelee
  • Veelee

9:30 P.M. VEELEE: Veelee is the dating duo of Matthew Park and Ginger Wagg, but don't peg them as another cute duo out to proselytize their love: Their pointillist guitar and keyboard lines and twisted rhythms are more intriguing and involved than some bands of detached dudes with twice the members. But don't peg them as another mathematical outfit, either. Along with the twists and textures come sweetly sung pop songs with dark stories to relate. Along with the likes of Lonnie Walker and Tea & Tempests, they're one of the bands this year's Troika should rightly break to wider Triangle audiences. Download "Pasture." —GC

10:15 P.M. SCHOONER: The peppy indie rock of Reid Johnson's Carrboro combo, Schooner, flirts with chamber pop elegance while insinuating itself like a sun-kissed summer day. Download "Lose Yourself." —CP

11:15 P.M. LONNIE WALKER: Lonnie Walker frontman Brian Corum is appropriately known for tumbles of words and twists of images that unfurl over a shambling big band locked forever between Pacific Northwest indie rock and full-on Highway 61 Revisited barn burners. But "Feels Like Right," Lonnie Walker's contribution to the recent Triangle compilation Hear Here, suggests that this band's capable of self-edited pop splendor: A four-minute love song with a hook that never misses, it's compact, concise and the kind of tune that demands broad attention. Download "Back Home Inside With You." —GC

Trotter Building

9 P.M. THE BRONZED CHORUS: Post-rock instrumentalists The Bronzed Chorus pack plenty of punch for a duo. Drummer Brennan O'Brien pulls double duty on keys, adding shifty rhythms to guitarist Adam Joyce's mounting guitar assaults. Download "Underpass Sunrise." —SG

9:45 P.M. MAPLE STAVE: Using the harder edges of '90s Midwestern indie rock (from Don Caballero to Slint and Silkworm to Brise-Glace) as the elements of its alloy, the trio Maple Stave turns the standard instruments of rock 'n' roll into daggers, knives and bludgeons. Completely menacing and meticulously constructed, their songs are some of the tightest, most unapologetically dramatic units on the docket. Download "I Will Fire When I Am Goddamn Good and Ready." —GC

10:30 P.M. THE TRAVESTIES: This Durham quintet seems to hail from another era, with an organ-driven '60s garage swagger that has a little time-gathered grit beneath its nails. But they're less interested in muscle than swing, finding a cool groove and riding it without hesitation. Download "Midgets on Bicycles." —CP

click to enlarge Red Collar
  • Red Collar

11:30 P.M. RED COLLAR: Of course Red Collar is playing Troika: They're the requisite hometown heroes, not because they're superstars but because their civic pride is such a part of the band's character. In fact, drummer Jon Truesdale is willing to shrug off an elbow fracture to play this hometown show one-armed. Good songs go a long way toward making a band, but Red Collar's power goes beyond its songs—which, are good, even great—and lies in its conviction, dedication and love for anyone with ears to lend. Also, look for Maple Stave's Evan Rowe to double on drums tonight. Always a bonus. Download "Pilgrim." —BR

Broad Street Cafe

click to enlarge Dynamite Brothers
  • Dynamite Brothers

9:30 P.M. DYNAMITE BROTHERS: When you see the name Dynamite Brothers, you might think, "Yeah, that's the funk band that did the music for those blaxploitation flicks in the early '70s, right?" Good guess, but Dynamite Brothers are a local hybrid outfit led by guitarist/ vocalist Mitch Rothrock and bassist/ keyboardist/ vocalist Shane Hartman. While there is a heap of funk and soul in the mix—especially when the Hercules Europe Brass horns and the female backup singers make the scene—jazzy excursions, Zeppish hard rock and an indie rock pedigree also figure in. And if they ever do get a soundtrack nod, the overdriven "Back at the Shack" will play during the obligatory chase scene. Download "In Time." —RC

10:15 P.M. RAT JACKSON: Rat Jackson does what it wants, welcoming the audience with a ragged garage-punk slap. Step back lest their swaggering good time flatten you. Download "Wanderin' Eyes." —CP

11 P.M. THE LONERS: Rattle, roll, boogie and howl: Raleigh staples The Loners pare rock to its skeleton, cramming a ton of 'tude into the spaces between a clanging backbeat and charred chords. Download "Crank It Up." —BR

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

click to enlarge The Love Language
  • The Love Language

12 A.M. THE LOVE LANGUAGE: Stuart McLamb didn't always have it this good: The leader and songwriter of emerging Chapel Hill seven-piece The Love Language was in a bad place in early 2008, as the well-known story goes. His relationship, like his latest band, had soured and ended. He had moved to Winston-Salem, away from many of his closest compatriots, including longtime friend Josh Pope. Most of the songs he wrote in the years before with Pope were juvenile, comical, cringe-worthy even. 

Brighter days might have seemed far off, but the isolation and his failed romance sparked something of a renaissance in McLamb. Today, he's at the helm of a promising, jaunty collective with a hot record and a freshly inked recording contract with Merge Records.

What a difference a year makes.

"It forced him to go to a new place musically," Pope says. "I remember first hearing the demos for The Love Language stuff and was just completely blown away. I always knew Stu was talented, but I'd never really seen that songwriting side of him." 

After McLamb recorded a set of demos, he formed a band with Pope on the bass and landed a spot opening for indie-poppers The Rosebuds last year. The fruits of his labor? A nine-song collection of rousing, lo-fi rock that chronicles a disintegrating relationship with ramschackle tunes, sung and shouted to the sky.

Friday, Pope was in Chapel Hill helping the band prep a home recording studio for its follow-up. Most of the band shares a house on the outskirts of Chapel Hill, while McLamb lives across town and writes new songs.

Aside from Pope, who's known McLamb since they were prepubescant upstarts, most of The Love Language was assembled only after McLamb's songs saw daylight in mid-2008. Still, the relatively recent born-on date just goes to show the chemistry they seem to have as players.

"After the first practice, we were just kind of smiling and shaking our heads," he recollects. "There was definitely a feeling that, 'Wow, there's something more than we can just happen to play and make music together.' There's a connection."

So what's next for The Love Language, fresh off its new contract with Merge?

"You get on a roster of musicians like that, we just want to prove ourselves and even outdo them," Pope says. "I'm not saying that we're better than any of those bands, but we definitely feel a challenge to show that we do belong." —Billy Ball

Download "Lalita."

Bull McCabe's

11:30 P.M. BUTTERFLIES: Marrying meticulous instrumentation to soaring vocals, Butterflies reimagine indie pop in laid-back folk environs, fiddle darting around acoustic guitar and a simple trap kit. Those intimate settings provide the ideal backdrop for the contemplative (though hopeful) soul searching of former Mortar and Pestle frontman Josh Kimbrough, who gets help from a revolving cast of friends and Trekky Records associates, including pianist/ girlfriend Katie Zickefoose. She adds generous harmonies. Download "Mind Games." —SG

click to enlarge Pistil - PHOTO BY DEB ARONIN
  • Photo by Deb Aronin
  • Pistil

12:15 A.M. PISTIL: Self-described as "indie pop punk," Pistil indeed fuses all three, culminating in something like Vivian Girls, Sleater-Kinney or a less frenzied Bikini Kill. Download "Romance Me." —BR

[This show is free and part of the Late Night series.]

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