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Hammer No More the Fingers
Satellite Bar and Lounge
20 Greenfield Street
7/2, 9 p.m. • Free
www.hnmtf.bandcamp.com

music

HAMMERING DOWN: The Durham trio plays WinocaFest in August, but stops by Satellite this weekend to play a free show! Courtesy photo from Churchkey Records

In a time when indie rock constantly changes and expands, it’s refreshing to see a band reflect the sounds from the origins of the genre. Hammer No More the Fingers not only perfects the style and mood of indie music from the ‘90s, they push the boundaries and make it their own. The Durham trio may fly just under the radar of mainstream recognition, but they already have an impressively devoted following in NC.

The origins of Hammer No More can be traced all the way back to 1994, when middle-school chums Duncan Webster, Joe Hall and Jeff Stickley found they shared a similar taste in music—specifically with beloved indie-rockers Archers of Loaf. The three friends decided to form a cover band, and by age 10, they were performing original songs together.

The band went on hiatus after high school when Hall began attending UNC-Chapel Hill; Stickley enrolled at East Carolina University, and Webster moved toward the bright lights of New York City to pursue music. After Hall and Stickley graduated, Webster returned to Durham in 2007 to reunite with his old bandmates.

“I moved back down to NC with a new realization that if we want this music thing to work for us, then we really have to hunker down and focus,” Webster says. “I was homesick, running out of money and just wanted to rock with my friends back in Durham. It felt great to reconnect with Joe and Jeff, and pick up where we left off with a completely new energy.”

In 2009 they released their first full-length album, “Looking for Bruce,” an energetic debut with clever lyrics and charm,  tailor-fit for college-rock radio stations. Stereogum immediately announced Hammer No More as a “Band to Watch” and SPIN magazine declared them one of its “25 Must-Hear Artists” from the 2009 College Music Journal Festival in New York City. The album made a splash with several music critics who praised the band for stylishly evoking nostalgia of ‘90s music. Yet, Webster admits this line of labeling tired.

“We’re definitely not going for a ‘90s revivalist thing,” he says. “We’ve been playing together since the ‘90s, and our music hasn’t changed dramatically, so it’s hard to say we’re trying to [that era of] indie rock back. We’re just doing what we’ve always done.”

After touring the U.S., UK and playing the 2010 South by Southwest Festival, Hammer No More returned to the studio to record a new album. In April, they released their second full-length, “Black Shark.” On it, the band ups the ante, expanding on the sound from their first album, blending buoyant choruses and serene harmonies with whip-smart guitar hooks. The album brings to mind bands like Pavement, Superchunk and—at their most melodic—a young Weezer.

They plan on heading back to the studio to record new music in August with producer B.J. Burton, best known for his work with The Love Language and The Annuals. Webster describes the songs “the most melodic, intricate and funked-out junk” they’ve written to date.

Hammer No More stops in Wilmington along a brief East Coast tour to play WinocaFest on August 27 at Batteship Park. They’ll share the bill with headliner Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Felice Brothers, Those Darlins, The Old Ceremony, Mandolin Orange and Onward, Soldiers. First, music fans can see them this Saturday at Satellite. The show is free and starts at 9 p.m.

Tickets to WincocaFest can be purchased online at www.winocarecords.com

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