Listening Party: The Cheeksters, EAR PWR and Future Islands

We start off this week’s Listening Party with Beatles-inspired pop group The Cheeksters. Mark Casson and Shannon Hines have been performing and recording together since 1992, and yet the last 15 years have seemingly done nothing to diminish their unapologetic obsession of ‘60s pop music. Their latest album, Movers and Shakers is set for release at the Grey Eagle on Saturday, Nov. 3. We suggest starting with the Lennon/McCartney-esque track “Love Hearts.”

Next up is EAR PWR, a duo consisting of “a boy and girl who love each other very much … and they think you are magical!” EAR PWR isn’t the easiest band to sum up, but it’s safe to say that their music is electronic, experimental and entertaining. Although every EAR PWR track has a unique charm, we suggest starting with “Jack AND Jill,” if only for the non-sequitur nature of the lyrics. The pair will perform at the New French Bar on Tuesday, Nov. 6, with Videohippos.

Closing out this week’s Listening Party, we have Future Islands, a group that claims both Asheville and Greenville, N.C., as their hometowns. The group claims to fall into the minimalist, New Wave and pop genres, but songs like “Flicker and Flutter” also bring to mind the post-Disco movement Brit-pop movement, Glenn Danzig and Frank Black’s solo work and the background music to the Mega Man video game series. The group is currently on an East Coast tour, but will return to Asheville for a show at the New French Bar on Saturday, Nov. 10, with Tron Valdez and Vandertramp. (And, if you’re feeling all multimedia today, you might want to check out their video for the song “Follow You.”)

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

— Steve Shanafelt, A&E editor


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9 thoughts on “Listening Party: The Cheeksters, EAR PWR and Future Islands

  1. I played with Future Islands at some big to-do over at King’s in Raleigh, when it still existed. They were great live. Former Art Lord and the Self Portraits, if you remember those guys. I recommend seeing that show.

  2. Orbit DVD

    The Cheeksters are one of my favorite local bands. Personally I would compare them to hip early 70s AM radio, ala Big Star and Badfinger. Regardless, the are a lot of fun live. Check them out.


  3. Now that you mention it, I hear a little Big Star too. They’ve certainly got a touch of alt-country/roots-rock going on in a few songs (likely the Nashville influence), and mixed with the Beatles-leaning pop thing, I’d say that’s very much a relevant reference.

    Any thoughts on EAR PWR yet? They vaguely remind me of ex-local electro-pimp Jascha Ephraim. There’s that same sense of ironic comedy to their songs, which seem to be walking the fine line between stylistically overblown and sincerely dorky.

  4. I love both the Cheeksters and Future Islands, two very unique bands (at least for Asheville) with excellent songwriting chops. I expect big things for both of them.

    As for Ear Pwr, sorry, not my thing. The chirpy childlike vocals and cheesy synths get annoying very quickly, as do the lyrics. And in my experience, people who like this kind of stuff tend to be very shallow and clique-ish, the kind of people who turn their noses up at you if you’re not wearing the “correct” hipster uniform. But then again, they do coincidentally have a split 7″ with Future Islands, so hopefully I’m wrong.

    (it’s soooooo 1996)

  5. Gordon Smith

    EAR PWR absolutely rocked the Grey Eagle at POP Asheville last night. The whole room was dancing.

  6. Terry

    Wow, Andy. I thought we were commenting on the bands, not their fans. EAR PWR is the most fun and exciting band in Asheville, not to mention totally un-hipster. Maybe you should check out one of their shows. They’re all about making people happy, its awesome!!!

  7. I was just looking around at some old reviews, and wanted to read about EAR PWR…… I happened to have attended their show at the New French Bar a while back, probably the one this was prefacing. Interesting to read all this with that memory in mind. I had a great time! It was amazing, a full room…. their music had a pop element that I crave that I haven’t really seen from any other Asheville groups. I loved it.

    But my friend Andy shares my love, I think, of songwriting on a more complete color pallette….not only the fluorescent pulsing joyful primary colors….but the tertiary, the muted, even the grays and blacks. It’s kind of like, would Dickens have written ‘David Copperfield’ with a crayon?

    But that night, I felt like EAR PWR had limitless dayglo paint pens and I wanted to glow and vibrate and refract with a room full of equally vibing beautiful people!

  8. Don’t get me wrong, Terry, I don’t judge bands based on their fans. I’m just saying that in my past experience, bands that sound like EarPwr tend to actually encourage a sort of soulless fashion-snob attitude in their fans/scene. If EarPwr isn’t like that, then great, more power to them, but i’ve seen nothing in their myspace page, blog, or lyrics to suggest otherwise.

    I’m sure EarPwr put on a fun show for their audience, and there’s nothing wrong with good escapist fun, but i’m just not feeling their songs. They’re not awful, but the other 2 bands here are better, IMHO. I’m not trying to make enemies, just giving my honest opinion. And I hope others here on Listening Party feel comfortable doing the same.

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