Staff Trax: Thieves Like Us, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Yeasayer, KISS, Goldrush and Owl City

"Drugs In My Body" - Thieves Like Us

I first staggered upon Thieves Like Us a few years back while carelessly clicking in and out of the blogospherem, and my first exposure to the electro trio was via its video for "Drugs in My Body." Since then, the band has produced several videos, EPs and, last year, released its first full-length album, Play Music. Despite some rather unenthusiastic reviews of Play Music, I'm a fan of the bands dreary-electro aesthetic. --Catherine Downes

"Hit 'Em Up Style" - Carolina Chocolate Drops

In the warehouse full of cutting edge electronics and a/v technicians that I work out of, three nights a week, there's more hip-hop fans than not. That's why I thought it was so funny that a few of them good-naturedly jeered "Yeehaw!" the first time I played this at work when they heard the opening fiddle riffs of the Drops' cover of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style." Fooled them pretty good! Now, co-workers keep asking what that was, and where they could grab it. This song, although you can't hear the beat-boxing in the live-performance quite as well as in the studio version, has plenty of hip-hop thump and R&B style to it, among a potpourri of other genre sounds. That's why it caught my ear so easily when I heard it Joe Kozera drop it on KKXT-91.7 FM not too long ago. I've been hooked ever since. Another great act from Raleigh-Durham's always-impressive music scene. --Alan Ayo

"ONE" - Yeasayer

Coming in to town in just a couple weeks is Yeasayer, and I'm really looking forward to this show. I'm a fan of both Yeasayer release (unlike certain other writers for this esteemed publication) and, in the past few days, if I've needed a pick-me-up I've popped on "ONE" from the new Odd Blood release. It seems to go on forever and clears the cobwebs. Here's the latest in a series of videos for the song. --Doug Davis

"Strutter" - KISS

This might sound like pure heresy, but, growing up, I was more familiar with KISS covers than the actual original versions. Of course, I knew who KISS was and what they looked like back when they wore make-up, but if I heard "Strutter" or "Firehouse," I wouldn't have had a clue who it was. Blame it on my desire to dig deeper into Led Zeppelin's and Nirvana's back-catalogs at the time, or how the classic rock station in Houston rarely played old KISS in the 1990s, but I knew of covers by various acts--from The Replacements to Poison to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to Garth Brooks--better. With the recent acquisition of a KISS best-of and the three KISSology DVD sets, I'm playing catch-up. --Eric Grubbs

"Wait for the Wheels" - Goldrush

Hailing from, of all places, Oxford, England, the alt-country quintet known as Goldrush released a gem of an album entitled Ozona back in 2005. I remember loving the album back then and hoped to see them live. About a month after SXSW, I saw that the band had played that year's festival. I don't think it's been back since. Fact is, since Goldrush hasn't made another record since 2007, I'm not sure it even remains a functioning unit. Either way, the opening cut from Ozona is "Wait for the Wheels," and it's a mighty aggressive mix of hayseed and haymaker; these roots have been shot through a canon. By the way: The band is named for Ozona, Texas, where the group's tour bus once broke down. --Darryl Smyers

"Fireflies" - Owl City

For a couple of weeks now, I've had to make sure to start of my road-trip iPod was set with this one. Say what you want--that it's Postal Service-light or whatever. But, while Postal Service was happy to be glum, Owl City takes the electronica to a cheery new level. --Lance Lester

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman