March 7, 2019
Welcome back to the second installment of Charlotte’s Monthly Music Cuts! March is a busy month for Charlotte as the city hosts CIAA, endless St Patrick’s Day brewery crawls, and there’s the glorious return of Daylight Savings Time (nice to see you, sunshine). March, named after the Roman God of War (Mars), lights a fire under our southeastern butts and we can finally see the warm promise of spring hazing into view. If you’re feeling antsy and looking to shake off winter’s heavy coat by dancing at a few shows, look no further. This month’s batch of local musicians, while incredibly varied, place a focus on the emerging heat in the city. From the young soulscapes of Leone to the anticipated Petrov show, Charlotte has certainly rallied its own rhythmic battle cry this month.
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. The March Music Tasting will feature a playlist based off Petrov, an electrifying, five-piece post pop band that’s been making waves since late 2018.
One of the most exciting bands to form in Charlotte, Petrov will be releasing its debut six-track EP, Sleep Year, on March 15 via Self Aware Records. The band, named after Stanislav Petrov (the man who single-handedly saved the world from nuclear war in 1983) formed over a year ago when former members from local acts including Cuzco (Matt McConomy), Borrowed Arts (Syd Little, Michael Backlund), Cabrón, and Rnie (Garrett Herzfeld) decided to dive headfirst into a project together. First-time frontwoman, Mary Grace McKusick, joined the band as vocalist and adds important lyrical themes that discuss sexual assault, insecurity, and personal identity. The band took their time to write the EP and play their first shows, carefully crafting textures into each song and allowing the tracks to build into fully formed concepts. This attention to detail is apparent in the EP as well as their live shows. Guitarists Little and Backlund masterfully play off of one another, having honed their sound in Borrowed Arts. Petrov will host a release party for Sleep Year at Snug Harbor on Saturday, March 16 with a stacked lineup of local support from Jail Socks, Pullover, and Patois Counselors.
Hailing out of Rock Hill, 23-year-old D’Amontae Breland recently released his first EP, Angst. The atmospheric soul and funk grooves gliding down the approximately 15-minute album are cohesive and spread like butter on a warm slice of bread. The album is both futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. Recorded with the help of friends and Charlotte producer Jason “Jet” Jones, the album masterfully incorporates live and studio elements that work effortlessly to give a warm, retro feel throughout. This throwback nod extends outside production and “In Ur World” unabashedly incorporates the lyric “It’s your world / I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut” off C+C Music Factory’s 1990 international dance hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Synthetic rhythms and faraway Cheshire Cat snarls of electric guitar evoke a Prince-worthy perfectly purple-tinged gleam on “Josephine.” Like the album cover (a Roy Lichtenstein-influenced piece created by Breland) and name, Angst has a running undertone of anxiety mixed among its dance and pop inspirations which integrate them with weighted substance. Leone will have a release party at The Courtroom in Rock Hill on Friday, March 29 with a to-be-announced lineup.
Concord indie rockers Wild Trees formed in 2010 when Israel Haigler and Nick DeJohn were still in high school and expanded the group to include Cory Cooper in 2011. Although Wild Trees is a beloved outfit, the band notoriously takes hiatuses every couple of years, so catching them can feel like a real treat. While on these breaks, the members never abandon their love of one another and return refreshed and with newfound directions. The elasticity in this unconventional band is reflected in their sound, petrifying tracks in an amber snapshot of their current mindset. Recently, the band has ramped up their live performances, playing for the February Hectorina residency at Snug as well as the Ol Sport album release show at the Milestone. On April 5, Wild Trees will be back at Snug Harbor for the exciting return of Rnie (a previously Charlotte-based project that moved to New York a few years ago) playing alongside Dollhands and Patois Counselors.
To Be Sure
To Be Sure is the moniker for Nathan Matthews, a local percussionist, artist, and music teacher. Using most notably the marimba, Matthews remarks on the classic struggle of being sentient through To Be Sure’s sonic expression. The namesake itself comes from Herman Mellville’s Moby Dick, where lead character Ahab considers his own madness as a separate, existing being all its own: “a ray of living light, to be sure, without an object to color, and therefore blankness in itself.” This sort of callback and chamber-oriented music can seem a touch highbrow for some, but Matthews’ utmost comprehension of his craft and lighthearted personality enables him to translate timeless worries and emotions for large-scale reception and accessibility, especially through his live performance of the pieces.
To elevate his art and bring compositions to a larger audience, Matthews organized two tremendous, independent albums that are set to be released in June alongside a tour. To grapple with such an undertaking, To Be Sure currently has a GoFundMe that will run until March 31. The first album will be a solo work of newly commissioned and arranged music, for marimba and voice, solo percussion and electronics, and American folk songs arranged for the Zimbabwean mbira. The second album focuses on instrumental chamber music written by five diverse composers and will be recorded with the help of multiple local musicians. You can hear examples of To Be Sure’s past work on the GoFundMe page and follow along with To Be Sure’s community-sourced projects and tour kickoff via their Instagram.
Singer-songwriter LeAnna Eden is no stranger to the music scene. She is the founder and producer of BLA/ALT, a Charlotte festival that highlights creative, alternative black artists and musicians in the region. She’s is also responsible for the Wednesday night hip hop showcase at the Commonwealth Common Market, which has helped create a comfortable space for Charlotte’s burgeoning hip hop scene in one of its trendiest neighborhoods. To many locals’ chagrin, she announced a few weeks ago that she’d be relocating to Knoxville to pursue her musical career. She’s leaving behind not only some massive shoes to fill, but also a much anticipated album, Ease Your Soul, Chapman set to be released on May 31. In January, LeAnna released an endearing ballad, “Don’t Forget To Say Goodbye,” written about her late brother who passed away during the recording of the album. To celebrate the release of the new track and its (yet unreleased) music video, there will be a viewing party at Petra’s on March 21 with AZUL and The Bleus.
Check out February’s Charlotte Music Cuts.