Jake Xerxes Fussell is a time traveler.
Xerxes was the fourth king of the Achaemenid dynasty and the namesake of a Southern potter. Jake was named after the potter. His journey has taken him from his hometown of Columbus, Georgia to Berkeley to Oxford, Mississippi to Durham - with furloughs in countless hamlets, way stations and outposts along the way. His folklorist father was a museum curator who traversed the the Deep South researching, recording and photographing old-time musicians of all shapes and sizes. Rug rat Jake tagged along, meeting the blues and folk pickers along the way. He learned to play guitar.
Later in life, he met William Tyler. The kindred spirits played music together and recorded Jake's first album in 2015, a self-titled affair with Tyler in the producer's booth. It's a folk record for modern times. Earlier this year, Fussell released What in the Natural World, his second full length. It's a collection of vernacular songs from the 1920s and 1930s, reinterpreted for today's Heads. Both records were released by Chapel Hill's fortress label Paradise of Bachelors.
Jake Xerxes Fussell's name takes us back to the earliest of times, and the songs he's chosen to record reflect his passion for digging up musical gems that were forgotten long ago. But the way he plays them is utterly of - and for - today.
Jake Xerxes Fussell will be in Charlotte on Thursday (12/14) for an intimate living room set at Recover Brands. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
Prior to the show, we had a nice, long phone chat with Jake to discuss his recent European tour with the gospel group The Como Mamas. We also talked about the democratic power of YouTube and the need to break away from our traditional arbiters of hip and cool in order to broaden our musical palates. It's a fascinating interview - CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.
JAKE XERXES FUSSELL PLAYS RECOVER BRANDS ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14TH. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS. FREE BEER WILL BE PROVIDED (OR BYOB). SEE YOU THERE!
The song "Moon Whip Quaz" got us thinking about Big Black's "The Model," a cover of the standout track from Kraftwerk's 1978 record The Man-Machine. All three songs made for the outline of a new playlist.
According to Hans Chew, his boogie-woogie music channels the vitality of rock maniacs Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and David Yow. Although calmer now - he’s a father, settled in New York – his music maintains the energy and the edge of his forebears.
Cream Puff Records is thrilled to host Hans Chew and his Band at The Visulite on Sunday, November 12th. In advance of the show, we asked Hans some questions over email. His responses are fantastic. Whether you know his story already or you are new to him and his music – you’ll love this conversation. We sure did.
Hans Chew Band plays The Visulite on Sunday, November 12th. Tashi Dorji and RHTS also join the bill. Click here for tickets.Read More
Cream Puff Records
Hans Chew Band
The Visulite Theatre
11.12.2017 | 7pm | $10
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS
Cream Puff Records is proud to host this night of mind-expanding music. Talent like this usually skips Charlotte on its way to The Triangle or Asheville, so we're feeling lucky to have them visit the Queen City. Let's give them a warm welcome. Hope to see you there!
The first thing you notice at an Helado Negro show is the two human-size blobs dancing on stage. Known as the Tinsel Mammals and clad head to toe in tinsel, they are professional dancers wearing costumes designed to make them look like pom poms. Roberto Carlos Lange - the songwriter and brains behind Helado Negro - says the purpose of the Tinsel Mammals is to disarm the audience and create a sense of mystery and anticipation. They are crucial to his performance, but he acknowledges that they can be a little goofy too.
Born in the Fort Lauderdale area to Ecuadorian parents, Lange is a one-man-show (not counting the Tinsel Mammals) who sings and makes electronic music using a Music Production Controller. He manipulates programmed beats, samples, and synth riffs to create spacey lounge music. It's a thoroughly modern sound that somehow stays rooted in the Latino music of Lange's youth. Imagine Panda Bear singing in Spanish or a cumbia Ariel Pink song and you might get a sense of what this offbeat music sounds like.
Helado Negro will be stopping through Charlotte on October 21st for a set at McColl Center for Art + Innovation. It's the next event in the indomitable New Frequencies series, and like the sets earlier this year, it promises to be a singular night of mind-expanding music. Bo White and Brett Green's High Cube project will open the show...and yes, the Tinsel Mammals will be there too.
Cream Puff Records caught up with Roberto by phone while he was on tour with Sylvan Esso last month. We talked about his Ecuadorian roots and why the visual element of his show is just as important as the music.
Helado Negro performs at McColl Center for Art + Innovation on Saturday, October 21st. High Cube is the opener. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster is a humble songwriter; he sings about dawn and dirt and dust. First with Theodore (St. Louis), then with Water Liars (Mississippi), and most recently on his own, JPKS writes sparse reflections on the mysteries of ordinary life. He traffics in catharsis.
