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Charlotte Monthly Music Cuts: Side Note, Skewed, DJ Fannie Mae, JaH-Monte, Fortune Teller, and GASP

 By Shirley Griffith

February 1, 2019

These days we’re living in can be overwhelming, with fear and uneasiness seeming to take the lead. One philosophy that helps to overcome this is remembering to start small and radiate outward. Helping your neighbor and doing right within your local community creates a domino effect of support, solidarity, and foundation. This extends easily to the local music scene where Charlotte residents can express themselves through their art and uplift one another through the simple act of showing up. Charlotte has musical talent brimming out of each neighborhood, so much so that many artists, albums, and shows can fall through the cracks. This is why we’re introducing a monthly series showcasing recent or up-and-coming releases, projects, and worthwhile shows that can reinvigorate your musical radar.

Photo: Drea Atkins

As an extension of this monthly feature, we’ll highlight the local artists 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.

While the languid winter stretches its cold arm over the city, we suggest warming up to our February musicians: Side Note, Skewed, DJ Fannie Mae, JaH-Monte, Fortune Teller, and G.A.S.P. All of these wildly varied artists have released music within the last year or have a noteworthy upcoming show. Each musician brings their distinct fabric to the table and together, they thread the narrative of Charlotte music.

Side Note 

Side Note is the performance moniker for native Charlottean Summer Windham. Windham has been crafting her artistry for years, starting out quietly as a poet before finding her flow and leaning gracefully into the hip hop world, continually impressing anyone lucky enough to be paying attention. Last year alone, Windham performed at four festivals: Bush Fest at the Shed Amphitheatre, New Era Music Fest in north Charlotte, BOOM Charlotte in Plaza Midwood, and she opened for Atlanta’s vegan rapper, Grey, at the Vegfest official after party. Since her debut full-length release, MR, in 2017 (which features locals Dexter Jordan and producer FLLS) Side Note has released a single and music video for her newest track, “Unavailable,” while keeping herself busy with upcoming ventures.)

Summer Windham aka Side Note

As for 2019, Windham says she’s taking her time with the new music and put a couple projects on hold for now, including an exciting concept with progressive producer Axnt, a dance project with FLLS, and a collaboration with her long-time friend Autumn Rainwater. Side Note’s next release, set for this spring, will have the same downbeat coolness of MR but with different vibrations: “I’m really releasing a lot of emotions in my work, not like I didn’t before, but I just feel like being more vulnerable.”

Next show: Snug Harbor, March 5 with DC’s minimalist post-punk Sneaks.

Song: “Movin”

Skewed

Skewed recently opened up for legendary indie rock experimenters, Joan of Arc just days after releasing their EP Forever and Outcade. Skewed incorporates members of Ghost Trees and Mineral Girls, and a number of ever-changing Charlotte artists come and go in their informal line-up. Skewed, as their name may suggest, artfully uses synthesizers and program contortion to manifest “free jazz for the modern world.” Their layered sound is boundless,fascinating, smart and accessible; they challenge the listener to engage in the dimensions of what they’re hearing. Skewed sounds like a wistful desktop computer gained consciousness and a love of fine art, escaped from its ranch-style split-level home and inexplicably wound up on an acid trip in a divey jazz club– truly a sound worth checking out.

Next show: Gryffon Haus, opening for traditional and avant guitar master Daniel Bachman on February 22.

Song: “My Mom is a Little Thief, I Guess”

Fannie Mae

Known for being a DJ extraordinaire, Fannie Mae released her debut EP of original tracks, Mood Ring, in December 2018. Among many other feats, Fannie is the first DJ for the Charlotte Ballet and has brought the city together as a musical ambassador, capable of reading and vibing with whichever room she’s in. Fannie grew up inundated with music and has always understood the magical way music can heal and bring people together. Mood Ring is an intimate, sensually textured album full of empowering messages with nebulous, prismatic beats floating underneath that conjure the fantastical, hazy spectrum of a mood ring. The album is the first time the Charlotte icon has expressed herself using her own narrative which gives it an exceptionally vulnerable tone like reading your friend’s diary. There aren’t any upcoming shows for Mood Ring but Fannie Mae DJs all over the city and has one of the best Instagram accounts around so you can keep tabs: @djfanniemae.

Fannie Mae

Song: “Anything”

Jah-Monte/King Callis

Charlotte MC JaH-Monte OF MELENATED PEOPLE aka King Callis released his newest album, Jewelry Rap, in late January including two bonus tracks. Jewelry Rap is the artistic combination of Jah-Monte’s writing and rapping over producer FLLS’ chill, sweeping beats and soothing, nostalgic samples. The two friends carve out a world on the album with JaH-Monte’s tenacious attacks on the mic complementing the loose, slow-burning atmosphere of FLLS’ woven backdrop. The release has underlying tones of unease and cautious reflection which JaH-Monte says translates from tragic lived experiences and the stresses of everyday problems. The production choices and lyrical delivery in the album vary by track and convey both JaH-Monte and FLLS’ knowledge of myriad genres, from the heady intoxication of jazz to spacious lo-fi loops, allowing a freedom within the construction of Jewelry Rap’s sound.

Jah-Monte/King Callis

Song: “RIP Swindle”

Fortune Teller

Charming three-piece Fortune Teller largely seems to stay under the radar despite releasing three stunning singles throughout 2018. The most recent, “Candy Cigarettes” was released in December. The flowing track is a lush dreamscape that incorporates warm synth tones and pining guitar chords over a moody drumbeat. Austin Forbes’ eerie vocals, reminiscent of Ariel Pink, reach out of the song’s dense fog. Their sound is spacey and invites the listener to get comfortable and let the music fill up the dark expanse with sparkling layers. The indie rock group is signed to Charlotte’s DIY label Four Finger Records, who currently have a winter residency at Petra’s.

Fortune Teller

Next Show: Petra’s as part of Four Finger Records Residency with The Raineers and Wilt, Monday February 11.

Song: “Candy Cigarettes”

GASP

Although GASP has been a band since 2013, it wasn’t until last year that they released their debut, A Violet Maze of Dreams, an album they described as “a set of songs about astral projection, past lives, hazy memories, and the fog of disassociation.” The band also released a two-song EP later in the year called Oh My God, We’re Still Animals. Violet Maze is a wonderfully bizarre collection of eclectic post-punk influences that swim in and out of the murky corners of consciousness. The album unabashedly breaks down the tension of preconceived movements and sounds with layered, stewing compositions. Some tracks have cruising guitar sauntering through urgent vocals and lurching distortion, others form mechanical coils that reach and unfurl with unexpected noises to praise the muddied wrath found in the monotony of this earth-bound life.

G.A.S.P.

Next show: Snug Harbor for the Hectorina Residency on Wednesday, February 6. G.A.S.P. is also curating a show at Snug Harbor on February 23 with Sangre Cabrona and an appearance from The Professor, G.A.S.P. percussionist Nathan Matthews’ performance piece.

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