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Inside Track

Designer folk, unusual creatures and more Richmond music news.

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Michael Hearst, one-time chief of Urban Geek Studios in Richmond as well as bands Anon, One Ring Zero and Songs for Ice Cream Trucks, is still a geek. For his latest book and CD called “Songs for Unusual Creatures,” Hearst brought the songs to life by inventing new musical instruments based on robotic technology. His Lemur, or League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, even has received coverage in Scientific American magazine! You can hear peculiar songs about peculiar creatures, from the Australian bilby to the deep sea magnapinna squid, by visiting songsforunusualcreatures.com.

Singing about fast cars, hot women and hard liquor never goes out of style. Richmond rockers the Octane Saints and US Brass delve into those subjects on their new CDs. The third EP by the Saints was recorded at Snake Oil Recording Studio, run by local musician and engineer Dan-O Deckleman (Rocket 69, Adam West). The disc was released at a Nov. 14 show at the Plaza Bowl. US Brass was also there playing songs off of its first full-length, “Heart of Stone.”

“Designer-folk” is the description given by the Low Branches of their sound. In other words, gentleness, restraint, and space for emotive singing from singer and songwriter Christina Gleixner and multi-instrumentalist Matt Klimas (Snowy Owls). Most recently, the band was featured in the Live at Ipanema series, recorded by Allen Bergendahl of Viking Recording. Hold your breath for a more focused effort from the Low Branches in the upcoming months. In the meantime, catch them at the Camel Dec. 8 with Liza Kate, Jonathan Vassar and South China.

Matt Klimas of Low Branches recently played Gallery5 with his other band, the indie-rock trio Louisiana Territory, to celebrate a new CD release, “Traces of Gold.” To find out more about that project, go to www.laterritory.com.

The Low Branches and indie-folk artist Ferdinand Thomas just took part in the debut show of the Listening Room series at the Michaux House (1135 W. Franklin St.). This is a new (free) floating show series with one common rule: No talking during performances. According to the Web page, the purpose of this series is to “provide a quiet and focused environment for both listening and performing experiences, heighten the awareness of songwriters in the Richmond music scene, and create a supportive local network.”

Worn in Red couldn't be more excited about joining the roster at Florida's No Idea Records, home to many of its favorite bands. The band's first offering, the “In the Offing” full-length, should raise Worn in Red to favorite-band status for fans of progressive post-hardcore. After members turn heads at the Fest in that state's Gainesville, they'll make their way back up to Richmond for a record release show at Gallery5 Nov. 20. Friends Mouthbreather are also on the bill, which has a new 10-inch record entitled “Lila.”

Because interest from record labels was still brewing when Cinemasophia disbanded, Landis Wine decided to continue working on songs he'd written. White Laces is Wine's new project, and whoever he's collaborating with at the time. There are two new EPs in the works for 2010, but you can hear some recently recorded demos at whitelacesmusic.blogspot.com.

For the first time since the 1994 album “Dixie,” Avail alums Joe Banks, Charles McCauley and Erik Larson are playing music together — in two bands. The Ghost Run, with Mason Dixon Disaster's Chris Rigo on bass, has recorded a five-song demo of Americana punk while remaining quiet on the show front. Turning up the hardcore volume and actively booking shows is Freeman. Lead singer Freeman (Wheelbite, the Bottle) suspects Joe, Charles and Erik named the band that just to piss him off.

Try to follow this family tree: Since Friendly Fire split up, Carl Athey and Harris Mendell have formed the indie-punk band Sundials with Cory Chubb from Fine Lines and the Black Powder. Athey also teamed up with Matt Seymour (Pedals On Our Pirate Ships), David Hughes (the Hotdamns) and Tink Steed (Mason Dixon Disaster, My War) to revive cheeky pop-punk in Drunk Hugs. Mendell is also playing super-tight hardcore punk in Hold Tight!, with his ex-bandmates from With New Eyes and Alex Wilhelm from … Friendly Fire. Got it?

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