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Raleigh Rhythms 

Notes on the Raleigh music scene

Kings & KNC Kooperate
Ask most students at N.C. State University where exactly Kings Barcade is, and you'll get the same quizzical expression that they provide everyday in Calculus I (or that engineers give in a humanities class). Then again, ask the same cohort what the call letters of the student radio station on campus are, and you may get something like "Really? We have a radio station?"

Together, Kings--the downtown, seven-nights-a-week stomping ground owned (in part) by two former State students--and N.C. State's resurgent WKNC 88.1 FM hope to change their presence and acceptance on campus. There is talk of a regular WKNC night at Kings, according to station General Manager Jamie Proctor, but those plans will depend largely upon the success of the just-announced WKNC Double Barrel Benefit, a two-night stand set to take place at Kings Friday and Saturday night.

Friday night features The Pink Slips, Cartridge Family and The Greatest Hits. Reid Johnson's Schooner (who play the following night at Go! with The Rosebuds and Bellafea) and Proof are also set for the first night. The local high schoolers of Sedona will get the rock started Saturday (punctually) at 10 p.m., and will be followed by Strange, Shadow of a Great Name, The Dynamite Brothers and Proctor's favorite act of the evening, The Kickass.

Funds from the benefit will continue to pay for the station's recently finished 25,000-watt tower and for the re-launch of live audio webcasts through wknc.org. Proctor says the tower--which took a decade of planning--cost the station thousands, and proper Internet subscriptions to allow the webcast service may cost hundreds each month. Despite those financial burdens, the station is asking for a paltry $5 donation at the door each night and hoping that the concerts and a continued relationship with the club and the downtown music scene will benefit the station and Kings "for a long time."

"The music community has grown a lot in the last couple of years, and this is a great opportunity for us to illustrate that," Proctor, a senior in Communications, says. "We're trying to bring Kings some exposure, but we're also trying to expose the station to a different crowd that may not know a lot about us."

Speaking of The Cartridge Family, everything seems to indicate that the band--a raucous four-piece built on growling keyboards, guitars and personal poetry-cum-barstool blues--is less than a month away from finishing their debut album. The band has been sporadically working with Kenny Roby and Rob Farris since the mid-November on the effort.

"They're one of those bands that has been playing the stuff live around town, and they really know how to play them," Farris told The Independent. "Now, they're just playing catch-up in the studio."

Just wait
The good news for Pico vs. Island Trees: Their CD Release Party show with International Orange and Go*Machine drew 400 people to the Lincoln Theatre on January 4th. And their debut album, just wait. , hits shelves February 10 through Deep South Records.

The mediocre news for Pico vs. Island Trees: Despite their ambition their debut effort could have been better.

During a midsummer afternoon's talk of future tour buses and of making much more than a local music scene, the three pals from Raleigh who make up the band--Bryan Carter, Chris Karlsson and Jeremy Bullock--beamed when they discussed John Mayer last June. They were enthralled with Mayer's decision to invite ?uestlove of The Roots to play drums over a track on his new album, and they confessed that he was an inspiration. Frontman/drummer/vocalist Carter even went so far as to suggest that, musically, he and his bandmates thought like Mayer. And, despite Mayer's more recent attempts at relegating himself into musical irrelevancy through unabashed Gap-ad album covers and redundant singles, that seemed to be a huge claim. They were comparing themselves to one of their heroes, who had infused his own blues background and love of hip-hop, rhythm n' blues, and The Police into a halfway decent pop amalgamation wildly adored by the masses.

Those comparisons, at least for now, aren't qualified. While the influence of Mayer and one half-dozen other rootsy college rock acts are apparent in the Pico mix, their Bobby Patterson-produced debut effort, just wait. , is, at times, unsteady on its feet. Carter's drumming lacks the soul that defined Patterson's DAG and some of the vocals and instrumental arrangements fail to soar when they could.

But there is, at least, something here. After all, this isn't the logical EP that would seem to be the customary and much less expensive move for most trios just now beginning their second semester in three colleges spread over two states. This is--for better or worse--a carefully made, twelve-track debut that represents no less than seven months of actual studio time and clocks in at just under 50 minutes. It even ends with the even keel of an acoustic, instrumental denouement. And, like that obvious ambition, the writing runs the gamut--from the forlorn "In The Sky" to the tongue-tied puppy love smiling through "Brand New Set of Wings" and "Saying The Opposite," Carter and the Pico boys have a lot to say. On occasion, the sentiment is spoiled by an easy, thoughtless rhyme or the one-off platitude, though maturity seems but a wink away for Carter as a songwriter. His words pose twice the charm of Mr. Mayer's, and--at his best--he marries an impressive wit with a vocabulary that transcends customary pop and the ilk. "Last night, I felt just like Medeski / And I wish that Martin Wood," he puns at one point. The hooks are sometimes perfect, and the song structures alternately relish originality (the afore-mocked "Mother of Pearl") and scholasticism (the Dispatch-fueled and Robert Sledge-accompanied "Six Up"). There's potential here, but that may only blossom into a truly fitting Pico record given two years.

Hell, just wait.

Quick notes
Triangle electrified funk rock quartet Saunter recently released a four-track EP produced by John Custer and recorded at his NVision Studios. Look for a chat with the band in two weeks

Bifocal Media will release Future Anterior, the 12th album from hyperactive Murfreesboro, Tenn. math rock trio Serotonin on January 27. EndBlock

Please e-mail Grayson with your Raleigh news: dgcurrin@unity.ncsu.edu

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