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Charlotte Music Cuts: Seebirdgo, Simon SMTHNG, Brio, Swansgate, and Newtie

 By Shirley Griffith

May 10, 2019

Feeling invigorated from the Met Gala where obscenely rich celebrities pride themselves in looking ridiculous (I’m mostly looking at you burger chandelier Katy Perry), May brings us a wide array of authentic and flourishing talent out of the Queen City. As you prepare your best Memorial Day cookout playlist, maybe we can help direct you towards some local talent whose vibes soundtrack everything from getting the grill lit up to laying in a park taking in the nice weather.

As an extension of the Monthly Music Cuts, we’ll highlight the local artist chosen for Tip Top Daily Market’s Music Tasting. The Music Tasting is a laidback event from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. on the last Friday of each month. A curated playlist, based entirely and intentionally from a local album release, plays throughout the funky bottle shop/record store, mixing mainstream influences with the regional sound, a musical avenue for the Gestalt Law of Proximity. The May Music Tasting will feature a playlist based off seebirdgo’s newly released EP, MOOD, on May 31.

Seebirdgo

In February, newcomer seebirdgo released her debut EP, MOOD. Tipsy horns blare out on the track “93” crafting a buttery vignette as the artist spells the word “unity” before casually slipping into her comfortable, bass accented flow. Seebirdgo incorporates the smooth underlying jazzy drip similar in fashion to the classic ‘90s boom-bap stylings of the golden era. The busy, coarse hues of brushed horns emulate the sound of underground city streets. Seebirdgo has a straightforward flow, allowing beats to twitch and sparkle underneath her vocals, which speak of freedom and change from her pointed observations. The sound is effortlessly cool and nonchalant. Throughout the EP, seebirdgo’s lyrics get increasingly clever and emboldened with the distinct sonic choices. “Flexin (feat F Con)” has her singing over Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit “Tom’s Diner” intro vocals, playing intimately against her sparse southern drawl. Follow seebirdgo on Instagram and catch her DJing every other Sunday at Rhino Market downtown.

Simon SMTHNG

Charlotte producer Simon SMTHNG closes the book on his years-long trilogy with the release of such is life— a perfectly Vonnegut resolution, out on May 11. SMTHNG’s trilogy has chronicled his journey through a divorce that left him heartbroken and lost. The first installment was 2017’s here, for now (which detailed the initial breakup) followed by 2018’s you will know fear (the unsure listlessness of how to go on) and now, such is life brings clarity by transporting listeners back to the beginning– the beginning of the end. The sounds found within such is life are a bit more cheerful, vibrantly expressing and dancing among the trilogy without compromising SMTHNG’s inherent talent for wordlessly exuding emotion. The frenzied beats of “maim” rain down over the soothing, ambient piano, creating depth, vast like a speechless canyon. Listeners can feel both the hopeful rise of a full breath and the excitement of new love, blended in with tumbling heartbreak. Catch SMTHNG at Tip Top Market for his release party at his curated monthly event, Repainted Tomorrow, on Saturday May 11 or Neptune’s in Raleigh with Tanajah, Jooselord Magnus on May 12.

Newtie (Pronounced ‘gnu-dee’) 

Newtie is an anti-folk duo from Waxhaw. Anti-folk originated in the 1980s in New York as a reaction to the pretentiousness and elitism found in the wake of the 1960s NY folk scene, utilizing more expressionism and honesty over technique or popularity. Newtie has a sparse sound, one that sheds expectation and polish, focusing creatively instead on the quiet art that’s found in simplicity. Influences of their small town upbringing, lo-fi blues, and Appalachian reflection are apparent on their recently released full-length, Pony!. Opener “Yellowlite” is a deconstructed memory, a nostalgic pacing of hums and acoustic cradling. The angsty stomp of drums in “Cow Tongue” sighs with the strain of a harmonica over sharp, grassy claps. The songs on Pony! are contemplatively clunky in the way strings of consciousness can tangle themselves, but the embracing sincerity and sweetness give the album a memorable and individually affecting importance. Although the duo doesn’t have any upcoming shows, they’re working on a new album which focuses more on experimental sound additions. Keep up with new music on bandcamp and Instagram (@newtiemusic) to stay up to date on their progression.

Swansgate

Originally from High Point, NC, art rock trio Swansgate relocated to Charlotte in 2017 to focus their efforts on recording music. Their progressive compositions are arranged by frontman Art Draughn and feature intricate sounds threading nimbly together. Their newest single, “Dusk Forever (Hazel Eyes)” slow steps through a haze of gentle keys, while the waiting tap of a cymbal and suspicious knocking creates a spiraling atmosphere around Draughn’s vocals. Swansgate has a myriad of influences that shape the young band’s sound into more than a single genre. Muted tinges of jazz mix with strands of psychedelic guitar and diversifying keys with synths that add flickers of light. Currently, Swansgate is finalizing their newest single at Studio B Mastering. The band travels across the state playing as frequently as possible with dates posted on their website, but their next Charlotte show is at Petra’s on Friday, May 17 with fellow Charlotteans, Broke Jokes, and Asheville’s Shutterings.  

Brio 

Rapper/producer Brio largely seems to stay under the radar, but his newest singles released this year, “Sterling.” and “No Bad Days.” show the artist gaining rightful traction. Brio was a part of Snug Harbor’s “Thuggishness,” which worked to shine a positive light on the local hip-hop scene, elevating and celebrating the art of young black men in Charlotte. The lush, minimalistic arrangement on “Sterling.” (released on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) contrasts pensively with the impassioned bookended excerpts of the last Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, where he asks of America to come through on its constitutional promise of freedom and basic human rights. The soft acoustic string intro on “No Bad Days” fades into thumping bass and a relentlessly brazen flow as creeping keys circle overhead creating a rich blend of intentional thoughtfulness and space to expand. Stay up to date on Brio and his next performances through Instagram and Twitter.

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