Listening Party: Misgana, Darpa and Every Mother’s Dream

We start this week’s Listening Party with local progressive reggae and dub act Misgana, a suggestion by Xpress forum user Andy Palast. With lyrics that reliably allude to classic themes —the “sacred ganja tree,” “the path to Mount Zion” and how “in Babylon, a bubble got you all up in your trouble” — there’s not a lot here that one wouldn’t expect to find in the music of a young, rasta-leaning reggae band. Still, the basic structure of the songs is enjoyable, and there’s quite a lot of potential in Misgana’s music if you look for it. We suggest starting with the pleasant ditty “Spirit of Jah.”

Next up is indie rock act Darpa, another suggestion from our forums by frequent Listening Party commenter Jason Ross Martin. (Interstingly, Darpa’s singer is Andy Palast, who suggested Misgana above.) In their own words, this five-piece band “integrates everything from new-wave, prog, and psychedelic rock to brit-pop, trip-hop, and freak-folk into its sound.” Fair enough. The end result can be a little muddy at times, but songs like “Graffiti Cathedral” — our suggested starting track — hint at a worthy understanding of alt-rock song structure.
 
Closing out this week’s Party, we have Every Mother’s Dream, an Asheville-based folk-pop group that has only gotten better since debuting in 2001. Jay Kaiser and Mandy Carter work wonderfully together, and have long been one of the area’s best-kept musical secrets. Now using a full-band format that incorporates jazzy, funky, jammy elements and fills out the duo’s music, EMD is definitely worth a listen. Any of the songs on their MySpace page are worth a listen, but our suggested starting tracks are the “Last Day of Summer” and the folk-country toe-tapper “Steer.”

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

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7 thoughts on “Listening Party: Misgana, Darpa and Every Mother’s Dream

  1. Heather McChesney

    I am a huge fan and supporter of indy music. This particular band (Every Mother’s Dream) and their albums (Big Blend and No Complaints With The View)are some of my favorites! Not only are Mandy and Jay fabulous musicians and song writers, they are also great people. Their music gives their audience a glimpse into their own humanity and a taste of the mountains that embrace modern folk music. It is a lyrical tapestry that is a must listen and must own. You won’t regret it.

  2. Bob McAllister

    I listened to & liked all (3) bands.
    I thought that the middle band “DARPA”
    was by far the most original sounding,
    I look foward to seeing them live next
    month at one of their local shows!

  3. On eggshells, I surf over here to the Listening Party to tell you why I love these artists. Cracking, sticky whites-and-yolks jabbing into my heels, digging in–yeah, I know there’s a risk here. You see, what will the haters say when they find out that even after being crucified on the jamband cross that I gladly carried to the mountain (see also the Listening Party for Silvergun Superman and others), I have risen from the Phish, I mean risen from the Dead and I am undeterred in my enthusiasm for commenting on the Asheville music scene (tips hat to Don Talley). How ironic it is that I have shared a stage with two of the three acts reviewed in this episode, as well as calling an integral figure for the third “Friend”. It’s as if the powers-that-be behind the Listening Party have rewarded my continued investment by throwing me a bone (or two) after watching a variety of those who discount both my art and my opinions attempt to undermine my reviews.

    Every Mother’s Dream

    Imagine you were a middle schooler in a rural NC mountain town, basically Lily White, around the turn of the century. Could you possibly imagine finding out that your English teacher and Math teacher were…..JRM and Mandy Carter (the amazing female vocalist/guitarist/songwriter with Every Mother’s Dream)? Well that was the situation in Marion not so many years ago, as few may have known. So I knew Mandy before she knew Jay Kaiser, her future partner in so many ways. I also knew Jay before he knew Mandy; he was the sly, witty, but calmly measured bassist in another fledgling Asheville band which has grown on to the Bonnaroo stage after relocating. And so these connections are old between us.

    What I love the most about Jay and Mandy’s work, and also their live show now featuring bass and drums as well, is that their voices link together in a way that is uncanny. It’s almost like an aural manifestation of the deep bond that connnects them in their life beyond art as well–complete with its opposites and its sames. Where Mandy is sometimes sultry and exuberant, Jay is slyly winking though seemingly so disciplined and precise, even when playing with abandon. And so they have written tight, mostly upbeat songs that highlight their harmonies and Jay’s dexterous musicianship on a variety of instruments–and their music makes a great setting for a fun night at a watering hole.

    Darpa

    Where Every Mother’s Dream are a group I have a long history with, Darpa have been around on the Asheville scene for a short period of time. Having met and become good friends with their lead singer and songwriter, Andy Palast, as a result of these dialogues on the Mountain Xpress page, I recently had the pleasure of opening their live debut performance at Elliott’s Revue in Winston-Salem. And so obviously, I’m not entirely objective at this point about what I hear in their music–but, there was a time when I was. I remember when I first linked to their myspace page and heard their songs; at that point, there were 3, including ‘How’d You End Up Here?’ That was such an unexpected gem I found myself listening to all of their songs that day.

    It’s a delicate balance, rock-and-roll and social commentary. Whenever you are willing to delve into political critique or even satire in the context of music that is original, powerful, melodic and with a certain pop sensibility, you are taking such a risk I think. It becomes easy to try to dismiss your work as a selfish rant, or as a gimmick than links only to a certain time and place. I think a lot of people just throw Bob Dylan into that box of protest poets/folksingers, and don’t delve into his amazing catalog of love songs, dance songs, just great amazing songs because of that link to politics.

    I remember when I helped write a press release for our show in Winston-Salem, I asked Andy and his brother Steven Jahson Finch (also of Misgana) about their political leanings given the nature of some of their material. I prefaced that by recalling an old interview with Trey Anastasio where he said he didn’t like mixing politics with music, because you automatically distance about half of your prospective audience. It struck me as revealing when Andy told me that at least 3 of them in Darpa where squarely behind Obama, and that he didn’t necessarily agree with the quote I had referenced. “You have to have the courage to stand for something,” he said, and I feel his songs as manifested by Darpa definitely stand for something, and have a potential to impact a lot of listeners far beyond Asheville.

    My favorite track of theirs now is “Teethgrinder.”

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