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Character are an instrumental band featuring a rotating roster of six musicians, with an all-encompassing sound that draws from a wide range of influences including rock, hip-hop, jazz and experimental music. The sound is ambient, droney and by turns pastoral and brainy, while still expounding on and changing the form of instrumental songwriting. Character's members are notoriously restless and each play in several different bands: William Tyler plays in Lambchop and is the guitarist on the most recent Silver Jews CD. Luke Schneider also plays in Lylas. Dave Paulson sings in The Privates. Eric Williams is the grandson of "Ring of Fire" co-writer Merle Kilgore. Ryan Norris and Scott Martin round out the group. Together they create songs with dynamic melodies and raw energy without relying on vocals to carry the music. After their first release, A Flashing of Knives and Green Water, Character caught the attention of Fictitious Records, with whom they released a split 7-inch. Their latest release, We Also Create False Promises, is produced by Fictitious Records co-owner Roger Moutenot (who has engineered/produced Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney, Lou Reed, Josh Rouse and Beulah). A national tour is planned for the fall to coincide with the release of the album.

A born entertainer, Dave Cloud is at once charismatic and off-kilter. His band, Dave Cloud's Gospel of Power, are a chaotic display of pure rock 'n' roll raunch that oozes with blatant enthusiasm and decadent disillusionment. A mainstay at Springwater, one of Nashville's most fabled watering holes, Cloud boasts to having written "thousands and thousands" of songs in his lifetime—not that he wrote them all down for posterity's sake. Indeed, Cloud played gigs for years before releasing his first CD in 1999, Dave Cloud Presents: Songs I Will Always Sing. Cloud's debut is an album of explosive electric tunes mixed with a few low-key acoustic numbers, most of which share one simple, common theme: love. Cloud often takes on a lounge lizard persona while delivering these tales of love that are equally warbling, incoherent, eccentrically hooky and perversely seductive. Dave Cloud's Gospel of Power continue to preach their sermons of musical enlightenment in a variety of local dives. When asked if DCGP will ever give away their secret of longevity and illusion, Cloud replies, "There is no secret.... A lot of them have their own agendas, their own goals, but they all understand the man who's taking them to the top is Dave Cloud." Yes, Dave, indeed.

John Sharp has been performing as Mr. Natural since 1999, combining simple handmade instruments with musical technology. The instruments are made from unworked wooden branches, with structures of steel wire and springs placed about the surface. Mr. Natural only uses American wood. Additional sounds are generated from live houseplants, gravel and occasionally his teeth. John began working with electronic music in the early '90s. After experimenting with sampling for several years, he built the first of a series of 2-by-4 "plank" instruments in 1994. At the same time, he founded the label GLK as an internationally distributed vehicle for his own music and other like-minded artists, including Daniel Menche, Aube, Switzerland's Sudden Infant and MSBR of Japan. The first branch instrument was built in 1997, in preparation for John's residency in Rome, Italy. Its debut performance occurred in St. Pauli, Germany, at a concert with electronic pioneer Asmus Tietchens. While in Italy, John also collaborated with multimedia artist Tez Trivid and members of the seminal rock band Ain Soph. After a period of extensive touring and recording, John began his second European residency in Wiesbaden, Germany, in late 2001. Today, Mr. Natural continues to record and perform, and will meet any challenger onstage to do battle.

There is a shadowy figure dancing the tango behind the curtain of Nashville's independent music scene. He is The Mattoid and comes from a land where the days and nights can last for months. For years now, The Mattoid has been perfecting his signature "sango" music all over the world. In 2001, this wandering troubadour found his way to Music City, where he developed the Poppy Fields Band, which proved to amuse, frighten and inspire a local scene shadowed by the ever-present sense of industry mediocrity. In 2003, The Mattoid went solo, completing his first, fully studio-produced album Hello. Originally hailing from Helsinki, The Mattoid fuses ancient Finnish throat singing with grooving rock 'n' roll. The summer of 2004 finds The Mattoid on the threshold of a new era for his ancient, throat-singing art. Fresh, local imprint Cleft Music joined up with Morphius Distribution of Baltimore to release Hello in record stores across the U.S., U.K. and Japan. In May, the album was launched on college radio across the U.S.; the record is also receiving airplay on London radio and has been imported by Bomba Records of Tokyo. The Mattoid is currently backed by a revolving cast of players from The Lone Official, Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League, Character and Lambchop. Select touring will begin in August, and The Mattoid has plans to take his sango music to the West Coast in late fall.

Thornton combine the sexual ambiguity of Bowie or Morrissey (not glam or maudlin) with a cabaret-esque backdrop of electric piano and vintage guitars (not retro). They create cracked pop in the tradition of (not derivative) Kate Bush, Roxy Music, James and Lou Reed, echoing with the hymns of a troubled Southern Baptist boy from the Indiana/Kentucky border (not bitter). The reclusive Kevin Thornton, a prolific songwriter with a catalog of over 200 songs, was en route to New York City when he was stranded in Nashville. It was there, in the winter of 2003, that Kevin Thornton joined now-bandmate Enoch Porch. They rented a dilapidated house on the wrong side of the tracks, where they assembled a makeshift studio and began laying down the tracks for their debut album, Had a Sword. The record borrows approximately 45 percent from rock 'n' roll and the remaining percentage from jazz, ragtime and old hymnal progressions—all executed in a manner that never becomes novelty or put-on. Thornton will independently release Had a Sword in the summer of 2004, accompanied by continued live performances throughout the Midwest and South.

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