Justin will be passing through Charlotte again this week for his second living room set at Recover Brands. The show will take place on Wednesday (10/18) at 8pm. Ahead of the set, we caught up with Justin over email to ask him about what he's been up to lately.
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster plays an intimate living room set this Wednesday (10/18) at Recover Brands. Doors at 7pm. Show starts at 8pm. FREE BEER PROVIDED or your bring your own. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
It's an "All Things Considered" performance, which means can help Justin build his set-list for the Charlotte show. Once you buy a ticket, send an email to email@example.com with your name, city, and song request. It can be any song Justin has ever written.
In the meantime, CLICK HERE to read the Cream Puff Records interview with Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster.Read More
The Futurebirds' story involves a lot more than Athens, Georgia, but it is hard to talk about the band without mentioning the college town where they formed. Yes, their songs tug at the notions of love and heartache and change - universal themes that could have originated anywhere in the country. But the rich musical heritage of home, the Southern sense of place, and the true love of SEC country bleed from every tune they've written. Futurebirds wear their Athens roots like a fitted shirt.
Frontman Carter King has been leading the band since its inception in 2008. He's overseen the band's growth from a college band playing frat parties and dive bars to a Southern rock staple headlining some of the most prestigious rooms across the country. Futurebirds recently wrapped up a successful New England tour in support of Portico II, the EP they released earlier this year.
In their down time, Carter and songwriter/guitarist Daniel Womack sometimes play intimate living room sets as a duo. This Saturday, they'll bring it to Tabor for the Bungalow Social. A living room set on the front porch. Go figure.
In advance of the performance, Cream Puff Records caught up with Carter King over email just as the band was wrapping up its tour. We covered a lot in the fun little exchange, including fast food, cover songs and Widespread Panic.Read More
This playlist was supposed to be about Endless Boogie.
Starting with "Pots On, Gas On High" (an eleven minute rump-shaker from John Lee Hooker's 1971 album Endless Boogie) and ending with "Back in '74" (a new song from the old band Endless Boogie), the playlist was to be bookended by two of our favorite "new to us" tunes of 2017.
But in the time it took to finalize the playlist, we lost four of the greats. First, it was Walter Becker. Then Holger Czukay. Then Charles Bradley. And most recently, Tom Petty. To make a playlist without a nod to those four would not have felt right.
So here is an Endless Boogie-themed playlist that begins by paying tribute to Holger, Walter, Tom, and Charles. What follows is a bunch of other songs we're psyched about these days. The playlist is embedded below. Click here for the direct link to Spotify,
Professional musicians these days must own “the hustle.” The economics of record sales are dismal. Streaming services could not be any less artist-friendly. Year round touring is a grind. To make it in the music industry and keep his sanity, an artist must keep busy with other things. Produce, mix, and master. Form numerous bands. Arrange other people’s songs. Sell merch. Teach music lessons. The list goes on.
Durham-based artists Chris Boerner and Matt Douglas are two musicians who have mastered the hustle. As an engineer and producer, Boerner has made his mark in the studio on countless records, including the recent Blank Range debut full-length and Hallalujah Anyhow, the upcoming Merge Records release from Hiss Golden Messenger. He’s also an accomplished guitarist who has toured with Aaron Freeman and the Grammy-nominated hip hop group The Foreign Exchange. Douglas is a horn player who has bounced around in jazz and hip hop bands, teaching music lessons in the interim. More recently, he became a full-time member of The Mountain Goats, another band on the Merge roster with a 2017 record (called Goths and released in May). This year, like every year, has been busy.
Boerner and Douglas also make up two thirds of The Hot at Nights, an instrumental trio specializing in jazz with hints of funk and hip hop with electronic flourishes. The trio released Three Kids earlier this year, the fifth record they’ve done together since forming in 2010. Joined by drummer Nick Baglio, Boerner plays eight-string guitar and mult-instrumentalist Douglas does the rest.
The Hot at Nights will be in Charlotte on Tuesday, September 5th as the opening act for The Mountain Goats. In advance of this exciting double bill, we caught up with Chris Boerner and Matt Douglas to discuss their approach to the hustle, the history of The Hot at Nights, and that time Matt played with Talib Kweli back in the day.
The Hot at Nights will be at The Neighborhood Theatre on Tuesday, September 5th as the opening act for The Mountain Goats. Click here for tickets.
In the meantime, click on “Read More” below to read our interview with Chris Boerner and Matt Douglas.Read More
Toth’s Law is akin to Murphy’s Law. Murphy admonishes, “If something can go wrong, it will.” Toth offers the musician’s corollary: when given a choice of two songs, the listener will always prefer the one the singer doesn’t. Both laws are glass-half-empty reproaches with Zen applications in real life. You can’t micromanage the outcome, so just roll with it.
