Our pal David Schwentker reports:
A year ago, local North Carolina garage rockers Last Year’s Men played the first night of Hopscotch Music Festival, having quietly dropped their long awaited second album, “Underwhelmed”, via Bandcamp earlier in the week. The album did not live up to it’s title and built on the hooks and wiser- than-their years lyrics of their earlier records, but there were signs that the band may be on its way out. For one thing, guitarist Geoff Schilling had joined Flesh Wounds as their bassist, and drummer Ian Rose and guitarist Ben Carr had joined up with Charlotte rockers Paint Fumes. However, the Last Year’s Men members weren’t done playing together either, and a jam session experiment turned into a brand new band with Rose switching to synths and vocals, Schilling taking over drums, and Carr remaining on guitar and vocals. The new trio was dubbed Natural Causes and they quickly began playing shows and honing their new, more urgent sound built on a combination of post/synth/garage punk sounds. The new tunes featured guitar work that slashes and crawls over top of woozy, unsettling keyboards, and lyrics that tackle classic punk themes of dread, anger, boredom, and anxiety with a healthy dose of humor.
Fast forward to this year’s Hopscotch and Natural Causes had already played a significant number of local shows, recorded and released a debut album on Snot Releases, written more songs, and hit the road for a two week east coast tour. Booked for an opening slot on Friday night at CAM, the band was a perfect pairing to kick off the night ahead of Nots, a gnarly synth driven punk band of kindred spirits from Memphis, TN. Natural Causes blasted their way through 4 songs off their debut 12″, plus five new songs destined for future releases, showing off their knack for tense sets, pushing and pulling tempos from song to song, all with a collective, wry grin. Including their day party sets on Friday and Saturday afternoons, Natural Causes played three sets in just over 24 hours, and generated a fair amount of positive press with each show. Look for much more to come in the year ahead.
The Friday night set at CAM was captured by area taper Rumbleset, with the same setup as the Moon Duo recording previously posted on this site: two sets of mics, Church Audio CA-11s on the ceiling and Shure SM-57s on stage, combined with a soundboard feed. The sound quality is outstanding.
Stream the complete show:
Hopscotch Music Festival
Contemporary Art Museum
Raleigh, NC, USA
Taped and mixed by Rumbleseat
Tracked by acidjack
Church Audio CA-11c (ceiling)>Naiant PFA + Stereo soundboard feed + Shure SM-57 (stage lip, 90 degrees/10in split)>Tascam DR-680>3x24bit/48kHz WAV>Magix Audio Cleaning Lab (effects, cleanup)>Audacity>24bit/48KHz WAV>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )