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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

taking a listen

reviews of local & state music CDs

THE COAL MEN Kids With Songs

The 2007 additions of Chris Frame (Son Volt) on guitar and Jen Gunderman (the Jayhawks) on keyboards was a boon to Nashville alt-rockers the Coal Men (www.thecoalmen.com) (w at the time, so why go back to a trio? Music City isn’t exactly known for its stripped-down country twang and the additional depth made an immediate impact on their last album Beauty Is A Moment. After 10 years together, the band has put together another solid effort with their third full-length release, Kids With Songs, a collection of material that’s not as overly Southern as their previous efforts but possesses the same sentimental bent that has come to define the Coal Men. Remnants of that richly complex sound can still be heard on the album’s title track thanks to the heavy reverb of frontman Dave Coalman’s guitar. There’s a somewhat forgettable foray into later-era jangle that follows on “Nightingale,” but arguably the album’s strongest track makes that a distant memory immediately after. “Houston Memory” is a solemn tale of a divided relationship accented in the background by a stuttering rhythm guitar. “Almost” is easily the album’s most countrified track, despite the play “Farther Find Me Now” has received thanks to it’s inclusion on The Deadliest Catch, but Kids With Songs mostly skirts the accepted notions of what alt-country is.

The Coalmen will perform at the Garage on Thursday at 9 p.m.

64/100

ILAD Here//There

It could be said that ILAD’s (www.iladmusic.com) third album Here//There is their most definitive to date, but the question would then be “what is being defined?” Just as the band’s name could be a reference to any number of things, i.e. a Somalian village or an acronym for brain receptors affected by LSD, the album itself is a complete stylistic enigma. It’s in the vein of the best of Tortoise and, dare I say, Radiohead, described best by whatever style the percussionists happen to be dabbling in at the time, with layers of reverbed vocals, sound effects and loopy keys laid over top, all capriciously rising and falling within the context of each piece. The band brings their entire arsenal to battle, whether it be banjo, accordion, Wurlitzer, flutes, didgeridoo, glockenspiel, chimes, etc. in the pursuit of free jazz, free folk, free everything. The sheer diversity can be a bit overpowering at times, but never enough to elicit a move toward the OFF button. Those looking for big hooks or any other sort of impressing elements might be disappointed, since the unnerving elements that burned bands like TV on the Radio and Radiohead into our psyches are mostly lacking, yet it still manages to challenge the listener just enough to keep moving forward and rewards persistence every time.

ILAD will perform at the Green Bean on Friday at 9 p.m.

74/100

For a chance to have your band’s CD reviewed, mail it to: YES! Weekly, 5500 Adams Farm Lane, Suite 204, Greensboro, NC 27407. ATTN: Ryan Snyder.

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