We launch this week’s Listening Party with one of the best-known bands to emerge from Asheville in the last decade: Stephanie’s Id. Although generally referred to as an indie-pop band, their sound is actually far more complex and compelling than that genre label implies. Starting off as a darkly bittersweet piano-bar duo (with Chuck Lichtenberger on keys and Stephanie Morgan singing), the group has since expanded to a full band and become one of the most interesting, experimental and creatively edgy acts in town. And they’ve been successful to boot, releasing three full-length albums (not to mention a number of EPs and demos), touring nationally and supporting the local scene through efforts like the POPAsheville music festival (formerly known as IdFest). But, in listening to this band — one which may be one of the defining Asheville-based music acts of this era — where does one start? We suggest starting with the soulful “Hey Hey Hey, It’s Gonna Be OK” and the uplifting “Unmistakably Love.” Both are currently available on the group’s MySpace page.
Next up, we have acoustic-pop sister duo BrieJon. Brie and Jonna Capone make music that, while simple and uncluttered, doesn’t suffer too much for being a touch underproduced. There’s a pretenseless charm to their songs, backed by harmonies that are genuinely familial. The Capone sisters seem to know that they’re still finding their sound, even going so far as to explain that have “always rocked out together in the privacy of our own home.” We suggest starting with the song “Rome.”
Closing out this week’s playlist, we have local soul, R&B and jazz group the Secret B-Sides. Mixing equal parts smooth soundcraft and smart songwriting, there’s a lot to enjoy in the Secret B-Sides music. There’s a certain intellectual fun in lyrics like “The way that I play ain’t a zero-sum game; my pleasure ain’t your pain, my loss ain’t your gain.” It’s also hard not to crack a smile when — in reading their bio — you run across lines like “It’s a band about three things, 1) love, 2) dinosaurs, and 3) flying saucers. Fully equipped with these three essentials the Secret B-Sides are here on the planet, ready to help the people of Earth get together, feel a little sexy, and have some good, clean fun to the sound of drums and electric bass, as well as nylon-stringed guitar, finished with a vinyl-smooth vocal.” We suggest starting with “The Flame.”
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.
Stephanie’s Id photo by Yao Zhu