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Stopover spotlight #2
Another in our series of advance looks at the March 9-12 Savannah Stopover Festival


There's a specific art to creating uncompromising rock music without it coming out all sloppy and/or pedestrian and/or cheesy. Raleigh's Birds of Avalon is a guitar-based band that blasts a psychedelic wall of sound, with elements of Hendrix, Zeppelin, the Beatles and even the Kinks peeking through the fuzzy sheen and screaming histrionics. Which isn't all that surprising, considering the band's been working with the legendary Mitch Easter, who made supple but sturdy masterworks out of the early R.E.M. records (and with his own project, the criminally underrated Let's Active). The band has toured - quite successfully - with the Hold Steady, The Flaming Lips, The Racounteurs, Mudhoney and other champions of the road. March 12, Wormhole. See


Mike Diaz is a Florida-based songwriter and producer whose forte is dreamlike popcraft over lolling beats and wistful electronic hooks, with the occasional acoustic guitar tossed in for texture. Some call it chillwave, others call that a dismissive term, while still others just lie back and enjoy it. MillionYoung, said the Guardian U.K., "got us wondering what would have happened if New Order had gone to Ibiza and never come back ...." Recommended tracks: "Sundreamm," "Calrissian," "Cynthia." March 10, Live Wire. See


Just this week, three songs from the new full-length Milagres album, Seven Summits, were made available for free download on the band's website. Fronted by singer/songwriter Kyle Wilson, Milagres comes out of Brooklyn with a panoramic view of things - there's Radiohead-esque electronic wash and languid pace, the sleepy psych of fellow Brooklynites Grizzly Bear, plus the grandeur of vintage U2 with less emphasis on guitars, and the world-weary world-view of Coldplay (with less emphasis on pianos!) Formerly known as The Secret Life of Sofia, Milagres quite comfortably straddles the fence between gentle persuasion and inciting something fierce. March 11, Live Wire. See


Ritchie Young, of Portland, Oregon, sometimes plays as a solo, and sometimes as the focal point of a band that includes nine or more musicians. Either way, it's his deal: An intoxicating marriage of lyrically-focused folk-pop and hard-headed emotionalism. It's chamber pop via acoustic and electric guitars, bass clarinet, mandolin, theremin, tasty percussion and a rich resource-well of vocals, not the least of which belongs to Young himself - an extraordinary instrument with a fiery range. Loch Lomond, to this writer, is reminiscent of the Decemberists - not surprising, then, to learn that Young and company were once invited to open a tour for Colin Meloy's snarky and tart-tongued band. March 11, Pei Ling; March 12, Sentient Bean. See

Check out the full four-day schedule at