Music Review: Born Sinner...

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     If you listen to “Forbidden Fruit” by Fayetteville NC’s J. Cole, you might get furious. The beat for it is built off a slick instrumental from Ronnie Foster’s first record, but you perhaps know it as the backbone for “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest. This is indisputably a classic song. Your aforementioned fury should begin once the lyrics kick in. But the sample is not the issue; hell, anyone with cash enough to pay for a license can sample any song, release it on a major label, and appropriately divide profit. What will really get to you is how much Cole squanders it, like vintage rare-barrel scotch mixed with Diet Coke. Again, this is perfectly normal. Don’t worry.      The problem with J. Cole, the single root problem flowering on lavish...

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Music Review: The Sound of the Life of the Mind...

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     I’m going to warn you that writing about Ben Folds Five, at this point, has become a challenge.      Since I was 14, I’ve cleared a space for them in the ever-swelling digital rucksack of music I’ve been dragging from computer to computer and apartment to apartment. Like a lot of bands you discover and latch onto in your awkward early teen years (unless you weren’t an awkward teen, in which case watch out someone doesn’t tranq and tag you so they can study such a rare breed), Chapel Hill’s Ben Folds Five were the exact right music at the exact right time, fitting into the crooked and uncertain geography of freshman year with their winning combination of showy, almost corny instrumentation, and silliness tempered with pathos. (Probably the same reason They Might Be Giants...

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Nick Autry: Cause & the Cure...

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    It’s common and cliche to think it’s hard to stay true to yourself in Nashville and in the music industry as a whole. Maybe that’s true for any field where you find success and dig in. However, Nick Autry’s music is as real and true as it’s ever been, and his fresh release, Cause and the Cure, is a testament to his talent and drive as a genuine artist. His attitude about performing is such a testament, too. I was lucky to hear the new songs on a Friday afternoon this past summer at an outdoor event downtown. Unfortunately, Autry was scheduled to go on during rush hour and the sky showed all indications of imminent downpour. Adding to the confusion, folks from a Bible convention (yes, a Bible convention) milled in and...

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Mount Airy

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     My dad is a champion whistler. The family has encouraged him to compete in Louisburg's International Whistlers Competition, and we've no doubt he'd take it, but once he found out the complexities of the rules, he wasn't interested. I did not inherit the whistling gift from him. But like all good Southern lads, I could whistle at least two tunes - Sesame Street, and the intro to The Andy Griffith Show.      It was a sad day this past July 3rd, when we North Carolinians, Southerners, Americans, and good people everywhere lost Andy Griffith.  I felt it my duty to head to Mt. Airy -- known to the outside world as Mayberry -- to pay my respects to a legend. For the uninitiated, Mt. Airy is located in the shade of Pilot Mountain,...

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Heavy Rebel Weekender

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     My introduction to Rockabilly culture was several years ago in Raleigh, and I thought it was kind of hokey, with throwback haircuts and clothes and back-to-basics rock and roll. And then I went to Heavy Rebel Weekender for the first time, and became a convert. This annual gathering of rockers and gearheads takes place every post-July 4th weekend in downtown Winston Salem, NC, and continues to grow every year, now in its 12th iteration.      This three day congregation of some of the most interesting folks you’ll meet is “church” to many of us. It’s a place where women’s 50s updos are appreciated, where low-brow art isn’t looked down upon, where rust on your car is a badge of honor (it means you actually DRIVE it), PBR flows freely, and independent music artists...

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