The architect of Toth’s Law’s is James Jackson Toth, a songwriter better known by his stage name Wooden Wand. A road-tested bard with a recorded output that challenges even the most intrepid Discogs completist, Toth writes songs on a daily basis. With a songbook as thick as his, it is only natural that some tunes do not fly as far as others. Hence, Toth’s Law.
Wooden Wand has put this approach to songwriting on display twice this year. First, he released the majestic Clipper Ship, a full-length album that is both pastoral and motorik. Later, he uploaded Toth’s Law – a collection of ten songs written throughout the years - to Bandcamp before promptly removing them. Clipper Ship is in the world for posterity. Toth’s Law is no longer available. The duality endures.
James Toth brings his one-man Wooden Wand show to town for an intimate living room set at Recover Brands on Thursday, August 24th. In advance of the show, we asked him some questions over email. In his responses, James digs a little deeper into the meaning of Toth’s Law, sizes up the Grateful Dead’s studio albums, and gives us a preview of his upcoming Charlotte set.
We hope you’ll join us for the Wooden Wand show at Recover Brands on Thursday, August 24th. Click here for tickets.
In the meantime, click “Read More” below to read our great interview with Wooden Wand.Read More
God Save the Queen City is one of Charlotte’s great boutique music festivals. Although the format and venues have changed in each of its seven years, the one thing that has remained consistent – and, really, the only thing that matters – is the excellent lineup. It is a given that the vanguard of local Charlotte bands will take the GSTQC stage, and whether it’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Hiss Golden Messenger, Dean Ween Group, or Futurebirds, the headliners have always packed a punch.
This year’s lineup is no different. Locals Benji Hughes, Faye, Shadowgraphs, and Ancient Cities are testament to GSTQC’s continued ability to attract the best of Charlotte’s best. And headliners Strand of Oaks, Jeff the Brotherhood, Diarrhea Planet, and Durand Jones are huge “gets,” more proof that great bands want to play Charlotte and are doing so with increasing frequency. The future is bright for all of us.
Cream Puff Records is proud to be a sponsor of the seventh God Save the Queen City festival. To celebrate, we caught up with organizer Eric Leaf to discuss what makes the 2017 festival most excellent.
God Save the Queen City takes place on Friday 8/25 and Saturday 8/26 at the Neighborhood Theatre. There’s also a special beer release party at Heist Brewery featuring Durand Jones & the Indications the weekend before. Click here for tickets and more information.Read More
James Toth's world exists slightly below the surface. It's not hard to find, but you have to know where to look. It's the world of a rambling man (stage name: Wooden Wand) - a troubadour and a picker whose journey began in New York. It took him to the small (but not smallest) cities and towns of the American South. Knoxville. Lexington, Kentucky. Richmond. Birmingham. His music - ambient folk; frayed Americana; the occasional ripper - pays homage to the greats. In James Toth's world, Neil Young is the Zeus that lords over a Mount Olympus populated by gods Cohen, Dylan and Reed. Or at least that's how we see it.
Wooden Wand (nee Toth) has recorded his tunes with such frequency that it is nigh impossible to track what we worldly folks would call a discography. He has one - but good luck nailing down 100% of it. You might be better off focusing on 2017. In the Spring, he unveiled "Clipper Ship," a seven-song LP released by Jamestown, NC's bullet-proof label Three Lobed Recordings. Then, come Summer, he followed it up with "Toth's Law," a ten-song collection of non-album tracks released directly to Bandcamp. He removed those songs two weeks later. You snooze, you lose. See what we mean about that discography?
Toth will likely draw from these songs (and many others from his varied past) when he passes through Charlotte on THURSDAY, AUGUST 24th. He'll be playing an intimate living room set at RECOVER BRANDS.
Free beer will be provided...or you can bring your own. 100% of the ticket sales price (excluding service fees) will go to the artist.
This summer playlist starts off with a funky reggae track by Eddy Grant. What follows is a handful of songs we're psyched about these days. Summer is here. Dig it.
The best stories in independent music are about people who go for it. Critics be damned. Barriers be toppled. Something's not right? Fix it. Make it. Something's missing? Do it yourself.
Sarah Blumenthal and Josh Robbins are two people who personify this mentality. Eight years ago they started Self Aware Records, a Charlotte record label devoted to releasing records that inspired them. Tempted at times to move to another city with a more favorable music scene, the married couple ultimately gritted it out in the Queen City. By staying put, they've built something special in a city that needs it. In those eight years, Self Aware has evolved into one of the primary engines pushing the Charlotte music scene forward today.
