Saturday, March 29, 2008



I have been listening to the new ep by the band Birds Of Avalon a whole lot since I bought it a few weeks ago. The band members all hail from my neck of the woods and some of these people go way back in terms of playing music in bands around here. Paul Siler and Cheetie Kumar both play guitar for the band and had previously spent several years in the band Cherry Valance. Cherry Valance was a hard rock band that had went through a lot of incarnations and phases in those years, for awhile they were the big band out of Raleigh, their influence inspired virtually a whole wave of bands that had cropped up and were inspired by them. But soon a "divorce" had happened and Paul and Cheetie left the rest of the band to start BOA (the rest of TCV continued for one final record on Bifocal Media before breaking up.)

Dave Mueller, a multi instrumentalist who has done decent work on his own in his bands/projects like Strange, was drafted in as bass player. Craig Tilly was a kid who had also been in previous bands and had what one would call a decent singing voice, equal amounts Robin Zander and maybe Gary Numan (It beats being compared to Robert Plant, right?). Since people that could actually sing are few and far between, I imagine everyone else was pretty happy about having him involved. And drummer Scott Nurkin had spent time in the Dynamite Brothers before throwing in his lot with the band. This was a few years ago.

Birds Of Avalon are a much better band then the Cherry Valance for many reasons. They have eased up the "kick out the jams" quota a whole lot to make way for a lot of other influences, which really serves them well. The "all over the map" feel of the new e.p. is not too far removed from the album they had previously released (although I do like the e.p. a bit better ), and unlike some of what these folks have done before, after a few listenings everything sinks in quite nicely. Plus you can sit at home and just listen to them, a feat that I find pleasing as I am not always sold on the whole "you gotta see the band live..that is where it REALLY comes across" mentality. Often I don't have the patience to sit though almost ANY band these days, so I think if you can deliver the goods on record first and foremost, then the live thing will probably be cool too..that is, if you want it. And unlike The Cherry Valance, the variety of he material paves the way for Tilly, who really does have a nice voice indeed. I haven't been too jazzed on almost anything around here in awhile, so it was nice to finally "get" BOA. And being the self contained unit they are, they tour a lot and almost never play at home, smart people that they are.

After all of these years, it is nice to see these folks hit their well deserved stride. As good as anything else to ever come out of this area, I'd buy the e.p. first and then get the record next.

ROCKET COTTAGE. Photo by Karen A. Mann.

Rocket Cottage is a new band that features Russ Desena on bass and vocals, Nick on drums and Chris Nelson on oddball guitar. I finally had the chance to see the band when Scott Williams mercifully got them to play one of those house party things, a much needed break for me as the band I am in does that circuit a lot. They were instantly great, all of the perfect SST/post punk reference points served up in short songs that boast a cool arty edge and are a breath of fresh air. Russ has done time in a lot of bands over the years, so has Chris and Nick, but these three have finally stumbled on something really special. The band says that they are going to try and record a record, and they should. Chris has a twisted slashing guitar style, and even though bass isn't Russ' main instrument, he still wields it in his usual D. Boon style of playing. And even better, they played a short set, long enough to want more but not too much.

Thumbs up. So I look forward to hearing more Rocket Cottage. Between hearing them and discovering that I like BOA after all, I might start caring about "local music" again..or at least be glad that there are a few bands around here that I actually like.

Oh the future, I will try and have new interviews with hopefully Kenny Roby, Bill Stevenson and perhaps Birds of Avalon. we shall see..

Sunday, March 2, 2008