Random acts

Of note

Celibate reaches out: Local indie label Celibate Records has recently added a new group to its roster. The Asheville-based punk band Bro-9 will release their first full-length album under the Celibate banner in early 2003. For more information, visit www.celibaterecords.com.

Front-row reviews

Who: The Sexpatriates w/Doom Ribbons

Where: Vincent’s Ear

When: Thursday, Oct. 31

Here’s the thing about The Sexpatriates: They want you to buy into their image. They want you to think that they truly are the hard-drinking, three-chord-playing, constantly carousing rock-star cartoons you see on stage.

But they aren’t … not really.

Let’s call it a creative exaggeration. To some degree, many bands at all levels of success do this. But The Sexpatriates understand it, and therefore do it right.

The music, for them, is just an excuse for the show.

They’re all outstanding musicians in their other lives, but as long as they’re billed under their current, ever-so-defining moniker, they’d never even hint there was anything more to them than sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Seeing them for the first time, you might think their screaming, feedback-rich cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” is simply the result of too little band practice. Or that the lack of a discernible melodic structure present in their version of Bowie’s “Suffragette City” is an insult to the pronounced instrumental development of rock music in recent years.

You might even dare to say that front man “Dirty” Martini’s tendency to discard an item of clothing at the start of each song is an attempt to draw attention away from his consistently ill-timed vocals.

Chances are, if you can’t follow The Sexpatriates this far, you won’t understand why they’d want to cover The Stooges’ Fun House in its entirety, or why they direct attention to attractive women in the audience, singling them out for impromptu duets and dirty dancing.

But if you’re straining to make sense of them, then you’re missing the point.

When they’re on — when every member is hitting on all cylinders — The Sexpatriates can tap into that elusive something that defines the spirit of rock. It’s not quite rebellion and not quite — as Martini would have you believe — a musical revolution. But then, all the ingredients are meant to be wrong.

And that’s precisely what makes The Sexpatriates so much fun to watch.

Listening room (album reviews)

From the Seed — The Southern Lights

How much genre-mixing jamming is simply too much? How upbeat does something have to be to be just a little too peppy? Apparently The Southern Lights feel the only way to answer both questions is to simply try till you’ve gone too far.

For the most part, From the Seed is an enjoyable mix of musical traditions set to a danceable beat. To the Lights’ credit, they can sound good playing practically anything — down-and-dirty funk, twangy Southern rock, honky-tonk country, pop jazz and swinging bluegrass are all easily within their grasp.

But few of From the Seed’s strikingly similar songs are shorter than six minutes, and if you aren’t in the mood to jam out, the album won’t work for you. Two of the more accessible — that is, relatively short — tracks are the Southern-rock-inspired “Run Devil Run” and the very groovy, instrumental-funk number “Blackstrap Molasses.” Listened to in the proper context — as a sampler album to showcase The Southern Lights’ range — From the Seed works quite well. But it’s hard not to want the band to narrow their focus.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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