Listening Party: Knives and Daggers, Pierce Edens and The Dirty Work and Carpal Tullar

What better way to break up a week of sullen and cloudy weather than with a band like Knives and Daggers? Of course, I kid — K&D specializes in crafting marvelously gloomy, downcast and melancholy songs. It’s perfect music for staring out into the damp void on the other side of the window, and for reflecting deeply on all the things in life that just aren’t going your way. And, to their credit, the bladed bards of K&D are genuinely great at it. There’s a tangible emotional weight to their sound, but it’s never unbearable to the point of provoking actual depression. It’s less like drowning in sorrow, and more like wearing a soggy sweater on a crowded city bus. We suggest starting with “For the Glory of Nothing,” available on the group’s MySpace page.

Our next act is anything but somber. Gritty, visceral and about as subtle as a flamethrower duel at a gas station, Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work is handily one of the defining bands in the current Asheville music scene. It would be easy to view Edens and company as a band to scuff your boots to, but if you listen a bit more closely, it quickly becomes evident that Edens is also a truly gifted songwriter. Songs like “Holiday” and “Creeping Vines” actually border on the kind of rough-hewn brilliance that mainstream country could benefit from. That said, our suggested starting track is the dust-kicking, proudly crowing anthem “Let It Rain,” which you can listen to on the group’s MySpace page.

Closing out this week’s Listening Party, we have Carpal Tullar, the quite clever and often slightly silly solo-recording project of Chris Tullar. While it would be easy to cast Tullar’s work as being a knock-off of like-minded eccentrics like They Might Be Giants, that wouldn’t be a fair view of the quality of these tunes. Although any of the songs are worthy of a listen, we suggest starting with “Carpal Tullar Theme Song,” which is a great introduction to Tullar’s vision, followed immediately by the song “Planets,” which is quite possibly the best song about the solar system you’ll hear this year. Both are available on Tullar’s MySpace page.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell us your thoughts on these performers by posting into the comment fields below. This is your chance to be the music reviewer, so praise and pan as you see fit.

Also, if you’d like to suggest a band for Listening Party, or have questions about the column, visit this thread on our Mountainx.com forums.

Pierce Edens photo by Julie Bird Photography

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