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Raleigh Rhythms 

A journal of happenings in the Raleigh music scene

Regal Rap n' Roll
Justus League emcee L.E.G.A.C.Y. --who just released his first 12" single, "Nice", on the Hall of Justus/Fat Beats imprint in advance of his forthcoming full-length Project Mayhem--will host a mammoth hip-hop affair Friday night at Kings Barcade. Chapel Hill High School principal and emerging national rapper Spectac (see profile, pg. 45) will headline, supported by The Remix Project--the highly-touted backing band featuring the versatile Applejuice Kid and his pals from Sankofa and The Applejuice Orchestra.

Another Justus League member, Median, is also on the bill. His Relief will be out sometime later this year and features production work from 9th Wonder, Eccentric, C. Keen and Khrysis. Columbia, S.C., a microphone fiends Dan Johns and Lyrikal Buddah will make their follow-up Triangle appearance after tearing up Go! last summer. DJ J.Riggle, of course, will be backing the duo. Local emcee Crash Victim will also be performing a short set during the night, and a few noteworthy guest appearances are in the works. WKNC's DJ Forge will spin between sets. Ticket price is only $7.

If you simply can't make it to the hip-hop showcase or perhaps if you just love smoke, PBR and Kings, consider showing up a night earlier and catching a fine triple rock bill on the 29th. Braggadocio, recent acoustic additions to Raleigh following a move from Iowa City, will get the night started, followed by a set from the ubiquitous (and soon-to-be-touring) Go*Machine. The Balance--the nascent trio of former UNC students and Triangle music alumni Matt McCaughan (Portastatic), Jim Brantley (Ashley Stove) and Wes Philips (Speed of Sauce)--will finish the night with their first headlining set. The band has been recording since soon after its first practice last spring, but, for Brantley, the realization of this band has been his ongoing fantasy for years.

"Matt and I went to Carolina together, and he was the hotshot jazz drummer there back then. We knew each other through bands he was in and other bands I was in. I asked him about doing something for a long time, and it didn't happen for more than two years," laughs Brantley, waiting for Philips to show up for a Thursday evening practice. "It was like I was auditioning for him."

Brantley says the album should be finished in a few weeks ("I plan to have it done while it's still cold outside"). In the meantime catch them at Kings or at Sadlack's with The Rosebuds on Feb. 15. And check out Matt's souled-out 50 Cent remix here: www.thebalanceband.com/mash/.

Recording in Progress
Three bands appearing on the forthcoming compilation of emerging Chapel Hill acts (due out on Go*Machine's Bu Hanan records next month) will be performing together in Raleigh days after the first of three release parties slated for the disc. Alli With An I will join Nathan Asher & The Infantry and local funk-rock outfit, Saunter, for a Friday night triune at The Lincoln Theatre on Feb. 27.

The Infantry--a potent six-piece rock outfit ripped piecemeal from Raleigh's Nova Cancy and Chapel Hill's Phantom FM and Eyes to Space--finished the recording for their full-length debut last weekend at Durham's Overdub Lane with Mark Williams behind the boards. The band put down five tracks for the second half of the album in a marathon two-day session much like the previous one in which the band recorded the album's first six songs.

Asher, who many may remember as the triumphantly bald frontman of Phantom FM, says the recording sessions have been energetic and determined thus far. Much of that, of course, probably owes to the age of those involved: Chris Serino, Dan Abbate and Nick Abbate played for years in the defunct jam band, Moonride, before forming Nova Cancy, and Asher admits that the amount of time he endured in bands that eventually called it quits has certainly contributed to the immediacy of this latest project. But what about the results of those workhorse sessions?

"You know that Springsteen album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, right?" Asher says. "It reminds me of that in a way. I think it sounds great."

Asher, interviewed while still somewhat numbed by the previous evening's defeat and Hulk Hogan holler of Dr. Howard Dean (his favorite Democrat), said the band has also re-recorded the potent, R.E.M.-geared title track from their self-manufactured EP, The Last Election. Asher's uncle, the Grammy-winning David Holt/Doc Watson producer Stephen Heller, recorded the initial version, but Williams will be recording a final album take.

Saunter--the four-piece rock act of guitarist/vocalist Matthew Davis, saxophonist Brian Buzby, drummer John Crusoe and bassist Chad Bennett recorded a four-track, eponymous EP over the summer with John Custer (DAG, Corrosion of Conformity, Chris Whitley). It is now available at their web site (www.sauntermusic.com) and at Schoolkids Records.

Saunter spent more than three years as a dyed-in-the-wool jam band, cluttering 10 minute arrangements with lukewarm grooves known better for the perpetual guitar scales and slick sax/guitar antiphons they supported than any kind of dance they fostered.

"We were never really very good at being a jam band. We were doing that thing of, 'So, who can lay down the best solo?' and I'm not a really great improviser," Davis casually admits, sighing one minute and laughing the next as he remembers previous incarnations of Saunter. "We figured that out by recording our shows and listening to 'em. When you hear yourself and how bad it really sucks, you become much more conscious about your writing and arranging."

Davis got his chance to concentrate more on the songs than on emulating Papa Jerry when, following the 2001 release of Saunter's Trails, three members left because of graduate school, promising jobs, or hankering personality conflicts. Buzby and Davis regrouped, finding Bennett and Crusoe through want ads and mutual friends; Davis grew bored with the "derivative" jam circuit and took heart in the technically solid, but concision-friendly leanings of bands from Cake and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to The Police and Steely Dan.

The new Saunter quickly eschewed its past and focused on rock songs, heading into the studio last year with Custer. The results are a heady, driving synthesis of carnal and chemical knowledge informed more by a stack of funk records and late-90s West Coast fraternity rock than Dead bootlegs.

"I think we've really separated ourselves from the pack with this new stuff, and I think Raleigh...the jam crowd and the other music fans...has a scene very accepting of a good rock band," Davis says. "Now it's up to us to prove it."

Saunter will also play a free show at The Pour House Music Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 3. EndBlock

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

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