In April, Hardsoul Poets played its first gig in over 20 years. Response to the one-off reunion, which featured both of the band’s lineups, was so great that it prompted a new album – its first in 23 years.
“True Great Geography” will be officially released Dec. 4, but locals can grab a copy at Friday’s show at the Visulite, which coincides with homecoming at Wingate University, where the band formed.
If you’re new to Charlotte, the name might not ring a bell, but in the late ’80s and early ’90s the Wingate-based band was declared the next big thing by Rolling Stone and toured with Toad the Wet Sprocket and Soul Asylum. Several members went on to form the band Jolene, which was signed to Sire Records and enjoyed national and international acclaim.
Eventually Jolene broke up, singer John Crooke moved to L.A. and the group’s other members went on to play with Charlotte-area bands like the Alternative Champs, the Loudermilks and the Catch Fire.
While Jolene leaned toward Americana (when that term was new to music), Hardsoul Poets was more of a rock band in the vein of R.E.M. That’s reflected on “True Great Geograhy,” which combines the best of both worlds with power-pop tracks like “I Never Needed Drugs (Until Now),” the moving adult pop of “Hurricane Winds” and full-on rockers like drummer Chris Michael’s “How Many Times.”
The emotionally heavy “Goodnight Ocean,” which Crooke penned on the flight home to L.A. after the April show, sparked the rest of the album.
“I added the bridge part after he emailed me the initial rough demo of it,” says co-founder Reid Mansell, who left the band when his daughter was born in 1993. He now works for Wells Fargo. “That song was an emotional experience for all of us and served as the springboard for the rest of the album. As a band with four contributing songwriters, who hadn’t played together in 23 years, I think it sounds amazingly cohesive.”
Also on the bill Friday is Raleigh’s the Feeds, which is an offshoot of another major-label N.C. band from the ’90s – Lustre. Lustre featured Crooke’s old college roommate Greg Clayton (Antiseen) on drums. It recorded for A&M Records and was featured on the “Empire Records” soundtrack.
The Feeds picks up where Lustre left off with a new bassist and new material.
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave.
Details: 704-358-9200; www.visulite.com.