To mark the eighth year of Self Aware, we caught up with Sarah and Josh over email. No one is more qualified to opine on Charlotte's music scene than these two, and lucky for us - they both shared some refreshingly candid views. Josh even told us how his band Late Bloomer is working hard to become a better Balboa. Yes, that's a Rocky III reference.
Thanks to Josh and Sarah for sharing their thoughts with us. Their record label - Self Aware Records - is celebrating its 8th Anniversary by giving away *free stuff* when you buy something from them. Click here to visit their website and check it out.
In the meantime, click on "Read More" below to read the Cream Puff Records interview with Sarah Blumenthal and Josh Robbins.Read More
When the average music fan thinks of towns where vital music gets made, Blacksburg, Virginia, is probably not top of mind. Although it is better known for Beamer Ball and pit stops along Interstate 81, the mountainous college town has also been home to a group of boundary-defying musicians that blend old-timey string music with avant-garde drone techniques. It is a sound that is equal parts Velvet Underground and Dock Boggs.
Two bands with Blacksburg ties – Pelt and The Black Twig Pickers – are the standard-bearers of this type of music. Each band has enjoyed critical acclaim for its recorded output, and they’re both revered among East Coast underground music heads. The bands also shared an orbit with Jack Rose, a massively influential guitarist whose premature death in 2009 caused a lot of discerning music fans to begin paying attention to this visionary style of music. It goes by many names – freak folk, psych folk, drone folk, New Cosmic Americana, New Weird America – but to name it is not the point. It is simply some of the best music in the US today, regardless of what you call it.
Banjo-player Nathan Bowles is a progenitor of this sound. As a member of both Pelt and The Black Twig Pickers, he has played a key role in widening its appeal. Somewhere along the way he caught Steve Gunn’s attention and began playing drums and keyboards in his band. Kurt Vile is a fan as well.
Nathan will be bringing his banjo alchemy to Charlotte this week for an intimate living room set at Recover Brands. We caught up with him over email beforehand to gain some insight into the way he approaches this singular music.
Nathan Bowles plays a living room set at Recover Brands on Wednesday, May 24th (click here for tickets). In the meantime, click on “Read More” below to read the Cream Puff interview with Nathan Bowles.Read More
The new Mountain Goats record has a lot of great story lines. It's called Goths and is inspired by an adolescence spent blasting The Cure, Bauhaus and Siouxie and the Banshees on KROQ in Southern California. It features Raleigh-based horn player Matt Douglas, a new permanent member of the band. Lead singer and songwriter John Darnielle wrote the songs, then took a break to write his second novel after his first novel was nominated for a National Book Award. The band recorded Goths in the nicest studio they've used to date. A sixteen-member symphony chorus provides the central thrust of the leadoff track, and a four-piece gospel outfit guests on a couple songs later on the record. Oh, and there's no guitars.
One story line that's not getting a lot of airtime is that Goths is the first Mountain Goats record with a Charlotte connection. When bassist Peter Hughes moved here sometime last year, the record was already finished and awaiting release. But thanks to a John Darnielle book tour, the street date was delayed until now, giving Peter plenty of time to establish his Queen City bona fides. Yes, calling Goths a Charlotte record is a criminal stretch of the truth - but we'll take anything we can get.
Cream Puff Records had a nice phone conversation with Peter this week to discuss the new record. We spent most of our time chatting about the music of his childhood in Chino during the 1980s, but he also told us about the Goths recording process in Nashville and gave us a peek into his second career as an automotive journalist.
Goths, the new record from The Mountain Goats', is their fifth for Merge Records and is out Friday. Cream Puff Records is proud to be partnering with Merge to host a listening event at Tabor from noon to 3pm on Saturday. Swing by to hear the new LP in its entirety, enjoy some cold beers, and stock up on vinyl.
In the meantime, click on "Read More" below to read the Cream Puff interview with Peter Hughes.Read More
Ken Vandermark is a jazz lifer. True, the Chicago saxophonist keeps a foot in the rock world and has played with such luminaries as Jim O'Rourke and The Ex. But Vandermark is a jazz musician to his core. Along with trumpet player Nate Wooley, he brings his compositions to McColl Center for Art + Innovation on Friday, May 12th. It's the final booking in this year's fantastic New Frequencies series.
In advance of the performance, Ken shared with us 26 jazz and improvised music record recommendations - one for each letter of the alphabet. These are some heady recommendations, and while there are some familiar names, most of his picks are the kinds of titles crate-diggers drool over. We at Cream Puff headquarters will be digging into these for quite some time to come.