August 12th, 2022 10pm Stage 3
Blue Cactus, the North Carolina duo of Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, make Cosmic Americana: a blend of grit, glitz, groove, and twang that evokes a celestial soundscape of mid-century heartbreak.
Following their critically acclaimed 2017 debut and a string of singles in 2020 their evolution is made plain on their sophomore LP, Stranger Again, released May 7, 2021 on Sleepy Cat Records. The album has received enthusiastic attention from tastemakers including No Depression, American Songwriter, FLOOD Magazine, Talkhouse, and INDY Week among others.
Stranger Again is a deep dive into Cosmic American music, with the band taking their sound into ambitious new planes, where country-rock meets light psychedelia as the soaring vocals meet twangy slide-guitars and propulsive bass-lines. The otherworldliness of the music is a perfect contrast to their distinctly grounded, human storytelling lyrics. Throughout Stranger Again, they explore loss and longing, self-love and reckoning with personal, political and human struggles.
Their finest work yet, Blue Cactus resuscitate a fleeting style of honest-to-goodness country music considered valueless to a “new” country music where songwriting is officiated by financial analysts and teams of marketing plutocrats instead of woebegone troubadours. With a high lonesome twang, an Emmylou-like southern drawl, and blistering guitar techniques, Blue Cactus’ new record Stranger Again exercises the honky-tonk muscles to firmly bear the flag for a new generation of classic country practitioners.
When asked the question, “where are you from,” Nan Macmillan’s answer is a long and winding one. The indie-rock artist was raised by the sea in Massachusetts, resided in the hills of Southern California for her high school years, planted roots in Virginia for eight years, and now has landed in Brooklyn. Nomadic in nature, Macmillan seeks and creates a sense of home in her music. She writes about the underlying threads connecting these chapters of her life — the search for self-understanding, deep joy and pain of loving another, peace found in the natural world, anxiety at the threat to its existence.
In her debut full-length album, Nan explores these concepts with lyrical precision and intricate sonic landscapes to capture this depth of feeling. The songs pack a punch, wandering with care between folk, alternative rock, and synth pop tendencies. The album was recorded at a lakehouse in southwest Virginia — a sanctuary in which Macmillan and her collaborators brought forth this collection of deeply vulnerable songs. She’s currently playing shows around NYC and the East Coast while she and her team wrap up their work on the album.