R.E.M. hasn’t been making records around these parts for 30 years, but the spirit of the Southern alternative pop that it took to the masses lives on with Winston-Salem’s Jeffrey Dean Foster – long-ago co-leader of The Right Profile, and still a consummate twang-rock craftsman. Foster’s new album, “The Arrow” (Angel Skull Records), connects to the R.E.M. era in many ways, including key studio contributions from that band’s ’80s-era co-producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon. Beyond that, though, it’s just an excellent pop-rock record of the sort that should hit any Tom Petty fan right in the sweet spot, with a few idiosyncratic flourishes that could have only come from North Carolina. The folksy “I Will Understand” sounds as if it emerged fully formed from an Appalachian hollow, and “The Sun Will Shine Again” is a gorgeous and soaring anthem of the sort that would be fantastic to hear turned way, way up on a car radio. You can hear it live at 8 p.m. Friday at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh’s Mission Valley, where Foster will play for free. See schoolkidsrecords.com for details.
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