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QC Secret Society

Local CD releases reviewed

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Charlotte is too often accused of having a lackluster music scene. The much smaller Chapel Hill gets all the hip, Pitchfork-friendly acts, and many bands of all sizes still quietly bypass the Queen City on their way from the Triangle area to Atlanta or even Asheville. But look around, pop into the clubs or gin joints on any given night -- there's a chance a hot local band will be playing.

Here's the latest round of Charlotte-area releases that have come through our doors recently. Check the Loaf's Soundboard listings, and go see one of these acts at their next local gig. That's how ya build a scene.

Elevator Action

Society, Secret

MoRisen Records

Elevator Action's previous release on Charlotte-based MoRisen Records, It's Just Addiction, was a solid debut outing, to be sure. Produced by John Agnello, a man with a knack for recording guitar-heavy, meat-and-potatoes rock records, there were riffs-a-plenty, lots of trebly screamed choruses and enough atmosphere to populate a small planet. It was volatile, and sometimes seemed to exist in a vacuum. Society, Secret suggests that vacuum might have been the oft-incestuous QC music scene. The new disc examines the pleasures and pains of nightlife and relationships, both lasting and liquored-up. Songs like "Miss Congeniality" and the title track take advantage of an admirable male/female, he said/she said dynamic (courtesy guitarist Eric Gilstrap and bassist Laurie Ruroden) to give the album a lyrical and emotional thread that never fails to hold strong. Quite possibly MoRisen's best release to date. (Davis)

Blanco Diablo

Paper Poison Revolution

These Charlotte-area rockers open each track with a blistering riff. But there's also some nice interplay going on here that's part-Prong and part-Faster Pussycat. The pared-down attack of guitars, bass and drums sounds bigger than the three-piece combo. The whole record rolls along full-steam ahead, slowing only on the last track, the epic "Stop the Bleeding," which starts out as a ballad and then booms. (Shukla)

The Sammies

The Sammies

MoRisen Records

Recorded with Jamie Hoover and John Agnello at Charlotte's Hooverama studios, this album has a lot in common with most MoRisen releases: a focus on chorus-centric, guitar-heavy, mid-tempo pop rock; a playful sense of pacing; and just enough studio sheen to give it at least a glancing chance at radio play (or, in MoRisen's case, TV and movie placement). The title song, "Coming Out Wild," bodes well but never quite rises to the promise of its title. Thankfully, the album heats up with "Falling Out," a Sammies live staple, and continues its slow boil through "Trainwreck," a barroom stomp par excellence that might more aptly be titled "Runaway Locomotive." "Panther Leap," a tribute to the boys' favorite football team, is a fun romp for those black, blue and silver-inclined. (Davis)

Kimberly Carper

Quarter 'till Three

On this debut recording, jazz and blues singer Carper interprets songs of Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie, Goffin & King and others. With the help of local music veterans, she nails down a smooth and soulful musical backdrop throughout the disc. Quarter 'till Three evokes the wee hours, and the covers make for a varied and finely-tuned homage. (Shukla)

Scoot Pittman

Lake Montonia Road

Pittman is a talented tunesmith who's been writing and playing music around these parts for years. There's nary a hint of pretension in his work. It's the "music first" attitude that coaxes heart-felt songs from Pittman's muse. On Lake Montonia Road, Pittman gets a little help from locals Eric Lovell, Gigi Dover, Michael Reno Harrell and other NC music vets. (Shukla)

Trip Rogers Trio

Live ... On the Ragged Edge

Trip Rogers has often called his style "coffeehouse combat guitar," which is a fair enough descriptive for the 10 songs on Ragged Edge. Recorded live at the Milestone Club and SK Net Café, Edge suffers from the usual problems of on-a-budget live recordings (namely, it's often trebly as hell and the vocals are sky-high in the mix). But at the same time, it showcases Southern-fried wit (see the industry-skewering "Where's the Hook" and "New Barbarians") and some able and assured acoustic picking. A must-have for the Charlotte coffeehouse set. (Davis)

Green Light

Patient like the Moon

The instrumental trio Green Light -- Kevin Gill (guitar), Dustin Hofsess (bass) and Adam Snow (drums) -- weaves jazz, global beats and funk into a surreal improv and groove-laden vibe. Patient like the Moon opens with the funky "Action Packed" and the rest of the album follows that lead. (Shukla)

The Turnstiles

Step Right Up

The Turnstiles play Southern rock in the "rambling down the highway" vein of the Allman Brothers Band. Then there's fiddle and mandolin courtesy of Tom Eure. Principal songwriters Brad Thomas and Jon Frye have the knack to craft literate songs, and each sings lead on his own compositions, enhancing the disc's distinction. (Shukla)

Tom Eure

Back Woods

Simple Tune Records

Eure's 2004 release, Let's Put it to Music, was clearheaded in tone and delivery, and claustrophobic in its examinations of life and relationships. The singer-songwriter's latest, Back Woods, isn't as genre-pure as the bluegrass-based Music, but it's no less worthy of a listen for local roots music fans. Pick hits: "Tattered and Torn," "Lost Highway," "Boston." (Davis)

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