Sound Bites: Blue Cactus, Lydia Can’t Breathe, and more

Blue Cactus. Photo provided

Friday, June 15
Blue Cactus
The Velo Fellow
1 Augusta St. No. 126
8:45 p.m.

On their self-titled debut album from 2017, the Chapel Hill, N.C., duo Blue Cactus re-created the sounds of classic 1950s and ‘60s country to an almost eerie degree. Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez got everything right: the dimly lit, smoke-filled atmosphere that singers like Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, and Faron Young discovered in Nashville’s recording studios; and a set of lonely hearted tunes that seemed tailor-made for honky-tonk jukeboxes. That’s what makes their new single, “Radioman,” such a surprise. Abandoning the mimicry of the first album, the single resets everything for the band, taking on a wide-open Americana-tinged country-rock style that’s closer to Gillian Welch than vintage Music City. “All the material we wrote for that first album, we were trying to write certain kinds of songs,” Arnez says. “We were approaching different country archetypes and putting limitations on ourselves, and you can only do that for so long before you want to stretch it out.” Stewart adds that the duo are now mixing those classic country styles with a more expansive approach for their next album. “We’re trying not to put too many limits on what we’re writing,” she says. “And if we find a really good song that we like, it’s still us singing and playing it.” – Vincent Harris

Friday, June 15
Lydia Can’t Breathe w/ Amnesis, Decibel Effect, and Reciprocator
Radio Room
110 Poinsett Highway
9 p.m.

For the past decade or so, the Florida metal quintet Lydia Can’t Breathe have charted their own uncompromising path, both musically and in the marketplace. The music is a pummeling mix of styles with little regard for the seemingly infinite sub-genres of heavy metal music, freely combining primal guitar aggression with progressive flourishes and flexible rhythms and topping it off with vocalist Kyle Bolduc’s surprisingly versatile voice, which can handle guttural growls and soaring choruses with equal ease. “We write music that we can enjoy,” Bolduc says. “We all listen to a bunch of different styles, so we didn’t want to be one genre. We just play what we want and do what we do to make it our own.” And the band has done so independently, releasing multiple albums, singles, and EPs without the aid of a major record label. “We have to figure out how to do videos, merchandising, recording, everything ourselves,” Bolduc says, “but we get to keep all of our money, and we don’t have anyone telling us that we can’t do something creatively.” – Vincent Harris

Friday, June 15
The Firmament
5 Market Point Drive
9 p.m.
$8 – $10

“Out of Line,” the new album by the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, progressive-rock quintet CBDB, is an interesting contrast with their debut full-length, 2015’s “Joyfunk Is Dead.” Both albums feature the band’s tight, skillful playing, which simultaneously nods toward the jam-rock of bands like Perpetual Groove and the vintage sounds of prog bands like Yes and Genesis. But “Out of Line refines the approach considerably, keeping their complex-but-catchy songs to about four to five minutes, whereas their debut sometimes stretched songs into nine-minute epics. The band’s bassist, Mike Sinopole, says the shortened songs are part of an effort by CBDB to make sure their songwriting chops are as strong as their instrumental ones. “We want to be able to have fun with it and play some technical stuff, but we want to be known as good songwriters as well as good instrumentalists,” he says. “You can be a really talented player, but writing a catchy song has a lot of value compared to writing a showy riff. The goal is to have it be accessible and have the fancy stuff underneath.” – Vincent Harris


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