Twice monthly, my blog 30 Days Out spotlights upcoming music shows and events of note, shining a light into some less well-lit corners, where some fascinating artists schedule performances. I do my best to give ample advance notice so that you can adjust your budget and calendar in a way that lets you get to the show.
Two local sensations — a British group that has been more or less adopted-as-local, and a much-admired and unusual high-concept act — are what’s on tap in this edition.
Artist: New Mastersounds
Venue: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
Date: Friday, Nov. 6, 9 p.m.
Door: $15 advance / $18 day of show
The four members of this Leeds, England group have all but become honorary Asheville citizens. They’ve played here many times, and guitarist Eddie Roberts sometimes shows up locally as part of all-star onstage aggregations. But too much is never enough where these four are concerned. With their uptempo (yet impossibly cool) combination of soul jazz, funk and what they call “boogaloo,” The New Mastersounds are one of the most dynamic live acts around. And the musicians do it all without vocals (at least most of the time), instead preferring to spin out soulful grooves that showcase their instrumental skills without ever being showoffs in the process.
Artist: Alarm Clock Conspiracy
Venue: Pisgah Brewing
Date: Friday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m.
It’s difficult to pin down the genre of this Asheville-based group’s music. One hears elements of country rock (Poco, The Outlaws) in the songs, but the musicians too adventurous to be saddled with that comparatively unambitious label. The group’s musicianship means that it can stretch out into challenging, improvisational directions like progressive rock, but the songs are too catchy and straightforward and accessible to classify as prog. Alarm Clock Conspiracy’s catchy, hook-filled songs often suggest power-pop, but those progressive and country roots are deep. All I know is that the band’s appeal extends well beyond any one genre.
Venue: The Grey Eagle
Date: Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m.
Door: $17 advance / $20 day of show
Music, like film, often has turned to “high concept.” The idea of basing a work — or an entire act — on a premise that begins with the question, “What if…?” has been employed successfully, in both high-art and low-commerce/product. Melora Creager‘s Rasputina is a real-world exemplar of the former: a Gothic/Victorian-era themed band that plays intricate (yet punky!) music that defies easy categorization. But the trio is no joke. Though the musicians take a musical stance that’s at once both iconoclastic and mannered, they’re never less than fascinating. Whether performing cello-based readings of the pop hits of others, or delivering their own original material, the three members of Rasputina are sonically and visually arresting. If Kronos Quartet were set upon by Macbeth’s witches, they might sound a bit like Rasputina. Daniel Knox opens.
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Saturday, Oct. 31, 9 p.m.
Door: $20 advance / $23 day of show
I’m always on the lookout for new, adventurous music. On more than one occasion, I’ve stumbled across just that, right here in my (and your) own back yard. stephaniesid, E. Normus Trio, The Cheeksters, Alarm Clock Conspiracy (see above), Worldline: Those are just a handful of the locally-based acts doing interesting things well outside the flourishing local Americana and jamband scenes. My latest discovery is Papadosio. How the band escaped my notice until now remains a mystery. With song structures that recall the best of 1970s art rock, the musicians always place a high emphasis on melody. Their songs are warm and inviting but contain enough musical twists and turns to seize the interest of those who demand more than great melodies and killer hooks. To my ears, the band vaguely recalls Alan Parsons Project, but Papadosio’s onstage approach — moving beyond conventional song structure into uncharted sonic territories — shows that the group is aiming even higher. Midnight Snack and Third Nature are also on the bill.
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