KNBA - KBC

Music

Jeff Tweedy, frontman for Chicago's beloved Wilco, has released his first solo album of original music. WARM, out now, is a stripped-down version of Tweedy's signature alt-rock sound.

There's one obvious thing to get out of the way up front. Yes, The Nude Party actually played without clothes during the band's formative years at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. During their college years, the members hadn't picked a name for the band and because of their lack of wardrobe, the locals dubbed the group "The Naked Party Band."

Balms' "Candle" unleashes an atmospheric bummer — the kind that billows ominously, only to reveal a dark scene once the shroud has dissipated. The San Francisco trio alternates chunky riffs and a plodding rhythm section with dreamy melodies, sudden screams and a voice that coos, "I want your soul." The forbidding effect is something like early Red House Painters' pretty moans set to the downcast punk seething of ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

What constitutes bluegrass music? Does it need to be all acoustic? Can it ever be electric? Does it always include a banjo, a mandolin, a dobro and fiddles? If it ventures into jam band territory, is it still bluegrass?

The bluegrass question is one that the immensely talented Kalamazoo, Mich. band Greensky Bluegrass has been grappling with and answering since the members started 18 years ago.

Watching Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck of R.E.M. onstage together as Arthur Buck shows an obvious dynamic in energy. Arthur's a firecracker; a ball of energy. He sings with all his heart and his body. For three minutes and thirty seconds, Arthur explores the stage while shouting out to the heavens.

Winter can bear the heart of darkness, as it ushers in daylight saving's premature sunsets, brutal drops in temperature or, as Brooklyn-based quartet Bethlehem Steel bluntly puts it in a press release: "Post-tour depression, seasonal depression, depression depression."

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