taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviewsof local & state music CDs


You’ve probably said it before: (insert band) is just one of those that you have to see live. While their 2007 debut The Storm did well to encapsulate the lyrical and melodic strengths of country rockers the New Familiars, it takes a live album to portray the sheer vitality that this quartet is capable of bringing. With their second release Live, they finally have that. They’re a living, breathing nod to the country side of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as evidenced by some sly lyrical references and sunny fatalism in the album’s opener, “In Love With the World.” This release does more to put their native energies onto disc, however, as this marks their first release in their overhauled musical direction. Since banjo man Eric-Scott Guthrie departed, the New Familiars have set aside their traditional leanings for a slimmed-down and thoroughly rocking approach. Their aura of their past remains on “Mill’s River,” as the versatile Justin Fedor provides the banjo accompaniment underneath the scintillating electric guitar of Josh Daniel. His rangy Dixie growls bleed seamlessly into the powerful “Got This Disease,” easily one of the band’s most beloved live numbers. Daniel remains at the forefront throughout, whether on resonator or electric, until the end of the album. Fedor gives the plucky acoustic punch on “All in All,” while the band’s translation of Phil Collin’s “Take Me Home” would have been worth the admission price all by itself. If there’s any knock against this live release, it’s that it only clocks in at just over 30 minutes, but if it will do its job and get you in the venue door.

The New Familiars will play the Garage this Saturday.


I WAS TOTALLY DESTROYING IT The Beached Margin/Done Waiting

Slapped together into one nebulous concoction of heartfelt pop, icy ‘80s synth, chimey guitars and heavy lyrical allegory, Chapel Hill based indie rockers I Was Totally Destroying It (www. myspace.comiwtdi) released four brand new songs in the form of The Beached Margin on a 12-inch with last year’s Done Waiting. On The Beached Margin, IWTDI continues taking baby steps away from the overly saccharine debut with four heavy-hearted, almost gloomy songs masked by the spritely voice of keyboardist Rachel Hirsch and the cavernous ring of Curtis Armstead’s guitar. The folkloric qualities of opener “The Witch Riding Your Back” require careful study to extract the songs deeper meaning. “Fences” further progresses the bands musical bi-polarism, but it’s also refreshing to hear that they can set their mood to something other than “syrupy” and they can engage in serious emotional discourse via music. Of all of the new material from Beached, “Negative Agents” carries with it the most jaded suggestion, as Hirsch laments others being “so lucky in love” over her groaning violin synths. Done Waiting is there, however, to remind the listener that IWTDI arrives from markedly happier origins. The downer-ness of Beached is quickly forgiven, as the title track and “Teeth” trickle with the kind of quiet satisfaction with which they burst onto the North Carolina scene.


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