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Danville, Va.: The City of Churches

(12/03/10 10:00am)

The day trip to Danville is just right for a lazy Saturday afternoon. After dozing in the rumpled mess of my comforter with the sun creaking in through tangled wooden blinds well past my alarm, I rustled myself from between the sheets and into a few thin layers before jumping in the car. There isn’t much in the way of preparation. A quick look at a map lets me know the drive is a straight shot up 86. And only an hour away, I take to the road with the relaxed ease of a hop over to Chapel Hill or Raleigh.


Sam's Kwik Shop - Durham's iconic booze store

(10/27/10 8:00am)

The Wednesday I sauntered into Sam’s Kwik Shop off Erwin was a slow evening, one of those peculiar nights that are particular to North Carolina. The Indian summer that had scorched Durham and simmers even now was dampened by a soft rain, as comforting as the cold sheet you blindly feel for in the sweaty flash of a stale Southern night. As far back as my freshman year when I first groaned under the unbearable heat of Durham in August and into September, waking up with my bangs matted to my forehead and my cotton drawers clinging to my legs, I have taken refuge in Bostock or one of the empty academic buildings strewn around West Campus, nodding off as the guttural hum of the air conditioning quieted the suffocating chirps of cicadas just outside the thick-paned glass windows overlooking the main quad.


Sandbox

(09/02/10 8:37am)

I had heard the rumors. Central was under the knife for a long-awaited facelift, which had finally been put in motion. Then I drove down Erwin and saw it. All 100 yards of it. The monumental barrier they built as a reminder to the beautiful, sprawling lawns and magnificent architecture of the campus within.





Professor turns to HBO's 'The Wire' for class

(03/04/10 10:00am)

Anne-Maria Makhulu was never much of a couch potato and had never seen The Wire. But when at a conference a few years ago she overheard mentor Judith Halberstam, an English professor at the University of Southern California, having an animated conversation about the show, she decided that it must be worthy of a viewing. She took it with her as her only company while finishing a book manuscript in New York City. And it was then that she thought she had to teach a course on this.




La Roux - La Roux

(12/03/09 10:00am)

I will always remember 2009 as the year I no longer separated females from males when considering who I thought to be the best artist. Though Lady Gaga and Little Boots made convincing claims to the throne atop the pop kingdom, it’s La Roux’s claim that has the people chanting, “Long live the queen!”


Hackney and Anderson have a very merry, communal Trekmas

(11/19/09 10:00am)

Turning off 15-501, I attempted to navigate myself down dimly lit backroads using an iPhone. But even the Apple geniuses didn’t think to properly map the residence where I was scheduled to meet Martin Anderson and Will Hackney, the label heads of Chapel Hill-based Trekky Records. (Let’s be clear, it’s Martin and Will—not Anderson and Hackney.) As I squinted out of my car’s windows I realized why the street hadn’t been drawn on a map. The sign that informed me of my arrival on their street led me down a dirt road past a row of rustic mailboxes toward a small, two-story house. As I walked up the front porch, deer ran through the surrounding forest. I’ve never felt more like I was in North Carolina.



Duke Performances brings famed pianist Perahia to Page

(10/15/09 8:00am)

 American pianist Murray Perahia has had an illustrious career, winning three Grammy awards and the title of Knight Commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in honor of his oustanding service to music. In 35 years, he has performed in all of the major international music centers and with every leading orchestra. This past May, he received an honorary doctorate in recognition of his enormous contribution to music. 



Cold Souls

(09/17/09 8:00am)

Writer-director Sophia Barthes’ existential dark comedy Cold Souls is as close to an homage to Charlie Kaufman that a film can get. Barthes channels both a quasi-factual/fictional role for Paul Giamatti a la John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, and the happy emptiness post-medical procedure as displayed in Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind.


In Prism

(09/10/09 9:59am)

Best known as a college radio station staple over a decade ago, Polvo returns with its new album, In Prism—their first in 12 years—with hopes of revisiting the off-rock heyday of the 1990s. Their fleeting presence may have been a result of their inconsistent sound across albums, from a psychedelic Exploded Drawing in 1996 to a more classic rock-inspired release with 1997’s Shapes, their curtain call until now. In Prism witnesses yet another change in direction, almost altogether ignoring their last album while harnessing the psychedelic exploration of Exploded Drawing into an attentive, purposeful sound. It is the recording quality of the album—produced by fellow North Carolinian Brian Paulson, who has worked with other Merge and N.C. legends—that makes the most noticeable difference, a vast improvement over the lo-fi techniques of Polvo’s DIY past. Guitarists/vocalists Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski return as the underrated, guitar-virtuoso frontmen—their vocals an afterthought to their mathematical riffs. Opener “Right the Relation” is reminiscent of their past strengths, followed by “D.C. Trails,” a more straightforward but still strong track. Lead single “Beggar’s Bowl,” an odd equation of post-punk and classic-rock, is as good of an offering as any to the new generation of students unaware of the “math-rock” that these four nerds from North Carolina helped pioneer. Although it sounds like a Polvo record all along, it isn’t until the lengthy “Lucia” when In Prism begins to remind fans of the reason they were so passionate about the band to begin with: in their complex music, listeners could forget the pressures of college. As the album closes with the heavy “A Link in the Chain,” it feels like an encore more than anything else. They’ve already earned their applause.


Polvo: In Prism

(09/10/09 8:00am)

Best known as a college radio station staple over a decade ago, Polvo returns with its new album, In Prism—their first in 12 years—with hopes of revisiting the off-rock heyday of the 1990s. Their fleeting presence may have been a result of their inconsistent sound across albums, from a psychedelic Exploded Drawing in 1996 to a more classic rock-inspired release with 1997’s Shapes, their curtain call until now.




coconut records

(02/26/09 9:00am)

Considering that my tastes in film and music are derived from the corky Max Fischer of Rushmore, it would have been difficult for me to write a negative review of Davy, the sophomore album from Jason Schwartzman's one-man-band, Coconut Records. Fortunately for everyone involved, Davy didn't require me to do so. Not since Nada Surf's Let Go has a record been so refreshing.