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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Annuals--Live! With Lingerie!

I made it to a free(!) show Wednesday night, an in-store performance at our local mall, Annuals (home page, MySpace), our latest sensation out of Raleigh! This was also a benefit for WKNC. Sensational they were. When 6 people agree on something, they are a force to be reckoned with. When they are armed with an arsenal of instruments, it has the power to break through your cynical shell and give you a surprise gift.

Adam Baker wrote and arranged all songs on their debut full-length CD, "Be He Me", which the group is currently touring to promote. Here is a site with Adam's description of some of the songs. While the lyrics are often intense and poetic, to me this sounds like a celebration. It reminds me a bit of XTC (but with twice the musicians and half the age). One thing that stood out from the show, aside from the lovely lingerie I was standing next to (a fringe benefit of in-store performance), was the powerhouse percussion section. During one tune, Adam joined drum/perc duo Nick and Zack on thundering drum tribal rhythm. Killer. You could pretty much count bass player Mike Robinson as part of the rhythm section--he was jumping with the beat most of the time. Anna held down center stage with her keys of fury and towering stage presence, and Kenny showed his guitar shredding talents stage right.

Now a word from an old, grizzled, non-veteran of the music industry to these future legends: be careful with the attention that is coming your way, because you are definitely going to have a lot of that. One of the biggest challenges, in addition to not getting sick of each other, is to keep the spaciousness of the sound. There is a lot going on in a sextet and it's easy to step on each other. And oh yeah, keep it weird and you can't go wrong. I read one reviewer who took issue with the abundant use of samples and odd sounds on many of the songs. As keyboardist Anna said after the show, "Yeah, we like the weird noises." I'd say it adds some great spice.

I look forward to the next Annuals release, which I understand is well on its way.

On the home front, next weekend will be my first ever "recording weekend" in the NC mountains. Fun awaits!

Next week we will also feature another album release from Johnson-Hendrix.

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