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Breaking: The Annuals

December 3, 2008 12:44 PM ET

Who: North Carolina's Annuals, a sextet of indie rockers that are getting melodic on their second album, Such Fun, which amazingly features cover art by PBS painter Bob Ross.

Sounds Like: The Tar Heel State's version of the Arcade Fire, with singer Adam Baker leading a small army of multi-instrumentalists. "We focused more on the song," Baker said of this album compared to the band's debut, the critically-acclaimed Be He Me. "We'll listen to parts of the songs for awhile, then each member of the band will come together and find what fits well with the song. We just tried to keep in more balanced on this record." The result is a less experimental but no less energetic and entertaining sophomore disc.

Vital Stats:

• The band has been touring ceaselessly in the recent months, including one grueling road trip Jack Kerouac wouldn't even attempt: "Our longest drive was Montreal to Seattle, Washington, which took us 53 hours, and we did it straight through because our schedule is grueling and we had to be at the venue early for soundcheck," says Baker. Making the 53 hour trek even more difficult was the blizzard they encountered while driving through North Dakota.

• Unlike most bands, Baker and his cohorts take a different approach to songwriting. "The lyric writing of the song isn't started until the music of the song has been recorded," Baker says. "Most songs that I come up with lyrically are trying to explain a certain feeling or concept that I can't put a single word to or put into a sentence,"

• When they're not on the road or recording as Annuals, the band takes a second life as Sunfold, a sister band with four Annuals members but featuring the songwriting talents of lead guitarist Kenny Florence and Baker on drums.

Hear It Now: Such Fun is in stores now, just look for that Bob Ross painting with the mountains and the lake and the happy clouds. Annuals are also touring from now until the foreseeable future. In the meantime, check out our their exclusive live performances of "Confessor" above and "Sore" below.

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

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When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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