Music Menu, 12/31/08




Jamie McLean Band The highly-in-demand session guitarist McLean is also a fab songwriter/crooner. His blues and roots-rock tells it straight, without any flash or pretension. McLean's recently released disc, American Heartache, gathers influences from the Black Crowes and Dylan to the Stones and inserts the McLean riffage. Many veteran musicians lend a hand on the new disc that's stacked with Southern rock, blues, funk and R&B. Double Door Inn (Samir Shukla)

The Sammies Ever since exiting the humid musical wilds of Wadesboro, N.C., a few years back, The Sammies (Frank Backgammon, guitar and vocals; Donnie Yale, drums and vocals; bassist Conrad Vacation and guitarist/keyboardist Bobby Freedom) have inspired purplish prose both locally and nationally, and for good reason: They're serious about not taking themselves too seriously. The band's excellent sophomore disc, Sandwich, is the sound of a band learning to dunk on a listener in the lane. It's got that same straight-outta-Athens-circa-'81, country-peppered/garage jangle quality – and, indeed, some of it was recorded and mixed there – as its debut, but doesn't mumble the punch line. Or, if you will, speak with its mouth full. Snug Harbor (Timothy C. Davis)

The Huguenots Throwbacks to a time when sweet melodies and chiming guitars were the order of the day, this Chapel Hill quartet's influences are written all over their vintage wear and vintage Rickenbackers: the Beatles and Kinks, with a touch of modern dandy-ism via the Strokes mixed in for currency. They've made a splash up in the Triangle with packed shows on campus and off, including a national appearance on Good Morning America. Part of the New Year's Eve extravaganza with The Sammies and DJ Animate. Snug Harbor (John Schacht)

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